Biting off more than I can chew?/Feedback

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Biting off more than I can chew?/Feedback

#1 Post by SwingAndToons » Sun Mar 04, 2018 3:17 pm

Hey so I guess I would like some feedback on this overall concept.

I really love visual novels. And I am a hopeless romantic so naturally I like ones that involve love and stuff. But I have a tendency to get these big ideas and overcomplicate things. I have had ideas for VNs in the past but this is the first time I am actually beginning it in the RenPy software. I posted a while back about the dancing concept. But I didn't get past the initial planning. The characters felt stiff, 2 dimensional and too abstract because they were adhering to the dancing role so much. I have put that one on the back burner for awhile. I really want to start working and developing a project but it didn't feel right. And then I got this idea and it made me really excited.

When I am creating stories, I really want the characters to feel like people and there to be more than just the end goal of a kiss. And I really like to be inclusive. Also, I like to have the choices matter. So, with this project, I really do like the idea. But I am wondering if there is just too much going on. I am just starting out so nothing is really developed yet so this is largely conceptual though I have scripted the beginning.

Ok. So here it is.

The name of the actual project in RenPy is Branching. But its because names are hard and I really like the concept of a story where your decisions are continually branching and evolving. My unofficial title in my head is 52 because there are 52 weeks in a year and I think I may want to contain this to a year. Like in the beginning "A lot can happen in a year!" and at the end "A year ago, you never thought you would be here"

The story begins at the MC's college graduation. The world is at their fingertips. They get to choose their name, their best friend (out of 4 friends), your sexual orientation (straight, gay, bi or asexual) and where you will work (4 different options of job locations). As of right now, I have 12 romantic interests planned (2 straight men, 2 straight women, 2 gay men, 2 gay women, 2 bisexual men, 2 bisexual women) who are a wide array of cultures and backgrounds. I don't want their cultures being their only identifiers but I feel like it makes them more realistic and human by being so diverse. They will be written normally and only occasionally will their backgrounds influence it (for example, the makeup artist with a native american heritage getting pissed when the news station wants her to do "tribal makeup" on the hosts or the muslim character not eating on a date during Ramadan, etc). Though I am planning on doing a lot of research to make sure I portray these characters in a respectful and accurate way.

There are 3 characters per job location. I was thinking of integrating an affection system so it feels more natural. So events or dialog can trigger once you reach a certain point. And because I have an asexual character and because it feels more human overall, romance isn't a necessity. I think that based on the affection system when the time is up and there is a certain amount of friendship or romance points (Flirting options presented based on sexual orientation and friendship status) then little events could play out. And because the characters are at work together, the points could be accumulated by discussion but maybe by choosing who to eat lunch with (though it wouldn't be a full fledged scene every time. Maybe the first one and then every once in awhile when certain numbers are hit). It could be expanded further into the weekend if there is enough points. (Example: X times after having lunch in the nurse's station. Finn: Hey, I was thinking. If you aren't doing anything this weekend. You should come join me and a group of friends in the park. We just mess around with a ball or frisbee but its always fun). Prior to any friendships or relationships with any characters, you could opt to watch tv or hang with the chosen best friend earlier. I was initially going to have the player choose a hobby that would be an option on the weekend as an option to build points further (4 hobby choices with 3 characters in each). But it didn't seem all that feasible (although the rest of it may not be either).

And the player would help the characters at a certain level (like maybe the librarian's mother has a terminal illness and its getting worse or the author is getting really frustrated with writers block etc). And with the relationships there could be some conflict scene there as well but I don't quite have ideas for those yet (maybe a disagreement or a forgotten date or something?)

Also, this is a really stupid idea but since I am rambling anyway. Maybe an online dating option. Like since I am thinking of having it over a year, on valentines day there be an option of "Do I have anyone special in mind?". If asexual this wouldn't be triggered. But if not, if there are certain romantic points "Yes (character)". But if there is no one (like the player isn't interested in the options at their work) there could be an "Online Dating" option where the characters who would be interest are available and the player could interact there. But it wouldn't develop as deeply as the ones at work

And because I want the character to have some motivation. I was thinking of some overarching job plot lines. Like with the accountant job, the player discovers that someone is stealing money from the company and has to figure out who and decide to report it. Or the coffee shop, its locally owned and at risk of being shut down and the player has to work to save it. I am still trying to figure out the other two and how to make them more worthwhile. Like with the school, the player is a sub teacher and maybe one of the teachers suddenly quits and they have to take over the class full time? And with the news station, all I have is a scene in mind where the player loses it and yells at the hosts (who despise each other, always fight and annoy everyone) but I am working on how to make a grander plotline. Though I have a feeling this plot line would be more linear than the relationships which slightly bothers me but I'm not sure how to figure that out yet.

