Actual Sunlight [Psych] [Drama]

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NeonCowboy
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Actual Sunlight [Psych] [Drama]

#1 Post by NeonCowboy » Sat Dec 29, 2012 2:37 pm

AS_Logo_Full.jpg
Hi everyone,

The game is actually 'finished' from a writing and development perspective, but I'm in the process of trying to raise funds for original art and additional music. Here is a direct link to the game download:

ACTUAL SUNLIGHT - DOWNLOAD: http://www.actualsunlight.com

It's not done in Ren'Py (though my next game definitely will be...!) but it is definitely a visual novel. The vast majority of the content is just text, i.e. interacting with a nightstand can spur a two-page inner monologue...!

WARNING: This game contains an adult-workplace amount of profanity, as well as mature / sexual themes (there is no nudity or graphical displays of sexuality, however.) It is not appropriate for children.

STORY SYNOPSIS

Actual Sunlight is a short, interactive story about love, depression and the corporation. It is set in downtown Toronto, and in the present day.

In the story, you take control of the main character during three distinct points of his life as a young professional. You struggle with relationships, addictions, and try to deal with your problems through anger and imagination.

The game begins on what seems like a typical day in the life of the main character - throughout the day that follows, you go through what has become an all-too-monotonous routine, and learn about the perspective of this character. You're also introduced to other characters in the life of the protagonist, both directly and indirectly. The first day ends with a revelation about the character's past, and the consequences of his choices are then played out in a sudden shift to many years in the future. The game ends on a final decision that raises questions about player agency, predestination and resignation.

The name of the main character is EVAN WINTER, and he is a 31-year old single male office worker.

SCREENSHOTS
TextShot.PNG
Office.PNG
CondoExterior.PNG
Last edited by NeonCowboy on Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:29 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Actual Sunlight [Psych] [Drama]

#2 Post by thadeus » Sat Dec 29, 2012 2:54 pm

Your download link isn't working...?

Did you do this in RPG Maker?
I have some time, what sort of art do you need? I don't do sprites, but check out the link in my sig to my game 'Pointless' and it'll give you an idea of my drawing prowess :)
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Re: Actual Sunlight [Psych] [Drama]

#3 Post by NeonCowboy » Sat Dec 29, 2012 2:57 pm

thadeus wrote:Your download link isn't working...?

Did you do this in RPG Maker?
I have some time, what sort of art do you need? I don't do sprites, but check out the link in my sig to my game 'Pointless' and it'll give you an idea of my drawing prowess :)
Thanks for the heads-up on the download link! I've fixed it. :)

It was done in RPG Maker VX ACE, yes... It's definitely something that could have been done in Ren'Py as well, but the retro RPG styling is meant to be a reflection of the main character's worldview... Or at least that was my initial reasoning... There are also points in the story where I think it's impactful for the player to control him.

I will check out your drawing prowess. :)

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Re: Actual Sunlight [Psych] [Drama]

#4 Post by netravelr » Sat Dec 29, 2012 3:25 pm

Seems interesting! I'll have to check it out! Thanks for sharing your game with us. I actually just picked up RPGMaker VX Ace on Steam so good times.
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Re: Actual Sunlight [Psych] [Drama]

#5 Post by NeonCowboy » Sat Dec 29, 2012 10:54 pm

netravelr wrote:Seems interesting! I'll have to check it out! Thanks for sharing your game with us. I actually just picked up RPGMaker VX Ace on Steam so good times.
I saw that Steam sale! God, it always makes you infuriated when you just paid full price for something, doesn't it...?

Let me know if you have any questions about it - took me awhile to get adept with the scripting language in terms of doing things in a visual novel style, but I think I eventually got a pretty good handle. It can be a little arduous at times... Outputting text in particular isn't very free-flowing, as the engine is really made for short little punchy sentences.

"Argh! You hit me with your dragon sword!", etc. etc.

Also, please note that the OP now has an updated version of the download. I've already integrated some great feedback, and fixed a (potentially) bad bug...

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Re: Actual Sunlight [Psych] [Drama]

#6 Post by gekiganwing » Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:14 pm

It appears that you're using an IndieGogo campaign in order to create "...a final version that features original art and music..." Therefore, I have two questions:

1. Have you selected a person or group that's ready and willing to help you with art and music?
2. Will that final version still use RPG Maker VX Ace? (It's a valid option, especially if you want to add gameplay features. But if you're still considering what game-creating software to use, there's quite a few other options -- Inform 7, Adventure Game Maker, Flash, and so on.

A small aside...
Until today, I didn't know that any RPG Maker programs were available on Steam. Is it easy to reactivate programs with Steam? I say this because I purchased a standalone download edition of RPG Maker XP some time ago... but that computer has long since stopped working, and I have no idea if it's possible to install RMXP on another computer without having to purchase it again.

