The Time Stones [Adventure, SF, Character-Driven]

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Gear
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The Time Stones [Adventure, SF, Character-Driven]

#1 Post by Gear » Mon Jan 02, 2012 2:34 am

Image
Genre: Adventure, Mystery, Science Fiction

This project has been worked on for quite a while, but I'm just now deciding to get a WIP thread up for it. Partially to motivate me to continue working, partially to get feedback, and partially still to whet appetites for a strong, character-driven adventure title, something I haven't seen as many of as I had anticipated upon getting involved in this community.

The Time Stones centers around five college kids who are swept away to another land, different from their own. The laws of physics still seem to be in place, but nothing looks quite the same. The world is rocky, devoid of human life, and only the presence of fish and a few trees seems to indicate the existence of life at all. The kids don't know why they're there, how they got there, or how to get home, but they have to learn to cooperate to survive. Compounding their problems is the fact that they're being hunted...and don't know it.

While the primary antagonist seems to be a mysterious figure, the kids fight each other, and themselves, far more than any generic villain. If there's anything that will kill them, it's likely to be each other.

This is an adventure title that is driven primarily through character development. Each character has a unique individual plot, and they will grow and change as the story progresses. The game keeps track of what decisions you make for the first 19 chapters; in Chapter 20, the character with the most points in their favor becomes the main character, and their storyline unfolds in front of you. Their specific demons come to light, and the other characters play important roles in helping them grow to become a better person. Additionally, a sixth character is introduced whose identity varies depending upon the character spotlighted in Chapter 20. This character serves as the final challenge to full development, forcing the individual to face whatever demons they've been hiding for so long.

Other elements include a science fiction-based plot, and minor romance. The spotlight character has the option to 'bond' with other characters based upon their sexuality and the number of points they've accumulated. The game has BxB, BxG, and GxB, but no GxG due to the characters that were created for the story. (I eventually decided it wouldn't be prudent to introduce a sixth main character solely for the purposes of gender diversity.) Each of the characters is extremely in-depth, with their life stories already written long before the game starts.

The art is a massive joint effort. Credit for the music goes to Kevin MacLeod, the TAM! Music Factory, and Jason Patterson. The logo is courtesy Jesse Hibbs Photography. Sprite art by Kieran O'Donnell, produced through privately taken photos traced in Photoshop. Backgrounds by Cosmic Kitty. Concept art by Jesse Hibbs Photography. Sound effects taken from many many many Freesound members, all of whom are credited via our website.

The art style is...different, I'll admit. I take photos of friends of mine and trace them in Photoshop, discard the original image, then color and shade them. I used a regular coloring style with very light shading initially, but switched to the cell-shade style more recently. This was the best alternative I had to drawing in the beginning (because I lack the talent to draw), and eventually, it evolved and improved significantly with time. The style adds a dynamic to the characters, and fits in line with my philosophy that I will not use the same sprite several times with multiple facial layers. With the characters posing differently in every shot, it creates a more dynamic realism while playing that I'm rather fond/proud of.

The story itself was started in 1998. The original prototype for the story was far more fantastical; through a joint effort of three writers (myself included), we crafted the beginnings of a story involving three kids who get pulled into another world full of massive creatures hunting them and befriending them. As one of the writers dropped out in 1999, the story was scrapped. A slightly more SF-style story was crafted in early 2000 with a group of four writers, which soon grew to five. The story was revamped to remove the mystical creatures in favor of genetic horrors. The story was slowly written until 2004, when one new writer was added, and three of the four original writers dropped out, giving written consent for the story to be continued in their absence. It continued to be slowly written by the remaining two writers until 2008, when it went on hiatus. In 2011, the story was rebuilt from the ground up, to include new characters and alteration of personalities (the originals were a bit extreme in their tropes), and a slight revamping of the plot to add more mystery and less action. The largest change was the switch from a standard novel format to a VN. The result is the WIP you see before you.

The characters are the main focus of the story, with the setting serving as a catalyst to their development. In other words, the setting is there mostly just to evolve the various characters. The characters are listed in no particular order below, as all characters can receive equal spotlight depending on player decisions.

Characters:
Image
Ethan Huýnh
Likeness: Phillip O’Donnell
Voice: Victor Aguilar
Ethan is a snarky, cynical technophile who seems to have better relations with people from a distance. He comes from a broken family, and has a terrible temper as a result. He studies medicine in college, and is knowledgeable on a broad spectrum of subjects. He’s also physically fit and a well-rounded fighter, thanks to Damian.

