Creating Assets for multiple platforms

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Kogepan
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Creating Assets for multiple platforms

#1 Post by Kogepan » Mon Oct 17, 2016 10:54 am

Hi everyone!

I'm a newbie on this forum, pleased to meet you all!

I've been working in the games industry for almost 10 years now as a 2D & 3D artist, but always as part of a bigger team. Now I want to create a visual novel completely solo and I'm done with the story and moving on to asset production. I was hoping someone more experienced in the realm of Visual novels could answer a few questions. Also I warmly welcome any unrelated tips as well! I'm planning to create the game with Tyranobuilder (+Live2d), but I might upgrade it into a Unity3D project later if TB proves inadequate in some aspect. (My questions are general so I'm not going to post this on the other engines section.)

- [RESOLUTION] I plan to release the game on PC, MAC, smartphones and tablets. This means that the game will require several resolution options. For this reason I'm not quite sure what to use as my "default" asset creation resolution. Currently I'm thinking of creating the assets into the maximum supported resolution (2560x1440) and downscaling from there when needed. What do you guys think?

- [CONTENT] I'm planning on creating 2 different versions of the game. An adult rated version which will be available for PC and MAC and a more casual version for smartphones and tablets. This is mostly due to the quite strict content rules on the App store and Google Play. What do you think about this idea and have any of you done something like this before?

- [OPTIMIZING] Since the game is going to be multiplatform I'm planning on customizing the different game builds to ensure the best gameplay quality possible. How do you go about this process? I've often worked with Unity3d and it's easy to anchor UIs and scale graphics, but in another engine the worst case scenario is possibly having to do everything by hand.

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Re: Creating Assets for multiple platforms

#2 Post by firecat » Mon Oct 17, 2016 12:08 pm

you might to read my review on Tyranobuilder, you will find that it isn't all that great:
http://bigattck.tumblr.com/post/1449229 ... -is-a-scam

2560x1440 is way too big for laptop users like me, everyone recommends 1280x760p or 480x360p. anything to help youtubers.

adult games are very strict on pc, this is mostly due to keeping kids safe. only one site allows you to share adult content without limits but beware of paypal's agreement on it. Ideally, you can host it on your own website with a 3th party app that allows adult content. anyway there is no good answer for this type, you need to know what you are getting yourself into before you ran into a legal problem.

Yes that's how it works, unity made it easier but other programs still are catching up to unity. it wouldn't be that hard but yes things will be done by hand.
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Re: Creating Assets for multiple platforms

#3 Post by Kogepan » Mon Oct 17, 2016 12:37 pm

Thanks very much for the thorough answer firecat!

I'll definitely look over your review. I know that TB is very limited and what worries me the most is that it's rumoured to be unstable. Currently I'm thinking of using TB to put together a simple "draft" of the game, for simple and quick testing. I'm luckily married to a coder so I will most likely force him to help with Unity3d implementation ;)

As for the adult content. I would like to sell the game on Steam and they don't have extremely strict content policies. I already have a few projects on there so getting the game in there shouldn't be a problem. I'm completely unaware of where people usually sell their visual novels so I will have to do some reading on the forum and find out more.

Thanks again!

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Re: Creating Assets for multiple platforms

#4 Post by firecat » Mon Oct 17, 2016 12:50 pm

Seam does not sell adult games, mangagamer, Winged Cloud, etc, found a legal loophole steam's agreement about adult games. While many users thank visual novels are sex games, that is far from the truth. People who are new put there games in itch.io because its free and you can upload anything like comics, soundtracts, artwork, donation, etc. Steam is too strict, the steam community no longer thinks visual novels as games, you need to spend $100 for greenlight, legal issues, etc.
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Re: Creating Assets for multiple platforms

#5 Post by Kogepan » Mon Oct 17, 2016 1:44 pm

Hmm, I guess it all depends on how graphic the adult content is. The game I'm working on is relatively mild, but it would definitely be at least K16 due to violence, foul language and mild nudity. I found an old article http://kotaku.com/steam-is-getting-an-u ... 1728006494 stating that Steam will sell at least one "sex game". I'm sure my game would pass their rules since they are already selling 3 games that are about the same level as mine:

- Men of Yoshiwara
- Amnesia Memories
- OZMAFIA!!

