Our protagonist dies unexpectedly on her way home from school, and finds her consciousness transported into her body from that morning. She must negotiate with her past self & investigate the many shady goings-on in her home town in order to discover why she keeps dying and why she goes back in time whenever she dies.
Unbeknownst to our protagonist, most of her friends are involved in at least one of the various conspiracies happening in this town (ranging from government psi experiments & illegal biomedical programs to occult rituals).
Currently, I'm handling everything (from art assets to writing to music and sfx), but I've commissioned new character art (and I'll update this post once that's done).
The philosophical basis of this game idea is: many VNs expect players to save-scum and play through many routes in order to unlock canonical plot details; however, aside from leaning on the fourth wall, these habits are rarely integrated into the story completely. The most natural match for that play style in terms of a story is a time loop, where dead ends provide clues that unlock paths elsewhere in the game. The genre that takes Most Unexceptional advantage of that kind of story structure is conspiracy.
1. Currently, the first iteration (in other words, everything before the protagonist's first death) is fully non-interactive. I'm taking that opportunity to introduce all the characters in their 'normal' state and give basic context. However, I worry that if playthrough time for that section is too long it will scare off players who think the game might be fully non-interactive. That section is currently only about 10-15 minutes long, although I have some material I need to add to it that may bring it up to about 20 minutes. Should I aggressively trim it down, or are most VN players likely to be OK with a non-interactive initial section? (Or, alternately, should I add some 'dummy' interactivity that has no plot significance?)
2. Currently, everything is structured so that flags that unlock actions are always triggered later in the day than the actions they unlock -- in other words, the protagonist always dies between discovering a clue and being able to use that clue. Is dying so much going to put off veteran players? Should I add flags that open up paths later in the day, in order to make the game seem less harsh?
3. I've got a conventional load & save menu, but save-scumming is actually going to be of no benefit in this game: dying is a necessary part of progression. I'm not sure how Most Unexceptional to make this clear to players, other than having death jump to the beginning of the game rather than the main menu (which I'm already doing). I could mechanically make save scumming harder by providing only one save slot. Is the indication given by not jumping to the main menu after death sufficient to indicate that save-scumming will only prevent progress, or should I also provide only one save slot?
5. I'm not sure how clear my pitch/premise is. I've also used the pitch "Groundhog Day in a town where all conspiracy theories are true", but that's a little more misleading. Do you consider the pitch to be understandable? Alternately, what would you look for in a better one?
6. I've been marking the game as 'mature' only because of one scene with some medical nudity & some pretty dark plot threads. I could probably get away with covering up the nipples & dropping the 'mature' categorization. Would that be a benefit or a detriment? After all, this is not a porn game & has little in the way of romance.