As of this writing, it looks like only RMVXAce is sold on Steam. My current Windows computer has plenty of RAM, but the processor is only 1.6 GHZ, which is less than the 2.0 GHZ needed for Ace.

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Re: Actual Sunlight [Psych] [Drama]

#7 Post by NeonCowboy » Sun Dec 30, 2012 1:50 pm

gekiganwing wrote:It appears that you're using an IndieGogo campaign in order to create "...a final version that features original art and music..." Therefore, I have two questions:

1. Have you selected a person or group that's ready and willing to help you with art and music?
I haven't, no, and I realize that this makes the campaign a little unusual, but I really do want to see if the game resonates with players before I start bringing other people in to work on it. Art and music will enhance the game, but its core offering is definitely the writing and the experience that is already in there. If that doesn't click with people, nothing will.

That being said, I'm not super hung-up on the IndieGoGo campaign, and my biggest hope is just that people will download the game, play it, tell me what they think, and tell other people about it as well. That's why I've given you guys the direct link to download! I don't want it to seem like I'm just trying to get people to give me money. I really just want you all to play Actual Sunlight and love it. :)
gekiganwing wrote:2. Will that final version still use RPG Maker VX Ace? (It's a valid option, especially if you want to add gameplay features. But if you're still considering what game-creating software to use, there's quite a few other options -- Inform 7, Adventure Game Maker, Flash, and so on.
Yes, it's going to stay in RPG Maker VX Ace. My next project, however, will definitely be in Ren'Py... If I eventually get interested in actual gameplay and not just story, I might check out Unity3D, but I'm not really a coder - just a writer who sat down and figured out the RPG Maker scripting language, as well as used a few good scripts.
gekiganwing wrote:A small aside...
Until today, I didn't know that any RPG Maker programs were available on Steam. Is it easy to reactivate programs with Steam? I say this because I purchased a standalone download edition of RPG Maker XP some time ago... but that computer has long since stopped working, and I have no idea if it's possible to install RMXP on another computer without having to purchase it again.

As of this writing, it looks like only RMVXAce is sold on Steam. My current Windows computer has plenty of RAM, but the processor is only 1.6 GHZ, which is less than the 2.0 GHZ needed for Ace.
To this question...
I purchased RPGMVXACE prior to it going up on Steam, and I haven't tried to reactivate or sync it in Steam or anything like that... My advice to you would be to go to http://www.rpgmakerweb.com/products/rpg-maker-vx-ace and download it on a trial basis - even though your computer doesn't meet system reqs, who knows? It still might work. Give it a shot!

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Re: Actual Sunlight [Psych] [Drama]

#8 Post by Muzozavr » Tue Jan 01, 2013 7:30 am

I've posted this earlier on your TVTropes thread, but someone else had mentioned that you may have trouble replying here, so I'm posting it here, too.

"Hello!

I haven't played your game/VN yet, but I will.

In my spare time I compose music on my computer. It doesn't have any "zomg uber orchestra sound quality" and quite a few sounds remind me of old synths, but the melodies can and will evoke all sorts of various moods.

I don't have my name anywhere, so I will work for free or for a symbolic payment, however, as I've said, I don't have the best sounds, so I may not be the best option. However, my soundtrack WILL be the "full original OST" you're looking for.

Here are six pieces of music that I've done so far, could you please tell me if you like what you hear or not? If you do, I'll be more than happy to work for you as a composer. If you don't, tell me and I'll never bother you about this ever again.

"Hope" (The environment is probably dark and oppressive, but hope lives on.)

"Black Hole" (Hope? What hope? Hope had never existed in the first place. More mood than melody.)

"Ambush!!" (It's a chase theme. I tend to find drums harder to do, but this was a happy exception.)

"File Travel" (Something electronic with a focus on the "saw wave" sound. Longest track in the bunch. Ends abruptly because the intention was for it to loop seamlessly. I can make an OGG file or a non-abrupt ending easily)

"Sinister Strings" (The "tremolo strings" sound will never pass for real tremolo strings, but it's absolutely AWESOME, so I used it.)

"Good Morning" (A happy, pleasant song to wake up to, but maybe a bit too electronicy... but I like it.)

EDIT: Forgot to mention, this was composed earlier, it wasn't made specifically for your game."

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Re: Actual Sunlight [Psych] [Drama]

#9 Post by NeonCowboy » Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:39 pm

Hey Muzo! I replied to you over there. Thanks for the interest, and I do hope you'll download and play it...
ACTUAL SUNLIGHT: A story about love, depression and the corporation - DEVELOPMENT THREAD

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Re: Actual Sunlight [Psych] [Drama]

#10 Post by CheeryMoya » Fri Jan 04, 2013 1:49 am

Oh my god. How could I describe this? It's angst, hopelessness, despair, and resignation all in one package.