Thanks for pointing this out though... I had no idea that Steam had different guidelines when it comes to sexual content.

As for the users of Steam I did some snooping and the games I mention above have each sold 5000 - 50 000 copies at a very high price point. They also have good reviews. From this I deduce that there is a small demographic of users that buy otome games on Steam. Not enough to really make a killing, but combined with mobile sales it might be enough.

Steam Greenlight is a hassle for sure, but if the game's production values are high enough it's quite easy to fly through the vote.

Can you tell me more about the legal issues you mentioned? Are you talking about the financial paperwork or something entirely different?

Thanks!

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Re: Creating Assets for multiple platforms

#6 Post by Zelan » Mon Oct 17, 2016 6:54 pm

Kogepan wrote:- [CONTENT] I'm planning on creating 2 different versions of the game. An adult rated version which will be available for PC and MAC and a more casual version for smartphones and tablets. This is mostly due to the quite strict content rules on the App store and Google Play. What do you think about this idea and have any of you done something like this before?
I can't say anything about your other points, but concerning this: I'd suggest that the toned-down version is available for all platforms. The reason is that you'll be able to appeal to a wider audience - for instance, people who use PC or Mac for their games and aren't huge fans of adult content (aka me). In fact, the best thing to do would be to have all of the versions available on all platforms, but due to the content rules that you mentioned it wouldn't be plausible to get a game with adult content onto mobile platforms.

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Re: Creating Assets for multiple platforms

#7 Post by Kogepan » Tue Oct 18, 2016 4:20 am

Zelan wrote:
I can't say anything about your other points, but concerning this: I'd suggest that the toned-down version is available for all platforms. The reason is that you'll be able to appeal to a wider audience - for instance, people who use PC or Mac for their games and aren't huge fans of adult content (aka me). In fact, the best thing to do would be to have all of the versions available on all platforms, but due to the content rules that you mentioned it wouldn't be plausible to get a game with adult content onto mobile platforms.
That's a very good point! I've been trying to think of a way to let as many people enjoy the game as possible and what I've come up with is a small questionnaire system. When the game starts there will be 3 questions (below are badly worded examples):

1. What do you think about violence?
A: I don't like it!
B: It's okay, but I don't enjoy it.
C: Love it!

2. What do you think about foul language?
A: I hate it!
B: I don't mind a bit of swearing.
C: Bring it on!

3. What do you think about sexual content?
A: I don't like it!
B: It's okay, but I prefer it to be toned down/mild.
C: Love it, the dirtier the better!

Depending on these answers the content of the game will be a bit different. For example a sex scene would range from somewhat graphic to the characters just having a romantic conversation. A violent scene would range from a detailed description and imagery to vague description and no image (or no blood). This would require 3 variations of a single scene, but since my game doesn't have that many violent or sexul scenes the workdload wouldn't be a complete nightmare. This way one game would have a higher chance of pleasing a bigger demographic of players with different tastes. What do you think about this? The mobile version would of course feature only the mildest version and this quiz system would be available only on the PC version.

Thanks!

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Re: Creating Assets for multiple platforms

#8 Post by Harliqueen » Tue Oct 18, 2016 4:42 am

You could always just do the standard 'fade-to-black' scenes, instead of having to rewrite the scene 3 times. For users happy with graphic content, keep it as is, for those not so much, just lead up to the point and then let the scene fade.

But anyways! I do agree with Zelan about providing all options on all platforms if you're doing it. It also means you widen your audience and possible customer base, which is always good! :D

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Re: Creating Assets for multiple platforms

#9 Post by firecat » Tue Oct 18, 2016 8:32 am

I wish I could tell you about the legal issues but users here will go nuts defending Steam's user agreement and will mislead you into believing it's safe to sign a contract with Valve.
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Re: Creating Assets for multiple platforms

#10 Post by Kogepan » Tue Oct 18, 2016 8:47 am

Harliqueen wrote:You could always just do the standard 'fade-to-black' scenes, instead of having to rewrite the scene 3 times. For users happy with graphic content, keep it as is, for those not so much, just lead up to the point and then let the scene fade.