So there are options for a lot of playthroughs I guess. Very very basic examples would likely be. Male, gay, best friend Gil, working at Griffinlight Inc, romantic interest Eric, friend relationship with Sonia. Female, straight, best friend Andrea, working at Valkyrie Media, romantic interest Warren, friend relationship with Justin. Or Female, bi, best friend Quinton, working at Petal Coffee, friends with Katrine, no romantic interest at work (if the online dating thing she could find Catalina or Lucas). Or maybe Male, asexual, best friend Diana, working at Bear River Middle School, friendship with Hannah.

As you can tell, there is definitely a lot going on. And I doubt I will be able to make it a full fledged game even if I finish the writing because Character design and Backgrounds and all that. If I do end up finishing it and really do like it though, I probably would share it even if it was the black screen with text. Though I doubt it would be as interesting.

And I realize this is a massive project that would take a really really long time. I don't think this will be short at all. And hopefully the game itself wouldn't be unbearably long. There is a lot going on and maybe no one would be interested.

Frankly, I do really really like this idea. But I am not sure if I am just making it too much of a mess

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Re: Biting off more than I can chew?/Feedback

#2 Post by ChillTaco » Sun Mar 04, 2018 4:17 pm

Depends on how determined you are really. You know how much you can handle man. Try out your best, cut corners when you feel like its not going to work out, add to it when your done.

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Re: Biting off more than I can chew?/Feedback

#3 Post by SwingAndToons » Sun Mar 04, 2018 5:29 pm

ChillTaco wrote:
Sun Mar 04, 2018 4:17 pm
Depends on how determined you are really. You know how much you can handle man. Try out your best, cut corners when you feel like its not going to work out, add to it when your done.
True true. I guess I was worried that all this sounded too chaotic or crazy to do. I think I am really going to try with this. Thanks for the response!

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Re: Biting off more than I can chew?/Feedback

#4 Post by Nay » Sun Mar 04, 2018 6:51 pm

Hey, I really feel you on the overcomplicating thing. I too have really grand ideas and wonder if I can even finish writing it xD but once you start working on stuff, you tend to hit your 'wall' so to speak and find out how much you'll be able to devote to the idea. At least that's been the case with me.

Personally the project does seem a bit complex but if you completed it, I think it would be seriously amazing! Don't let the complexity deter you from making something awesome ^^

Best of luck with your vn :>

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Re: Biting off more than I can chew?/Feedback

#5 Post by gekiganwing » Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:54 am

SwingAndToons wrote:
Sun Mar 04, 2018 3:17 pm
I really want the characters to feel like people and there to be more than just the end goal of a kiss. And I really like to be inclusive. Also, I like to have the choices matter.
I like these goals. Write down some things to help you achieve them...

1. Specific pieces of fiction that you like, and why you thought they were admirable. Things like "Fill-in-the-blank comic made its main character seem like a complex individual rather than a collection of motivations because of..." Or perhaps "Fill-in-the-blank movie had a varied cast that seemed like people rather than a bunch of focus group approved stereotypes because of..."

2. Specific pieces of fiction that could have been better. Write details about what made them imperfect, and (if possible) how they could be improved. Maybe they had choices which lead to different story routes, but it wasn't clear how the choices impacted the story. Or maybe it had a token character, though she had a crucial role in the story, and she could be quite funny...
SwingAndToons wrote:
Sun Mar 04, 2018 3:17 pm
My unofficial title in my head is 52 because there are 52 weeks in a year and I think I may want to contain this to a year... They get to choose their name, their best friend (out of 4 friends), your sexual orientation (straight, gay, bi or asexual) and where you will work (4 different options of job locations). As of right now, I have 12 romantic interests planned (2 straight men, 2 straight women, 2 gay men, 2 gay women, 2 bisexual men, 2 bisexual women) who are a wide array of cultures and backgrounds.
The scope of this project seems feasible for a commercial video game. However, if you don't plan to sell it, then be careful. Especially if you haven't already finished and released at least one story / game / other creative project.

