Twinkle Twinkle [GxB][GxG] [Slice-of-Life, Astrology-themed]

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aestate
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Twinkle Twinkle [GxB][GxG] [Slice-of-Life, Astrology-themed]

#1 Post by aestate » Mon Mar 10, 2014 12:39 am

Image
A light-hearted VN about the deep stuff in life -- astrology, friendship, first loves.
Don't take the story too seriously. Follow my rambly updates here.
SUMMARY
RHEA is used to being roped into her ambitious childhood friend WESLEY’s wishy-washy plots. His latest is no exception. He’s created an astrology club -- which, for some reason, people seem to think is a matchmaking service or something. Okay. That’s all well and good. That she can deal with. What she can’t deal with, though, is the fact that the guy she’s been crushing on for ages, GILBERT, wants them to set him up with shy CASSIDY! Rhea’s guileful gal-pal ADRIANNE tells her this is her chance -- do some scheming here and there, and Gilbert will be hers for the taking! On the other hand, straight-laced Wesley, as always, is only concerned with doing the job they’ve been asked to do… What’s a girl to do?

CHARACTERS
Image Rhea, our hapless heroine, Libra.
"Look, I'm 17 and all I want is to be left alone. I need to realise my full potential as a freaking ~young maiden~, okay? You know: quick glances, quiet giggles, maybe a teary-eyed and hope-filled love confession or two? Oh well. Whatever. Looks like that's waaay too much to ask for when both your best friends are meddlesome schemers."

Image Wesley Sohn, Virgo. (Obtainable - Romance)
"Don't you think it's so fascinating that everything around you can be tied to some aspect of ancient history? Take astrology, for example. It was the Babylonians that came up with the first form of organised astrology, sometime around 2000 BC, and... it's usually at this point that Adrianne cuts in and tells me to 'stop talking, for heaven's sake'. Sigh."

Image Adrianne Campbell, Leo. (Obtainable - Romance)
"God. This isn't rocket science. It's not like you want to solve the mysteries of the universe. Rhea, I like you and all, but I've been listening to you gushing over this guy for months. There's only so much conversation about Gil's beautiful powder-blue eyes a girl can take. Just have a few strategic run-ins and, before you know it, he'll be putty in your hands. I need to start carrying around an Easy Button -- you know, like, 'that was easy'."

Image Gilbert Kloet, Scorpio. (Obtainable - Romance, Friendship)
He's been Rhea's Calculus study-buddy for a few months, but she doesn't know too much about him. Let's say that her crush is more, uh, aesthetically-inspired.

Image Cassidy Nunes, Taurus. (Obtainable - Friendship)
She's quiet and usually keeps to herself -- Cassidy doesn't seem to have many friends. According to Wesley, she volunteers every day at the school library. What next, does she also help old ladies carry heavy grocery bags and save kittens?

SCREENSHOTS
Image Image
Image Image
Image Image

PROGRESS
As of March 10, 2014: The game contains 469 dialogue blocks, containing 6,161 words and 33,538 characters, for an average of 13.1 words and 72 characters per block. The game contains 4 menus, 17 images, and 13 screens.

