[WIP] Errant Heart

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Re: [WIP] Errant Heart - Now with demo! For a limited time!

#16 Post by Samu-kun » Mon Feb 22, 2010 12:24 pm

I don't see a version number... The file's entitled "Errant Heart pre-pre-alpha" though. Maybe that helps...

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Re: [WIP] Errant Heart - Now with demo! For a limited time!

#17 Post by Voight-Kampff » Mon Feb 22, 2010 2:50 pm

Samu-kun wrote:I don't see a version number... The file's entitled "Errant Heart pre-pre-alpha" though. Maybe that helps...
No - I just meant: are you using the PC, Mac or Linux version?

I don't think it'll particularly matter. I'm just curious.

The menus have been a bit of a mess, since we're trying to customize them. Although, I suspect that when we moved up to the latest rev of Ren'Py, something may have broken.

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Re: [WIP] Errant Heart - Now with demo! For a limited time!

#18 Post by littleramyun » Mon Feb 22, 2010 2:54 pm

Mine crashes as well when I click preferences. I'm using PC version on Windows 7.
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Re: [WIP] Errant Heart - Now with demo! For a limited time!

#19 Post by luminarious » Mon Feb 22, 2010 3:25 pm

OSX preferences crash.

Code: Select all

KeyError: 'voice'

While running game code:
 - script at line 170 of C:\Renpy\Projects\Errant Heart pre-pre-alpha/game/scenes.rpy
 - python at line 199 of renpy-6.10.2/common/00nvl_mode.rpy.
 - python at line 194 of renpy-6.10.2/common/00library.rpy.
 - script at line 138 of C:\Renpy\Renpy 6.10.2/common/_layout/imagemap_preferences.rpym
Also, the transition from the earlier-time Egypt to the morning bedroom was a bit sudden for me. It happened pretty much at the climax of the action of the Egypt scene and even the music continued..

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Re: [WIP] Errant Heart - Now with demo! For a limited time!

#20 Post by Voight-Kampff » Mon Feb 22, 2010 4:32 pm

luminarious wrote:OSX preferences crash.

Code: Select all

KeyError: 'voice'

While running game code:
 - script at line 170 of C:\Renpy\Projects\Errant Heart pre-pre-alpha/game/scenes.rpy
 - python at line 199 of renpy-6.10.2/common/00nvl_mode.rpy.
 - python at line 194 of renpy-6.10.2/common/00library.rpy.
 - script at line 138 of C:\Renpy\Renpy 6.10.2/common/_layout/imagemap_preferences.rpym
Also, the transition from the earlier-time Egypt to the morning bedroom was a bit sudden for me. It happened pretty much at the climax of the action of the Egypt scene and even the music continued..
Ah. Looks like the music channel wasn't set to clear at the end of that scene. Good catch.

Code isn't my bag. So, the fix for the preference menu will have to wait until our coder can take a look at it.

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Re: [WIP] Errant Heart - Now with demo! For a limited time!

#21 Post by noremedy » Wed Feb 24, 2010 12:14 pm

I didn't get very far into the demo but the writing is a little off, particularly for the VN genre. There's numerous descriptions of the doctor while we have a picture of him right in front of us. In general, I think there's a lot of narration dedicated to what should be conveyed in the dialogue or in images. Another example: when the light comes, the dialogue stops in mid-sentence. Then the narrator tells us the dialogue stopped in mid-sentence. Similarly, the majority of lines of speech are prefaced with narration telling us how the speech sounds. (And obviously you're not on final proofreading, so it's not fair to bash things like inconsistent capitalization of 'khaki' or repeated use of 'muster'.) I'd tone down the usage of adverbs, too.

Maybe this is just stylistic preference, but my two cents.

EDIT: Also, San Moritz is a real town in Switzerland; it's a famous ski resort that shows up in James Bond movies, among other things. You're probably aware, but it bothered me.

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Re: [WIP] Errant Heart - Now with demo! For a limited time!

#22 Post by Voight-Kampff » Wed Feb 24, 2010 1:21 pm

Noremedy - based on your insight, it seems like you mostly take issue with the third person narration? In essence, VN's rarely use it, so it doesn't feel quite "right" to be using it here?

I realize we are talking about a Visual Novel. But our resources are limited. While I'd love to be able to "show, rather than tell" much more, there's only so much we can do. And if there's nothing to "show", then we have no recourse but to "tell".

As for the name of San Moritz - Yes, I was aware. It's a corruption of St. Moritz. Just like Isle Lemadeline is a corruption of Isle de la Madeline.

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Re: [WIP] Errant Heart - Now with demo! For a limited time!

