Kairos' Metal Heart [End of the World, Drama, Sci-Fi]

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Cirrocumulus-Cloud
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Kairos' Metal Heart [End of the World, Drama, Sci-Fi]

#1 Post by Cirrocumulus-Cloud » Thu Aug 17, 2017 8:14 pm

Kairos' Metal Heart

Story

When KAIROS awakens, the world is void of human life, except for the man in front of them, who they identify as their creator, Satoru.
KAIROS knows their goal of existence - to protect him, even if it means putting their own health at risk.
The problem comes with the fact that Satoru wants none of that.


Characters

KAIROS (Player)
An android that Satoru constructed. Intelligent, yet oblivious to what makes one 'human'.
KAIROS acts very much like an artificial being and is self aware of being one, much to the frustration of Satoru.
They slowly begin to become more than a set of commands when Satoru decides to get rid of their reason for existence,
forcing them into the same crisis that humans have to face every day: What is the meaning of life?

Satoru Attaway (24)
A young man with a knack for building machines. According to himself he is the last man on earth and has mostly given up on searching for other humans.
Satoru is as honest as one can be, with a deep yearning for affection, which leads to him overstepping self-set boundaries quite often.
Though he looks like an aloof person, he acts the exact opposite around KAIROS, mostly due to being starved of interactions of any kind.
ImageImage
ATLAS
Satoru's first robot. Made from old soda cans and scraps of metal.
ATLAS has no real intelligence of its own, though it is capable of listening to simple commands and executing easy tasks.
According to Satoru, it acts as much as a dog as a walking soda can is able to. KAIROS is very fond of it.

Features

- determine KAIROS personality and identity
- decide the form of relationship between KAIROS and Satoru (Creator and Creation; Friendship; Love)
- experience how KAIROS slowly and steadily becomes more self-aware
- multiple outfits and poses for Satoru and a status icon for KAIROS
- a UI that tries to replicate how KAIROS sees the world
- an estimate of roughly 50k words

CG's (in various states of progress)

Image
Image
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Cirro's Ramblings

So, I had to put my other two projects on hold, due to realising how difficult Ren'Py is for me to get into. To combat my horrible skills I decided to tackle a project that is quite short, features only one character (and one robot companion) and allows me to learn how to do things from the ground up, so that my future projects will profit from newfound knowledge. This game will work more like a kinetic novel, I don't plan to add vastly different endings - the goal is to give the reader the freedom of experiencing how KAIROS begins to see the world first and foremost. I've already written roughly 20% of the script and should be able to work on a demo quite soon, once I get the sprites for Satoru fully ready.

Questions, for now:

1. Do you like the premise of the story?
2. Do you think having a story that is mostly linear, but gives the reader the ability to express their own opinions of worldviews openly is a good concept?
3. What do you think of the characters so far?
4. Do you like Satoru's design/the art style? If yes, what do you like? If no, what would you change?
Last edited by Cirrocumulus-Cloud on Sat Sep 23, 2017 7:34 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Kairos' Metal Heart [End of the World, Drama, Sci-Fi]

#2 Post by Cirrocumulus-Cloud » Sat Aug 19, 2017 7:01 pm

Currently working on the Titlescreen for the game! Here is a (rough) sketch of it - it would be wonderful to hear what you guys think! The menu will be found on the left side. (Please click it to see the full-sized version~) I also updated Satoru's look - the shadows of his skin are harsher, now. It gives him more depth, I think.

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Re: Kairos' Metal Heart [End of the World, Drama, Sci-Fi]

#3 Post by Celestial_Toast » Sun Aug 20, 2017 2:39 am

1. Do you like the premise of the story?

Yes, sounds interesting for sure. I like the idea of playing a sentient robot discovering himself. I'm curious, if the game will include anything by way of how the world came to be that way? Or is it focusing on the relationship of the two characters while we take for granted the condition of the world? Either can be done fine, but I wanted to know what you had in mind. The more you add, the more potential you have for KAIROS to understand the world and himself better, and understand his relation to it and how he came to exist. Post-apocalyptic stories generally don't interest me, but the concept of playing as KAIROS is interesting enough for me to want to give it a try.

2. Do you think having a story that is mostly linear, but gives the reader the ability to express their own opinions of worldviews openly is a good concept?

Definitely. If the overarching story remains the same, we get to focus on developing KAIROS' personality in different ways, and his relationship with Satoru. So as long as you provide enough scope to really develop KAIROS, the linear storyline will definitely help.

