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PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 11:26 am 
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Projects: AXIOM.01, The Pirate Mermaid
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AXIOM.01: A detective can never settle for stories if they seek the truth.


Demons never faze the detectives in your favorite novels - with logic and determination, they can solve any so-called supernatural mysteries. When creepy things start happening on your graduation trip, you’re forced to put down your books and take your own investigative skills to task. Can you uncover the truth behind:

A cursed necklace vanishing on a cruise ship?

Ghostly attackers on a mysterious island?

An impossible locked room murder?

Who should you suspect, and who can you possibly trust? Your decisions may win you allies, friends, love...or perhaps a knife in the back.


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Genre: mystery otome hybrid
Gameplay: visual novel with interactive investigations and deductions
Length: 3 arcs, each with a different case to solve
Endings: 3.5 paths x 2-3 endings each, plus various others (secret "perfect" ending included)


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MC (default name Christie)"I will only settle for the truth!"
You play a smart, analytically-minded girl who’s more interested in finishing her books than finding a date for prom. Though she believes all supernatural things can be explained with logic, and that the truth must be found at any cost, her convictions may be challenged by the events to come. I hope for the MC to be seen as a “strong” female character, even without having the action girl or spitfire traits usually associated with “strong” girls. Her strength comes from her smarts, independence, and perseverance in finding the truth. All qualities of a good detective, of course.

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Sylvia Hayes"As your best friend, I can’t let you stray down that path!"
Your strong-willed, competitive best friend. She likes to drags you along with her crazy schemes and set you up with guys, much to your annoyance. Despite being the most courageous person you know, she has a secret fear of ghosts and is very superstitious. Sylvia likes to tease you a lot and the two of you have pretty different views, but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re best friends. Though even then, perhaps she doesn’t tell you everything…

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Cody Armstrong"I’m only as serious as you want me to be~."
The friendly Student Council President whose playful attitude belies his leadership skills. He’s also your old childhood friend, though something in the past caused you two to drift apart. While Cody acts lighthearted about most things, you sometimes suspect he hides his true feelings and knows more than he lets on. It’s up to the player to decide whether to reconnect with Cody, as well as to figure out what drove him and the MC apart in the first place.

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Remy Tran "That's a sensible theory. Or is it?"
An odd, prickly boy who transferred to your school for unknown reasons. Though he’s brilliant at his studies, he’s surrounded by creepy rumors and doesn’t trust anyone. He spends his time reading alone and doesn't open up to others unless he has something to geek out about with them (a "tsundork," if you will). Why is he so determined to isolate himself? Perhaps he's hiding something. Remy may become a friendly or antagonistic detective rival for the MC depending on the player's choices.

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Viktor Sagan"...Forget it."
An aloof, mysterious guy with a cool reputation. Although he's now somewhat of a school idol, you suspect he may be a former delinquent. Sagan rarely talks or gives any insight into his true agenda, making him the biggest wildcard in the events that follow. Has a penchant for holing up in strange places, such as the tops of buildings, and feeding seabirds. Though Sylvia has a huge crush on him, you’re not so sure he can be trusted.

To keep the post length down, I'll be linking to the more detailed character bios here.


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There are three mysteries to solve over the course of the game. The first part of each mystery is the Investigation Phase where you travel to different locations and interview suspects. Some people may require you to show them certain clues or complete a task before they'll answer your questions. Affection levels also come into play here - if a person likes you enough, they might be more inclined to help you out.

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In this phase, you also search for important clues via hidden object games. Note, however, that not all of the clues are essential for solving the case. Some items may give (or take away) your HP, while others are just plain red herrings. Once you run out of HP (which is drained by moving to new locations and doing certain other things), you must proceed to the next part of the case.

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In the following Deduction Phase, you must construct a series of "Truths" out of the clues you've collected. Each Truth is a statement with missing sections, which you fill in using the appropriate suspects, evidence, or facts from your inventory. If you select the wrong clues, you lose some HP and have to try again. Failing a case isn't the end of the world - you'll still move on with the story, but will miss some scenes and take affection penalties. Failing the last case, however, is an automatic Bad End.