Image
Damian Cruz
Likeness: Gustavo Lugo
Voice: Ian Fox
Damian is a bit of a womanizer at first glance, but don’t let that stop you from getting to know him. He has the strength, skill, and experience to put down threats to safety, but will always try the peaceful approach first. This philosophy is often lost on the not-so-evenly-tempered Ethan, but Damian doesn’t let that stop him from trying to be a good influence. He prefers to be comic relief during stressful situations, but his humor isn’t always well-received.

Image
Xander Rankin
Likeness: Bryan Clayton
Voice: Patrick Smith
Xander is a politician through-and-through. With a senator and a councilwoman for parents, he was constantly inundated with political machinations, and he quickly learned to follow in his parents’ footsteps. He’s won several elections in high school, and even won his first College Student Government presidency, but there’s always been rumors that he doesn’t really fight fair. The same could be said for his eternal opponent Raven, who “steals” as many of his victories as he earns through the years.

Image
Raven O’Neil
Likeness: Chiye Green
Voice: Jeanna Lue
There are no questions when dealing with Raven. Everyone else in this story is quick to buffer difficult situations (or sometimes provoke them) with sarcasm, but Raven has always been a straight-talker. It’s this honest-to-a-fault trait that’s won her several elections, sweeping the rug out from her rival, Xander. They hate each other with a passion, and Raven makes it very well-known. She cares for people, but severely lacks trust in anyone, and often comes off as constantly angry.

Image
Gage Trent
Likeness: Anthony Gallion
Voice: Wes Davis
Gage is quiet and reserved. His name is well-known in local art shows, but not his face, as he rarely attends showings. He prefers a quiet life of painting, sketching and watching. He has an eye for analysis, and can spend very little time around someone before picking up on subtle cues that betray a person’s motives and personality. He tends to stick close to strong personalities like Raven, and sometimes Ethan, but hates Xander almost as much as Raven does.
Status of completion (full game):
Main Plot: 100%
Physical Writing: 25%
Sprite Art: 80%
CGs: 15%
Backgrounds: 50%
Programming: 20%

Status of completion (demo):
Main Plot: 100%
Physical Writing: 100%
Sprite Art: 100%
CGs: 100%
Backgrounds: 100%
Programming: 100%
Branches: 5 Prologues, 2 Chapters, total of 8 branched demo endings.

Ultimately, from posting this thread, I look to get criticism, and to be able to post announcements. Having a public record of progress, I hope, will help motivation in the long run.
Screenshots
screenshot0016.png
Ethan muses over where they are.
screenshot0012.png
Damian's had enough.
screenshot0011.png
Xander lays down the law.
screenshot0015.png
Raven
Raven can't stand Xander.
screenshot0013.png
Gage
Gage gets lost in the forest.
kick.png
Raven and Ethan discuss their differences (art by CosmicKitty).
rfall.png
What awaits her on the other side?
Updates:
5.16.2012 - New sprite art added, new model for Gage. New screenshots forthcoming.
5.19.2012 - Screenshots added.
6.28.2012 - Incomplete (Alpha) Demo added - http://lemmasoft.renai.us/forums/viewto ... 45&t=15911
10.24.2012 - Character infographics created, character information updated. Screenshots taken down, new screenshots forthcoming.
01.24.2013 - Demo taken down, beginning retooling process.
06.06.2013 - Exceeded 20% writing point.
12.01.2014 - Project canceled.
Last edited by Gear on Fri Feb 06, 2015 3:01 am, edited 39 times in total.
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Re: [Adventure] The Time Stones

#2 Post by Reikun » Tue Jan 03, 2012 10:29 pm

Gear wrote:This is an adventure title that is driven primarily through character development. Each character has a unique individual plot, and they will grow and change as the story progresses. The game keeps track of what decisions you make for the first 19 chapters; in Chapter 20, the character with the most points in their favor becomes the main character, and their storyline unfolds in front of you. Their specific demons come to light, and the other characters play important roles in helping them grow to become a better person. Additionally, a sixth character is introduced whose identity varies depending upon the character spotlighted in Chapter 20. This character serves as the final challenge to full development, forcing the individual to face whatever demons they've been hiding for so long.
I really love this mechanic you have with Chap. 20 and changing the main character. I love character-driven stuff because I find it more true to the characters than throwing them into a plot-driven thing where the characters seem written to fill a role rather than allowed to "grow" (though it's also true that few stories are 100% character or plot driven, and characters can grow to change an originally plot-driven tale and vice-versa where plots can force characters into certain circumstances-- but this drivel is getting off-topic).

