[UPDATED DEMO] This Is Not A Game [Sci-fi, Mystery, Romance]

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TheTourist
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[UPDATED DEMO] This Is Not A Game [Sci-fi, Mystery, Romance]

#1 Post by TheTourist » Thu Jul 26, 2012 12:20 pm

[untitled0] – This Is Not A Game is, in fact, totally a game. More specifically, it’s a visual novel, and the accumulation of your choices determine the plot. In Earth's past, a woman seeks to free her lover from jail, while in the future, a innocent farmer must deal with the consequences...
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You are the 12th copy of the Sama series, a modified consciousness uploaded into orbit around the moon. You are an occasionally intelligent and entirely common farmer, harvesting code for software that you’ll never see or experience. Back on Earth, humanity continues, but your existence repeats itself hundreds of times per day at the speed of light. Sometimes you dream about other worlds... but no, this is your life now.
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Until, one day, everything goes wrong, and your collective is hacked. A mysterious entity interlopes in your realm, the god-like supervisor uses you as bait to catch the hacker, and your own past – and the decision you made to upload – comes back to haunt you. As you go on the run, through memories and simulations, digital and flesh, it’s up to you to figure out what’s true and what’s false, and whether that really matters. After all, you’re just a program, and programs can be deleted edited changed rewritten.
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This demo takes you up to, oh, about the end of Act One and just a step beyond. Any feedback about the writing, the art, the music, the GUI, or even the concept would be appreciated! Big, heady ideas are worth nothing – do you care about the mystery? Do you care about yourself? Or, at least, the game version of yourself? Are you totally bored/confused out of your mind? Exactly how much does my art suck? Did you find any glaring errors? Because... because I hope not.

(Since the first demo I uploaded a couple of weeks ago, I've made some changes: two more chapters, lots of extra art assets, and the protagonist has been fleshed out a bit more.)
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SOME WORDS OF WARNING: there are no saves or loads, there is interface screw, and absolutely none of this game takes place in Japan or a high school.

Stock Photo Credits:

Marcus Ranum (http://www.ranum.com), NASA, Wolfwind9115 (wolfwing9115.deviantart.com), Photohouse (photohouse.deviantart.com), Sugary-stock (sugary-stock.deviantart.com), Ego-Madking (shaedsofgrey.deviantart.com), PoorSouls (poorsouls-stock.deviantart.com/art/Holy-return-1-193691393), Magweno (carn-dearg.deviantart.com), Nei Ruffino (toolkitten.deviantart.com), lured2stock (lured2stock.deviantart.com), and others whose names I need to add...

Music and Sound Credits:

Susumu Hirasawa: The Girl in Byakkoya - White Tiger Field (Paprika ending theme); Incompetech: Steel and Seething, Promises to Keep, Movement Proposition, Lightless Dawn, Terminal; PacDV: pretty much all the sound effects in the game so far.

Download the demo here!





Progress:
Writing - 15%
GUI - 35%
Art - 15%
Programming - 20%


Thanks! :D
Last edited by TheTourist on Wed Aug 15, 2012 2:29 pm, edited 3 times in total.
=-=-=-=-=-Works In Progress-=-=-=-=-=
This Is Not A Game - a posthuman mystery and all-too-human love story
This Is Not a Love Story - three high school students intersect over the course of a Friday night

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Re: [DEMO]Untitled0 - This Is Not A Game [Scifi,Mystery,Roma

#2 Post by saguaro » Thu Jul 26, 2012 10:11 pm

This is interesting. I wouldn't mind chewing on this one for a while, but here are my first impressions:

You're a wordsmith, so the language has a good feel to it, even when your meaning isn't always entirely clear. There are some great lines. For example: "You exhale, and watch your breath condense according to environmental software. It's quite pretty." However, sometimes streamlining is needed (e.g. "affable detachment").

I think you would get more bang for your assets if you implemented more slow scrolls and things like that. You can definitely use NVL styling to your advantage to add more visual interest to those sections (maybe a glowy, terminal vibe like your main menu and typographic styling to emphasize certain words or phrases). The weibing's red text was a little hard to read, even a small black outline would probably help. I like the art style and the way the interface gets jumbled.