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Although this is an otome game, you can solve the main mysteries without getting close to any of the guys (that’s the default path, in fact) or just staying friends. Different paths will give different scenes and info on character backgrounds, motivations, and certain events, so there is (hopefully!) replay value even after you solve the mysteries the first time.

Linking to more detailed info and additional screenshots here to conserve space.


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Some screenshots:

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Some preview videos (full list here):





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For the demo (Arc 1):
  • Story - 100%
  • Script - 100%
  • Art - 80% (need to finish 2 CG backgrounds + 6 clue images)
  • GUI - 100%
  • Music- 100% (using placeholders for now)

Quote:
Ren'Py 6.13.12.1728 lint report, generated at: Sat Jul 28 02:56:12 2012

Statistics:
The game contains 2,384 screens of dialogue.
These screens contain a total of 32,098 words,
for an average of 13.5 words per screen.
The game contains 34 menus.

Overall:
  • Story - 80%?
  • Script - 30%?
  • Art - ugh
  • GUI - 100%
  • Music- ??? (depends if we decide to do all original songs)

I'm obviously terrible at estimating percentages, but you can keep track of our progress at the Variable X development blog, which is updated every week or two.


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I'll be using this section to keep track of things we'd especially like feedback on. Feel free to answer as many/few of these questions as you want, as well as to share other suggestions, comments, and thoughts!

1. General impressions.
  • What do you think of the game concept - do you think both otome and mystery players would be willing to play it?
  • Which character(s) do you think are the most interesting so far?
  • Do the gameplay mechanics sound reasonable?

2. Replayability. We're worried that players will stop once they know the solutions to the main mysteries, even if they'll miss major scenes or parts of the story in other paths. Some options we've come up with so far:
  • Make cases skippable later. This is only an option for the first case, since the later cases span multiple days and events.
  • Offer incentives for finishing cases faster/more efficiently (e.g. finding more clues in fewer clicks, making as few moves as possible, losing as little HP as possible, etc.). Maybe unlocking new choices, paths, or bonus material would work?
  • Have different scenarios for a case (e.g. the victim changes on your previous choices). Or have multiple solutions with different results, depending on which clues you present. I think this would be the most interesting option, but also way more work for us haha. We'd only do this for the last case, else there would be too much branching in the middle.

If you have any opinions on these options, or others ideas to enhance replayability, we're all ears!

3. Beta testing. We're hoping to put out a demo of AXIOM.01 that goes up to the end of the first case, hopefully before the end of the summer (end of August, September-ish). Would anybody be interested in testing the game before we release it to the public? We'll confirm with testers once we're closer to completion, so there's no need to make a commitment right now - we're just hoping to gauge interest. :) Also, does anyone have any tips for conducting a beta test, such what types of questions or specs (operating system, etc.) to ask about? We're total newbies at this, so any advice would be great!

Questions on 8/3/12 - Looking for suggestions on art, main menu, and interrogation sections! :D

Questions on 8/19/12 - Sylvia as love interest, GUI feedback

Questions on 9/24/12 - guest art, hidden object games, detective ranking titles

Thank you so much for reading! Let us know if you have any questions as well.

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Complete: a2 ~a due~ (music, language, love)
In progress: The Pirate Mermaid (fairytale otome)
On hold: AXIOM.01 (girl detective game)

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Last edited by Arowana on Sat Aug 30, 2014 10:36 pm, edited 13 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 11:57 am 
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Wah~ I love this project~ The art is gorgeous,the plot sounds nice~ Everything is wonderful about this project >u<. I will stalk this from now on ^w^.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 12:11 pm 
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I'm reminded a bit of Battler from Umineko thanks to that description of your MC. And while this dones catch my attention, I am a bit somewhat iffy with the fact that there are romanceable characters (don't take it personally though, I feel that way about MysRom stories in general) but if you can pull it off well and make it key to the story, I guess I can be proven wrong about the iffy feeling~

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 12:27 pm 
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Yaay, you finally posted it on here.
(S-so, 30% of the script is around 32k words? So much, loool.)

