Mists [preliminary title - might change later]

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Ignosco
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Mists [preliminary title - might change later]

#1 Post by Ignosco » Wed May 16, 2007 10:42 am

It's not quite the story I want to tell yet I guess, but hopefully this will be a start in getting to know Ren'Py and improving my mediocre creative writing skills. Above all though, I'd like to see what I can do music-wise, and how effectively I'm able to let music be a background element, ie less important than story/art. Almost everything else I've composed has had music as the foremost and only element, so it will probably be an interesting experiment.

I'm tempted to try and do the whole story using very heavily edited background photographs and no character art - but I'll wait until the story is complete before deciding.

The protagonist (male and this will be BxG) probably won't be a particularly endearing character but hopefully interesting enough for people to read. It will probably turn out to be more of a reflection story, than an action story.

Anyway, I'll see how I go with this: hopefully I haven't put myself into too deep a hole storywise :).

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#2 Post by DaFool » Wed May 16, 2007 10:56 am

You are a musician?

Cool, looking forward to your sound novel (the particular type of visual novel you describe)!

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#3 Post by Ignosco » Thu May 17, 2007 7:11 am

DaFool wrote:You are a musician?
Yep, classically trained composer (and pianist).

I'm not really trying to write a sound novel, I'm writing the script first etc... I think what I was trying to say is that the music will probably be better than my writing. :D

Probably the musically equivalent form of a sound novel would be the 19th C melodrama (poetry recitation + instrumental accompaniment, usually piano, with roughly notated rhythms for the reciter, generally just the words to be spoken within a bar)... I haven't heard many, but to me it's a rather unsuccessful form (the formal idea seems to try a bit too hard to merge two disparate elements together).

I guess also, that it will be different to compose background music, everything else I do is intended to be listened to in a formal concert setting, so the music has the potential to 'demand' more from the listener. It should be a good change to write something simpler (although not any easier to do :) ).

The sound quality will probably be atrocious though for how I'm planning to compose this: write it out in full on music notation software, then save the piece as a midi file and convert it to an mp3... :?.

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#4 Post by Counter Arts » Thu May 17, 2007 8:14 am

No no no... not mp3... ogg! ogg is better!

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#5 Post by DaFool » Thu May 17, 2007 9:16 am

A sound novel actually means a visual novel without character graphics (well, at least the most common accepted meaning, coming from the J-community). It doesn't need to have the story micromanaged by the music, in cas that was what you were thinking.

About foreground music versus background music, I don't really see where the problem lies. When the music gets powerful, you just reduce the other components of the experience so you can focus on the music. Just think about how music videos are directed. Do you think the graphics distract from the music? Not at all. They complement it. But one this is certain is that the pacing must follow the musical rhythm.

As for midi, you can use Synthfont to render it to wav, then another program such as Oggdrop to convert to ogg. At least with Synthfont (which is donationware), you can look for soundfonts (.SF2 files) that should sound better than the stock sounds your soundcard gives you.

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#6 Post by Ignosco » Thu May 17, 2007 10:52 pm

Counter Arts and DaFool, thanks for the music advice :).

:oops: Thanks for pointing out the sound novel term, and you're right, that's what i assumed it meant.

On the foreground/background question, maybe the simplest answer is that, if I wanted something where music was in the foreground, I'd compose a piece by itself, whereas with Mists, the first priority is to tell the story, with the other elements being secondary to that.

In Crescendo on one of the paths, there are two points (I think) where the story stops, and when you click to continue it assumes that you've listened to the whole of the piece being played... I'm not sure if people would want to shift their focus away from the story like that for several minutes each time. :?

The music video comparison is interesting, but in general terms (there are many many exceptions but I'm guessing this is true for at least 95% of cases) with the western art music tradition, the music is the only element present in the work (discounting the appearance of the performers). Generally the whole work is intended to be listened to silently and applauded only at the end etc... That sort of 'extreme' (or elitist) approach of listening to music is all I've composed for in the past. I guess I'd like to try for the opposite thing, having music solely as a background element. Although defining background, foreground etc is very subjective, that point in Crescendo for me, is the only time I've really felt that music really stepped out of a background role to become an equal element (to the CG at that point).

Probably to cut a long story short, at the moment I think I'd only be able to do something at the extreme ends of foreground/background - depending on how it goes I might try for more of a hybrid with another project.