The mystery is compelling enough that I wanted to keep reading to find out more. I think the game "me" is a bit amorphous though, I felt somewhat detached from it.

Looking forward to seeing how this develops.

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Re: [DEMO]Untitled0 - This Is Not A Game [Scifi,Mystery,Roma

#3 Post by TheTourist » Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:25 pm

saguaro wrote:This is interesting. I wouldn't mind chewing on this one for a while, but here are my first impressions:

You're a wordsmith, so the language has a good feel to it, even when your meaning isn't always entirely clear. There are some great lines. For example: "You exhale, and watch your breath condense according to environmental software. It's quite pretty." However, sometimes streamlining is needed (e.g. "affable detachment").

Haha, that's definitely a big problem. I need to go through the game again with a fine-toothed comb and edit out some of the flashy writing, for sure.
I think you would get more bang for your assets if you implemented more slow scrolls and things like that. You can definitely use NVL styling to your advantage to add more visual interest to those sections (maybe a glowy, terminal vibe like your main menu and typographic styling to emphasize certain words or phrases). The weibing's red text was a little hard to read, even a small black outline would probably help. I like the art style and the way the interface gets jumbled.
I've added a custom textbox, but I hadn't thought of doing more slow scrolls... You're right, I need to "get more bang for my assets" since I'm not an artist. I'll change the weibing's red text as well.
The mystery is compelling enough that I wanted to keep reading to find out more. I think the game "me" is a bit amorphous though, I felt somewhat detached from it.
This was definitely my biggest worry; some of 12th Sama's personality comes in later, but that's a little late. I might add a prologue just to show him in "normal" life, and color his character a bit.
Looking forward to seeing how this develops.
Me too! And thanks for the thorough critique. :)
=-=-=-=-=-Works In Progress-=-=-=-=-=
This Is Not A Game - a posthuman mystery and all-too-human love story
This Is Not a Love Story - three high school students intersect over the course of a Friday night

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Re: [DEMO]Untitled0 - This Is Not A Game [Scifi,Mystery,Roma

#4 Post by saguaro » Fri Jul 27, 2012 4:57 pm

I'm glad to see a project like this because it showcases the strengths of the medium. The writing and concept are good, and it gains something by having interactive elements, graphic/sound assets, and so on, as opposed to being a short story/novella.

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Re: [UPDATED DEMO] This Is Not A Game [Sci-fi, Mystery, Roma

#5 Post by TheTourist » Wed Aug 08, 2012 10:09 pm

@saguaro: Thanks, haha, but on my first demo I received a sadly small number of downloads. Then again, it wasn't much of a demo; this NEW demo, though, is way more worthy of getting posted online. I am definitely happier with a more concrete protagonist and developed plot, though the writing towards the end of the demo probably needs some editing.

I'm also not completely happy with my so-called-art, but I think I added a decent amount, and tried to use more dynamic visuals (per your suggestion). Let's see if it works?

@Everyone: Again, any and all feedback would be appreciated. If you just want to say "this sux," however, that's also totally fine. :D
=-=-=-=-=-Works In Progress-=-=-=-=-=
This Is Not A Game - a posthuman mystery and all-too-human love story
This Is Not a Love Story - three high school students intersect over the course of a Friday night

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Re: [UPDATED DEMO] This Is Not A Game [Sci-fi, Mystery, Roma

#6 Post by Anna » Thu Aug 09, 2012 7:11 pm

Congratulations on finishing the demo!

From what I see so far, I think the title screen would profit from a more clear hover image. When you hover over the run button and such, it's a little hard to see. The title screen lay-out is cool though!

