Heart of the Ocean (Mystery/Point-And-Click/VN)[Demo]

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TheSweetestNightmare
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Heart of the Ocean (Mystery/Point-And-Click/VN)[Demo]

#1 Post by TheSweetestNightmare » Thu Apr 07, 2016 6:26 pm

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(Mystery/Adventure Previously Known as Flower of Life)
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Story:
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In this mystery visual novel, observation is key! The island of Atlantiana has always been a calm and quiet sanctuary for it’s residents, but that all changed when a strange yacht appeared in it’s waters. Soon after the newcomers arrived, people began receiving threats and violence began spreading throughout the island. It’s up to the player to solve the mystery of what is really going on. There are five endings planned, each depends on a certain level of morality.

The story takes place on an ex-US military base owned by both the United States and Japan. This fictional island is called Atlantiana, a nod to the mythical sunken city.

Gameplay:
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The player will be able to interact with their surroundings and search for clues, similar to a point-and-click flash game. Interactions with characters and surroundings can raise or lower the main character's morality, changing the outcome of the game. The "Sketchbook" Option will allow the player to keep track of clues, events, characters, and information you learn about the characters. The player will have access to an inventory screen, and some of the objects can be used to interact with characters.

Characters:
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The island is full of an array of different kinds of people. Could any of them be behind the strange happenings around town?
Note: These are only a few of the characters, as meeting people is an important part of the gameplay.

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Nathaniel is the main character. Years ago, he was found on the beach, unconscious. The only thing he can remember from before that time is his name.
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Gramps adopted Nathaniel after he found him on the beach. He ended up with PTSD after a traumatic experience in the US Navy.
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Louis is Nathaniel's best friend who has an interest in occult subjects. Most of the island's residents are repulsed by him.
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Amaterasin is Nathaniel's classmate and the local cafe's owner. She may be very mature at times, but she can't resist gossip and tends to over exaggerate.
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Solreyo is an upperclassman and Amaterasin's older brother. He spends much of his time taking naps and sunbathing.

Animation:
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Many of the backgrounds in the current demo are animated and the character sprites in the upcoming demo will blink.

Kickstarter:
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The kickstarter is not yet live, but when it is, I will post a link to it. The reason why I need to use a kickstarter is because I am attempting to complete this game with two broken computers and a version of photoshop that is outdated by a decade. Since both computers have begun to act up even more than usual, I'm afraid that I need to put this project on hold until I can get a reliable computer and better software, which is something a starving college student cannot afford.

Update: I've decided against a kickstarter. Instead, I'll simply do the best I can with the one broken computer I have left.

Demo:
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This is the latest demo, uploaded on 7/25/2016

Alpha Demo
Last edited by TheSweetestNightmare on Tue Aug 16, 2016 5:57 am, edited 15 times in total.
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Re: Flower of Life (Mystery VN) [Attempting Kickstarter]

#2 Post by Cruxador » Fri Apr 08, 2016 1:52 pm

TheSweetestNightmare wrote:Kickstarter:
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The kickstarter is not yet live, but when it is, I will post a link to it. The reason why I need to use a kickstarter is because I am attempting to complete this game with two broken computers and a version of photoshop that is outdated by a decade. Since both computers have begun to act up even more than usual, I'm afraid that I need to put this project on hold until I can get a reliable computer and better software, which is something a starving college student cannot afford.
A kickstarter for this reason is very unlikely to get funded, and I'm not sure it actually meets their guidelines for an acceptable project. You might have better luck on gofundme, but I think your better option is to work more hours, reduce expenses, and fund out of pocket. You might also consider re-assessing your needs. New versions of Photoshop don't actually add that much* for the purposes of traditional art, and I wouldn't consider it a good buy on a limited budget. If you do find that you're not getting good results with the software you're using now, you're probably better off switching to PaintTool SAI, which is much cheaper and also generally easier to use if your background is in physical media, and also tends to provide a polished clean look that I think your art style would benefit from. Buying now will also give you free access to the next version when it comes out, which is nice.

And if you use a program which isn't Adobe bloat, you're likely to do fine with a much more inexpensive computer. You can probably find a used one that works well for quite cheap. Or (if you haven't done so already) consider doing a clean install on one of your existing computers and seeing if it doesn't get it to a usable state.

