The Secrets We Keep [Now On Kickstarter][BxB][Romance, Slice of Life, Single Parenthood, Angst]

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The Secrets We Keep [Now On Kickstarter][BxB][Romance, Slice of Life, Single Parenthood, Angst]

#1 Post by FriendlySenpai » Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:56 pm

Look, I'm literally so bad at trying to format these kinds of forum posts so try not to hold that against me.

KICKSTARTER

My team at is making a visual novel about a single father's journey as he heals from years of abuse and neglect. It touches on extreme poverty, prostitution, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, suicide, anxiety, emotional manipulation, internalized ableism, and sexual assault. Finn gets worse before getting better and, even if it's got cute family moments sprinkled throughout, it's pretty stressful. Maybe it's because I'm dredging up a lot of shitty memories to write this, but it's made me take more than a few depression naps.

What we're really hoping for, by posting this, is to get some feedback from the VN community. We want to know what your thoughts are regarding the story premise, and what you'd like to see.

We also wanna stress that even though this is gonna be an adult title with a small handful of sex scenes, the sex is much less of the lewd variety and more of the emotional growth kind.

(You might recognize the premise and characters from our super old Ideas thread, back when we were using the name Daddy Lies. We decided to rebrand because A) It's honestly a pretty lame title and B) People keep associating it with Dream Daddy and that's... Undesirable. We, uh, still need to get a new logo made for it.)

Anyways, we actually released our demo to Itch.io on the 1st. INB4 - It's pay-what-you-want, because some people wanted to support the game's development without pledging monthly to our Patreon.

Moving on...
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DL-KS-Story.png
When Finn was eighteen, he knew exactly where he was heading in life. He was slated to graduate high school as valedictorian, attend a prestigious school to study law on scholarship, walk away with a Masters, and become a politician that represented Ohio in the US Senate. It didn't quite line up with his dreams of being a star pianist in the New York Philharmonic, but it was what his father wanted.

It's difficult to do either of those when your father casts you out onto the street for kissing another boy, though; it didn't take long for both of their dreams to crumble away.

Now, at twenty-four, Finn has no vision of his future. All Finn has time to do is work, take care of his daughter, work more, and leave work to go to more work. And, when it isn't enough to keep a roof over Ava's head and food in her belly, he works even further into the night with three glasses of Cabernet in his system and the scent of shame clinging to the sheets.

He can't remember the last time he slept a full eight hours, or even ate a proper meal. He can no longer recall when he last made it through an entire day without a panic attack. In the back of his mind he knows that this is no way to live, but he refuses to complain or torment himself with ideas of what could have been. As far as he's concerned, just the fact that he and Ava are finally away from him is finally something to thank his stars for.

Until Koloa makes it his mission to teach Finn what it means to finally live.
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DL-KS-Characters.png
finn e.png
An autistic single father with a notorious sweet tooth that works, lives, and breathes for his daughter. Finn is a quiet man that would rather take an extra shift at work than go out socializing, so he doesn't have any real friends to speak of.

If you were to ask him, Finn would claim he has no hobbies to waste time on - unless laundry counts. Whenever he gets a moment to breathe, however, he likes to sit down with a book or teach Ava how to read.

"I… Have a couple of demons I have yet to shake. I was allowing them to get to me, and that wasn't fair to you. I'm sorry."
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ava a.png
Ava is Finn's twenty-month old baby girl. Her favorite color is yellow, she has trouble pronouncing Rs that come after other consonants, she hates string beans, and dogs scare her to tears.

Ava's hobbies include creating the many pieces of art that adorn their fridge, helping (or trying to help) Finn with household chores, and teaching her teddy how to draw.

"Daddy, teddy's hungry."
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Koloa a.png
cg4.JPG
The antithesis of Finn,Koloa's a laid back, cheerful, low maintenance kind of guy that fights fires for a living after having spent fifteen years in the USN.

At first glance, he's a pretty confident dude with a winning smile that is a passionate supporter of pineapple and barbecue sauce on pizza.

Thanks to twenty-four hour shifts at the department, Koloa has a fair amount of spare time that he dedicates to working out, watching esports, and contributing to the internet's library of memes.