1. Well, I'm a fan of both, so I'll play it, lol. I dunno about otome-only players playing this though, because mystery is the main part of this VN. :v
Umm, I like Remy. :v B/c black hair. I wanna know why he's being a loner too! :v!!
3. I'd be willing to. ovo
I think there are mainly Windows and Macs around here, though I remember seeing at least one person having a Linux.
I'm guessing questions like #1, if the story was engaging, were you bored/interested, did you want to woo the guys, were the mysteries too hard/easy, and whatnot. And c&c on the art, writing, music, and GUI. :v

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 2:19 pm 
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What do you think of the game concept - do you think both otome and mystery players would be willing to play it?
SOUNDS AWESOME!!! *o*
I always wanted to combine dating and murder cases in my free time, thankfully I can now.
Nah, joke, but it sounds great (and hey, Detective Conan worked somewhat simliar ;))

Which character(s) do you think are the most interesting so far?
Viktor, Viktor, Viktor!
But, truth be told, mainly because of his long hair and the fact that his eyes are violett xD
Based on the character I would prefer Cody, since I like the playful type ^^

Do the gameplay mechanics sound reasonable?
Well, I see no real problem anywhere.
The thing with HP reminds me of Ace Attorney a bit (even though there you lost HP when you did something wrong, like pushing children about murder or accusing people with wrong evidence). So I think it makes the game interesting, especially when one plays through the game again and chooses other places and items (maybe allowing another look on the case).

Make cases skippable later. This is only an option for the first case, since the later cases span multiple days and events.
Hm, ok?
Is the first case some tutorial then or how should that make it more replayable?

Offer incentives for finishing cases faster/more efficiently (e.g. finding more clues in fewer clicks, making as few moves as possible, losing as little HP as possible, etc.). Maybe unlocking new choices, paths, or bonus material would work?
Yes, yes, that sounds good :D

Have different scenarios for a case (e.g. the victim changes on your previous choices). Or have multiple solutions with different results, depending on which clues you present. I think this would be the most interesting option, but also way more work for us haha. We'd only do this for the last case, else there would be too much branching in the middle.
Sounds also very interesting ^^


The game idea is perfect, but that could be because I'm totally into supernatural detective animes at the moment (my favorites are UN-GO and Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro). Those are often a human and a "demon" searching for murders that are considered supernatural, but both see in the end, that those are (almost always, there are exceptions in the series) also normal humans.
So I'm VERY interested how you will take on that.

P.S.
The MC and her pose in the trailer remind me extremly of the MC from Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro.
Did you ever watch that anime? xD

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 6:19 pm 
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Well, you've got me hooked right here.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 6:45 pm 
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Looks really cute and fun! It looks like a mix of Phoenix Wright and an Tokimeki Memorial. I'm excited to see this completed.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 10:09 pm 
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...Oh boy, this game finally has a thread now. Been waiting a while for this.

What do you think of the game concept - do you think both otome and mystery players would be willing to play it?
I'm definitely interested. Personally I'm glad that the mystery aspect doesn't rely too heavily on the otome routes (or rather, the otome routes don't get in the way of the mystery). Keeping them separate yet still exist in the same game would be giving the best of both worlds to the players, a smart move.

Which character(s) do you think are the most interesting so far?
Christie. In addition to the clear homage to a certain mystery author, her character is pretty much perfect as far as detectives go (mystery buff, doesn't fit in, cares not about romance, etc). She also seems to have a Watson, although according to a screenshot she doesn't remove her from suspicion, again like a true detective. And I really like her character design; simple and down-to-earth enough to identify with but unique enough to stand out as the main character.

Do the gameplay mechanics sound reasonable?
Yes! In fact the gameplay mechanics sound incredible. The Investigation/Deduction phase setup sounds really interesting. I like the idea of finding "truths" and "facts" like inventory objects you can simply carry around with you. Matching facts to form "truths" seems like an interesting idea (it also seems Umineko-inspired) so I look forward to putting it into practice in the game. The HP system is pretty standard for an interactive game like this, so it makes sense, as it'd be pointless to give options to move around and investigate for an indefinite amount of time. All in all it looks really polished and I'm seriously impressed with how much interactivity is actually going to be involved!