*yes, even if the difference in time is quite large

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Re: Flower of Life (Mystery VN) [Attempting Kickstarter]

#3 Post by TheSweetestNightmare » Fri Apr 08, 2016 5:53 pm

Cruxador wrote: A kickstarter for this reason is very unlikely to get funded, and I'm not sure it actually meets their guidelines for an acceptable project. You might have better luck on gofundme, but I think your better option is to work more hours, reduce expenses, and fund out of pocket. You might also consider re-assessing your needs. New versions of Photoshop don't actually add that much* for the purposes of traditional art, and I wouldn't consider it a good buy on a limited budget. If you do find that you're not getting good results with the software you're using now, you're probably better off switching to PaintTool SAI, which is much cheaper and also generally easier to use if your background is in physical media, and also tends to provide a polished clean look that I think your art style would benefit from. Buying now will also give you free access to the next version when it comes out, which is nice.

And if you use a program which isn't Adobe bloat, you're likely to do fine with a much more inexpensive computer. You can probably find a used one that works well for quite cheap. Or (if you haven't done so already) consider doing a clean install on one of your existing computers and seeing if it doesn't get it to a usable state.

*yes, even if the difference in time is quite large
I appreciate your input but I've tried going this route. How do I put this... I lost my job, the only available one in the small town I live next to, and I don't have a car or money for one so working more hours or any hours at all is kind of impossible right now. I've bought older computers before as they are the only ones I can afford, and those are the ones I'm using now that are broken. One is a laptop with a broken screen and a tendency to freeze up and crash and the other is a frankenstein of e-machines with a malfunctioning power supply that doesn't allow internet use, so it's been in need of updates for years now. Because of this, the mouse is shaky and keeps double clicking, and this is the computer I use to draw. I was in college, but my debt snuck up on me and I got academic suspension and now am unable to go back until I pay a huge amount. My only option is to try and get funded for a better computer so I can not only release my game but also attempt to start working for others on lemmasoft or possibly find another online job. Since it's my only option, I thought I might as well attempt this. If the attempt fails, I'll just be stuck in the same position I am in instead of getting myself into a worse position. Clearly I didn't want to say any of this but I guess I need to explain why I can't fund this by myself. ^^'

I considered go-fund-me, though, and I think you're right about it being a better option, so if the kickstarter isn't a success, I'll attempt a go-fund-me account, maybe just to get a reliable computer.
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Re: Flower of Life (Mystery VN)

#4 Post by TheSweetestNightmare » Tue May 31, 2016 6:39 am

I've had plenty of time to work on this project as of late and have almost completed a new demo. The script has a few edits and additions here and there, a couple of backgrounds had to be fixed up, and the random abrupt ending in the current demo was replaced with a continuation of the actual story line, if only for a couple more scenes. A new character has been introduced and one of the main sprites had to be re-drawn for complicated reasons. Also, all of the current sprites blink during dialogue.

I plan on changing the means of using objects on characters to make it less guesswork for the player as well. Instead of having to open the inventory menu and use an object at a certain time, I think it would be much easier to have a drag-and-drop menu over the "Point-and-Click" screens. For example, if the player were to find... lets say... Louis out at the beach, they can simply drag a book over to him to trigger a scene where Nathaniel gives Louis a book. This can be used later to confront suspects about evidence or to gain someone's trust. I haven't implemented this just yet, but I hope to do so before I release a better demo. I'd like to hear your thoughts on this subject. Do you think a drag-and-drop object menu would be a good idea in a Mystery VN?

...Also, it's probably important to mention that I've decided against a kickstarter.
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Re: Flower of Life (Mystery VN)

#5 Post by psy_wombats » Tue May 31, 2016 3:40 pm

TheSweetestNightmare wrote:I plan on changing the means of using objects on characters to make it less guesswork for the player as well. Instead of having to open the inventory menu and use an object at a certain time, I think it would be much easier to have a drag-and-drop menu over the "Point-and-Click" screens. For example, if the player were to find... lets say... Louis out at the beach, they can simply drag a book over to him to trigger a scene where Nathaniel gives Louis a book. This can be used later to confront suspects about evidence or to gain someone's trust. I haven't implemented this just yet, but I hope to do so before I release a better demo. I'd like to hear your thoughts on this subject. Do you think a drag-and-drop object menu would be a good idea in a Mystery VN?
You might be better off making an adventure game in this case, unless you want a very highly branching plot. For instance, what if the player doesn't receive the book? It's an implicit branching point. So there would either have to be very limited use of this system or you'd have to design around (probably in a way that means the player would spend more time hunting for object interactions than reading).
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Re: Flower of Life (Mystery VN)