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Re: Biting off more than I can chew?/Feedback

#6 Post by Awiola » Mon Mar 05, 2018 2:49 pm

The idea itself sounds preety good but I'm not sure whether you can handle it whole yourself. It's pretty complicated after all, nevertheless if you're really up to do it, I wish you the best of luck.

I've been wondering 'bout the system, though. It seems like typical stat-raising sim and with all these options it may be quite dificult [and a bit annoying] to get all the CGs or endings. Especially when you just tend to like more story based games, cause they often could make easier telling a good story. As I recall almost each stat-raising game was mostly slice of life so if you want to narrate something more serious, and with more 'real' characters, you should aim for simplier and more intuitive system for your first game.
For example LoveRevo and Tokimemo are good games but when you want to 'capture them all', raising your stats over and over is just pain in the butt [and a lot of coding for events, especially when they appears randomly in the game which I myself [and prob'ly also lots of people], as a player, find at least unnerving] so I don't recommend making something like that but it all depends of the story you wanna tell. As I already said, for something darker or more complex you should make 'normal vn' like Hakuouki or 999 if you insist on letting player do something more than just picking right lines of dialogue.

But well, it's your game and you'll do what you want with it.
My english is pretty horrible c: Honest Critique

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Re: Biting off more than I can chew?/Feedback

#7 Post by SwingAndToons » Mon Mar 05, 2018 6:35 pm

Nay wrote:
Sun Mar 04, 2018 6:51 pm
Hey, I really feel you on the overcomplicating thing. I too have really grand ideas and wonder if I can even finish writing it xD but once you start working on stuff, you tend to hit your 'wall' so to speak and find out how much you'll be able to devote to the idea. At least that's been the case with me.

Personally the project does seem a bit complex but if you completed it, I think it would be seriously amazing! Don't let the complexity deter you from making something awesome ^^

Best of luck with your vn :>
Thank you! I appreciate the response!

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Re: Biting off more than I can chew?/Feedback

#8 Post by SwingAndToons » Mon Mar 05, 2018 6:37 pm

gekiganwing wrote:
Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:54 am


I like these goals. Write down some things to help you achieve them...

1. Specific pieces of fiction that you like, and why you thought they were admirable. Things like "Fill-in-the-blank comic made its main character seem like a complex individual rather than a collection of motivations because of..." Or perhaps "Fill-in-the-blank movie had a varied cast that seemed like people rather than a bunch of focus group approved stereotypes because of..."

2. Specific pieces of fiction that could have been better. Write details about what made them imperfect, and (if possible) how they could be improved. Maybe they had choices which lead to different story routes, but it wasn't clear how the choices impacted the story. Or maybe it had a token character, though she had a crucial role in the story, and she could be quite funny...



The scope of this project seems feasible for a commercial video game. However, if you don't plan to sell it, then be careful. Especially if you haven't already finished and released at least one story / game / other creative project.

Thank you so much! Those are great tips! And as of right now, I don't think that this will be commercial. Thank you for sharing the link! I will definitely try to avoid that and avoid burning out on this project.

Thank you so much for your response!

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Re: Biting off more than I can chew?/Feedback

#9 Post by SwingAndToons » Mon Mar 05, 2018 7:52 pm

Awiola wrote:
Mon Mar 05, 2018 2:49 pm
The idea itself sounds preety good but I'm not sure whether you can handle it whole yourself. It's pretty complicated after all, nevertheless if you're really up to do it, I wish you the best of luck.

I've been wondering 'bout the system, though. It seems like typical stat-raising sim and with all these options it may be quite dificult [and a bit annoying] to get all the CGs or endings. Especially when you just tend to like more story based games, cause they often could make easier telling a good story. As I recall almost each stat-raising game was mostly slice of life so if you want to narrate something more serious, and with more 'real' characters, you should aim for simplier and more intuitive system for your first game.
For example LoveRevo and Tokimemo are good games but when you want to 'capture them all', raising your stats over and over is just pain in the butt [and a lot of coding for events, especially when they appears randomly in the game which I myself [and prob'ly also lots of people], as a player, find at least unnerving] so I don't recommend making something like that but it all depends of the story you wanna tell. As I already said, for something darker or more complex you should make 'normal vn' like Hakuouki or 999 if you insist on letting player do something more than just picking right lines of dialogue.