COMMENTARY
  • This is all in-progress art! Fear not, Wesley will get some pupils at some point and Rhea doesn't hold the monopoly on shiny hair!
  • A legitimate thing that I thought about was diversity in characters' looks. For the longest time, I always drew the same facial structure, same body type, same everything. This is my first foray into consciously creating difference and, while it's not perfect, I'm pretty satisfied with it.
  • I debated for a while on which characters I should put in the main menu. The tried-and-true formula seems to be “stick in all the obtainables”, but I thought about it a little bit and realised that “Twinkle Twinkle”, at its heart, is more of a story about friendship. So BAM. Here we have the three amigos: Wesley, Rhea, and Adrianne.
  • The plot's catalyst (i.e. the main event) is centred around matchmaking Gil and Cassidy -- does Rhea let her first love go quietly or does she put up a fight? -- BUT when I say "obtainable", I mean there are sub-plots involving the different characters. The default path is "friendship with Wes and Adrianne", so they don't have specific friendship paths.
  • I'm a total noob when it comes to GUI modification. What I tried to do was make something minimalist and "functional", which is why the preferences screen is missing so many things. I hope that doesn't bother anyone, haha.
FEEDBACK?
I'd love to hear any comments you might have! Here are just some questions that came to mind -- please don't feel obligated to answer ALL of them, but feedback would be appreciated! It'd definitely help me improve what I've got so far.
  • Are you FEELING that textbox? I tried to give it a "galaxy" kind of look to fit the theme, but I'm not sure how it works, you know, as an actual textbox...
  • How much do you know about the astrology? Would you want it as a prevalent part of the story? I'm currently leaning towards the zodiac signs as more of a "footnote".
  • We can probably agree that school-life otome games have pretty much been done to death. Is there new you'd like to see brought to the setting? Are there any clichés that bother you about the setting?
  • Who do you think is the most appealing character, personality-wise? The least appealing? Which particular path do you think you'd pursue first?
  • I find that some otome games are like "WE ARE SUDDENLY LOVEY-DOVEY". That can be nice, but I'm trying to make the relationships as realistic as possible in the context of my characters' circumstances. Would it bother you if a romance path ended with more of a "new beginnings" or "possibility" tilt to it? (Sorry for vagueness!)
Thanks for reading! I'll be posting updates in this thread or, again, you can tune in for my more ranty updates at my tumblr blog. :')
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Re: Twinkle Twinkle [GxB][GxG] [Slice-of-Life, Astrology-the

#2 Post by Amiralo » Fri Mar 28, 2014 5:13 am

The art is unique and I like it. The GUI is also very creative (Must have taken forever to make lol)
However, there is one thing I feel that is unnatural, which is the way the heroine and her female best friend talk. It's..uh...way too sassy. I understand that a considerable amount of snark does wonders to make the characters entertaining and relatable, but too much just makes them seem overbearing and a bit dramatic. I think it's okay for the female best friend to talk as such, but maybe tone the sarcasm level down a little bit for the heroine? (Unless, of course, you have a wondeful back story up your sleeves that explains why she talks the way she does.)
Other than that, It looks very promising. I am personally setting my eyes on Wesley and the quiet girl. (Oh, and a bonus point for having the cast be multi-racial.)
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Re: Twinkle Twinkle [GxB][GxG] [Slice-of-Life, Astrology-the

#3 Post by gekiganwing » Fri Mar 28, 2014 6:45 am

aestate wrote: [*]The plot's catalyst (i.e. the main event) is centred around matchmaking Gil and Cassidy -- does Rhea let her first love go quietly or does she put up a fight? -- BUT when I say "obtainable", I mean there are sub-plots involving the different characters. The default path is "friendship with Wes and Adrianne", so they don't have specific friendship paths.
I consider friendship a relevant theme, and a topic worth discussing. I'm sure that your main character is interested in love. But she will also benefit from friends, family, mentors...
aestate wrote: [*]We can probably agree that school-life otome games have pretty much been done to death. Is there new you'd like to see brought to the setting? Are there any clichés that bother you about the setting?
What's cliche to me is fresh to someone else, and vice versa. That said... be willing to personally invest in your story. Show us what's interesting about your characters and setting. Consider including local references. Instead of "Anytown USA," let events occur in places that you have seen and know.
Amiralo wrote: The art is unique and I like it. ... (Oh, and a bonus point for having the cast be multi-racial.)
Agreed. Genuine diversity can make a story seem more real, and it can add to the authenticity.

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Re: Twinkle Twinkle [GxB][GxG] [Slice-of-Life, Astrology-the

#4 Post by Mad Harlequin » Fri Mar 28, 2014 10:46 am

What's wrong with a sassy heroine? I personally love protagonists who aren't meek pushovers, and in this genre especially, I think there's a definite lack of them overall. Too much snark would be unnatural-sounding, but so far we've only seen snippets of dialogue, not a series of scenes. It's not possible at this point to jump to the conclusion that there's too much attitude---or too little, for that matter.