"Babe, if you're one of those people who don't eat pizza crusts, we're gonna have a problem."
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Progress

Words: 200k
Art: 30 backgrounds, 8 character sprites, 5 CGs
OST: 8 tracks




Planned

Words: 200k+-
Endings: 1 bad, 1 good, 1 true
Commercial?: Yes
Routes: Because there is only one love interest with a linear storyline, there is technically only one route. However, there are multiple endings so the way you experience the story can change depending on the choices you make.

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Team

Writer: TheFriendlySenpai
Character Artist: Shoko
Background Artist: [http://vui-huynh.deviantart.com/]Vui-Huynh[/url]
Editor: Lunaterra
GUI/Logo Artist: ds sans
Programming Asst.: naomimyselfandi
Composer: Nyanime, Noyemi K, Alyx

_________________________________________________________

Extras
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restaurant patreon.png
library day.png
parking lot night.jpg
Piers a.png
Mary Test.png
Carole a.png
Rianne Test.png
Attachments
cg1.JPG
Last edited by FriendlySenpai on Sat Oct 05, 2019 2:38 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: The Secrets We Keep [Demo Available!][BxB][Romance, Slice of Life, Single Parenthood, Angst][Adult]

#2 Post by parttimestorier » Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:14 pm

This sounds really good! I'm always interested in more VNs that are focused on adult characters and deal with issues like mental health problems. I'm curious about how much Finn's childhood dream of becoming a concert pianist will feature in the story, since I play piano too so I really like it when characters in stories do. And can you reveal anything about how Finn ended up becoming a single father, or is that a spoiler?
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Re: The Secrets We Keep [Demo Available!][BxB][Romance, Slice of Life, Single Parenthood, Angst][Adult]

#3 Post by FriendlySenpai » Tue Jan 16, 2018 2:25 pm

parttimestorier wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:14 pm
This sounds really good! I'm always interested in more VNs that are focused on adult characters and deal with issues like mental health problems. I'm curious about how much Finn's childhood dream of becoming a concert pianist will feature in the story, since I play piano too so I really like it when characters in stories do. And can you reveal anything about how Finn ended up becoming a single father, or is that a spoiler?
The full story is a spoiler buuuuut, when Finn was a prostitute prior to the game's events, he knocked up a regular. The mother didn't want to keep her, but he did, so she left the picture once Ava was born.

As for the pianist thing, Finn talks about his dreams as a high schooler with Koloa, and mentions some classical composers here and there (and goes on a bit of a rant regarding his thoughts on Beethoven's popularity), but it's mostly in passing. This isn't one of those "falling in love makes your dreams come true" kind of stories so he doesn't actually make it into a Philharmonic lol.

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Re: The Secrets We Keep [Demo Available!][BxB][Romance, Slice of Life, Single Parenthood, Angst][Adult]

#4 Post by parttimestorier » Tue Jan 16, 2018 3:46 pm

FriendlySenpai wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 2:25 pm
The full story is a spoiler buuuuut, when Finn was a prostitute prior to the game's events, he knocked up a regular. The mother didn't want to keep her, but he did, so she left the picture once Ava was born.
Oooh, sounds very dark and intense! Thanks for the answer, I'm looking forward to reading this once it's done.
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Re: The Secrets We Keep [Demo Available!][BxB][Romance, Slice of Life, Single Parenthood, Angst][Adult]

#5 Post by FriendlySenpai » Wed Jan 17, 2018 11:56 am

parttimestorier wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 3:46 pm
FriendlySenpai wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 2:25 pm
The full story is a spoiler buuuuut, when Finn was a prostitute prior to the game's events, he knocked up a regular. The mother didn't want to keep her, but he did, so she left the picture once Ava was born.
Oooh, sounds very dark and intense! Thanks for the answer, I'm looking forward to reading this once it's done.
Thank you!