Make cases skippable later. This is only an option for the first case, since the later cases span multiple days and events.
I'm not sure what you mean by this. So do you plan on making it like Umineko where each "game" is bundled together after each one gets released? If the cases are independent of each other and make sense if skipped that might be alright, though I personally wouldn't use a feature to skip parts of the game.

Offer incentives for finishing cases faster/more efficiently.
What you suggested makes sense. Bonus material is nice, maybe a "rank" system based on how fast you solved the mystery. Stuff like that always adds a nice touch, but isn't necessary.

Have different scenarios for a case. Or have multiple solutions with different results, depending on which clues you present.
Sounds interesting in theory but I'm not sure how it would turn out. It really depends on the mystery setup but I think it would be cool if done correctly.

I'm greatly anticipating this game, it looks like you've put a lot of effort into it so far. Good luck, and I can't wait to play the demo!

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 10:13 pm 
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>Sees megane
>Look at that hair
>He's a redhead
>Hey whoa a band-aid on the cheek that's kinda charming
>Mhm that jacket is stylin'
>Childhood friends aw yeah
>Something about that smile reeks of something sinister, me gusta
>Mark my words Cody Armstrong, you are mine


1. Totally, this is right up my alley. Most interesting guy so far for me is Cody because he's a megane he has cool hair that reminds me of Natsuki from Tsuritama dang what a nice smile can I have his jacket? I'm interested in his beef with the MC. Let me run my fingers through his hair The gameplay mechanics sound fair enough.

2. Who wouldn't play through the game again for Cody's hair If you want people to stay interested in the cases on a second playthrough, you could put some extra dialogue in some places or maybe shortcuts to finish faster. Having some goals like "finish the case in x amount of clicks!" to unlock images maybe would be sweet (sketches, step-by-step images of the CGs, etc.). Bonus content is always enough to keep dedicated players hooked.

3. I can beta O: Since hybrid games take more code than a plain VN, you'll definitely want to see how it affects older computers (some people said that TWCC's bakesim part lagged on them for up to 20 seconds, which is pretty bad). You'll want your beta-testing pool to have all three OSes at the very least. I'm assuming you'll have multiple branches in your demo, so you'll want your testers to split up and choose one path to test and make sure all the variables are right.

Also if I may comment, something about Viktor's head in his second pose is... off? Like, it's sticking out too forward. I don't know anatomy but it's bothering me >_> Also, does he have yaoi hands??? They look really big @_@ Looking forward to updates! :3


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 10:17 pm 
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It looks cool, but I think you're going to have problems with people only playing it once even if you add options to skip, unless you divorce the mystery and dating sections or have some overarching storyline that cannot be solved in a single run and this is made very clear.

There are many people who don't like replaying VNs at all, and replaying a game where a lot of it is solving a puzzle you already solved is going to bog down a larger number.

On the other hand you could decide to just ignore that because there ARE completionists who will happily play through anyway :)

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2012 5:33 am 
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I'm beyond speechless... I don't normally comment on WIPs, but this... is an absolutely perfect and brilliant idea!!

I'd love to beta-test, or help out in anyway I could! (That said, both my art and music skills are mediocre, so I guess I'll just be submitting fanarts~~)

*add to stalk list, officially becomes a fangirl*



Regards,
Nellie

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2012 5:38 am 
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Oh wow, this game has really shiny, and I mean, shiny GUI O_O
Madam, you have my attention piqued already. Do finish this.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2012 11:01 am 
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I love mystery games and this one seems interesting! Remy is my favourite character. :D

I'm waiting patiently for its release! :D


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2012 1:49 pm 
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Wah, you guys are awesome! I was worried people would be all “tl;dr” on my first post, or think the mix of genres was really weird and not give it a chance. Seeing everyone who took to time to read and comment just made my day. Thank you all – if I could bake you all cookies or something, I would. :)

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@ miaverana
Thanks, that’s really sweet of you! I’m quite flattered you think that haha.

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@ Hijiri
Oh yeah, I can see the resemblance between Battler and Christie’s philosophies, though Christie’s actually not as hotblooded. I think of her attitude as more detached and analytical, kind of like a scientist.