And yes, bonus points for a diverse cast as long as tokenism is avoided.

I like the matchmaking premise of the plot. It's realistic and has the potential to be quite poignant in the right places.

Other feedback:

1. I like the textbox, but the "galaxy" effect might be distracting in some scenes.

2. I know the basics about astrology. I don't think it should direct the plot in a large way, but it might be interesting to have it as a "footnote," as you described it.

3. I can't say there's anything I love or hate about school settings . . . they're just overdone and boring to me, generally speaking. Maybe you could think of some less glamorous aspect of the school and include it so that it doesn't seem perfect.

4. Wesley is my favorite, so I'd probably pursue him first---or last---if I played this. Gilbert is the least interesting of the bunch so far, but to be fair, I know nothing about him except that he's the MC's crush and he's meant to be physically attractive.

5. I wouldn't mind such an ending at all!


Best wishes!
I'm an aspiring writer and voice talent with a passion for literature and an unhealthy attachment to video games. I am also a seasoned typo-sniper. Inquiries are encouraged. Friendly chats are welcome.
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Re: Twinkle Twinkle [GxB][GxG] [Slice-of-Life, Astrology-the

#5 Post by aestate » Sat Mar 29, 2014 12:34 am

Thank you, everyone, for your thoughtful commentary! It's given me quite a bit to reflect on. (Unfortunately, no real updates on my progress, as I've been pretty busy with NaNoReno!)
Amiralo wrote:The art is unique and I like it. The GUI is also very creative (Must have taken forever to make lol)
However, there is one thing I feel that is unnatural, which is the way the heroine and her female best friend talk. It's..uh...way too sassy. I understand that a considerable amount of snark does wonders to make the characters entertaining and relatable, but too much just makes them seem overbearing and a bit dramatic. I think it's okay for the female best friend to talk as such, but maybe tone the sarcasm level down a little bit for the heroine? (Unless, of course, you have a wondeful back story up your sleeves that explains why she talks the way she does.)
Other than that, It looks very promising. I am personally setting my eyes on Wesley and the quiet girl. (Oh, and a bonus point for having the cast be multi-racial.)
I'm glad you find my art unique! The GUI did indeed take me quite a long time, but only because I was hilariously bad at coding it in. The design itself was easy enough with Photoshop!

I can see what you mean about the sass. Adrianne (best friend) is definitely meant to be a bit over-the-top and overbearing (but unapologetically so) at times, because she's the type of person who's extraordinarily extroverted and follows the "carpe diem, seize the day" type of philosophy.

As for Rhea (MC), I do want her to be somewhat snarky but not annoyingly so. Her dialogue in the main thread was supposed to be more of an expression of her frustration with her situation, so don't worry -- the way I'm writing her, she's not constantly at Maximum Snark Level. It's all about moderation! ;)

Side note: the path with Cassidy (the quiet girl) is actually my favourite. Hee hee hee.
gekiganwing wrote:
aestate wrote: I consider friendship a relevant theme, and a topic worth discussing. I'm sure that your main character is interested in love. But she will also benefit from friends, family, mentors...

What's cliche to me is fresh to someone else, and vice versa. That said... be willing to personally invest in your story. Show us what's interesting about your characters and setting. Consider including local references. Instead of "Anytown USA," let events occur in places that you have seen and know.
What you said about "Anytown USA" really resonated with me; "writing what you know" is exactly what I'm trying to do with this story, at least in terms of having a diverse cast. I'm located in a particularly multicultural city and I wanted to have that reflected in my VN. I never thought, however, about having events take place in locations I'm actually familiar with. A lot of slice-of-life VNs DO tend to go for more generalisable settings, so it would be cool to have one set in a distinct location. This is definitely something I'd love to look into -- thank you for suggesting it!
Mad Harlequin wrote:What's wrong with a sassy heroine? I personally love protagonists who aren't meek pushovers, and in this genre especially, I think there's a definite lack of them overall. Too much snark would be unnatural-sounding, but so far we've only seen snippets of dialogue, not a series of scenes. It's not possible at this point to jump to the conclusion that there's too much attitude---or too little, for that matter.