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Re: The Secrets We Keep [Demo Available!][BxB][Romance, Slice of Life, Single Parenthood, Angst]

#6 Post by riverbluesbear » Wed Jan 17, 2018 2:22 pm

This looks super cute! I think the art is gorgeous, and the characters all look so interesting! However, my one concern is with Ava and how you're going to write her dialogue. Her sample line would be fine for a two or three-year-old, but the fact that Ava isn't even two yet and can talk that clearly is a bit unrealistic. Sure, some kids speak better than others, but typically, most kids' sentences are kind of incomprehensible, save for some certain words, until they're a few months into being two, or almost three years old. And for Ava to not even be two and to say the word hungry is sort of far-fetched, yanno? Just something to think about! However, I'm so excited to see the rest! Count me in! :D

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Re: The Secrets We Keep [Demo Available!][BxB][Romance, Slice of Life, Single Parenthood, Angst]

#7 Post by bobconway » Wed Jan 17, 2018 3:37 pm

Oh, this looks really interesting. Did a quick play through the demo. Here are nit-picky thoughts in no real order.

1) The font is a little hard to read. It looks nice, but the kerning makes it unideal for a massive block of text.
2) It's not necessarily obvious, at the beginning, who is who because everyone fades onto the screen at the same time and then random people start talking. (The expression changes help somewhat, and it doesn't matter as much once the game starts, but it's a little weird to be initially thrust into a situation with so many characters at once.)
3) Some of the writing seems a lot more like a standard piece of fiction than a visual novel. A lot of descriptions, for example, seem overly detailed for what I'd normally expect from a VN (which isn't necessarily bad, and absolutely not something you have to change if you don't want to), but things like "Emily flashed him an apologetic smile and asked," are really weird -- you don't need to lead into dialogue like that. Examples of things I found overly descriptive were the initial scene with the woman ordering a drink, describing the dishwashing, and Finn's reaction to hitting his head.
4) Are some of the sprites placeholders? Emily and Rianne seem really out of place (and, to a lesser extent, Ava in the intro as well) in terms of art style... mostly the eyes don't really match Finn and Koloa
5) Finn's sprite moves around a bit in weird ways with expression changes. You might want to make sure the main body is consistently positioned between poses so the center point doesn't jump around.
6) Are Erica/Shirley supposed to have sprites, eventually?
7) "you found a way to haave your own fun..."

And more general thoughts:
a) I like seeing how Finn and Koloa interact and seeing them meet.
b) I also really like the scenes with Finn and Ava, which really convey how much he cares about her.
c) I appreciate the clothing changes for the sprites; particular Finn, as he moves from job to job and is at home or the library.
d) I like the way the choice menus look!

Looking forward to more!
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Re: The Secrets We Keep [Demo Available!][BxB][Romance, Slice of Life, Single Parenthood, Angst]

#8 Post by FriendlySenpai » Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:36 am

riverbluesbear wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 2:22 pm
This looks super cute! I think the art is gorgeous, and the characters all look so interesting! However, my one concern is with Ava and how you're going to write her dialogue. Her sample line would be fine for a two or three-year-old, but the fact that Ava isn't even two yet and can talk that clearly is a bit unrealistic. Sure, some kids speak better than others, but typically, most kids' sentences are kind of incomprehensible, save for some certain words, until they're a few months into being two, or almost three years old. And for Ava to not even be two and to say the word hungry is sort of far-fetched, yanno? Just something to think about! However, I'm so excited to see the rest! Count me in! :D
Ava's sample quote was honestly something I pulled out of thin air for the description like a year ago lol. But her speech evolves over the course of the game, which spans over a year.

Also, I originally wrote her early lines to be really representative of a 20 month old, but it was (exceedingly) annoying to write and it kind of made for an unpleasant reading experience. Like, imagine there being three characters and one of them being completely unintelligible.

I ended up finding a middle ground where her starting language is still rather garbled, but the reader can still understand what she's saying. I also maybe cheated a little and dropped a small conversation between Koloa and Finn, where Koloa asks how Finn can understand what she's saying all the time (his response being that parents tend to understand their kids better than others, since they're with them all the time) >> And since the story is from Finn's perspective...

