American University Life [18+ RomCom, School life, SoL]

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Kuroi_Usagi
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American University Life [18+ RomCom, School life, SoL]

#1 Post by Kuroi_Usagi » Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:14 pm

Game releasing August 1st, coming to Steam and Itch.io for Windows, MAC OS X, and Linux!

GRAB THE DEMO HERE ON ITCH.IO

I'd like to finally announce the first visual novel that I am producing.

American University Life is an 18+, slice of life kinetic visual novel that centers around Skye and his new college friends. Set in the fictional, tropical paradise Leuther Island, a newly admitted state to the United States of America. Thanks to the efforts of the EPA and the Paris Agreement, Leuther Island has been declared an ecological haven, funded by tourism and retired billionaires. The streets are filled with eco-friendly smart cars, sprawling "green" metropolises sport the latest generation of technology, and the campus is right across the street from the beach!

Premise

Skye arrives to Leuther Island to attend school at the University of Leuther Island. It's like a dream. The dormitories are like villas right out of a tropical getaway magazine. The dining hall is a restaurant that serves gourmet food buffet style. There's even a golf course and five star gym? What doesn't this school have?

Wait a minute, what was that?



...There are only five students at this school?

Leslie Herkowitz is the first student you meet at the University of Leuther. Originally from Australia, she is 22 years old, having spent the last several years working to make enough money to study abroad in the United States. She's coming to school undeclared, unsure of what to study in college, but has a clear career goal in mind to become a wildlife activist. What could this school on a tropical paradise have in store for our foreign student?
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Andrea Sanchez is coming to the University on an athletic scholarship for soccer. She is all fun and games, but nothing will stand in her way of playing on the big stage. Unfortunately, being one of only five students at the school has put a damper on those plans. One can only imagine if her passion is enough to carry her forward, or will she give it all up?
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Belleruche Fontaine is a musical genius. She jumped on the chance to transfer schools when she learned that the University of Leuther is seeking students of exceptional artistic talents. A school with nearly no students, a haven to herself in peace? Nothing is too pristine, she didn't expect her parents to be moving with her, keeping a close eye on their daughter only a short drive away.
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Sara Su-Cheng, like some of us, picked a college as far away from her family as she could. Finally, she would have a room of her own. Finally, her belongings wouldn't be mishandled by her younger siblings. And finally, she could waste away the days on her computer. Too bad, some of the students here don't want to leave her be. Worse yet, she doesn't know how to hang out with people her age!
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*Character heights not to scale


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Click on a sprite to see their character promo video!

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Thanks for checking out what little content I have so far!

If you have stuck around this long to read this message, then that must mean you're a bit interested in it, I hope.

The project itself is going at a steady pace, and I am still searching for people to complete the rest of the assets.

This VN is pretty short since this only spans the length of the welcome week. It's around 35k words, and can easily be finished in one sitting. My hope is that if this takes off to some semblance of financial gain (I intend this to be commercial), then I would look in to using the profits to fund a much larger chapter of the game to span the entirety of a school year. It won't be a day by day basis, instead, the story will be scene by scene and the passage of time will be clued in through the narrative.

I've debated with myself to some lengths about whether I wanted player choice in this game. Unfortunately, I am producing it alone and have come under tough financial constraints. (I missed out on a lot of steam sales this past autumn and winter in order to fund this!) I do wish, if this game is profitably successful, to incorporate player choice into the next chapter of this game!

All that being said, what do you all think? Have we seen enough chitty romcom harems? Or are there not enough of it? I read/watched a lot of manga, anime, visual novels, and some light novels, all of which originated from Japan and close-knit dojin circles. I wanted to pull VERY loosely from my college experience and create a story out of it through the shoes of a westerner. I don't want this story to be a harem, though. In spite of what it may appear at first glance, I wanted to make it a wholesome and touching experience for Skye and the players to read.