3. What do you think of the characters so far?

They're interesting. I can't tell much about Satoru; in the current setting, there's not much to tell how he is around other people (like, him being "honest" or aloof"), because the nature of his relationship with his own creation is obviously vastly different from what his usual relationships would look like. Personally, KAIROS is far more interesting to me.

4. Do you like Satoru's design/the art style? If yes, what do you like? If no, what would you change?

Art's great. I like it. There's a certain "gloomy" or "lonely" feeling to the color choices, and that makes sense given the apocalyptic environment and his image as a scientist holed up in his lab.
Check out my visual novels here: http://celestial-toast.itch.io/

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Re: Kairos' Metal Heart [End of the World, Drama, Sci-Fi]

#4 Post by Cirrocumulus-Cloud » Sun Aug 20, 2017 6:04 am

Celestial_Toast wrote:
Sun Aug 20, 2017 2:39 am
1. Do you like the premise of the story?

Yes, sounds interesting for sure. I like the idea of playing a sentient robot discovering himself. I'm curious, if the game will include anything by way of how the world came to be that way? Or is it focusing on the relationship of the two characters while we take for granted the condition of the world? Either can be done fine, but I wanted to know what you had in mind. The more you add, the more potential you have for KAIROS to understand the world and himself better, and understand his relation to it and how he came to exist. Post-apocalyptic stories generally don't interest me, but the concept of playing as KAIROS is interesting enough for me to want to give it a try.
Thank you! I've only ever seen the opposite - where the player interacts with a sentient robot. I think there's a lot of great opportunities with playing the robot instead, though. (You can include the UI in an organic way, for example.) The game will touch upon how the world ended up being this way! There won't be long texts of exposition though, I plan to make everything feel very realistic in how KAIROS approaches asking about the world and Satoru adding comments here and there about things like how we behave naturally. If it's a given that we need to buy food, we say things like "I'll go to the grocery store, wanna come with me?" - that kind of exposition. It would be natural for Satoru to add hints here and there about what he's doing and why he is doing it. Without touching upon the apocalyptic scenario neither KAIROS nor Satoru could be fully developed, after all. Satoru has his backstory that made him into who he is, KAIROS only exists like this because of Satoru's situation. Satoru doesn't know everything so KAIROS can't know everything, but the state of the world will be discussed. It's nice to hear that you will give the game a chance despite the setting! ^-^
Celestial_Toast wrote:
Sun Aug 20, 2017 2:39 am
2. Do you think having a story that is mostly linear, but gives the reader the ability to express their own opinions of worldviews openly is a good concept?

Definitely. If the overarching story remains the same, we get to focus on developing KAIROS' personality in different ways, and his relationship with Satoru. So as long as you provide enough scope to really develop KAIROS, the linear storyline will definitely help.
You will have a lot of freedom over KAIROS. =D From the point onwards when they form a sense of self a lot of options will open up to the player. How KAIROS behaves around Satoru, what their interests are, what they perceive their gender to be (or if they think of themselves as someone with a gender in the first place; I think you see KAIROS as male?), where they draw the line of having their own personal space, whether or not they get attached to Satoru and how much. (The only thing that you can't really do is hate him, due to the way the story is constructed.) They start out with mild curiosity towards topics that immediately affect them and will develop their personality little by little. A lot of that will affect how Satoru treats them, though of course some things are just there for the feeling of diversity.
Celestial_Toast wrote:
Sun Aug 20, 2017 2:39 am
3. What do you think of the characters so far?

They're interesting. I can't tell much about Satoru; in the current setting, there's not much to tell how he is around other people (like, him being "honest" or aloof"), because the nature of his relationship with his own creation is obviously vastly different from what his usual relationships would look like. Personally, KAIROS is far more interesting to me.
That's good to know! I personally like writing for both of them. I've never written a character dynamic like the one between these two. Writing from KAIROS perspective is challenging but so much fun. (How they analyse facial expressions, how they sort of provide a deadpan humour at the start due to not understanding Satoru etc.) The game will give you the opportunity to see different sides of Satoru - what makes him tick, how he interacts with other parts of the world that aren't KAIROS etc. I feel like he's a character that you feel like you know from the get-go, but he's far more complex than he lets on.
Celestial_Toast wrote:
Sun Aug 20, 2017 2:39 am
4. Do you like Satoru's design/the art style? If yes, what do you like? If no, what would you change?

