Hearts Under Blades [BxG, BxB][Samurai][Kickstarter][Demo]

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Dustiferous
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Hearts Under Blades [BxG, BxB][Samurai][Kickstarter][Demo]

#1 Post by Dustiferous » Sat Aug 23, 2014 5:36 pm

Hearts Under Blades
A traditional visual novel set in a fantasy setting inspired by medieval Japan.
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Now on Kickstarter! Scroll down for demo link.
Story

The story involves a team of youngsters of the privileged class travelling around a fantasy empire. This empire was once frequently plagued by demonic and other supernatural forces interfering with mortal life, but under the reign of the current emperor, such supernatural forces have begun to settle down, and the people turn more toward conflict with one another.

Eminent clans and monasteries have been asked to send their brightest and best youths to accompany a pair of magistrates on a journey to the many corners of the Empire. It's part propaganda for the youths of these clans, and part recruitment drive and training for those that might one day become imperial magistrates themselves.
At the same time, a cabal of anti-Imperial conspirators has heard of the magistrates' plans, and will try to subvert the hearts and minds of these young men and women, and turn them against their magistrate mentors and the ideals of the empire. Which side will you take? Which side will your friends take?

The game revolves around a "guided tour" of the fantasy setting, focusing mostly on conspiracies and class struggles, as well as some supernatural hauntings and other spiritual phenomena! There's a focus on young people struggling to decide what is morally right and just, and whether they will accept the same order the older generation, or reject it for new ideals.

Characters
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The main point of view character is Shouka, a bookish young man from the large Ohtori family.
As Shouka, you'll have chances to talk to and form relationships with as many as 10 characters, though our upcoming demo only introduces 4 of these characters. Most of these characters are the young men and women around Shouka's age with whom he's travelling, but some are also mentors or other characters. Most of the stories and endings involving these characters will be romantic, but some will focus more on political alliances or platonic mentorship.

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We'd really like to include an option to play female Shouka, but we're first going to see what time (and funding) allow for.


Characters introduced in the demo:

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Kyoko
Kyoko is a fiery young woman, short of stature, but full of justice. She was raised in a family with a strong warrior tradition, and believes strongly in codes of honor and in defending the common folk. Men are not usually allowed to touch her horse.

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Jojima
One of the two magistrates that will mentor the team of young samurai. Though he is a highly skilled investigator, Jojima's obsession with tracking down his arch-nemesis lends him a cool, dispassionate air.

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Sayuri
An enigmatic beauty, Sayuri prefers to stick to the court rather than the battlefield, dueling with poetry rather than swords. A political crisis caused her to be traded to Genji's family in a hostage exchange. She puts on the air of a proper noblewoman from her birth family's tradition, but could she have been secretly corrupted by her host family's dishonorable ninja training?

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Genji
An incorrigible playboy, Genji is a veritable fountain of light hearted innuendo and suggestive banter. Raised by Sayuri's cultured family due to a hostage exchange, he insists he was raised an actor in his host family's tradition, not as a ninja as his birth family would have wanted. The throwing knives he carries and the mask he frequently wears make this story hard to swallow, and he doesn't seem to mind if you don't believe him.

For more info on characters to come, you can check out our website!

Team
Core team, Leading Scientists Games:
Character Art, Project Lead - Melissa Strickbine (DA: ArtistMeli)
Writer, Programmer - Dustin Rice (that's me!)
Writer - Derek Meurer

Comissioned work:
Backgrounds - Fateline-Alpha
Music and Audio - Reckoning Storm Audioworks

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Website: hub.leadingscientistsgames.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/leadingscientistsgames
email: leadingscientistsgames@gmail.com

Please feel free to ask any questions, make any suggestions, or anything else.
Last edited by Dustiferous on Sat Sep 13, 2014 2:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Hearts Under Blades [BxG, BxB][Samurai][Fantasy]

#2 Post by Fungii » Sat Aug 23, 2014 6:07 pm

Ooooh, I'm interested! I will definitely try to put something toward the kickstarter when it comes out. I'm always interested in VNs set in Medieval Japan and the art I'm seeing is wonderful to boot!