Stay tuned! I will update the other two characters once my character artist finishes them. Character backgrounds and additional screenshots to be updated soon!

In the meantime, tell me what you think of the art? What do you think should be kept in mind as I tread the American college lifestyle? Things to touch on in the narrative or artistically to differentiate this game from other works? How should this newbie move forward in publishing and distributing his game when it is completed?
Last edited by Kuroi_Usagi on Wed Jul 25, 2018 1:01 am, edited 9 times in total.
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gekiganwing
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Re: American University Life [18+ RomCom, School life, SoL]

#2 Post by gekiganwing » Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:58 pm

Kuroi_Usagi wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:14 pm
My hope is that if this takes off to some semblance of financial gain (I intend this to be commercial), then I would look in to using the profits to fund a much larger chapter of the game to span the entirety of a school year.
Be sure to talk with indie game and VN creators. Get some thoughts from them about how to sell a story-driven game on iTunes or GOG or other marketplaces.
Kuroi_Usagi wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:14 pm
Have we seen enough chitty romcom harems? Or are there not enough of it? I read/watched a lot of manga, anime, visual novels, and some light novels, all of which originated from Japan and close-knit dojin circles. I wanted to pull VERY loosely from my college experience and create a story out of it through the shoes of a westerner. I don't want this story to be a harem, though.
1. If you enjoy reading stories about love triangles and polygons, then it seems safe to assume you'll like writing one. Harem fiction is a bit different.

2. Then again, if you're browsing a bookstore, glance at a translated comic, and say "Just another boring romance comedy," then think about story concepts and aspects which you dislike. Write a list. Cite examples where you've found those concepts. Then think about what you'll do differently.

3. Consider your influences. Write down specific good and frustrating aspects of stories that you like. What makes you recommend them, and what aspects seem flawed?

4. Nearly every writer uses their life experiences. They're always tied to a specific time and place, but readers can enjoy stories which occur centuries ago, or in different nations. There will usually be things which surprise you (reading a book and then thinking "comics aren't considered shameful in France??"). I believe it's good to search for fiction which helps you experience new things, and which challenges your assumptions.

5. Think about how to loosely adapt some of your real life and create a compelling story. I say this because I had some offbeat college experiences. (It was a university which fit into a single city block, less than two miles away from five very different neighborhoods. I spent too much time in computer labs or delving into PS1 RPGs. Thanks to peers, I learned a lot of obscure trivia about Lutheran Church Missouri Synod beliefs.)
Kuroi_Usagi wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:14 pm
In the meantime, tell me what you think of the art? What do you think should be kept in mind as I tread the American college lifestyle? Things to touch on in the narrative or artistically to differentiate this game from other works?
Ask yourself questions such as "What if my story's art resembled Jeff Smith's comic Bone? Would that be a good or bad thing?" A distinct art style can help a visual novel stand out. Sometimes stories benefit if their subject matter and their art seem to clash.
Kuroi_Usagi wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:14 pm
...Leuther Island has been declared an ecological haven, funded by tourism and retired billionaires...
This sentence makes me wonder "was it financed by Lex Luthor?" (My knowledge of the Superman universe is quite bad. :oops: )
"Welcome to WhiteSnow, a town filled with snow. Enjoy the world of snow."
-Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure

gekiganwing
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Re: American University Life [18+ RomCom, School life, SoL]

#3 Post by gekiganwing » Mon Jan 08, 2018 5:01 pm

Kuroi_Usagi wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:14 pm
My hope is that if this takes off to some semblance of financial gain (I intend this to be commercial), then I would look in to using the profits to fund a much larger chapter of the game to span the entirety of a school year.
Be sure to talk with indie game and VN creators. Get some thoughts from them about how to sell a story-driven game on iTunes or GOG or other marketplaces.
Kuroi_Usagi wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:14 pm
Have we seen enough chitty romcom harems? Or are there not enough of it? I read/watched a lot of manga, anime, visual novels, and some light novels, all of which originated from Japan and close-knit dojin circles. I wanted to pull VERY loosely from my college experience and create a story out of it through the shoes of a westerner. I don't want this story to be a harem, though.
1. If you enjoy reading stories about love triangles and polygons, then it seems safe to assume you'll like writing one. Harem fiction is a bit different.