Art's great. I like it. There's a certain "gloomy" or "lonely" feeling to the color choices, and that makes sense given the apocalyptic environment and his image as a scientist holed up in his lab.
Yay, thank you! That's what I was going for. Using muted colours seems to work nicely for the setting. KAIROS can be a good contrast to that due to being an android, so they will have a much sleeker look to them.

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Re: Kairos' Metal Heart [End of the World, Drama, Sci-Fi]

#5 Post by Cirrocumulus-Cloud » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:43 pm

Small update:

- Satoru has five different arm placements for his first pose, now [Three poses still need to be made]
- Satoru now has a vest, a different pair of glasses [Sleepwear; Winter Clothes still need to be made.]
- KAIROS' design is fleshed out, just need to draw the actual sprite for them, now (Thank God KAIROS doesn't wear clothes.)
- Wrote 4k words worth of script in the last few days
- Sketched out one of the first CGs

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Re: Kairos' Metal Heart [End of the World, Drama, Sci-Fi]

#6 Post by Zelan » Sat Sep 09, 2017 6:47 pm

1. Do you like the premise of the story?: YES YES YES. I was loving the AI stuff in the thread for Girlfriend Material; this is obviously a very different sort of story but I think the way that you write the AI will be just as good. :D

2. Do you think having a story that is mostly linear, but gives the reader the ability to express their own opinions of worldviews openly is a good concept?: I think that's great. There's never anything wrong with linear stories (I mean, that's literally what a book is), but since it's a visual novel with an essentially newborn protagonist there's still room for some interesting development and choices.

3. What do you think of the characters so far?: I like them! Obviously, I like KAIROS, and ATLAS seems like it'll be cute, too. I don't know too much about Satoru yet but I feel like it'll be interesting to get to know him.
I also really like that you're adding the option to choose KAIROS's gender identity, but I'm curious; when and where would they learn about femininity and/or gender identity as a concept?

4. Do you like Satoru's design/the art style? If yes, what do you like? If no, what would you change?: I do, the art looks very clean, and like Celestial_Toast said, the duller colors are good for the post-apocalyptic scenario.

I also super appreciate the fact that you're taking the time to give Satoru different outfits - that will really add to the immersion - but I would also completely understand if you scrapped it so that you could focus on other elements.

Good luck! I've seen your other projects around and I think you have awesome ideas. I can't wait to see one completed. c:

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Re: Kairos' Metal Heart [End of the World, Drama, Sci-Fi]

#7 Post by Cirrocumulus-Cloud » Sat Sep 09, 2017 7:48 pm

Zelan wrote:
Sat Sep 09, 2017 6:47 pm
1. Do you like the premise of the story?: YES YES YES. I was loving the AI stuff in the thread for Girlfriend Material; this is obviously a very different sort of story but I think the way that you write the AI will be just as good. :D

2. Do you think having a story that is mostly linear, but gives the reader the ability to express their own opinions of worldviews openly is a good concept?: I think that's great. There's never anything wrong with linear stories (I mean, that's literally what a book is), but since it's a visual novel with an essentially newborn protagonist there's still room for some interesting development and choices.

3. What do you think of the characters so far?: I like them! Obviously, I like KAIROS, and ATLAS seems like it'll be cute, too. I don't know too much about Satoru yet but I feel like it'll be interesting to get to know him.
I also really like that you're adding the option to choose KAIROS's gender identity, but I'm curious; when and where would they learn about femininity and/or gender identity as a concept?

4. Do you like Satoru's design/the art style? If yes, what do you like? If no, what would you change?: I do, the art looks very clean, and like Celestial_Toast said, the duller colors are good for the post-apocalyptic scenario.

I also super appreciate the fact that you're taking the time to give Satoru different outfits - that will really add to the immersion - but I would also completely understand if you scrapped it so that you could focus on other elements.

Good luck! I've seen your other projects around and I think you have awesome ideas. I can't wait to see one completed. c:
1. That's really good to hear! Oh, I need to check that thread out, then - lately I'm loving everything that has to do with robots. (My current obsession is Reg from Made in Abyss. Poor little robot boy.)