Don’t worry, we’re interested in what both otome and non-otome players will think! Actually, would you mind elaborating on how you feel mystery/romance stories typically fall short, or give some examples of what you find annoying/problematic with this genre? Any insights you have could be useful for us going forward.

For people who don’t like romance games in general, I want to emphasize that it is not necessary to hook up with anybody to solve the main mysteries or get good endings. In fact, romance is only one of the possible relationships you can develop – you can make friends, enemies, and rivals as well. Or you can string everybody along so they’ll help you, then reject them at the end once you don’t need them anymore. :twisted:

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@ chocojax
Oh no, is 32K really long? It’s split over three paths, so I hope it won’t seem too lengthy in the game. Yeah, I’m also wondering if otome-only players will give this a try. I just hope we aren’t falling into a weird inter-genre niche that only appeals to a few people. ^^;

Yay, thanks for volunteering and giving some beta suggestions!! I’m definitely saving those questions for the future.

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@ Destiny
Omg, I’m a huge Detective Conan fan (used to be addicted to the manga), so that’s definitely one of the inspirations for this game! I haven’t seen UN-GO and Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro before, but they look really interesting. Time to do some more “research,” aka watch lots of detective anime!

Haha, yes, I also like long hair. <3 Yeah, there will be lots of ways to lose HP (originally, I was also going to make you lose HP for clicking around on the hidden object game, but that would probably make it too hard haha). The locations you visit + items you collect will most likely be important for which route you are on – it would be really cool if they could also change the solution to the main case, but I have to think more about how to do this.

Yeah, exactly – the first case is like a tutorial game and should be relatively short/easy. So after you pass it once, we would give you the option to skip over that part the next time you play, and just continue with the next part of the story.

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@ Applegate
Awesome! Is it the fact-finding part or something else? :)

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@ FatUnicornGames
Thanks, that’s a cute way to describe it! Maybe we should start advertising the game with that tagline haha. Though we don’t actually have any Tokimemo stat-raising, I think the “Phoenix Wright” vibe is definitely something we are going for!

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@ Kinjo
Yep, I finally got my act together – I really should have done it ages ago, but kept getting cold feet haha. The “best of both worlds” approach is definitely what we’re going for - just hope the otome element doesn’t turn off mystery players and vice versa. I’m quite happy you like Christie and think you understand my intention perfectly! I really wanted her to be a girl who would make a capable detective – a generic MC or damsel-in-distress heroine simply won’t cut it. And yes, no one should be above suspicion. :twisted:

Thanks, I just hope the interactive investigation/deduction parts work as I envision them to! The concept seems straightforward enough in my mind, but I have no way of gauging the difficulty myself (since I already know the solutions haha). So I’ll be especially interested in what testers say about these parts of the gameplay.

Oh sorry, by making the first case skippable, I meant that after you solve it once, you are given the option to skip over the investigation/deduction portions in subsequent playthroughs, and just go to the next part of the game. I was originally planning to put all three cases in the same game, but maybe an episodic format would work better? Hmm, not sure – the first case isn’t very interesting by itself, so maybe not. Ooh, a rank system could be interesting – you could have titles like “Amateur Sleuth” all the way up to “Holmes Tier” or something. Having multiple scenarios/solutions for a case is something that I think would be really interesting, but you’re right – it would be hard to pull off and I’d have to think a lot about how to do it.

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@ CheeryMoya
Hahaha, I laughed so much at your reply! Glad to see Cody getting some love – his hair gives me soooo much trouble that sometimes I just want to shave it all off. And of course we had to have a megane. There must always be a megane. In every single game!

I really like the goal idea. Maybe each time you replay, you get the option to either skip the case, or complete it with a specified goal to win a reward. And the more times you play, the more challenging the goal/bigger the rewards. (plots) And thanks a bunch for volunteering to beta! That’s a really good point about the older systems – I hadn’t thought of that before, but we use a fair number of animations, for instance, and that might be problematic. Good idea too to split up the routes. (takes notes)

Ooh, thanks for pointing out the sprite problems. I double checked by flipping the image (which I should have done from the start), and you’re right – they’re definitely something funky going on with him. And haha the hands – time to face my mortal enemy! I’m actually hoping to redo the sprites at least one more time before the full game is finished (not sure if I’ll have time before the demo), so let me know if you spot other errors!

