Laika [SuNoFes 2018] [Told from a dog's perspective]

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sasquatchii
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Laika [SuNoFes 2018] [Told from a dog's perspective]

#1 Post by sasquatchii » Tue Jul 04, 2017 10:53 am

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Laika is a game about a small dog who is going to die.


About:

Laika, a stray from the streets of Moscow, was chosen in 1957 by Soviet scientists to be the occupant of Sputnik 2, the second spacecraft successfully launched into Earth's orbit.

This is her story.


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Game Progress:

Script: 100%
UI Design: 100%
Programming: 11%
Art: 1%
Sound Design & Music: 1%


Credits:

Writing & Story: A Cup of Ms. Tea (@mistydemeo)
Music: Sergey Cheremisinov
Art, Programming, & UI: Sasquatchii // The Bee's Knees



Discussion:



• Just curious, what do you already know about Laika and Soviet space exploration efforts in the 1950s?

• Have you ever played a visual novel told from the point of view of a narrator that wasn't human? Would you be open to trying a game told from a dog's point of view?

• With so little to go on (basically the few short sentences I wrote above), would you be interested in playing Laika? It's a free game - but I am wondering if I should include more information - or leave it brief. I don't want to spoil too much for players!

• What do you think of the art style? (If you don't like it or it puts you off - please feel free to say so! I know I have a very strange/childlike style and it is definitely not the norm for what you normally see in visual novels.)

• Are you a dog person? A cat person? Or maybe you have an exotic pet some sort? Do you want a pet but are unable to have one right now? Or are you the type that prefers a pet free home? Whatever you are - please feel free to share more about your relationship(s) with animals here! I am fascinated by dogs and pets and the role they play in our lives - I love telling stories about animals and the next VN I'm working on features mice protagonists -
so I am wondering if the folks here are as crazy about animals as I am :D

• Do you have any questions, comments, or feedback for me here that I didn't ask specifically about? If so, I'd love to hear it!


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Last edited by sasquatchii on Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:26 pm, edited 10 times in total.
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Re: Laika [SuNoFes 2017] [Told from a dog's perspective]

#2 Post by TellerFarsight » Tue Jul 04, 2017 5:59 pm

http://www.footnotinghistory.com/home/category/laika

Everything I know about Laika is from this podcast that I heard a couple years ago.

Just to answer a couple of your questions, this looks really cool and I'm looking forward to it. I like that you're doing stuff with VNs that are kind of different, like this unconventional narrator and your art style (which I've seen a couple times now from your posts)

With what little information you've given, I don't really have any questions, but I'll look forward to an update!
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Re: Laika [SuNoFes 2017] [Told from a dog's perspective]

#3 Post by Scribbles » Tue Jul 04, 2017 6:29 pm

• I'm curious, what do you already know about Laika and Soviet space exploration efforts in the 1950s? I don't know anything about it other than what you've said in this post

• Have you ever played a visual novel told from the point of view of a narrator that wasn't human? Would you be open to trying a game told from a dog's point of view? Nope, but it sounds interesting

• With so little to go on (basically the few short sentences I wrote above), would you be interested in playing Laika? It's a free game - but I am wondering if I should include more information - or leave it brief. I don't want to spoil too much for players! I'm not sure where or how choices come in, it kinda sounds like a kinetic novel from your description.

• What do you think of the art style? (If you don't like it or it puts you off - please feel free to say so! I know I have a very strange/childlike style and it is definitely not the norm for what you normally see in visual novels.)
looks simple and cute, not a ton to go on but it looks clean and professional.

• Are you a dog person? A cat person? Or maybe you have an exotic pet some sort? Do you want a pet but are unable to have one right now? Or are you the type that prefers a pet free home? Whatever you are - please feel free to share more about your relationship(s) with animals here! I am fascinated by dogs and pets and the role they play in our lives - I love telling stories about animals and the next VN I'm working on features mice protagonists -
so I am wondering if the folks here are as crazy about animals as I am :D

I am probably more of a cat person, but my daughter is really allergic and breaks out in hives around cats and dogs so no pets for us sadly


it looks interesting, I'm not really sure what to expect, but I'll try to keep updated on it!
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Re: Laika [SuNoFes 2017] [Told from a dog's perspective]

#4 Post by Katy133 » Tue Jul 04, 2017 9:32 pm

• I'm curious, what do you already know about Laika and Soviet space exploration efforts in the 1950s?
Before, I knew that Laika was the first dog to be sent to space, and she didn't survive the journey. I don't know a lot about Laika.

• Have you ever played a visual novel told from the point of view of a narrator that wasn't human? Would you be open to trying a game told from a dog's point of view?
I think it'd be great to see VNs narrated by non-human characters. I've read novels narrated by dogs (A Dog on His Own by Mary Jane Auch), but I can't recall a VN where that's happened, off the top of my head.