2. That's what I'm going for - I want the game to be more book like in that things just happen. And as an Android, KAIROS isn't really someone who can actively affect the choices that Satoru makes for himself, while Satoru can very much influence KAIROS' choices. It's an imbalance between them that is best developed by focusing on KAIROS' emotions instead, I believe. The start of the game is especially linear, because KAIROS doesn't grow a real sense of self until a certain event happens. From then on you get to control more and more about them and their way of narration changes. It's really clean and strict at the start, but becomes rather poetic later on.

3. One thing that I can tell is that Satoru is a heck of a lot of fun to write! Seriously, I've rarely had this much fun letting a character talk - and Satoru talks a lot. I really hope people will end up liking him, because I absolutely adore making him say cheesy things and having KAIROS react in a deadpan sort of way. The story gets a lot of its humour from this, which I think is good given that the background of the game is rather grim and the plot is pretty dramatic.

KAIROS learns about gender identity during the course of the story. It's a learning curve for them - when they first gain their sense of self they simply accept that they are an Android, but one that can understand and make use of the concept of curiosity. No matter how you play them (And you can play them in a very free way, from choosing their aspirations, fears, personality traits and their relationship towards Satoru.) they are always curios. It's their only given character trait, because it moves the plot forward and lets them grow.

Once they learn about gender identity (mostly through Satoru, his collection of movies and self reflection) you can then decide whether KAIROS 1. Believes they aren't a part of the gender spectrum and just an Android 2. Wants to be seen as either a man or a woman 3. Prefers to indulge in the gender spectrum, though doesn't want to tie themselves down to either end of it. KAIROS doesn't have to think of themselves as more than a machine, but if they do want to be equal to Satoru, they can be so in any way they want to. And no matter which identity you give them, not a single option shuts you out of romancing Satoru, should you want to, as Satoru doesn't care about gender and never did, not even before the end of the world. The only thing that is fixed is KAIROS robotic body and it's ambigious look. KAIROS doesn't simply gain metal breasts just because they see themselves as a woman. But not having any sexually connotated body parts doesn't make them less of what they choose to be. =)

4. That's great to know! I try to keep it simple enough to be able to give Satoru a lot of arm placements and poses without sacrificing too much time, so the shading is pretty hard and the style is a bit on the clean side. Since this is a one-woman-project cutting down on complex shading is needed to ensure a lot of variety instead.

Oh, giving Satoru multiple outfits was always part of the plan~ I'd rather invest the extra time to give him more personality through different outfits. (That way I don't get bored drawing CG's, either!) You only really get to see Satoru for most of the time, so I believe it is absolutely necessary to give him a ton of poses and outfits to make up for the fact that you'll be staring at his bespectacled face for a long time. Also, I've always been a fan of shaping the personality of a character through the things that they wear. (And Satoru loves cheap nicknacks like his plastic star necklace.)

Thank you! I'm working hard on this project now, since it's the easiest to tackle. Since I'm a person who can't work on only one project for long periods of time without feeling the itch to switch, I like to rotate between different projects instead. That way, if I feel stuck with one, I can always work on another and come back later without falling into a writer's block or art block. I haven't had much time to work on any projects during the last few weeks, but that was due to getting accustomed to a new job that I have. Since I'm a terribly lazy person who loves afternoon naps and can't function without a strict routine I've constructed a time table to work on projects during the week, which I will implement starting next week. It gives me two hours per day to work on my projects and I can churn out about 3k-4k words within that time frame on good days. So if everything works out well I can finish this project during the winter of this year~

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Re: Kairos' Metal Heart [End of the World, Drama, Sci-Fi]

#8 Post by Zelan » Sat Sep 09, 2017 8:55 pm

Wow, now I really can't wait to meet Satoru for the first time! Seeing how excited you are about writing him makes me think I'll really enjoy his character. :D

And I think that's a pretty great way to handle gender identity given the fact that the protagonist is an android, especially the option of not even bothering to concern themself with the fact given their identity as an android. I'm thinking that I'll go for the third option, but we'll see when I play the game. c:

I also think it's smart that KAIROS's one given trait is their curiosity - as you said, that's integral to the plot but at the same time still gives the player a lot of agency.