But well, it's your game and you'll do what you want with it.
True, a stat raising sim isn't ideal. What I am thinking of doing is having an stat system but not explicitly listing it. My goal is to figure out a way to have every conversation have some impact on the overall relationship with the character through a friendship. That way it has more of a natural feeling of "getting to know" a character. And then based on sexuality and gender identity, certain interactions would lead to an increase in affection points.

So rudimentary, fake examples

"I really enjoy what I do. It makes me happy"
Character happy

"That's wonderful! You should always follow your heart" +5 friendship
"Haha. Yeah you are right"
Character smiles

"That's nice" no effect
"Mhm"
Character neutral

"But don't you think you should be more realistic?" -5 friendship
"Uh..."
Character looks uncomfortable


Also for the romantic options

Female bisexual character interacting with straight male character

"Yeah it's no shave November. Though I'm not used to having this much hair on my face"
Character laughing

"You kinda look like a viking" +5 friendship
"Haha. You think so?"
Character smiling broadly

"If you don't like it, you can always shave it next week" no effect
"Yeah you are right"
Character neutral

"I think it looks dumb" -5 friendship
"..."
Character looks annoyed

"Well you always look handsome"
"O-oh! Uh...thanks" +5 romance
Character blushing



So yeah. But like the player wouldn't see the points I think

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Re: Biting off more than I can chew?/Feedback

#10 Post by Draziya » Mon Mar 05, 2018 8:22 pm

I think as a concept it is very straightforward. I think the complexity will come from the sheer amount of characters you'll have to write for. Twelve love interests is a lot, and I wouldn't say many VNs go with that many.

Are you doing it all solo? Because if you're writing for the protagonist and all of the love interests, that already will cause you to take quite a while to develop your game. On top of that, doing the art for all twelve love interests (plus the protagonist if you choose to sprite them) plus their expressions, possibly plus different poses etc, will be a lot. And if you do commission someone to draw the sprites, I think you'll want to make it commercial because it will be costly.

And that's not even counting if you want CGs with every love interest.

In short, as a concept, I think it is doable, as long as you're aware that with every love interest you are greatly increasing the work you have to do.
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Re: Biting off more than I can chew?/Feedback

#11 Post by SwingAndToons » Wed Mar 07, 2018 1:55 pm

Draziya wrote:
Mon Mar 05, 2018 8:22 pm
I think as a concept it is very straightforward. I think the complexity will come from the sheer amount of characters you'll have to write for. Twelve love interests is a lot, and I wouldn't say many VNs go with that many.

Are you doing it all solo? Because if you're writing for the protagonist and all of the love interests, that already will cause you to take quite a while to develop your game. On top of that, doing the art for all twelve love interests (plus the protagonist if you choose to sprite them) plus their expressions, possibly plus different poses etc, will be a lot. And if you do commission someone to draw the sprites, I think you'll want to make it commercial because it will be costly.

And that's not even counting if you want CGs with every love interest.

In short, as a concept, I think it is doable, as long as you're aware that with every love interest you are greatly increasing the work you have to do.
Yeah. I definitely don't think it's an abstract concept. There will be some complexity in the fact that I am planning out plot lines for each individual workplace as well.

It's definitely a lot. But I really wanted to make it inclusive to a wide array of people as well as having choices. I am not sure how else to do that other than making this many. I feel its kinda lame just to have one character to represent a straight female love interest for example. I love other stories that may (in fact my favorite game only has a single love interest and I love him) but personally, it feels like I am not giving enough of an option. Like it would feel that I am only making it for myself in a weird way. Which in a way I am and in a way I'm not

Luckily enough, I adore all twelve of them so I am happy to write their stories.

I am writing it solo so this will take a very long time.

As for character design and CG, I don't have any artistic ability so if I do want those, I will need to find someone. I have how the characters look but its just for personal reasons (I used the sims and a variety of custom content as weird as it sounds). Though in the end, if I finish it and am happy with the stories I have created, if I don't have anyone I would likely just realize it the public to anyone who wants to play it through.

I don't completely understand the making it commercial aspect. I am not a company or anything. And this is an extremely novice project. I would think that the people who do make it commercial needs to have more experience and reputation before charging anyone. I would feel bad for charging anything if I don't have advanced skill.

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