I don't know where to begin but it didn't take long for me to get hooked. If I didn't have any interruptions then I would have finished this in one sitting, easily. Evan is a character brimming with personality and it's one that is full of bitter cynicism. I really shouldn't even like the guy but a lot of what he thought made so much sense to me. I found the unique back and forth between his fantasies and realities to be the best thing about the story.
If you weren't reading carefully, you would've thought that Evan was once a great person with a great life who had a great future to look forward to. The part when the "doctor" drops the facts on him was really strong and I could feel myself dropping into despair. And I loved it. The other characters aren't doing much better either and they're about as pathetic as him.
It was really interesting to see Evan reflect on everything. Every little object made him think about something and his commentary was humorous. Honestly, the screenshots you posted don't do the dark humor justice.
The lack of important decisions that are in your control also feeds into the hopelessness. Sure you can walk around and check out stuff, but you don't have branches and different paths. All roads lead to Rome. The ending was anti-climatic but that doesn't mean it was bad; when Evan broke all his belongings, it was downhill from there. When he got on the roof, he finally found this sort of peace within himself. How I feel about it is pretty complicated because Evan finally achieved peace, but he was on the rooftop and ready to go.

And I forget if there was another instance where it popped up, but the phrase "actual sunlight" was only mentioned in reference to someone else. I think the title is referring to how Evan needs to get out of his dark little corner of his mind and live a little, but thinking about it now I'm not sure. Am I thinking in the right direction?
Ahhhhh I could go on and on about how much I liked each individual bit but then I'd never finish OTL

From a programming standpoint, it wouldn't be easy for you to switch from RPG Maker to something else because that'd mean changing a lot. Plus the limited space adds to hopelessness (did I say that already?). One thing that I found inconvenient though was the lack of rollback and the amount of clicking I had to do all the time. Rollback because I missed some lines my first time around and clicking because you held back the text a lot. It's good for emphasis but you used it in pretty much all the little bits. Is it also possible to have an options menu? I forgot what keys to press in order to enter full screen mode so I had to deal with that D:

You also wanted a response from a female player, and I have to say that Evan did objectify women a little. He wants love and he was involved with someone from work though, but he did feel a bit of guilt. There weren't too many female characters in this story and the focus wasn't on existing interpersonal relationships, only ones he wished he had. Evan doesn't think highly of women but the way you portrayed the ones that did appear wasn't negative. Ugh, words are escaping me right now :C

I dunno whether I should comment on the art or music since they are placeholders. I hope your IndieGoGo gets funded and/or this satiates your craving for feedback. If not, I'll try to squeeze out more things I noticed :c I feel like I didn't say enough but typing this is taking longer than it took me to play omg

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Re: Actual Sunlight [Psych] [Drama]

#11 Post by NeonCowboy » Fri Jan 04, 2013 6:53 pm

CheeryMoya wrote:Oh my god. How could I describe this? It's angst, hopelessness, despair, and resignation all in one package.
I don't know where to begin but it didn't take long for me to get hooked. If I didn't have any interruptions then I would have finished this in one sitting, easily. Evan is a character brimming with personality and it's one that is full of bitter cynicism. I really shouldn't even like the guy but a lot of what he thought made so much sense to me. I found the unique back and forth between his fantasies and realities to be the best thing about the story.
If you weren't reading carefully, you would've thought that Evan was once a great person with a great life who had a great future to look forward to. The part when the "doctor" drops the facts on him was really strong and I could feel myself dropping into despair. And I loved it. The other characters aren't doing much better either and they're about as pathetic as him. It was really interesting to see Evan reflect on everything.
Thank you so much! I'm especially glad that the
"doctor"
transition had that effect... It's definitely exactly what I was going for.
CheeryMoya wrote: Every little object made him think about something and his commentary was humorous. Honestly, the screenshots you posted don't do the dark humor justice.
Thanks! I realize that the screenshots really don't help, and to be honest I'm having a really hard time knowing exactly what I can do to communicate that it really is a powerful experience. I appreciate that it doesn't look like much at all, and I feel like right now there maybe isn't any way to express what it's about without trying it... I think that's a huge reason that I really do need original art, and some powerful CGs especially that will be as valuable marketing-wise as they are within the context of the actual game.
CheeryMoya wrote:
How I feel about it is pretty complicated because Evan finally achieved peace, but he was on the rooftop and ready to go.
Tweaking the writing there was agonizing, because I definitely wanted to walk that line. It's a relief to know that I did.
CheeryMoya wrote:
And I forget if there was another instance where it popped up, but the phrase "actual sunlight" was only mentioned in reference to someone else. I think the title is referring to how Evan needs to get out of his dark little corner of his mind and live a little, but thinking about it now I'm not sure. Am I thinking in the right direction?
I could say a lot about why I chose this title, but I think the best way to sum it up would be to say that it is meant to be an expression that relates to the pursuit of illusion at the expense of reality. As for why Evan mentions it in reference to someone else instead of himself is, I think, just another way of indicating the blind spots in his self-consciousness.
CheeryMoya wrote: From a programming standpoint, it wouldn't be easy for you to switch from RPG Maker to something else because that'd mean changing a lot. Plus the limited space adds to hopelessness (did I say that already?). One thing that I found inconvenient though was the lack of rollback and the amount of clicking I had to do all the time. Rollback because I missed some lines my first time around and clicking because you held back the text a lot. It's good for emphasis but you used it in pretty much all the little bits. Is it also possible to have an options menu? I forgot what keys to press in order to enter full screen mode so I had to deal with that D:
I would love to have a rollback feature... I looked into it when I started and wasn't able to work it out, but I'm a little more adept now as a scripter and I want to revisit it. If it can get done, I'll get it done.