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Re: Hearts Under Blades [BxG, BxB][Samurai][Fantasy]

#3 Post by Dustiferous » Sat Aug 23, 2014 6:22 pm

Thanks! We should have a demo in a week or so, so people can make an informed decision about the kickstarter.

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Re: Hearts Under Blades [BxG, BxB][Samurai][Fantasy]

#4 Post by Dustiferous » Sat Aug 23, 2014 6:23 pm

Also, here are a few screenshots:

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Deciding lines of poetry composition.

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She's too short to read over your shoulder.

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They don't let just anyone in to the castle!

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Re: Hearts Under Blades [BxG, BxB][Samurai][Fantasy]

#5 Post by Mad Harlequin » Sat Aug 23, 2014 6:47 pm

Well, this looks like something to keep an eye on!

I'm always up for medieval-inspired settings, and the different characters have piqued my interest. :)

(You seem to have mixed up Renji's and Hitoshi's profile links on your website, though!)
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Re: Hearts Under Blades [BxG, BxB][Samurai][Fantasy]

#6 Post by Ran08 » Sat Aug 23, 2014 8:40 pm

Wow, this sounds really interesting. It actually reminds me a lot of the Steel Samurai series from the Ace Attorney games. I hope there's gonna be an epic opening theme song to this one too! Hahaha. :D (Gazen hiiro da tonosaman... fly high!) Totally epic.

Plus, the art looks so similar to SS too! Awwww. <3 Love love love.

Anyway, I'm really looking forward to the demo. And I'm quite excited to check out the kickstarter! Good luck to you and your team!

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Re: Hearts Under Blades [BxG, BxB][Samurai][Fantasy]

#7 Post by gekiganwing » Sat Aug 23, 2014 10:50 pm

Impressed by what I'm seeing so far. I had a total of ten thoughts and concerns:

1. Be sure to carefully think about your story's scope. Don't commit to writing more than you can handle. For example, I like the idea of an alternate gender-flipped protagonist in order to widen your audience and make all sorts of relationships possible. There are surprisingly few visual novels with both male and female love interests. But if you're not interested in writing this, or if you can't devote enough time to including this, then leave it out.

2. Money as a motivator... I know that some people choose to release their visual novels for free. But if you are definitely going to sell the final product, then you can use money in order to hire assistants and motivate your staff. This might help find dedicated people who are willing to continue working on the VN until it's finished.

3. On your FAQ, you state "Relationships can be platonic or political as well as romantic." Thank you for being willing to consider this. Friendship endings are rare. And I'm interested in seeing more VNs in which plot is at least as important as the characters' relationships.

4. Also, you said, "We want this game to reach as wide an audience as possible, so we’re trying to keep it rated Teen, or PG-13." That might help the final version get released through diverse services, such as Mangagamer's site, Desura, Amazon, and Steam.

5. Do you think you will benefit from porting the final version of your visual novel to other formats, such as iOS or Android?

6. On your gameplay page, you state, "Going into this game, the development team played a number of Visual Novels and [romance games] to get a feel for the genre. We quickly developed an idea of what we liked, and also compiled a list of things we wanted to do differently." Probably a good idea. There are some basic things to learn (Tokimeki Check-in: don't let trivial actions lead to vastly different results; Sakura Wars 5: don't place the battles back-to-back after two hours of conversation). Also, I learned about creating a document on what to include / exclude in a novel from the book No Plot? No Problem!, which is about Nanowrimo. When you have time, please state what interactive stories and romance games you thought were instructive.

7. On the same page, you wrote, "We really wanted to give the player more of a choice in shaping the type of character Shouka would end up being. To quote one of the team, we want to “Bioware it up.” ... The character is being written with extensive branching dialogue that will allow you to play him (or her) however you like. You can be friendly, humble, rude, or arrogant, and your choices will affect the way others react to you." Some of my favorite visual novels encourage the main character to commit to one person, or end up with a negative ending (alone for the immediate future; at least one person dies). For what it's worth, the freeware VN Winter Shard allows its main character to choose villainy. Also, Corpse Party has a variety of horrifying endings that are not considered "game over."