2. Then again, if you're browsing a bookstore, glance at a translated comic, and say "Just another boring romance comedy," then think about story concepts and aspects which you dislike. Write a list. Cite examples where you've found those concepts. Then think about what you'll do differently.

3. Consider challenging the assumption that a visual novel has to be a school story, or slice of life, or set in a vague present-day world, or a romance story with at least two possible love interests.

4. Think about your influences. Write down specific good and frustrating aspects of stories that you like. What makes you recommend them, and what aspects seem flawed?

5. Nearly every writer uses their life experiences. They're always tied to a specific time and place, but readers can enjoy stories which occur centuries ago, or in different nations. There will usually be things which surprise you (reading a book and then thinking "comics aren't considered shameful in France??"). I believe it's good to search for fiction which helps you experience new things, and which challenges your assumptions.

6. Think about how to loosely adapt some of your real life and create a compelling story. I say this because I had some offbeat college experiences. (It was a university which fit into a single city block, less than two miles away from five very different neighborhoods. I spent too much time in computer labs or delving into PS1 RPGs. Thanks to peers, I learned a lot of obscure trivia about Lutheran Church Missouri Synod beliefs.)
Kuroi_Usagi wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:14 pm
In the meantime, tell me what you think of the art? What do you think should be kept in mind as I tread the American college lifestyle? Things to touch on in the narrative or artistically to differentiate this game from other works?
Ask yourself questions such as "What if my story's art resembled Jeff Smith's comic Bone? Would that be a good or bad thing?" A distinct art style can help a visual novel stand out. Sometimes stories benefit if their subject matter and their art seem to clash.
Kuroi_Usagi wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:14 pm
...Leuther Island has been declared an ecological haven, funded by tourism and retired billionaires...
This sentence makes me wonder "was it financed by Lex Luthor?" (My knowledge of the Superman universe is quite bad. :oops: )
"Welcome to WhiteSnow, a town filled with snow. Enjoy the world of snow."
-Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure

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Re: American University Life [18+ RomCom, School life, SoL]

#4 Post by Kuroi_Usagi » Sat Jan 13, 2018 3:16 pm

Update #1: Introducing our third character, and my favorite of the four, Belleruche Fontaine!

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One more heroine to go, Sara Su-Cheng, in the next update.

Will be releasing some promos over the course of the next several months. Or weeks. The hope is I can get all my music assets in place soon to release them. Each promo vid will feature the heroines telling you their favorite part of the University of Leuther!
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Re: American University Life [18+ RomCom, School life, SoL]

#5 Post by Kuroi_Usagi » Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:34 am

Kuroi_Usagi wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:14 pm
In the meantime, tell me what you think of the art? What do you think should be kept in mind as I tread the American college lifestyle? Things to touch on in the narrative or artistically to differentiate this game from other works?
Ask yourself questions such as "What if my story's art resembled Jeff Smith's comic Bone? Would that be a good or bad thing?" A distinct art style can help a visual novel stand out. Sometimes stories benefit if their subject matter and their art seem to clash.
Kuroi_Usagi wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:14 pm
...Leuther Island has been declared an ecological haven, funded by tourism and retired billionaires...
This sentence makes me wonder "was it financed by Lex Luthor?" (My knowledge of the Superman universe is quite bad. :oops: )
I know art tends to be the most expensive aspect of a game and this is usually the case for triple A titles. This is also the case for this project between the characters and background art. My hope is that the passion lens on my eyes aren't tunnel visioning and distracting me from making sure the art works together for the tone of the game.