#23 Post by noremedy » Wed Feb 24, 2010 1:36 pm

Ehhh, I don't want to say it's the third person perspective I take issue with. I think the first-person is primarily adopted to increase immersion, but lots of literature is third-person. I just think the writing isn't that good. The narration is much too heavy and intrusive for a book, and with a visual novel you have even more opportunity to avoid wasting words in description because you've got music and art. You said you appreciate Type-Moon works; boot up one of their titles and see how often you can find something like 'he reluctantly responds', 'his raised voice', 'continues his tirade', etc. My issues are in the same vein as a lot of Elmore Leonard's ten rules of writing, check them out: http://www.kabedford.com/archives/000013.html, particularly 3, 4, 8 and 11.

I didn't get as far as Lemadeline. Of course, I'm a failed hand at writing these things, so what do I know.

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Re: [WIP] Errant Heart - Now with demo! For a limited time!

#24 Post by @berration » Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:06 pm

Voight-Kampff wrote:Code isn't my bag. So, the fix for the preference menu will have to wait until our coder can take a look at it.
Code isn't exactly my thing, either, you know. :lol: I have much better luck with the art side of things.

Hrm...shame this is causing a problem. I thought the Preference menu turned out pretty cool. No idea what's causing the issue, but it seems like it worked fine until I packaged everything. Unfortunately, the distributed version crashes for me, too.

Sadly, with my current schedule and ridiculous work commute, it's going to be a while before I have a good solid block of time (and lack of mental fatigue) to take a look at it, and take a guess at what's wrong—or, more likely, post for help on the Ren'Py forum. :oops:

In the meantime, I apologize for the inability to change the text speed, and hope that everyone can still enjoy the (extremely rough) little story teaser.
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Re: [WIP] Errant Heart - Now with demo! For a limited time!

#25 Post by Voight-Kampff » Wed Feb 24, 2010 3:07 pm

noremedy wrote:Ehhh, I don't want to say it's the third person perspective I take issue with. I think the first-person is primarily adopted to increase immersion, but lots of literature is third-person. I just think the writing isn't that good. The narration is much too heavy and intrusive for a book, and with a visual novel you have even more opportunity to avoid wasting words in description because you've got music and art.
<shrug> I would hope it's not so technically flawed as to take away from the enjoyment of the story. Perhaps once it switches to first person, you'll find it more reasonable.

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Re: [WIP] Errant Heart - Now with demo! For a limited time!

#26 Post by mysterialize » Wed Feb 24, 2010 7:22 pm

Alright, before anything else, I want to make it clear that I'm going to be tearing this game to as many pieces as I can. Not because it's bad, but actually because it's professional enough that I think it could be really impressive with some minor changes. So don't take the length of this as a bad thing, in any way.

Now, ignoring the fact that I was a little confused about why you released a technical demo to the public, this was actually somewhat entertaining, and most of all, interesting. It's one of the higher quality games I've seen on this site, especially when it comes to the (finished) art and 3D backgrounds. I actually found myself admiring some of the scenery whenever the text wasn't covering it. It's just really well modeled.

What did strike me as odd however, was your placement and movement of the character sprites on the screen.

For one, people were rarely centered in the middle, even when there's only one person on the screen at the time. When there's a slight misalignment from the center, that's generally okay, but a lot of the time, people were way off to the far left or right, and it got a little distracting at times. When people talk to each other in person, they often expect eye contact. In VNs, it should pretty much be the same. It just feels a lot more personal. Now, if the character is supposed to be shy or socially awkward, then that sort of placement works well, but if not, then it just feels off.

Secondly, the resizing to give the effect of characters walking forward and backwards was just weird to me. I understand what you were trying to do, but a lot of the time the movement seemed to happen at really random times, without anything prompting them to get up in your face, or step back, further away from you. It also made it really confusing when multiple people were on the screen at the same time, and located at different "distances" from the main character. Since it's all in 2-D, and the Z axis doesn't actually exist, it was often hard to tell when people were further away/closer to the camera than the person next to them, or just generally smaller/larger than them. For the most part, it all just seemed unnecessary, and a little difficult to make sense of.

As far as writing goes, I actually feel like it was rather well written. The main issue here however, is that this game is really, really slow, for no real reason at all. You just have a tendency to go far too into detail about things that aren't all that important. I can understand your logic behind going through the average, uninteresting events in your characters lives; it's probably because you wanted to give people a chance to get to know the characters. This is, for the most part, fine, but you should probably try to think about when you're taking it too far. As far as I can tell, a lot of the kitchen scenes probably could have been cut completely, with the exception of the one that introduces the mother, since they rarely ever introduce anything new, and anything they do introduce could probably be easily moved into other scenes. The scene on the ship also seemed mostly unnecessary. I'm not even sure if the part about her tying the charm to the mast was important enough to keep.