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Re: The Secrets We Keep [Demo Available!][BxB][Romance, Slice of Life, Single Parenthood, Angst]

#9 Post by FriendlySenpai » Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:52 am

bobconway wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 3:37 pm
The font is a little hard to read. It looks nice, but the kerning makes it unideal for a massive block of text.
The font is absolutely fucking garish with the GUI and I completely agree. I plan on replacing it.

bobconway wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 3:37 pm
Some of the writing seems a lot more like a standard piece of fiction than a visual novel. A lot of descriptions, for example, seem overly detailed for what I'd normally expect from a VN (which isn't necessarily bad, and absolutely not something you have to change if you don't want to), but things like "Emily flashed him an apologetic smile and asked," are really weird -- you don't need to lead into dialogue like that. Examples of things I found overly descriptive were the initial scene with the woman ordering a drink, describing the dishwashing, and Finn's reaction to hitting his head.
I over-describe everything. I've tried dialing it back, especially in conversations (I am well aware that expressions don't need to be described when that's what spritesare for) but I'm never happy with it if I do.
bobconway wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 3:37 pm
Are some of the sprites placeholders? Emily and Rianne seem really out of place (and, to a lesser extent, Ava in the intro as well) in terms of art style... mostly the eyes don't really match Finn and Koloa
None of the sprites are placeholders. My artist HELLA struggles with men and has had issues with trying to make them work together on-screen. But Emily is really only in the game because I didn't want her sprite to go to waste (she's leftovers from the game's original concept). She only makes short and infrequent appearances so I'm not really worried because I don't think she'll even stick with the player, as a character. Rianne worries me a little, though, because I do agree with your statement. They look really bright and voluptuous in comparison to the men.

Their eyes definitely match, though, in terms of coloring. The men's eyes are just so much smaller that it's harder to see. Again, it boils down to Linh struggling.
bobconway wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 3:37 pm
Finn's sprite moves around a bit in weird ways with expression changes. You might want to make sure the main body is consistently positioned between poses so the center point doesn't jump around.
Yeah it's, like, one of his depressed expressions that I had to add after the first round of sprites, because I realized I skipped one. The aspect ratio is just barely off from the others, and I'm going to be fixing it.
bobconway wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 3:37 pm
Are Erica/Shirley supposed to have sprites, eventually?
Yes. Shirley, Erica, Piers, and Nina will all have sprites in the final version.
bobconway wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 3:37 pm
"you found a way to haave your own fun..."
Is... Are you pointing out a typo?

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Re: The Secrets We Keep [Demo Available!][BxB][Romance, Slice of Life, Single Parenthood, Angst]

#10 Post by bobconway » Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:01 pm

FriendlySenpai wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:52 am
None of the sprites are placeholders. My artist HELLA struggles with men and has had issues with trying to make them work together on-screen. But Emily is really only in the game because I didn't want her sprite to go to waste (she's leftovers from the game's original concept). She only makes short and infrequent appearances so I'm not really worried because I don't think she'll even stick with the player, as a character. Rianne worries me a little, though, because I do agree with your statement. They look really bright and voluptuous in comparison to the men.

Their eyes definitely match, though, in terms of coloring. The men's eyes are just so much smaller that it's harder to see. Again, it boils down to Linh struggling.
I think the eye size is what does it for me. The men set me up to expect more realistic-looking sprites, and then you have Finn (Or Koloa, in the intro) holding Ava with her huge anime eyes, and it throws the whole thing off for me. And that weird sense of "something is off" just continues as you get introduced to more women with large eyes.

Might just be a personal preference thing, but for example, when I look back at your original post, Ava looks like a chibi (maybe also due to her size, but mostly due to her eye size), particularly next to Finn and Koloa, and the three of them don't really seem to fit together style-wise, in my mind.

Edit: To be clear, I do like the art, and your sprite artist is awesome! It's just a bit of weirdness when I see different characters together.

Edit: Also, I do think Finn and Koloa fit together style-wise, and the women all seem to fit together reasonably. It's just scenes with Finn and a woman or Ava. (Which are fairly frequent.)
FriendlySenpai wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:52 am
Yeah it's, like, one of his depressed expressions that I had to add after the first round of sprites, because I realized I skipped one. The aspect ratio is just barely off from the others, and I'm going to be fixing it.
I think it's poses in addition to expressions. I'd first make sure all the images for a given character are the same size, and then open them all at once and overlay them on each other to make sure the core body remains fixed relative to the other images. I think the sprite also jumps around a bit right now when Finn repositions his arms. (And I think I saw one instance of the same for Koloa?)