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Re: Kairos' Metal Heart [End of the World, Drama, Sci-Fi]

#9 Post by Cirrocumulus-Cloud » Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:12 pm

Zelan wrote:
Sat Sep 09, 2017 8:55 pm
Wow, now I really can't wait to meet Satoru for the first time! Seeing how excited you are about writing him makes me think I'll really enjoy his character. :D

And I think that's a pretty great way to handle gender identity given the fact that the protagonist is an android, especially the option of not even bothering to concern themself with the fact given their identity as an android. I'm thinking that I'll go for the third option, but we'll see when I play the game. c:

I also think it's smart that KAIROS's one given trait is their curiosity - as you said, that's integral to the plot but at the same time still gives the player a lot of agency.
I hope you will! I think he's a pretty deep character - which leads to him talking much, doing many different things and having a whole lot of detail to what he likes, what he does, how he acts etc. This might very well lead to the story becoming longer than 50k words if this keeps up, since there's enough to write just about Satoru himself! I'm currently at...12k words I think and so far the plot is only really starting to take up it's pace. The introduction to Satoru and ATLAS alone is roughly 3k words long.

I think it's a good way to handle these issues as well! I don't want to limit how you can play KAIROS. I want to be able to ask people "So, who is your KAIROS? What's their identity? Their personality? What are their fears and aspirations and what do they think of Satoru?" and get many different answers. I hope I can make you and others happy that way! =D

That's the goal! The player should never feel forced to respond in one way or another, but KAIROS is inherently a curios being, so they will ask questions, they will try to figure things out, they will try to learn new things. Without curiosity, KAIROS could never grow - and I want them to grow.

Small Update:

I'm currently working on CG's for the game! Most of them are in a state of rough sketches so far, but I especially like this sketch, here. It's one of the few that I can show without getting into spoiler territory and I think it's pretty adorable. This sketch is also one of the first CG's that you encounter. =D

Image

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Re: Kairos' Metal Heart [End of the World, Drama, Sci-Fi]

#10 Post by Zelan » Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:39 pm

Aww, you're totally right, that is absolutely adorable. I like the perspective you have on the glasses and the soda can. c:

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Re: Kairos' Metal Heart [End of the World, Drama, Sci-Fi]

#11 Post by Cirrocumulus-Cloud » Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:02 pm

Work is going slow but well, folks! This week, I:

- wrote 3k more words
- finished the outlines for two CG's
- gave Satoru 5 more expressions
- added comic relief add-ons for expressions (like a sweatdrop, the iconic anger symbol etc.)

I also added another picture of Satoru's sprite that shows him with his loose vest-thingy (It's pretty much a ragged piece of cloth that has been made into a makeshift jacket.) and a dorky expression.

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Re: Kairos' Metal Heart [End of the World, Drama, Sci-Fi]

#12 Post by Cirrocumulus-Cloud » Sat Sep 23, 2017 7:33 pm

Since I've been sick this past week I couldn't really work on the game at all...that being said, I DID manage to finish the flat colours (plus a bit of depth, too) for one of the first CG's. The background is obviously still a huge amount of work, too. And downsizing the image made Satoru's hair look...weird. But some opinions about the overall feel of the CG would be nice!

Image

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Re: Kairos' Metal Heart [End of the World, Drama, Sci-Fi]

#13 Post by Zelan » Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:14 pm

It's cute! It reminds me of talking to someone late at night when you're both tired and half the things you say don't make any sense. The only thing that looks weird is the glasses - I know that the frame isn't on top of the lenses, but I can't see the lenses either, so it looks like the glasses are just empty. The hair looks fine though. c:

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Re: Kairos' Metal Heart [End of the World, Drama, Sci-Fi]

#14 Post by Cirrocumulus-Cloud » Sun Sep 24, 2017 1:29 pm

Ah, I still need to put the lenses in. Those will be some of the last details, I want to finish the table and everything else first. I have to add shadows and details into the hair and clothes too, of course, and make the glasses in general more realistic looking. It's a lot of work left to do, but I think it's worth it.

And it's nice that it gives off that kind of vibe; that's what I was going for. Need to adjust the background a bit of course to make it darker, but all those details and lights that invoke a more personal atmosphere will come after. I plan to make this CG into one that I can use multiple times, so Satoru will get a sleeping expression and the CG will get a night and early morning version. =)

Since I'm a one-woman-team making a few CG's that can be used multiple times seems like a good way to add more depth to the game for less amount of work. Adjusting expressions and the times of day is easy enough to do to make the few CG's that are there more varied. I'm planning to draw 10 unique CG's for the game, with some of them having slight variations. I might draw more, depending on if some scenes desperately need it. But I feel 10 with variations is plenty for a free visual novel. ^-^

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