Fortunately, things seemed to pick up a little after Lira got to the city, so I was able to get a bit more into it. The descriptions of the city did get a little excessive at points, but the new characters and such at that point made up for that a bit.

My last concern is really just a quick question. Are you going to have more music in the final version? It seemed kind of lonely without it.

I look forward to seeing a more complete demo soon, and wish you luck in finishing it. It's very high quality, and intriguing when plot was actually happening.

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Re: [WIP] Errant Heart - Now with demo! For a limited time!

#27 Post by Voight-Kampff » Wed Feb 24, 2010 9:06 pm

Direction is @berration's responsibility, so I'll leave it to him to address any issues you might have had with character placement/movement, etc. As for writing...
You just have a tendency to go far too into detail about things that aren't all that important.
I have pondered about that. Honestly, I dislike excess detail as well - I'm more of a speed reader. But I worry that without making sure I address all five senses (or as many as I reasonably can) and provide complete details for a setting, readers won't feel like the events are very immersive. It seems I need to re-balance that equation.
I can understand your logic behind going through the average, uninteresting events in your characters lives; it's probably because you wanted to give people a chance to get to know the characters.
This is particularly true for Lira during the ADV sequence. It's intended to demonstrate to the reader all facets of Lira in her most unguarded state - to provide a contrast once she's in San Moritz and has to interact with strangers and how she eventually comes to accept them as though they were as important to her as her own family.
The scene on the ship also seemed mostly unnecessary. I'm not even sure if the part about her tying the charm to the mast was important enough to keep.
You know, that is something that has gotten lost as the writing has progressed. Lira's fixation on charms was meant to illustrate one of her idiosyncrasies. Basically, she puts more trust in the supernatural than her own abilities or the abilities of others. As the story progresses and her character grows, she sheds herself of that habit. But the whole charm thing dies out a lot quicker than I originally planned. It's something that's going to have to be revisited.
The descriptions of the city did get a little excessive at points, but the new characters and such at that point made up for that a bit.
Heh heh. Those descriptions were all we had to work with initially. And I wanted to make certain that readers comprehended the grandeur of the city. Now that we have these backgrounds, well...I think that can paired down quite a bit. ;)
My last concern is really just a quick question. Are you going to have more music in the final version?
That's the plan. It's going to be the toughest part of the whole project. If matters go well, then I think readers will be pleasantly surprised.

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Re: [WIP] Errant Heart - Now with demo! For a limited time!

#28 Post by chensterrain » Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:46 pm

Just wanted to say, I actually found the writing in this game really refreshing (though I haven't finished the demo just yet, I'm a little while after Lira's arrival in San Moritz) - while the very beginning was interesting too, I actually really enjoyed the scenes where the sisters and the mother were just chatting, and especially the arrival at the docks, for whatever reason, so horses for courses, I s'pose - I just like slice of life, I guess? It helped that those characters seemed to have interesting personalities, and had maybe a little more substance to them than the usual VN heroines. But everything's looking extremely impressive so far; even incomplete, the artwork is shaping up nicely and I'm really liking at NVL window that shows up every once in a while. (Like other people mentioned, it'd be nice to get the preferences menu up and running too, as the default text speed is maybe a little too slow for my liking, but I'm sure that'll get fixed eventually).

One slight nitpick (though it's probably just my inability to follow conversations, tbh): when the game first switches away from the dig site, it took me a while to figure out which of the sisters was the POV character and which was on screen (I hadn't read the character profiles you posted), though it was obvious when the POV switched again to Lira later on - it's probably just me being an idiot, though. :wink:

At any rate, this is pretty amazing stuff, and I'll be looking forward to the full release!

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Re: [WIP] Errant Heart - Now with demo! For a limited time!

#29 Post by Jake » Thu Feb 25, 2010 6:51 am

I started reading this the other day and had the exact same problem as an earlier poster. I gave up shortly after Lira arrives in San Moritz, and even then I think I only kept going 'cause I was waiting for something and had nothing better to do, because at least that much drags on incredibly without anything of any note happening. You've got a hook right at the beginning of the story, with the amber-glow and the murders and the mysterious powers, but then the prose seems to be deliberately trying to get the reader to forget about the brief interest at the beginning and give up, it goes into such excruciating detail on totally mundane and uninteresting things and takes far too long to get back to anything remotely interesting shortly after Lira gets off the ferry.