Also, the game has nothing to do with Superman or Lex Luthor. Perhaps, in another universe Lex Luthor is one of those billionaires funding the ecological paradise that is Leuther Island :D .


On that note, with all art assets getting closer to finishing, I now have music to deal with to bring the world to life with sound. If anyone has any music design experience or general game design, I'd like to know how you go about finding/describing the right music for your game. From a directorial point of view, one can only go so far in wording context and descriptions, or asking for certain instruments to be present, or providing existing references. How do I properly conceptualize an audio track when I am asking composers to work for me?

Additionally, how do I figure what is the right music to suit my project? A university set in a Hawaii-esque tropical paradise, should I try to be leaning towards more bossa nova for the tropical feel, or hitting on music the current generation is listening to IE hip hop, pop, and edm? Or perhaps a mix of both? Or dabble in crossing both genres :p
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Re: American University Life [18+ RomCom, School life, SoL]

#6 Post by Kuroi_Usagi » Mon May 07, 2018 12:49 am

The last of the assets I have been waiting for has arrived! It was a long wait, but totally worth because the composers' tracks are an absolutely delight.

That done, I was able to put out a rushed demo https://kuroi-usagi.itch.io/aul

Some personal concerns I have at the moment is maybe bringing more expressions to some of the characters, specifically Leslie. I'd wondered early on when working on her character concept how I could keep her expressions tame, but not so much so that she appears as though a static sprite on screen.
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Re: American University Life [18+ RomCom, School life, SoL]

#7 Post by traineroflegend » Sat May 12, 2018 2:15 pm

I played through the demo! I liked it! Some comments:

- Having Tamara open the room with keys seems a little too low-tech, especially compared to the self-driving cars and all the smartphone use. It's a tiny thing, but it stood out to me.

- There were a few minor typos, like "homliness" instead of "homeliness" (I may be misremembered, however).

- Sprites are SUPER good, backgrounds are very good. I imagine you had the CGs done from different places, but the Andrea one looked a little rough compared to the Belle one. GUI looks pretty good too.

- You left a lot of assets that weren't in the demo inside the game folder. It might be worth taking them out.

- Overall, everything looks super clean. Looking pretty good so far! Mind if I ask who did the sprites?

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Re: American University Life [18+ RomCom, School life, SoL]

#8 Post by Kuroi_Usagi » Sun May 13, 2018 12:42 pm

traineroflegend wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 2:15 pm
I played through the demo! I liked it! Some comments:

- Having Tamara open the room with keys seems a little too low-tech, especially compared to the self-driving cars and all the smartphone use. It's a tiny thing, but it stood out to me.

- There were a few minor typos, like "homliness" instead of "homeliness" (I may be misremembered, however).
I know ;_; In my rush to get a demo out, I neglected to do a final proofread!
traineroflegend wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 2:15 pm
- Sprites are SUPER good, backgrounds are very good. I imagine you had the CGs done from different places, but the Andrea one looked a little rough compared to the Belle one. GUI looks pretty good too.
The artist did an incredible job. I can only hope to give his sprites the breath of life deserving of the hard work the artist put into it.

Yes! The CGs were done by multiple people, as were the backgrounds and music. I wanted to take a wide reach in regards to collaboration. Suffice to say, I am glad I did because I met very talented individuals whom I'd love to work with in future projects!
traineroflegend wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 2:15 pm
- You left a lot of assets that weren't in the demo inside the game folder. It might be worth taking them out.

- Overall, everything looks super clean. Looking pretty good so far! Mind if I ask who did the sprites?
Thank you for letting me know! I will look to remedying that mistake as well as upload a polished demo.

Unfortunately the artist never gave me his name. When asked for how he'd like to be credited, I was only given a pixiv. Here it is, the artist that created the sprites: https://www.pixiv.net/member.php?id=21609724

Much thanks for reading the demo and taking the time to type this up for me!
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