And yes, bonus points for a diverse cast as long as tokenism is avoided.

I like the matchmaking premise of the plot. It's realistic and has the potential to be quite poignant in the right places.

Other feedback:

1. I like the textbox, but the "galaxy" effect might be distracting in some scenes.

2. I know the basics about astrology. I don't think it should direct the plot in a large way, but it might be interesting to have it as a "footnote," as you described it.

3. I can't say there's anything I love or hate about school settings . . . they're just overdone and boring to me, generally speaking. Maybe you could think of some less glamorous aspect of the school and include it so that it doesn't seem perfect.

4. Wesley is my favorite, so I'd probably pursue him first---or last---if I played this. Gilbert is the least interesting of the bunch so far, but to be fair, I know nothing about him except that he's the MC's crush and he's meant to be physically attractive.

5. I wouldn't mind such an ending at all!

Best wishes!
Thank you for your encouragement and feedback! Oof, now you've got me worried about tokenism. Honestly, the way I've been approaching it is by not overthinking ethnicity when writing the characters. People are people are people, after all... We're defined by our personalities, not how we look. Do you think this is the right way to go about it? I hope it doesn't come off as me forcing in diversity for the sake of diversity. As I mentioned above, I just really wanted to reflect the multiculturalism of the area I live in. (Besides, as a POC of myself, I thought it'd be nice to contribute a VN with a cast that wasn't comprised only of ambiguously pale-skinned characters...)

Interesting commentary on how schools are often portrayed as perfect. Do you mind elaborating on "less glamorous aspects"? What comes to mind is maybe something like the insecurity and uncertainty that teens feel, but that could easily come off as clichéd. Unfortunately, my own experience with HS involved crushing workloads and overcompetitive classmates, which I suspect would NOT fit in well with this story, haha. :'(
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Re: Twinkle Twinkle [GxB][GxG] [Slice-of-Life, Astrology-the

#6 Post by Mad Harlequin » Sat Mar 29, 2014 12:21 pm

aestate wrote:Thank you for your encouragement and feedback! Oof, now you've got me worried about tokenism. Honestly, the way I've been approaching it is by not overthinking ethnicity when writing the characters. People are people are people, after all... We're defined by our personalities, not how we look. Do you think this is the right way to go about it? I hope it doesn't come off as me forcing in diversity for the sake of diversity. As I mentioned above, I just really wanted to reflect the multiculturalism of the area I live in. (Besides, as a POC of myself, I thought it'd be nice to contribute a VN with a cast that wasn't comprised only of ambiguously pale-skinned characters...)

Interesting commentary on how schools are often portrayed as perfect. Do you mind elaborating on "less glamorous aspects"? What comes to mind is maybe something like the insecurity and uncertainty that teens feel, but that could easily come off as clichéd. Unfortunately, my own experience with HS involved crushing workloads and overcompetitive classmates, which I suspect would NOT fit in well with this story, haha. :'(
I totally agree with your assessment about people, so don't worry too much. I think you'll do fine. :)

Teenage angst is a common theme, but it's really only clichéd if it's not handled properly, in my opinion. What I had in mind when I mentioned the "less glamorous aspects" of school were things like the crushing workloads and competition, and maybe a lazy teacher or two. If bullying ends up being part of your story, you can work that in too.
I'm an aspiring writer and voice talent with a passion for literature and an unhealthy attachment to video games. I am also a seasoned typo-sniper. Inquiries are encouraged. Friendly chats are welcome.
"Always do what is right. It will gratify half of mankind and astound the other."
— Mark Twain

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