8. Your story is part of the fantasy genre. Even so, be willing to consider a reasonable amount of realism. Writing Excuses had something to say on this topic in their episode on Practical Fantasy. Be willing to ask questions such as "if this magic exists, what does it mean for people?" and "is this going to result in economic upheaval?"

9. Promoting at a fan convention can be difficult. Don't spend too much getting a booth in the dealers hall if all you have is a promotional video and some sample art. In my opinion, the people at Okashi Studios made a mistake in promoting their game Shira Oka this way as late as 2006, especially because its demo was not playable until mid-2010.

10. Be sure to research both successes and failures on Kickstarter.

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Re: Hearts Under Blades [BxG, BxB][Samurai][Fantasy]

#8 Post by Diamonit » Sun Aug 24, 2014 9:20 am

Seems to be a very promising project, the setting is interesting, the art is very pretty!
I wish you the best of luck! :)
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You can also follow our dev' blog with regular updates : http://lucid9.weebly.com/

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Re: Hearts Under Blades [BxG, BxB][Samurai][Fantasy]

#9 Post by LadyOfGatsby » Sun Aug 24, 2014 2:04 pm

Wow, I was waiting for a samurai story! I hope there's a good amount of action since I do enjoy action and am expecting it to be in here. The story is fairly interesting itself and the characters as well, having their own unique touch to themselves which make it more exciting. I will definitely stalk this thread to the fullest~
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Re: Hearts Under Blades [BxG, BxB][Samurai][Fantasy]

#10 Post by maricon » Sun Aug 24, 2014 2:45 pm

Sounds interesting so far :)
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Re: Hearts Under Blades [BxG, BxB][Samurai][Fantasy]

#11 Post by chaos » Sun Aug 24, 2014 4:19 pm

supernatural themes + a story about class struggles? i'm in!

love the art, the characters and story sound interesting and i can't wait for the demo! :D

oh on the website on the character page i spotted an error: hitoshi's page loads if you click on renji and vice-versa! renji looks super cool by the way o: i thought she was a male at first. i love androgynous designs haha :D
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Re: Hearts Under Blades [BxG, BxB][Samurai][Fantasy]

#12 Post by kukiko-tan » Sun Aug 24, 2014 5:32 pm

Feudal Japan inspired fantasy? :D That's awesome. My eyes just squealed at the sight of the breath-taking art quality! I love it, especially the backgrounds and the CGs. Annnd I just can't help but really like Kyoko's armor design.
"There's a focus on young people struggling to decide what is morally right and just..." that's one thing I'd really like to see. We live in an unfortunately relativist era so it's refreshing to see the battle between bad and good on a VN platform.

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Re: Hearts Under Blades [BxG, BxB][Samurai][Fantasy]

#13 Post by Dustiferous » Tue Sep 02, 2014 10:39 pm

Thanks for the thoughtful feedback, everyone, sorry for being gone for so long. We've been really busy preparing for and attending a con, but we did get a demo and Kickstarter going. Check it out if you have time, and let me know what you like or dislike, because I'd love to hear how people feel about it.

Hopefully I'll have more time now to answer any questions and read comments, not to mention a chance to check out more of the many awesome projects on the forums here. I wish I'd started lurking sooner, there are a lot of amazing games to see!

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Re: Hearts Under Blades [BxG, BxB][Samurai][Fantasy]

#14 Post by Mad Harlequin » Wed Sep 03, 2014 12:14 am

I'll be playing the demo tomorrow (well, technically it's already tomorrow for me, but you know what I mean). I'm looking forward to it!
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Re: Hearts Under Blades [BxG, BxB][Samurai][Fantasy]

#15 Post by netravelr » Wed Sep 03, 2014 1:38 am

Looking good to me! I think the UI and the rest of the art look like they're from different games, but that's just me. I'm looking forward to seeing more from you guys!
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