• With so little to go on (basically the few short sentences I wrote above), would you be interested in playing Laika? It's a free game - but I am wondering if I should include more information - or leave it brief. I don't want to spoil too much for players!
It depends on the length (if it's very short, then maybe this is the right length).

• What do you think of the art style? (If you don't like it or it puts you off - please feel free to say so! I know I have a very strange/childlike style and it is definitely not the norm for what you normally see in visual novels.)
The art style looks so cute! The dog looks adorable and I like the minimalist style.

• Are you a dog person? A cat person? Or maybe you have an exotic pet some sort? Do you want a pet but are unable to have one right now? Or are you the type that prefers a pet free home? Whatever you are - please feel free to share more about your relationship(s) with animals here! I am fascinated by dogs and pets and the role they play in our lives - I love telling stories about animals and the next VN I'm working on features mice protagonists -
so I am wondering if the folks here are as crazy about animals as I am :D
I'm more dog-like, but I'm a cat person, if that makes sense. But I like both animals, and I think having an animal companion can be a bring a lot of happiness.

• Do you have any questions, comments, or feedback for me here that I didn't ask specifically about? If so, I'd love to hear it!
I'm really excited to see your project completed! I love your work, Sasquatchii, so I always look forward to your projects when you announce them! :D
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Re: Laika [SuNoFes 2017] [Told from a dog's perspective]

#5 Post by timepatches » Wed Jul 05, 2017 7:53 am

I am so SO keen on this game!!
Laika has always fascinated me as a historical story, and since I love dogs, I always adored her - and wasn't sure how I felt about her being sent into space to die lmao
I'm very excited to play this interpretation of the story ;w;
Animals as protagonists aren't something super common of course but personally I wouldn't worry about it! If it's written well then it shouldn't matter who the protagonist is.
(Also, my SuNoFes entry for this year has an animal protagonist, too! partially because i love horses and unicorns but also because animals are all I can draw and I wanted to solodev haha)
I love love this artstyle and I feel like it really fits with the project, and what I can scope out of the tone of it so far.
Will be stalking this project real hard!!

Also, if you guys are in need of a proofreader, I'd love to help out <3
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Re: Laika [SuNoFes 2017] [Told from a dog's perspective]

#6 Post by hoihoisoi » Wed Jul 05, 2017 12:20 pm

I'm curious, what do you already know about Laika and Soviet space exploration efforts in the 1950s?
I have heard of the story and read about it before in a manga once. So yea, I kinda know about it I guess, although it's not very deep knowledge on the story.

Have you ever played a visual novel told from the point of view of a narrator that wasn't human? Would you be open to trying a game told from a dog's point of view?
I've read some visual novels that has bits and pieces told from a non-human narrator point of view but not one a full one which is completely from a non-human's point of view (Unless you consider other worldly beings XD). And yes, I would be open to trying a game from a dog's point of view. I'm actually interested in how poetic/descriptive it can be from the lens of a dog in space. It's a rather interesting context to explore.

With so little to go on (basically the few short sentences I wrote above), would you be interested in playing Laika? It's a free game - but I am wondering if I should include more information - or leave it brief. I don't want to spoil too much for players!
Well, considering that I do know a bit of the original story, I would say it'd be nice to see a retelling of it so picking it up probably wouldn't be much of an issue. Personally, I think it's alright to leave it brief in the description for best impact.


What do you think of the art style? (If you don't like it or it puts you off - please feel free to say so! I know I have a very strange/childlike style and it is definitely not the norm for what you normally see in visual novels.)
I'm more of an anime person, but a story like this is probably going to do well with the kind of 'childlike' art style you've provided. Nothing too fancy to ruin the simplicity of the story. To that, I think the art style is probably a good fit for the project. :D

Are you a dog person? A cat person? Or maybe you have an exotic pet some sort? Do you want a pet but are unable to have one right now? Or are you the type that prefers a pet free home? Whatever you are - please feel free to share more about your relationship(s) with animals here! I am fascinated by dogs and pets and the role they play in our lives - I love telling stories about animals and the next VN I'm working on features mice protagonists - so I am wondering if the folks here are as crazy about animals as I am :D
I had a dog a while ago, but its gone now. I would say that they are cute and I would love to have one, but my asthma does prevent me from adopting another one (Since the last one did bring along with it some problems). But I do like dogs a lot, not so much the big ones though, but rather the small toy poodle kind. I look at them for companionship rather than security so the cuteness factor for me is a pretty important part with dogs (Or pets in general). I would say I'd usually stick with either dogs and cats, don't think I've ever thought of owning a mouse or snake before. (Although a fox would be pretty cute, I think) XD
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Re: Laika [SuNoFes 2017] [Told from a dog's perspective]