Aside from that, I was wondering why you decided the have sprites along with side-images of the same character in some scenes. To me it looks redundant, but I would like to hear your reasons for using this method of presenting the story.
ImageImageImage

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Re: [Adventure] The Time Stones

#3 Post by Gear » Wed Jan 04, 2012 9:18 am

Initially, it was a combination of filling up the screen, and the whole 'everybody's doing it' thing. But upon reevaluation, I think you're right. It's a bit redundant. O_o

I do agree, it is all to common for characters to be shoved into a role rather than being allowed to be who they are. My characters write the story, not me, so I get as much enjoyment out of it as any reader.
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Re: [Adventure] The Time Stones

#4 Post by Reikun » Fri Jan 13, 2012 9:08 pm

How's the progress? : )
Just dropping in to ask approximately how long each chapter is (because 20 is kind of a lot.. to me xD Even more so depending on how long it takes to play through each chapter, but I guess this isn't an issue if the story is really captivating!)
Do you have an estimate of how long this game will be when it's complete?
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Re: [Adventure] The Time Stones

#5 Post by Gear » Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:24 pm

The total number of chapters will be 30. Each chapter so far has measured to be about 10 minutes long at my reading speed (though I do read rather quickly). I'd like to think the story is captivating, but I am aware that it may be shorter in the end of I'm simply running out of material (don't want to write just for writings' sake). So far, the 5 prologues, the single Chapter One, and one of the Chapter 2's have been written, with some progress on one of the other chapter 2's.
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Re: [Adventure] The Time Stones

#6 Post by Nuxill » Sun Jan 15, 2012 10:02 pm

Wow, this game sounds like it's going to be pretty awesome! I love a good adventure game, especially one with lots of character development.

I hope everything goes smoothly for you guys.

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Re: [Adventure] The Time Stones

#7 Post by Gear » Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:34 am

Thanks! I hope you'll get a chance to play the demo when it comes out.
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Re: [Adventure] The Time Stones

#8 Post by jaypee_1 » Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:03 am

Gear wrote:Thanks! I hope you'll get a chance to play the demo when it comes out.
looking forward on that demo, will this game have multiple endings too?

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Re: [Adventure] The Time Stones

#9 Post by Gear » Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:07 am

Yes. Each character has one good ending that has two or more smaller branches, and there are bad endings peppered throughout.
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Re: [Adventure] The Time Stones

#10 Post by Gear » Wed May 16, 2012 4:21 pm

--Content no longer accurate--
Last edited by Gear on Sat Nov 03, 2012 12:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: [Adventure] The Time Stones

#11 Post by Crocosquirrel » Wed May 16, 2012 4:58 pm

Reikun wrote:How's the progress? : )
Just dropping in to ask approximately how long each chapter is (because 20 is kind of a lot.. to me xD Even more so depending on how long it takes to play through each chapter, but I guess this isn't an issue if the story is really captivating!)
Do you have an estimate of how long this game will be when it's complete?
The Demo section is in editing now, and individual chapters aren't too bad for length. If I had to guess, I'd say a path at the current rate will take between two and three hours to dig through.
I'm going to get off my soap-box now, and let you get back to your day.

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Re: [Adventure] The Time Stones

#12 Post by Obscura » Wed May 16, 2012 7:34 pm

Looking forward to your Demo. Your characters all sound very realistic. I like it!

Their drawings look a tad older than their ages would suggest, but that's just a minor quibble.

Anyways, sounds like an ambitious project. Keep it moving!
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Re: [Adventure] The Time Stones

#13 Post by Gear » Wed May 16, 2012 9:58 pm

Yeah, I'm really trying to work on that mess. Problem is, all my models are in their twenties...
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Re: [Adventure] The Time Stones

#14 Post by Egressus » Thu May 17, 2012 12:32 am

I think I'll be keeping my eyes on this.

The idea of switching into a main character is really awesome, mostly from knowing that we'll get to explore that character. Their special demons? Oh yes.

And I like the plot. It reminds me of the simpler days where adventure books are really adventures. Actually, it sort of reminds me of The Adventure series by Enid Blyton, except for the expected drama and disagreements.

I'll look forward other updates!

(I'd offer drawing, but my drawing style doesn't fit this...)
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Re: [Adventure] The Time Stones

#15 Post by Gear » Sat May 19, 2012 11:20 am

I'm glad to see my project's caught your attention. If you really are interested in drawing, and have the free time, let me know. (Style-wise, I'm not concerned, I do need a lot of various things.)
The best reason to get up in the morning is to outdo yourself: to do it better than you've ever done it before. But if you haven't done it better by nightfall... look at your globe and pick a spot: it's always morning somewhere.

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