Not to mention that too much of it felt like cheap anime clichés rolled together. For example, the "oh, what kind of magazines do you draw for?" thing was pretty unbelievable and got brought up far too much.
Voight-Kampff wrote:
You just have a tendency to go far too into detail about things that aren't all that important.
I have pondered about that. Honestly, I dislike excess detail as well - I'm more of a speed reader. But I worry that without making sure I address all five senses (or as many as I reasonably can) and provide complete details for a setting, readers won't feel like the events are very immersive. It seems I need to re-balance that equation.
The usual advice is actually to do completely the opposite; the more detail you leave out, the more the reader fills in with their imagination - and the reader's imagination is nearly always better at describing things than your prose, no matter how good a writer you are, because it actually can call more or less directly on all five senses instead of having to just describe them. If you detail everything you leave no room for the reader's imagination to fill in, and instead it's stifled by the limitations you've placed.


Also, one thing that irritated me throughout the section I read, particularly at the beginning: "where is <someone> at" is a very American and rather vulgar way of asking the whereabouts of someone; I wouldn't expect an educated European speaking English to talk like that today, let alone seventy years ago. "Where is <someone>" would suffice, really. The doctor at the beginning sounds like he dropped out of a Western or Redneck movie, to my European ear.

Also also: I liked the way many of the sprites were placed around each other, nearer and further from the POV, integrated into the scene; however, it's probably worth paying a little more attention to perspective when you do so, I seem to recall that in the pre-ferry docks sequence in particular, when there's about four characters on-screen at once, Lira's mother shrank drastically at one point, and someone gets displayed in front of or behind someone they shouldn't.
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Re: [WIP] Errant Heart - Now with demo! For a limited time!

#30 Post by Voight-Kampff » Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:44 am

Jake wrote:The usual advice is actually to do completely the opposite; the more detail you leave out, the more the reader fills in with their imagination - and the reader's imagination is nearly always better at describing things than your prose, no matter how good a writer you are, because it actually can call more or less directly on all five senses instead of having to just describe them.
Unfortunately, I suffer from a distinct case of single-mindedness. In this instance, the one thing that kept going through my mind was, "Make sure the reader is made cognizant of the surroundings at all times". Add to that, the fact that I really have a difficult time judging the audience. I worry that the audience will miss something important, consequently, my default response is to bludgeon them with details.
Jake wrote:Also, one thing that irritated me throughout the section I read, particularly at the beginning: "where is <someone> at" is a very American and rather vulgar way of asking the whereabouts of someone; I wouldn't expect an educated European speaking English to talk like that today, let alone seventy years ago. "Where is <someone>" would suffice, really. The doctor at the beginning sounds like he dropped out of a Western or Redneck movie, to my European ear.
:lol: Guilty, as charged. Ending sentences on prepositions is a rather common habit for Americans. Generally, I guess we just don't pay particularly close attention to their placement. I'll have to keep that in mind, though.
Jake wrote:You've got a hook right at the beginning of the story, with the amber-glow and the murders and the mysterious powers, but then the prose seems to be deliberately trying to get the reader to forget about the brief interest at the beginning and give up, it goes into such excruciating detail on totally mundane and uninteresting things and takes far too long to get back to anything remotely interesting shortly after Lira gets off the ferry.
Hmm. You know, I never even considered that. My thought process was: after the hook, I'll have the reader and then I can do whatever I want with them. Rather than something more appropriate, like: how can I capitalize on the hook and keep the momentum going?

Well, as I mentioned earlier, the whole point of the ADV sequence after the hook was to provide a clear illustration to the reader of what Lira's unguarded state is like - so as to provide a contrast once she arrives in the big city. It seems I'll have to rethink the format and length of that demonstration.

Of course, do keep in mind that all of this is a first draft. And this is precisely why we wanted to put this in front of the public. Or rather, in front of the VN-appreciating aficionados at LSF: to better understand what works and what doesn't. And in this case, luckily, it's easier to chop out extraneous details and rearrange them than to add more.
chensterrain wrote:It helped that those characters seemed to have interesting personalities, and had maybe a little more substance to them than the usual VN heroines.
Glad you enjoyed the characterizations. I have hundreds of kilobytes worth of throw-away scenes that were written to hammer out those details. I had hoped that they weren't wasted.
chensterrain wrote:(Like other people mentioned, it'd be nice to get the preferences menu up and running too, as the default text speed is maybe a little too slow for my liking, but I'm sure that'll get fixed eventually).
Honestly, I've never given text speed much thought. Typically, no matter the speed, I default to hitting the enter key to reveal the whole block of text and then read on from there. But obviously the menu issue has to be resolved for other reasons as well.
chensterrain wrote:One slight nitpick (though it's probably just my inability to follow conversations, tbh): when the game first switches away from the dig site, it took me a while to figure out which of the sisters was the POV character and which was on screen (I hadn't read the character profiles you posted), though it was obvious when the POV switched again to Lira later on - it's probably just me being an idiot, though.
No, that is a valid concern. It's intentionally abrupt because I hadn't given much thought to a proper transition. Given the comments so far, though, I think I have a clearer idea of what needs to be done there.

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