#7 Post by sasquatchii » Wed Jul 05, 2017 10:04 pm

TellerFarsight wrote:http://www.footnotinghistory.com/home/category/laika
Everything I know about Laika is from this podcast that I heard a couple years ago.
Wow, I absolutely LOVED that podcast episode! I learned so much about the Soviet space dogs program from listening to that. It is nice to know that they were gentle and kind to the dogs, but it still makes me sad that so many dogs died during that time (I believe the podcast episode said 18 out of 56). Thank you so much for sharing that!!
Scribbles wrote:I'm not sure where or how choices come in, it kinda sounds like a kinetic novel from your description.
Yes, technically it is a kinetic novel with only 1 ending - but the player gets to make decisions throughout the story that shape the journey and help them see things from Laika's point of view.

Here's a little blurb that Ms. Tea (the writer) included about her decision to include choices within a kinetic novel:

The framing device was the first part of the game I wrote. I started with the inevitability of her death, and focused player choice on shaping players’ interpretation of Laika’s feelings instead. I also wanted the players’ choices to show how powerless Laika was - the player has control but is completely powerless to save her. My father, who played the game without knowing who Laika was, was angry that he couldn’t find the happy ending. That’s good, but I hope players direct that anger at the world instead of the game.
Katy133 wrote:It depends on the length (if it's very short, then maybe this is the right length).
Yes, this game is going to be very short, players will be able to complete it in one sitting. It'll probably take around 10 - 20 minutes to finish.
timepatches wrote:Also, if you guys are in need of a proofreader, I'd love to help out <3
Yes, I would love a proof reader after I get all of the script coded in!! I will reach out to you once that happens if that's OK with you :D

Also, what is the name of your SuNoFes game? Does it have its own thread or page that I could check out? I LOVE stories told by animals (Animal Farm & Watership Down being 2 of my favorite books) and I often wish there were more VNs like that as well :)
hoihoisoi wrote:And yes, I would be open to trying a game from a dog's point of view. I'm actually interested in how poetic/descriptive it can be from the lens of a dog in space. It's a rather interesting context to explore.
Yay, that makes me so happy to hear! My hope is that this story connects with players in a way that it did with me. When I first read it, I cried afterwards. The story has stuck in my mind for so long (this game has been about a year in the making) and I still tear up while I'm working on it or thinking about it. I love stories that try to tell things from unique perspectives and challenge people to look at the world through a different lens, and I hope this story does that for others the way it did for me.

Anyways, thanks to everyone for the kind words and support! It really means a lot to me, and I'm really excited to share more of the game's progress with you all for the next 2 months as I work on finishing it for SuNoFes.

Also: a mini-update since yesterday's post: The UI design is completely finished!! Here are a few screenshots:

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The UI was actually really daunting for me because I wanted to create something that would honor the tone and mood of the game without being too cutesy - because this is not supposed to be a cutesy or funny game.

I actually had to stop myself from doing something like this:
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or this:
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because I want to be respectful to Laika & the other animals that died during the space exploration programs that conducted research and missions that used animals.
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Re: Laika [SuNoFes 2017] [Told from a dog's perspective]

#8 Post by Ghost of Crux » Sat Jul 08, 2017 8:08 pm

"Laika is about a small dog who is going to die" Wow hARSH BLOW FROM THE GET GO. as if we didn't know that. [stares out of the window jadedly]

I've heard about Laika and Soviet space exploration efforts from numerous videos, but they're generally not in depth and it's been a while since I've last sat down and actually read anything on the topic. I should probably do that, but time's so limited and there's only so many dog deaths one can handle in a sitting. The idea of a VN with a non-human narrator is interesting, though-- I'm curious whether the narration will be specifically made to reflect that? Actually, I'm curious about how this all will look, but it looks really promising and I frankly can't wait to finally get to play it.

The art style is honestly perfect for this, IMO. It's the childlike charm of it that I think makes this look better-- I think, in a way, it makes the horrific fact that these dogs would not be able to do anything if anything goes wrong is put into even starker light with the style. I frankly don't see it drawn in any other way? It looks great!

As for the animal section of your discussions list--
I love birds. THEY ARE SO ADORABLE. ???? so cute. Those fluff ball they turn into when they sleep or cold? SOFT. VERY WARM. I watched my birds poop. I WISH I could have a dog, but my religion doesn't allow that, so I just stare at my friend's puppies from one-meter-further-than-leash-length :'D;; My family's had cats for as long as I know-- they're in another country right now but they have a Siberian and a Persian! We've had rabbits and hamsters as well, a decade ago. I'm a bad owner, though-- I'm trying to grow up a bit more before I get a pet again. It's the only way to atone ahahhaha this got dark quick
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Re: Laika [SuNoFes 2018] [Told from a dog's perspective]

#9 Post by sasquatchii » Sat Jul 07, 2018 4:13 pm

Week 1 Update:

Giving this a second shot, as I failed to complete Laika during last year's SuNoFes.