But anyways! I do agree with Zelan about providing all options on all platforms if you're doing it. It also means you widen your audience and possible customer base, which is always good! :D
Thanks for the suggestion! I think it might be viable to go for a fade to black approach at least until I see how much work and time it would take to make the 3 scene rewrites. :D

What do you guys think about adding a disclaimer into the mobile version that let's the player know that they are playing a "censored" version (possibly even informing them where to access the uncensored version)? There are a lot of otome games for mobile that I would like to play, but I personally find them too juvenile and I would love to have access to an adult version for PC. I'm not even sure if it's against Google Play/App store rules to mention that there is another version of the game available on another platform.

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Re: Creating Assets for multiple platforms

#11 Post by Kogepan » Tue Oct 18, 2016 8:52 am

firecat wrote:I wish I could tell you about the legal issues but users here will go nuts defending Steam's user agreement and will mislead you into believing it's safe to sign a contract with Valve.
I've released a few games on Steam and so far I've had no problems with them - even one with a 3D cutscene showing a mild sex scene with full frontal female nudity. Your comment does make me a bit wary, I wonder if they are more critical of Visual novels. If anyone else has something to add I would really appreciate it. :)

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Re: Creating Assets for multiple platforms

#12 Post by Zelan » Tue Oct 18, 2016 3:40 pm

Kogepan wrote:
Harliqueen wrote:You could always just do the standard 'fade-to-black' scenes, instead of having to rewrite the scene 3 times. For users happy with graphic content, keep it as is, for those not so much, just lead up to the point and then let the scene fade.

But anyways! I do agree with Zelan about providing all options on all platforms if you're doing it. It also means you widen your audience and possible customer base, which is always good! :D
Thanks for the suggestion! I think it might be viable to go for a fade to black approach at least until I see how much work and time it would take to make the 3 scene rewrites. :D

What do you guys think about adding a disclaimer into the mobile version that let's the player know that they are playing a "censored" version (possibly even informing them where to access the uncensored version)? There are a lot of otome games for mobile that I would like to play, but I personally find them too juvenile and I would love to have access to an adult version for PC. I'm not even sure if it's against Google Play/App store rules to mention that there is another version of the game available on another platform.
Fade-to-black is generally pretty good for getting the message across, but I think I've only ever seen it used for sex scenes, never for violence unless a character has been knocked unconscious.

The quiz is an interesting idea - some people might consider it a little bit immersion-breaking, but it probably works better than having a pop-up right before a sex scene saying "Yo there's about to be nekkid people onscreen you okay with that??"

I'm not sure about Google Play and App Store's rules concerning that, but if it's allowed I would definitely let people know that they're playing a censored version. That way, anyone interested in the mature content would know where to look for it instead of stumbling on it by accident online.

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Re: Creating Assets for multiple platforms

#13 Post by Rossfellow » Tue Oct 18, 2016 9:51 pm

I'm going to go ahead and rename this thread "OP does research and muses publicly as they answer their own questions." :lol:
[RESOLUTION]Currently I'm thinking of creating the assets into the maximum supported resolution (2560x1440) and downscaling from there when needed. What do you guys think?
Yes, this is the way to go. Though you ought to try to make the filesize as small as possible without compromising image quality, especially if you plan to port to mobile. Mobile doesn't handle big image files as well as PCs do. Here's a neat thread about some possibilities. viewtopic.php?f=4&t=40277

Keep in mind that different platforms might have different ratios, too. The standard for PC is usually something like 4:3, but something like a Vita would have 16:9, so if you plan to port to Vita(just an example), you'll have to cut something from the image or else it gets badly stretched.
[CONTENT] I'm planning on creating 2 different versions of the game. An adult rated version which will be available for PC and MAC and a more casual version for smartphones and tablets. This is mostly due to the quite strict content rules on the App store and Google Play. What do you think about this idea and have any of you done something like this before?
This is just an opinion, but if you plan to make an adult game with sexual themes you should go full throttle with it. Don't water your game down for the benefit of people who won't be interested in it to begin with. And, currently, as it stands, the only mobile platform that is lenient towards adult content is Android.