The control reminder in the menu is also a great idea... I think I could just put in a menu item called "Help" that will refresh you on the controls.
Though in the last part of the game, of course, if you click on "Help" it will not give you any. ;)
CheeryMoya wrote: You also wanted a response from a female player, and I have to say that Evan did objectify women a little. He wants love and he was involved with someone from work though, but he did feel a bit of guilt. There weren't too many female characters in this story and the focus wasn't on existing interpersonal relationships, only ones he wished he had. Evan doesn't think highly of women but the way you portrayed the ones that did appear wasn't negative. Ugh, words are escaping me right now :C
No, that's great... I want as many people as possible to enjoy the game and be able to identify with Evan without being turned off, but on the other hand I didn't want to sacrifice the integrity of his character to make that possible. As writers, I think we all feel a temptation to do that...
CheeryMoya wrote: I dunno whether I should comment on the art or music since they are placeholders. I hope your IndieGoGo gets funded and/or this satiates your craving for feedback. If not, I'll try to squeeze out more things I noticed :c I feel like I didn't say enough but typing this is taking longer than it took me to play omg
I'd love to hear anything else you have to say, but I realize that it's not the sort of thing you necessarily play over and over again... Might be interesting a second time at some point in the future, though, knowing everything about it that you now know. :)

Thank you so much! I hope what you've said will encourage others to check it out as well.
Last edited by NeonCowboy on Fri Jan 04, 2013 7:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.
ACTUAL SUNLIGHT: A story about love, depression and the corporation - DEVELOPMENT THREAD

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Re: Actual Sunlight [Psych] [Drama]

#12 Post by Muzozavr » Fri Jan 04, 2013 7:07 pm

I have finished reading, very powerful experience. I wrote more in the TVTropes thread

Also:
stuff about the "Help" menu
Yeah, at the "apartment" part it should say that "go to the roof" phrase that every other object says (I don't remember the exact phrase right now) and at the roof itself it should just be blank. This trickery alone makes the "Help" menu a worthy inclusion.

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Re: Actual Sunlight [Psych] [Drama]

#13 Post by NeonCowboy » Fri Jan 04, 2013 7:21 pm

Muzozavr wrote: Yeah, at the "apartment" part it should say that "go to the roof" phrase that every other object says (I don't remember the exact phrase right now) and at the roof itself it should just be blank. This trickery alone makes the "Help" menu a worthy inclusion.
Ha... Yes, this is more or less what I was thinking.

I'm a little torn on whether or not to go ahead with it, though. It's not the same as the other choices - it occurs totally outside the context of the player, so it just seems a bit like undertaking a trick for its own sake.

Gotta contemplate.
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Re: Actual Sunlight [Psych] [Drama]

#14 Post by NeonCowboy » Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:25 pm

For anyone still curious about the game but unsure about whether or not it's worth checking out, here's a great review from IndieStatik:

http://indiestatik.com/2013/01/06/actua ... er-played/

Thanks to everyone for the positive feedback! If any of you can't stand it, or find it gets seriously uninteresting at a point and you just fall off, I'd love to hear about that as well. Be mean! I can take it, really. :)
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Re: Actual Sunlight [Psych] [Drama]

#15 Post by NeonCowboy » Thu Feb 07, 2013 8:58 pm

I hope I'm not a horrible person to be posting more great reviews, but Actual Sunlight managed to get a great one at Kotaku:

http://kotaku.com/5982325/the-biggest-c ... ng-suicide

Take a look, and please check out my game if you think it sounds intriguing.

I haven't been on the forums in a while, gonna go check out what is happening with Culina and the rest of my favs... :)
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