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@ papillon
That’s a really good point. We need to emphasize what pieces of the story the player is missing every time they finish an ending, and maybe hint as to what they could do to get a more complete picture. And maybe we should also emphasize the existence of a “perfect ending” that can only be obtained when all the paths are complete (hopefully this doesn’t annoy too many people).

The replayability issue is definitely a major concern for me – don’t know how many completionists there are, but I know I’d get frustrated if I had to solve the same puzzle every time. That’s why I think changing the case/solutions each time would be most desirable, if we could make it work. Huh, alternatively, we could “divorce the mystery and dating sections” as you say and have a separate “Mystery Mode” and “Otome Mode.” Hmm…actually I have no idea how that would work, but I’ll think on it some more. Thanks for the food for thought!

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@ Nellie
I’m so happy you like the idea – I was afraid people would think the genre mix was weird. Thanks so much for offering to help + beta as well! Wow, I think I would die if we got any fanart haha. What I would really like is a background/object artist so we could stop looking for photos – would you happen to have any experience with that?

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@ azurextwilight
I’m really glad to hear you say that – I’ve been worried about whether the GUI looked cohesive or not, so now I feel a little reassured. I’m currently working on the main menu + save/load/prefs screens, so I would love to get your and everybody’s opinions on those once I’m done.

***
@ try10
Awesome, mystery + Remy fan! (high five) Hope you enjoy the game when it’s out!

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In progress: The Pirate Mermaid (fairytale otome)
On hold: AXIOM.01 (girl detective game)

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2012 2:06 pm 
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Location: The Heart of Chaos
Completed: Death Rule:lost code, ORION (Logo and GUI)
Projects: Aeternam Conquest: Judgment, Death Rule: Killing System
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Arowana wrote:
@ Hijiri
Oh yeah, I can see the resemblance between Battler and Christie’s philosophies, though Christie’s actually not as hotblooded. I think of her attitude as more detached and analytical, kind of like a scientist.

Don’t worry, we’re interested in what both otome and non-otome players will think! Actually, would you mind elaborating on how you feel mystery/romance stories typically fall short, or give some examples of what you find annoying/problematic with this genre? Any insights you have could be useful for us going forward.

For people who don’t like romance games in general, I want to emphasize that it is not necessary to hook up with anybody to solve the main mysteries or get good endings. In fact, romance is only one of the possible relationships you can develop – you can make friends, enemies, and rivals as well. Or you can string everybody along so they’ll help you, then reject them at the end once you don’t need them anymore. :twisted:

I'll quote Van Dine's Rule for this one:
S.S. Van Dine's 20 Rules wrote:
3. There must be no love interest. The business in hand is to bring a criminal to the bar of justice, not to bring a lovelorn couple to the hymeneal altar.

This is the problem with a lot MysRom stories I've read before. They focus more on the relationship between the 'detective' and his/her LI(s) instead of the mystery at hand. However, the rule can be 'bended' if the romance is key to the mystery. But that might invoke 2 more of of Van Dine's Rules (One if the LI is the culprit, and the other if the LI assists in the sleuthing):
S.S. Van Dine's 20 Rules wrote:
5. The culprit must be determined by logical deductions — not by accident or coincidence or unmotivated confession. To solve a criminal problem in this latter fashion is like sending the reader on a deliberate wild-goose chase, and then telling him, after he has failed, that you had the object of his search up your sleeve all the time. Such an author is no better than a practical joker.

9. There must be but one detective — that is, but one protagonist of deduction — one deus ex machina. To bring the minds of three or four, or sometimes a gang of detectives to bear on a problem, is not only to disperse the interest and break the direct thread of logic, but to take an unfair advantage of the reader. If there is more than one detective the reader doesn't know who his codeductor is. It's like making the reader run a race with a relay team.

Of course, you can completely ignore Van Dine's rules like many mystery/detective writers these days and go your way if you want :) (Knox's Rules are also useful, a lot of which has become ingrained with modern mysteries. But just like with Van Dine, you can ignore these as well.)

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