FriendlySenpai wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:52 am
Is... Are you pointing out a typo?
I are indeed.
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Re: The Secrets We Keep [Demo Available!][BxB][Romance, Slice of Life, Single Parenthood, Angst]

#11 Post by FriendlySenpai » Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:32 am

bobconway wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:01 pm
I think the eye size is what does it for me. The men set me up to expect more realistic-looking sprites, and then you have Finn (Or Koloa, in the intro) holding Ava with her huge anime eyes, and it throws the whole thing off for me. And that weird sense of "something is off" just continues as you get introduced to more women with large eyes.
That's... Actually true.
Linh likes super cute moe girls, and I just kinda let her do whatever made her happy. It didn't even occur to me that the eye shapes would be that distracting. I'll see about having them remade.
bobconway wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:01 pm
Ava looks like a chibi (maybe also due to her size, but mostly due to her eye size),
Ava definitely is chibi. We tried drawing a, like, "realistic" toddler and everything just came out looking kind of weird and more like a chibi with a normal squat body so we had to scrap it.
bobconway wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:01 pm
I think it's poses in addition to expressions. I'd first make sure all the images for a given character are the same size, and then open them all at once and overlay them on each other to make sure the core body remains fixed relative to the other images. I think the sprite also jumps around a bit right now when Finn repositions his arms.
Yeah, it's because I had to go in and add an expression to a certain pose base to complete the set, but I cropped it in a way that made it just SLIGHTLY off from the others, so that particular sprite jumps and fidgets a bit when swapping between them. (my artist sent Finn's sprites with an awkward canvas size and I had to try making them uniform, hence the cropping)

bobconway wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:01 pm
I are indeed.
Well, shit.

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Re: The Secrets We Keep [Demo Available!][BxB][Romance, Slice of Life, Single Parenthood, Angst]

#12 Post by FriendlySenpai » Mon Sep 03, 2018 11:38 pm

Hey guys!

It's been a long time since we've had any updates here, and I just wanted to let y'all know that we've switched background artists due to issues with who we were working with, before.

Alsoooo, we now have CGs! Linh just finished them up the other day, and they're so beautiful and lovely and I added two of them to the OP so you guys can see what she's been working on :) Now that we have CGs ready, we're going to be looking to have a trailer made soon. That'll be the last step we need to take before launching a KS!

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Re: The Secrets We Keep [Demo Available!][BxB][Romance, Slice of Life, Single Parenthood, Angst]

#13 Post by Warden » Wed Mar 13, 2019 8:29 pm

Hi!

I was wondering how it was going? Really looking forward to playing this game so I'm hoping all is good!
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Re: The Secrets We Keep [Demo Available!][BxB][Romance, Slice of Life, Single Parenthood, Angst]

#14 Post by Gery » Thu Mar 14, 2019 6:24 am

I remember you! :) I loved your VN Youtube videos! I'm so happy to see the project is progressing and the art is looking fantastic! @Warden - I just checked the patreon account, there is at least one update monthly so I'm guessing the game is definitely not dead.
Good luck, Friendly Senpai!

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Re: The Secrets We Keep [Demo Available!][BxB][Romance, Slice of Life, Single Parenthood, Angst]

#15 Post by FriendlySenpai » Fri May 24, 2019 2:40 pm

Gery wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 6:24 am
I remember you! :) I loved your VN Youtube videos! I'm so happy to see the project is progressing and the art is looking fantastic! @Warden - I just checked the patreon account, there is at least one update monthly so I'm guessing the game is definitely not dead.
Good luck, Friendly Senpai!
Haha, it's not dead but we're definitely experiencing issues.
Our character artist went AWOL and has completely stopped responding to my emails, so we have to find a new artist to not only finish the character creation, but completely remake 3 sprites and 5 CGs.
I'm... Less than thrilled.

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