However, something that really bothered me in this VN was the overly complicated and unnecessary choice of wording which made it hard to read ^^;. It becomes clear why you use certain explanations later on, but that doesn't make it less annoying or pretentious to read. You also use very long sentences such as:
No one will care about the mistakes you've made, "he says; your friend agrees and tells you that flaws bear no more weight than chalk -- less, even, because when you erase a chalkboard the writing remains, ghostlike, to haunt the future but in the vast, virtual future you are no more than clay; over coffee the two of you fling plans, like polished pebbles, across decades, and hold hands)
^Do you see the problem? that is one sentence, and it's even written between parentheses! I can't read this without going insane. What's worse is that after six or something lines between parentheses the first sentence before them just continues... on a new paragraph? How does that even work? ^^;

I think I'll read more of this later, since it's probably not a good idea to read this when I'm tired. At least I found the messed up title screen pretty cool, also because it stays like that. Confusing, but intriguing, and thus cool~

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Re: [UPDATED DEMO] This Is Not A Game [Sci-fi, Mystery, Roma

#7 Post by TheTourist » Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:34 pm

Anna wrote:Do you see the problem? that is one sentence, and it's even written between parentheses! I can't read this without going insane. What's worse is that after six or something lines between parentheses the first sentence before them just continues... on a new paragraph? How does that even work? ^^;
Haha, I like to play with and push the normal rules of English, so I won't apologize for the strange structure... but yes, I can see that paragraph requires some (read: so much) pruning. My goal isn't to drive the reader insane, after all! :P That passage, however, is fairly exceptional in its length; did you find any other parts that also went way far overboard with the prose?

Also, yeah, the hovered buttons in the main menu definitely need a brighter glow. Good to have that confirmed.

Thanks for your comments! Looking forward to what you think after finishing the demo! :D
=-=-=-=-=-Works In Progress-=-=-=-=-=
This Is Not A Game - a posthuman mystery and all-too-human love story
This Is Not a Love Story - three high school students intersect over the course of a Friday night

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Re: [UPDATED DEMO] This Is Not A Game [Sci-fi, Mystery, Roma

#8 Post by saguaro » Fri Aug 10, 2012 5:26 pm

This thing is just so damn cool. This demo is a much better hook, IMO.

Here are a few liveplay notes. They are mostly about the visuals/ambiance, the text itself requires digestion.

I'm not sure about the updated dialogue frame. I like that it's styled, but I don't like the three-lined border.

67th Echo has some white pixellation around his hoodie. I know that all the early sprites/bgs are supposed to be black and white, but maybe use of solid grays can help make the sprites more distinguishable from the backgrounds.

Partly through the encounter with the weibing the buzzing/humming noise stops. I wasn't sure if you intended this to loop.

You can make big blocks of test flow visually by messing with the text speed, upping the font size, and spacing out/centering the text in each screen. Basically I think you should go style-crazy with the text. Taking a page out of Sapphi's book, I think typographical effects that convey a more terminal/digital feeling could be very effective.

Nice close-up of Eisheth.

I paused at the long tunnel scene to write something and the wind sfx stopped. I'd say loop that sfx and any others that should be constant, and that will let you trim the length and save file space too.

When Eisheth has you retrace your steps the second time, I'd suggest streamlining some of the text with generalizations of what's happening so the player isn't going through too many repetitive screens. (Coming back to this just to note that you did this very thing on the third time)

I wonder if there's a way to shake-cam those running scenes.

I like the soldier screen. The x-ray, scan, whatever background is creepy, but you've got some gradual effects in there that I think really work and should be done more often.

IIRC you switch between 12th Sama and Twelfth Sama. Purposeful?

"If anyone on Earth discovers the existence an uploaded..." needs an "of"

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Re: [UPDATED DEMO] This Is Not A Game [Sci-fi, Mystery, Roma

#9 Post by TheTourist » Wed Aug 15, 2012 2:29 pm

Woohoo! Minor updates to the demo: I've edited some of the writing, condensed a chapter, and most importantly... the demo's file size has been cut in half! (Please don't have bugs, please don't have bugs...)

It's still not perfect -- the GUI needs a lot of work -- but I want to finish Act 2 before I go and redo the text boxes and etc.

Props to saguaro for reminding me to condense and loop the music files.
=-=-=-=-=-Works In Progress-=-=-=-=-=
This Is Not A Game - a posthuman mystery and all-too-human love story
This Is Not a Love Story - three high school students intersect over the course of a Friday night

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Re: [UPDATED DEMO] This Is Not A Game [Sci-fi, Mystery, Roma

#10 Post by saguaro » Wed Aug 15, 2012 8:28 pm

the demo's file size has been cut in half!
There's something very cleansing about streamlining assets. It's sort of therapeutic.

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