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#7 Post by DaFool » Fri May 18, 2007 7:41 am

I think you should compose a foreground piece, but play it gently so it will fit into the background.

I thought about things again and there really shouldn't be a difference between foreground and background music... to me music is music and can either be actively listened to, or not.

Maybe its because I like jazz music, which is shamefully played as elevator music. And thats how many people come in contact with it...they don't listen to it on it's own. But I do, and it does come with a melody, and you'd be surprised that the musical technicalities into composing such a piece is more complicated, primarily because its the mood you're trying to convey.

So, as long as you convey the right mood, then the music is just right. If it's too strong, just muffle it with Audacity and there you go.

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#8 Post by Ignosco » Sat May 19, 2007 9:14 am

I think it's more that when composing for a VN I'll have to make some changes to my normal composition style. For example: in the current piece I'm working on the dynamics range from pppppp to ffff, the notes are up to 7 octaves apart between different instruments in places, throughout most of the piece there are 2 to 5 independent irrational polyrhythmic lines, quarter tones are used fairly extensively, it's almost entirely atonal etc...

This piece (I guess sort of representative of how I usually compose) is probably in the 0.001% of pieces that won't make good background music - because of the combination of so many elements that make the piece difficult to listen to passively (or even actively). The 'mood' of this piece (fairly usual for my style) shifts very rapidly as well which above all is why it might not be effective for background listening.

I guess I was probably a bit unclear when I said background - it was probably more referring to the need to simplify my usual composition style to write effective music for a VN.

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#9 Post by DaFool » Sat May 19, 2007 12:40 pm

Different approaches I guess. If I were you even if I had something totally bombastic I would still put it in. Maybe just reduce the number of dialogue text on the screen so people will read slower and take in all the elements of the experience.

I've heard some music that stood out too much even in commercial efforts (I think the last example I recall was from the Polyphonica demo.) Sure I was forced to stop clicking the text and just sit back and actively listen... but that didn't destroy my experience, it enhanced it (although it was kinda hard to keep clicking away during that point.)

Most people here with less musical experience (myself included) are just concerned whether the music fits the mood or not (and if it's music at all... i.e. not out of tune). I think you're already way beyond that and frankly the trouble you're describing doesn't feel like a problem to me, I doubt anyone other than you (or perhaps other experienced musicians) will notice. (And very few experienced musicians know the technique of visual novels anyway).

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#10 Post by Ignosco » Mon May 21, 2007 7:37 am

Thanks for commenting :) - reducing the amount of dialogue on some screens to shift the focus partially onto another element sounds like a good idea. It should work well at several places in the story.

I think I'd better do some more work on this rather than posting about it. :D

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#11 Post by Ignosco » Tue May 29, 2007 10:42 am

Quick update:

I didn't really give many details about this in the original post. The format will be a cross between the normal VN format and a Kinetic novel. There will be 3 'arcs' in the story, each in two sections, in addition to the ending.

Overall Length: Probably around 3000 words.
Current progress: 942 words (ie very slowly).

One of the arcs will be much harder to write than the other two Most of the plans are in place for the other two, but the biggest problem will be giving the script an effective overall structure - at the moment it's still fairly fragmentary within each section and pulling it together to be emotionally engaging will be a real challenge.

I'm not sure if it will be possible to do this as a sound novel anymore (although there won't be any character art)... with the way one of the sections (and possibly two more sections) has turned out, it will require a CG. I'll wait until I've completely finished the script before deciding.

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#12 Post by Ignosco » Sat Jun 16, 2007 12:07 pm

Although I haven't had too much time to work on this recently, it's slowly making progress - and (hopefully) I've decided on the final format.

I will aim to make a sound novel, and will probably use some lighting effects on the processed backgrounds to evoke various characters - although if the rest of the elements involved turn out to be engaging enough, I might just run with the backgrounds without lighting.

I can't really give character or plot descriptions, but hopefully these three dialogue samples will give some sort of an idea of what the story might be like:
Perhaps those who did not understand would call this weakness,
But I had earned the right to lie.
She "Look around you..."
She "They all... want something from you..."
She "They want... more than you can afford to give."
I realised that I saw more, I understood more than those around me.
Outwardly, it may not have appeared that way, but I felt internally enlightened, by who I was, by what I was.

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#13 Post by mokenju1 » Sat Jun 16, 2007 3:34 pm

I (specially) love the first quote. Sorry for the almost one liner but you already know that I'm waiting for this game so... :lol:

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