#6 Post by TheSweetestNightmare » Mon Jun 06, 2016 5:06 am

psy_wombats wrote:
TheSweetestNightmare wrote:I plan on changing the means of using objects on characters to make it less guesswork for the player as well. Instead of having to open the inventory menu and use an object at a certain time, I think it would be much easier to have a drag-and-drop menu over the "Point-and-Click" screens. For example, if the player were to find... lets say... Louis out at the beach, they can simply drag a book over to him to trigger a scene where Nathaniel gives Louis a book. This can be used later to confront suspects about evidence or to gain someone's trust. I haven't implemented this just yet, but I hope to do so before I release a better demo. I'd like to hear your thoughts on this subject. Do you think a drag-and-drop object menu would be a good idea in a Mystery VN?
You might be better off making an adventure game in this case, unless you want a very highly branching plot. For instance, what if the player doesn't receive the book? It's an implicit branching point. So there would either have to be very limited use of this system or you'd have to design around (probably in a way that means the player would spend more time hunting for object interactions than reading).
I appreciate your input. You do have a good point. There is the issue of branching story lines and I would hope that I could account for these changes in the game's endings. I plan on five separate endings with possible small variations of each one in case of little differences like the one you mentioned. I don't really plan on the objects making that big of an impact unless they are used to confront suspects, change the player's level of morality, or unlock character information. It will actually be the player's morality that will determine the ending.
An adventure game was my original plan, but I wasn't sure if I could make this game interactive enough to earn that title. I would have liked to use a program like RPG maker or something similar to achieve this, but my computer is not exactly top-of-the-line... in fact it barely works with Renpy. Still, I'm glad to see this story slowly come to life in a game.
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Re: Flower of Life (Mystery VN)

#7 Post by TheSweetestNightmare » Mon Jun 06, 2016 5:56 am

There's something about the title that's been bothering me lately. Okay, I'm going to be blunt, here... "Flower of Life" is just the sample title I used when designing the UI. I was attempting to make the menu have a flower of life pattern and settled for it's current design. In case anyone is wondering what a flower of life pattern looks like, here is an example:
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The name actually fits the story somewhat so I kept it. There are many circles intersecting within this pattern. A flower of life is a good representation of the branching story lines, but the same can be said for other visual novels as well. I suppose it could also be a good representation of a mystery and how evidence leads to more evidence, but this is a bit of a stretch. That said, I'm starting to think that a better title needs to be thought up soon. I'm not so confident in my title-choosing abilities. Somehow, for me, that is always one of the most difficult things to decide on. However, I feel that a certain song might be the answer. Nathaniel's theme is called "Heart of the Ocean." In the beginning of the story, he narrates that the ocean hides many mysteries. The island, too, has it's mysteries. What lies at the heart of it all?

I don't want to jump into this decision, so I'd like to hear your thoughts on this change. Is Flower of Life a good enough title, or does Heart of the Ocean seem like a better choice? Does anyone have a better suggestion?
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Re: Heart of the Ocean (Mystery VN)

#8 Post by TheSweetestNightmare » Sun Jul 24, 2016 5:45 am

It's been a while and I am sorry about that, but I managed to make some progress. The name Heart of the Ocean has been decided on as the new title and a new demo has been completed. It will be uploaded as soon as my internet connection allows it. A lot of things have been updated. Expect to see more animation including blinking characters and new inventory and preferences buttons. There is now much more room for different character interactions depending on how you play through the demo, so I suggest trying out different routes. If you come across some dialogue that shouldn't occur after certain choices, please contact me about it so I can fix it before completing the entire story.

On a side note, the sketchbook option is now fully operational! It can be accessed through the inventory menu. When you find out some vital information about a character, it will show up in the "Characters" section of the sketchbook. If you find a clue or information about a mystery, it will appear in the "Sketches" section of the sketchbook. If you find a note, it will be found in the "Messages" section.