I feel like so much has happened between last July and now! I went to Japan for the very first time last September (something I've always wanted to do), got engaged, finished a number of UI commissions, started a blog about game design & development, got engaged, have been planning our wedding & honeymoon (to japan again :)), and am juggling quite a few in-progress UI commissions at the moment.

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Featured above: A few pictures from our Japan trip last year! 日本が大好きです

So, back to Laika - I am giving it another shot and I'm determined to finish, on time this time! Last year I was planning on having voice acting in the game. I had voice acting done for my SuNoFes 2015 submission, A Day in the Life of a Slice of Bread. The voice ating in ADITLOASOB was a huge hit, as the game is mostly comical and silly.

But with Laika, the game has a much more serious, sincere, and sad tone. I honestly feel like voice acting would detract - in the game we are always in Laika's head. Because she is a dog, she never actually says anything. She mostly thinks to herself, observes what's going on around her, and communicates (as dogs do) with body language and vocalizations.

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This week, I finished programming all of the original story into Ren'Py . I also changed the story, which was originally written in second person point of view, into first person!! That was my goal for this week, and I'm so happy to have been able to finish!! Even though the story is very short (probably around 5 - 10 minutes to play through) - I am doing everything by myself and wasn't sure how long it'd take me to get through everything. I also rewrote certain parts - some sentences were a little longer than I would have liked - and in the way I rewrote it, her sentences are shorter, more basic, and simpler (as we are looking at the world through a dog's eyes).

Here is my rough timeline for the rest of SuNoFes & what I hope to accomplish:

Week 1: Finish programming story into Ren'Py & changing second person point of view to first person POV Complete!!
Week 2: Finish programming UI into game (in progress)
Week 3: Work on adding art & sound effects to the game
Week 4: Work on adding more art & sound effects to the game
Week 5: Work on adding even more art & sound effects
Week 6: Start beta testing & trying to find players to proof & catch any mistakes. Also, add more art, music, & sound effects.
Week 7: Wrap up beta testing & art/music/sound effects.
Week 8: Finish game & upload to itch.io SuNoFes 2018 page!

And that's it in a nutshell. I really want to push myself this year with my art and animation and do as much as I can! I might have to adjust my timeline depending on how long each part takes me. Juggling UI commissions, wedding planning, honeymoon planning, and life/work in general along with creating this game will be quite the balancing act.

Thanks for reading! I will be back next week with another update!
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Re: Laika [SuNoFes 2018] [Told from a dog's perspective]

#10 Post by sasquatchii » Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:35 pm

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Hey guys! Week 2 of SuNoFes is winding down, and I was able to complete my goal! I managed to get all the coding for the UI done, and now my game is looking and feeling a lot more like what I'd initially envisioned.

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And that means for the next few weeks, I get to focus on the fun stuff - art sound and music! I'm really looking forward to it and think having more visuals and sound effects will really help bring Laika and her story to life. I'll also be working a lot on the laika side character sprites to make sure her expressions & moods match exactly what's going on in the story!

Here's where we are now as far as my timeline/plans are:

Week 1: Finish programming story into Ren'Py & changing second person point of view to first person POV Complete!!
Week 2: Finish programming UI into game Complete!!
Week 3: Work on adding art & sound effects to the game - In Progress
Week 4: Work on adding more art & sound effects to the game
Week 5: Work on adding even more art & sound effects
Week 6: Start beta testing & trying to find players to proof & catch any mistakes. Also, add more art, music, & sound effects.
Week 7: Wrap up beta testing & art/music/sound effects.
Week 8: Finish game & upload to itch.io SuNoFes 2018 page!

And that's it for now! I'll post again next week to update on how things are going with the art, sound, & music for the game :)
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Re: Laika [SuNoFes 2018] [Told from a dog's perspective]

#11 Post by Per K Grok » Tue Jul 17, 2018 1:34 am

A very good idea for a game. I would absolutely be interested in playing something like this.

I remember when I heard about Laika as a young child and how upset I was that they had sent her up without any possibility to bring her back alive. Her death was certain and would be bad however the scenario played out.
I did not understand how anyone could do that to a dog. Still don't.

Other launches with animals had been made (though at that time not into orbit) where the plan was for the animal to survive, if possible. Many did not. But there was at least a chance of survival. Laika did not have that.

I generally get along well with both dogs and cats, though I'm probably more of a dog person.

I quit like the art style.

Best of luck.
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