But if you want to go the flexible route for your main platforms, Saya no Uta provides a neat way to go about it. Make it a disclaimer at the very beginning of the game, and/or put them in the options.
Image
[OPTIMIZING] Since the game is going to be multiplatform I'm planning on customizing the different game builds to ensure the best gameplay quality possible. How do you go about this process? I've often worked with Unity3d and it's easy to anchor UIs and scale graphics, but in another engine the worst case scenario is possibly having to do everything by hand.
While it's a smart choice to make a multi-platform game under the constraints of the weakest hardware among your chosen platforms (less time porting and recoding), there are good examples of game ports that are significantly simplified for optimal running. The first thing that comes to mind is Persona 3 for the PS2 being ported to the PSP. The ported game had a completely revised UI and transitioned from roaming RPG to a point-and-click. It's possible, but you'll have to put some effort into it.

VNs in particular have a very easy ride when being ported into mobile platforms because all you really need to do is downscale images (unless you have one of those super fancy UIs) and adjust the ratio. The problem after that is the filesize constraint. It's generally not a good idea to go over 1.5GB(this is generous) for a visual novel, especially if it doesn't have voices and movie files.

Lastly, Steam has entire libraries of violent and/or sexual video games. VNs are not exempt from this, nor should they be.
firecat wrote:I wish I could tell you about the legal issues but users here will go nuts defending Steam's user agreement and will mislead you into believing it's safe to sign a contract with Valve.
Publishing in Steam is both fair and safe. You just don't like it.
firecat wrote:will mislead you
Please, elaborate. Citation would be appreciated as well. Maybe you'll be able to convince OP if they saw you make your case.
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Sedatophobia (latin SedatoPhobia)
___(n) 1: The averse reaction to stillness, silence and/or state of helplessness.
______2: (Psychology) A state of distress where the victim's sense of reality can no longer keep up with his or her imagination.
______Related: Madness, Paranoia, Despair

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Re: Creating Assets for multiple platforms

#14 Post by Kogepan » Wed Oct 19, 2016 5:17 am

Fade-to-black is generally pretty good for getting the message across, but I think I've only ever seen it used for sex scenes, never for violence unless a character has been knocked unconscious.
This is the reason why fade to black might not be the ideal solution for my game, at least for all scenes. It might be possible to use fade to black in sex scenes and modify the violent scenes (images/text). It's definitely a tool that is useful to have in my toolbag :)
The quiz is an interesting idea - some people might consider it a little bit immersion-breaking, but it probably works better than having a pop-up right before a sex scene saying "Yo there's about to be nekkid people onscreen you okay with that??"
This is a really important point! For me immersion is the number one thing when I'm playing a game, whether it's an RPG or something simpler. The quiz would probably start right after the player presses "NEW GAME" and it should be extremely quick to finish. The thing I worry about is that the first impression might be a bit strange if the game starts of with a quiz... a LOT of people just stop playing the second they encounter something the don't like or if they feel bored for even a minute. That makes it a bit risky to put the quiz at the start....

I really like the Saya no Uta way of dealing with this problem. Showing a simple disclaimer and giving the player options to change the content might be a quicker, more streamlined way of achieving what I want.
I'm not sure about Google Play and App Store's rules concerning that, but if it's allowed I would definitely let people know that they're playing a censored version. That way, anyone interested in the mature content would know where to look for it instead of stumbling on it by accident online.
Thanks for the feedback on this! I will try to figure out if something like this is allowed in these stores. One would think that it should be at least okay to mention that there is an uncensored version of the game if you do not add a link or mention another store.

