Are All-In-One Projects a Good Idea?

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DaFool
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Are All-In-One Projects a Good Idea?

#1 Post by DaFool » Sun Aug 19, 2007 10:42 am

I was thinking of consolidating some projects into a single release download, sort of like a library with multiple stories. The reason for this is primarily cost-cutting... i.e. I could reuse some music, perhaps some background art. This may work if the general setting is more or less the same, although the actual places and characters for each story will be different. More importantly, I have not yet made any production art for any of the stories being considered for consolidation. So if I'm really going to push through with this, then I can really design a highly efficient artwork template system from the ground up, especially since I've finally found an artstyle I can stick with.

Let's see, other benefits... I won't feel pressured by a mere technical goal, of say, 36K words for a scenario, because then I can just add stuff like 7K + 11K + 18K, and let each story be told efficiently with no extraneous words, while at the same time still guaranteeing the hour or longer playing time that is necessary to feel totally immersed (since the mind is tricked into "movie pacing" since a movie is 1.5-2 hours long). Not to mention all the shared resources and renpy code will make a download ridiculously small compared to adding the sizes of separate releases. But a very important feature of this style of release is that the unfinished stories can be packaged as "bonus" sections, while the finished stories will provide the driving strength of the game.

It may also benefit the player and contribute to more downloads. "How so?" you may ask. Let's say not all of an author's works interest you, if you tend to pick and choose. Well, in the All-In-One approach, if just one story interests you, you would still download the whole game. And for players who play all of the author's works, then they can pick their favorite story and praise it rather than slamming their least favorite story had it been released as a standalone. More downloads and praises... that can only be a good thing for one's ego! :wink:

Of course, I will still keep ero releases as standalones for precautionary measure (more important especially when one is nearing the limits of what is legal or allowed). But for the General Admission and PG works, why not? People expect a lot of content for their bucks (or download megabytes) nowadays, this will surely be providing more content than usual.

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Re: Are All-In-One Projects a Good Idea?

#2 Post by mikey » Sun Aug 19, 2007 12:03 pm

Alright, so I tried to think about the drawbacks of such a production.

My first thought was that recycling resources, god forbid even characters will be noticeable. Thinking about the games that use free resources, that school that you've seen so many times - they will be original for the first game, but won't feel so great in the second - of course the argument is that it will create consistency, kind of "many stories in the same town" or something. If the stories are separate from each other, maybe people will feel they could have been tied together? colorless day had three stories, but it used very different resources... and so each story felt standalone.

Packaging unfinished stories as bonuses IMO does feel a bit... odd. It can make people wonder why they were included - and I fear they will still feel more like an easy way of getting rid of unfinished stories than a bonus.

For the download thesis, hmmm ^_^. It does sound reasonable, but of course I can see the complaint - if I downloaded my scifi mecha story and it came bundled with some fluff stories and philosophical works, I'll be upset - I'd rather download the only story that interests me - and while I do get 1.5 hours playtime, in practice I download all the full megabytes and only play 20 minutes. You say more content for megabytes, but to the one that doesn't like everything it's actually less content for more megabytes.

I'd think about it from all angles - personally I'm not planning such a game, unless I see a good reason - the mere fact that a story is standalone and packaged makes it feel special - and you'd lose this in a multiple-story release, especially with shared resources. It can start to feel generic very quickly, and it can also send out the message that with various very different stories the maker is playing all sides - not willing to stand behind each story singly. So maybe he doesn't think of them as worthy?

Anyway, those are the negatives I could come up with. Not to say the concept doesn't have positives, as described a post above.

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Re: Are All-In-One Projects a Good Idea?

#3 Post by monele » Sun Aug 19, 2007 4:36 pm

I've been considering such a thing with my project Asylium. I think I could easily write small stories (or more like "scenes") but probably not make a whole coherent story. Since it all takes place in the same universe, and many characters will meet each other... it would work nicely with reusing art assets.
In this particular case, though, I think the fact it's all too "scattered" would make it bad ^^;...

For downloads, you could actually offer a bundle pack with all the stories (one engine + 3 stories = economic!), yet, have separate distributions for each story (engine+story * 3). The later only being useful if you have *very* different styles/themes (as mikey said, philosophical + sci-fi + fantasy + romance in a single package might be too different)

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Re: Are All-In-One Projects a Good Idea?

#4 Post by BellosTheMighty » Sun Aug 19, 2007 7:46 pm

Come to think of it, it's been done- Viper series, a few years back. I remember I didn't find them especially good myself because it felt like a collection of proof-of-concept work. I thought to myself "Why did they sell me three mediocre games when they could have made one big one?" Now, if the games themselves had been better, that might have been a different story...

Nothing against reusing backgrounds, though- or even characters, come to think of it. Back in the good ol' days when they were called JAST USA, Peter Payne's crew released a group of games all set in the same universe- the backgrounds were frequently recycled, and mates in one game would show up as supporting cast or cameos in another.
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Re: Are All-In-One Projects a Good Idea?