Thanks for taking your time to read these updates. I will post another update when the demo has been uploaded!
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Re: Heart of the Ocean (Mystery VN)

#9 Post by TheSweetestNightmare » Mon Jul 25, 2016 5:06 am

The link at the bottom of the first post has been replaced and the updated Alpha Demo is ready to be downloaded! I'd like to hear critiques and suggestions alike. If you don't want to scroll all the way back up, here's another link. Also, thank you for taking time to read these updates.
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Re: Heart of the Ocean (Mystery/Point-And-Click/VN)[Demo]

#10 Post by TheSweetestNightmare » Fri Jan 26, 2018 1:15 pm

I'm still here! I'm just having internet and computer trouble as always! I'm still making progress on this game, but it's kind of slow-going. It might be a while, but I have faith that I'll complete it someday.

(PS. It's been so long that I've even started writing a sequel story. >.>)
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Re: Heart of the Ocean (Mystery/Point-And-Click/VN)[Demo]

#11 Post by TheSweetestNightmare » Wed Jan 31, 2018 5:59 pm

Even if it's never released, I've been learning a lot about game design through this experience. It's still my goal to complete and release this game. Even if no one plays it, I'd like to see it released just to remind myself that I didn't give up no matter how bad things got. It's been slow-going, but I figured I should post some of my progress on here.

Art -I can't re-upload pictures to fix up this thread just yet because I'm not sure what image hosting sites would work and don't want to waste time trying to upload images to one that doesn't, but I'm keeping most of the art the same anyway. While I've been practicing and improving my art, I feel that re-drawing everything would take up way too much time. Besides, I think a good adventure game doesn't need to rely on super detailed artwork. I might make an attempt at some CGs to help with the immersion, though.

Backgrounds/World -I have added more areas to explore and intend to add a few more, too. The school backgrounds are pretty much done, although I may have lost an important background when my PC died so I might have to re-draw it. I see it as a chance to improve it if that's the case. There's more to explore on the island, but there's still plenty more to add.

Writing -I've revisited dialogue and fixed it up quite a bit. I've trying to make sure each character has their own unique way of speaking, although I don't want to go to extremes or else even the serious moments could come across as a comedy.

Messages -I don't remember if this was accessible in the previous demo, but I added more obtainable messages. They will be accessible through the sketchbook menu.

NVL -I customized the NVL menu since the story now makes use of it often. I call it the "Logia Compendium" as a nod to certain undertones of the game which will become more apparent throughout gameplay.

Demo -I've noticed that the demo link is no longer accessible and will release a better one when possible.

Characters -I also noticed a clear lack of much needed authority in this mystery story and added two characters- local police chief Kato Himura and traveling detective Yumi Takahashi- to help add that mystery game flare to Heart of the Ocean... and to add a tinsy bit of comedy as well.

Thank you to anyone who might take the time to read about my progress. ^^'
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Re: Heart of the Ocean (Mystery/Point-And-Click/VN)[Demo]

#12 Post by Asgardian4 » Sun May 27, 2018 11:31 am

Pretty funny! Good luck

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Re: Heart of the Ocean (Mystery/Point-And-Click/VN)[Demo]

#13 Post by AntiquedFae » Mon May 28, 2018 3:50 pm

I adore mystery and point and click games so this is way too awesome for me to not comment on. I'm sorry that you've had difficulties during development but I'm very proud of you for never giving up!
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Re: Heart of the Ocean (Mystery/Point-And-Click/VN)[Demo]

#14 Post by TheSweetestNightmare » Fri Jul 13, 2018 4:11 am

:o I thought this topic was dead by now. I'm glad I logged on when I did.
Asgardian4 wrote:
Sun May 27, 2018 11:31 am
Pretty funny! Good luck
Thank you! I'm hoping there's enough humor to keep it from being too serious.
AntiquedFae wrote:
Mon May 28, 2018 3:50 pm
I adore mystery and point and click games so this is way too awesome for me to not comment on. I'm sorry that you've had difficulties during development but I'm very proud of you for never giving up!
The difficulties really slowed down development but they've also made things more interesting, I guess. Haha Thank you!
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Re: Heart of the Ocean (Mystery/Point-And-Click/VN)[Demo]

#15 Post by TheSweetestNightmare » Fri Jul 13, 2018 4:23 am

I've been working on some slightly animated CGs and they actually turned out somewhat decent so far. I also fixed up some background images and sound effects and added sections of dialogue.
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