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Re: Creating Assets for multiple platforms

#15 Post by Kogepan » Wed Oct 19, 2016 6:08 am

I'm going to go ahead and rename this thread "OP does research and muses publicly as they answer their own questions." :lol:
Heh, sorry about that! :D I have a tendency to double guess myself all the time so I like to bounce off ideas on other people and see what they think. I'm more confident with areas I have a lot of experience in, but I've never done a Visual Novel so I'm trying my best not to go full speed ahead before I iron out all the details. So far all of you have really helped me get a more solid idea of where I want to go with the project. :lol: Sorry if the thread comes off as a strange monologue :wink:
Yes, this is the way to go. Though you ought to try to make the filesize as small as possible without compromising image quality, especially if you plan to port to mobile. Mobile doesn't handle big image files as well as PCs do. Here's a neat thread about some possibilities. viewtopic.php?f=4&t=40277
Thanks for the thread link, I'll check it out.
Keep in mind that different platforms might have different ratios, too. The standard for PC is usually something like 4:3, but something like a Vita would have 16:9, so if you plan to port to Vita(just an example), you'll have to cut something from the image or else it gets badly stretched.
This is the biggest reason why Unity3D would be the way to go about things... I wish there was an easy to use multi-resolution/aspect ratio visual novel engine out there... :D
This is just an opinion, but if you plan to make an adult game with sexual themes you should go full throttle with it. Don't water your game down for the benefit of people who won't be interested in it to begin with.
Heh, good point. I thought about this before and a part of me thinks that it's the players fault if they dislike the adult content if they knowingly chose to play a game marketed as a game for adults. :D Then again the more mainstream gamedev in me knows that it would be foolish to not at least try to expand the demographic if at all possible. I definitely consider the uncut version the "vanilla" version and everything that is taken out or modified will water it down. I should at least try to accentuate that the uncut version is the "developer's cut" and that if the player chooses to modify the content via a quiz or some other system I come up with, they will not experience the full thing.
And, currently, as it stands, the only mobile platform that is lenient towards adult content is Android.
I've tried to read up on the Google Play content rules and they seem quite strict. They had a quiz-like system and when I went through the questions my game definitely fit the adult section. Is their content rules more for show or do they really check each game and adhere to strict rules? I would love to hear experiences from anyone who has published something a bit more mature on their store.
But if you want to go the flexible route for your main platforms, Saya no Uta provides a neat way to go about it. Make it a disclaimer at the very beginning of the game, and/or put them in the options.
Image
I'll have to test this game out, I really like that they've managed to condense the content modification options into a single informative page. Thanks for pointing it out!
While it's a smart choice to make a multi-platform game under the constraints of the weakest hardware among your chosen platforms (less time porting and recoding), there are good examples of game ports that are significantly simplified for optimal running. The first thing that comes to mind is Persona 3 for the PS2 being ported to the PSP. The ported game had a completely revised UI and transitioned from roaming RPG to a point-and-click. It's possible, but you'll have to put some effort into it.
Thanks I'll check these games out. You're right, it will definitely require a lot of effort to port the game into several platforms. I'm trying to design a UI that would work well with all of them, but I'll very likely run into some problems sooner or later. Do you guys have opinions about portrait vs landscape mode (on mobile)? I'm thinking of locking the game into landscape mode since it would cause a lot of problems to try to get everything working in portrait mode.
VNs in particular have a very easy ride when being ported into mobile platforms because all you really need to do is downscale images (unless you have one of those super fancy UIs) and adjust the ratio. The problem after that is the filesize constraint. It's generally not a good idea to go over 1.5GB(this is generous) for a visual novel, especially if it doesn't have voices and movie files.
Another good point, thanks! I will not include voice files, but I will have movie files and a lot of music and sound effects. 1.5GB is quite generous though and it should be fine, but of course it's a bit difficult to estimate the final file size before I get on with the asset production.
Lastly, Steam has entire libraries of violent and/or sexual video games. VNs are not exempt from this, nor should they be.
Good to know! I've played a lot of mature games on Steam, but I've often heard it mentioned that Steam has objections to sexual content so that's why I'm a bit wary.

Thanks for contributing your feedback! :)

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