#5 Post by Wintermoon » Sun Aug 19, 2007 7:53 pm

As a writer, I wouldn't do it. My reasons:
  • I feel that the individual stories will get more attention if they are released separately.
  • I would want feedback on my first story before I finish my next story.
As a reader/player, I like getting multiple stories from a single download. Downloading and unpacking visual novels is somewhat of an annoyance, especially when they are really just 30 minute visual short stories.

Considering both the arguments for and against, I think it's entirely reasonable to initially release a multi-story project with a single story and then release a new version of the project every time a new story is added to it. The main drawback would be that the readers/players would need to repeatedly download a fairly large bundle in order to get all of the stories as they are released.

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Re: Are All-In-One Projects a Good Idea?

#6 Post by DaFool » Sun Aug 19, 2007 9:54 pm

Great discussion.

Although the end result as it applies to my own projects didn't really change what was planned for them:

Mind of Builders and Hardcastle & Cromwell, although both told from female perspective, just by the titles alone one would think they came out of The Big Book of Extremely Manly Stories with Lots of Testosterone in Them. I can go on about the characters all I want, but in the end they are both serious stories about social strife in the midst of world events and technological progress; that is why the stories were conceived in the first place.

The only difference was that while I was writing Mind of Builders I was envisioning an Age of Exploration setting for it. But going through the story again, it could just as well occur in a Contemporary or Near-Future setting just like H&C. I mean, I would have loved to craft this beautiful world that would be a mix of Pirates of the Carribean and Pride and Prejudice (ooookay, that combination doesn't sound right :oops: ), but I wrote that story for a competition prior to completing my first solo game, and now that I look back on it, It isn't worth the effort for something that's only 7000 words.

So setting the two stories in the same worldview would be no biggie. Perfect for resource-sharing. And the music soundtrack I composed with Alessio -- featuring heavy base and heavy percussions (really, how more masculine can music get :D ) would fit a modern setting better. I always thought the soundtrack deserved more than to be just placed in an unfinished story in an unfinished release... being used for Mind of Builders (a complete story) would at least give them the proper treatment, and might even feel better integrated in that story instead.

Gothloli Fashion Academy is a whole different ballgame altogether, so it should remain separate (as well as have a moe design rather than a mature design like the others).

I'm not sure how clear my examples were, hopefully you can find similar analogies in your own projects, but nevertheless...

Thank goodness for planning.

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Re: Are All-In-One Projects a Good Idea?

#7 Post by themocaw » Mon Aug 20, 2007 12:31 pm

A while back, there was a little H game called "Amy's Fantasies." The idea was that this girl and her "special" friends were roleplaying out different H fantasies, and each of the three stories (that used the same character designs, but with totally different personalities and such) was a different one.

*shrugs*

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Re: Are All-In-One Projects a Good Idea?

#8 Post by BellosTheMighty » Mon Aug 20, 2007 12:48 pm

themocaw wrote:A while back, there was a little H game called "Amy's Fantasies." The idea was that this girl and her "special" friends were roleplaying out different H fantasies, and each of the three stories (that used the same character designs, but with totally different personalities and such) was a different one.

*shrugs*
0_o;;;;; I played that game, and that's not how I remember it at all... IIRC, the real story was that she was chasing her kidnapped brother across Japan through schoolgirl, nurse, and maid scenerios, or somesuch. Of course it's actually her adopted brother, so there can be some cool psuedo-incest at some point along the way. Someone may have marketed it differently, though... god knows that mainstream porn is full of false advertising.
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Re: Are All-In-One Projects a Good Idea?

#9 Post by themocaw » Mon Aug 20, 2007 7:44 pm

BellosTheMighty wrote:
themocaw wrote:A while back, there was a little H game called "Amy's Fantasies." The idea was that this girl and her "special" friends were roleplaying out different H fantasies, and each of the three stories (that used the same character designs, but with totally different personalities and such) was a different one.

*shrugs*
0_o;;;;; I played that game, and that's not how I remember it at all... IIRC, the real story was that she was chasing her kidnapped brother across Japan through schoolgirl, nurse, and maid scenerios, or somesuch. Of course it's actually her adopted brother, so there can be some cool psuedo-incest at some point along the way. Someone may have marketed it differently, though... god knows that mainstream porn is full of false advertising.
Either way, I can't see why the main concept idea wouldn't work. Think something like Futakoi vs. Futakoi Alternative, or the various Higurashi stories: take a series of characters and backgrounds, change and alter them as needed, and them come up with a couple of plots. So the same three girls who in one chapter are your childhood friends and you're trying to choose between them which one to take to the prom could, with some new costumes and event scenes, turn out in the next storyline to be a trio of superspies assigned to protect you from the Evil Wasp King.

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