LoveSick Darlings [Visual Novel] [Romance] [High School] [Dating Sim] [Drama] [Player Choice]

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BioLizard
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LoveSick Darlings [Visual Novel] [Romance] [High School] [Dating Sim] [Drama] [Player Choice]

#1 Post by BioLizard » Sat May 04, 2019 9:00 pm

Image

Hey there LemmaSoft!

I'd love to talk about and share my game with you all, LoveSick Darlings! It's public demo launched online today. Check it out!

LoveSick Darlings is a visual novel focused on character relationships and player choice. Syd is in his last semester of 10th grade. At this time, his friends are bugging him to ask the girl he likes out after months of trying and failing. With the school dance and the end of the year approaching, it feels like now or never for Syd. But will his feelings hold up and stay the same as school wraps up? Will he find he has feelings for someone else in his life? All of this is up to you, the player, as you decide the fate of Syd and his friends at this crucial developing stage of their lives.

As Syd, the player builds relationships with three separate distinct girls - along with a handful of other classmates - as the protagonist lives out his daily high school life. Choose who you spend time with, with a

Key points:
- The game has a FREE 6 hour-long demo available
- Game features Danganronpa/Persona-like "free time events" where players choose how Syd (the protagonist) spends his time
- Art by amazing artists like Ippers and PhiPhi Au Thon (look em up on Twitter!)
- All written and directed by one developer (me)

Find out more here! You can find the demo here too.
https://biolizard.itch.io/lovesickdarlings

Check the link for more screenshots! The files/images are too big for these forums.

Disclaimer: There are a few "placeholder" assets in the demo. Hopefully they don't get in the way of your enjoyment too much. I outline them in the itch.io page.

What I am hoping to get out of this thread is feedback, takes, opinions, advice. Anything really. This is my first visual novel/game project ever, so I'm still quite new to all this. Feel free to share this game with anyone you know who might be interested! I'm hoping to get a great deal of diverse feedback and exposure for the game.

One of my more specific queries is regarding selling the premise of the game. Does the game need an improved hook? My game kind of relies on the strength of its characters and script - but I fear the premise isn't anything special. I fear people are just going to skim over it without giving the game a chance, because I am quite confident that once someone actually starts playing - they won't be able to put it down. It's just getting people to download and launch the game that feels like the potential issue. How do I make the old "high school romance" premise more unique and attention grabbing?

Also, what d'you think of the game's title? "LoveSick Darlings." I have a soft spot for VNs with vague titles and the use of key-words and ideas seemingly smashed together randomly. Does it give you any impression or expectation of the game? How does it work as a title for this game?

Apart from that, please feel free to give me feedback regarding anything at all. I am very open and curious about people's thoughts.

Thanks so much!

ZanthosAC
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Re: LoveSick Darlings [Visual Novel] [Romance] [High School] [Dating Sim] [Drama] [Player Choice]

#2 Post by ZanthosAC » Mon May 06, 2019 10:03 am

Well, a few thoughts after trying out the demo.

The game obviously needs some more polish. I understand the prospect of being excited since it's your first release, but it does need more time in the oven. Game development is often slow, boring and fruitless sometimes, and its quite easy to lose motivation.

As such, putting out a bare bones demo with over 50% placeholder assets is a bad idea. It doesn't set your game apart from the crowd if you do not introduce elements that make it unique.

The opening was jarring and we had little to no attachment to those characters and their emotions that early on.

Sprites are just "ok". The miss spelling on a character's shirt is a glaring mistake.

There's probably more but that's what I've got right now. Unfortunately, I was not compelled to complete the demo.

I apologize for the harsh sounding tone and feedback, but that's my honest opinion. Most people would not leave any feedback at all, so often you have to accept what you can get.

That aside, I'm hoping you keep working on things and release updates over time.

Main things I hope to see are:

Custom Backgrounds
GUI
Music (sounded place holder to me)
Story (Needs improvements somewhere...)

Depends on your budget for the title and whether it is free or commercial. Art really needs an upgrade because that can turn people off immediately without even a download (that and the placeholder/ starting assets)

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Re: LoveSick Darlings [Visual Novel] [Romance] [High School] [Dating Sim] [Drama] [Player Choice]

#3 Post by BioLizard » Mon May 06, 2019 11:14 pm

Hey there! Thanks for the feedback!

I definitely see what you're saying about introducing unique elements sooner.

The mis-spelling is an ironic on puprose "misquote." But i understand how that'd be annoying.

Any and all feedback is appreciated, really. No need for apologies!

The backgrounds and music are mostly placeholder, it's true. They're things that will definitely improve over time.

What kind of story improvements would you suggest? Did anything particularly bother you?

It'll hopefully be commercial down the line! I will be investing in it, in any case.

Thanks for your time in any case!

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Re: LoveSick Darlings [Visual Novel] [Romance] [High School] [Dating Sim] [Drama] [Player Choice]

#4 Post by gekiganwing » Tue May 07, 2019 9:02 pm

Positive points for letting the character Steph wear overalls. :D
BioLizard wrote:
Sat May 04, 2019 9:00 pm
How do I make the old "high school romance" premise more unique and attention grabbing?
In my opinion, a sense of time and place can make a difference. Help the reader understand when and where the story is happening. It might help if your story's setting is based on places you've visited or places where you've lived.
BioLizard wrote:
Sat May 04, 2019 9:00 pm
Also, what d'you think of the game's title? "LoveSick Darlings."
It clearly indicates that your story will be about characters in romantic relationships. However, I don't think that your title indicates that your story will involve jealousy, or problems resulting from love triangles.
BioLizard wrote:
Sat May 04, 2019 9:00 pm
[Jayda is] a complete dork and weaboo. She loves anime, video games, and art – and will happily gush about any of these topics to Syd any time.
I've been passionate about series, characters, and creators. It wasn't that long ago when I would talk extensively about Hikaru no Go or Thieves and Kings or a thousand other things. That said, think about how to portray a fictional person who likes pop culture media. In my opinion, it can be tough to write a fan without them seeming like a caricature.
BioLizard wrote:
Sat May 04, 2019 9:00 pm
I may just be playing the wrong games, but the only two games to meaningfully have another character reference my character’s romantic partner were The Witcher 3 and Dragon Age Origins.
As I've said elsewhere, it's a good idea to experience a variety of fiction. Sticking with a small range of pop culture can be numbing. I also think it's wise to be active in multiple fandoms, because then it's possible to step away from one fandom when it dissolves into drama. :oops:

About nine years ago, I played the first Tokimeki Memorial Girl's Side. It had some problems, but I thought one of its good aspects was its rival system. The female protagonist can be a friend to one of four girls. If she spends a lot of time pursuing a romantic relationship with a boy who her friend likes, then there will be an event in which her friend becomes her romantic rival.

(I bought a used copy of Dragon Age Origins for XBox 360 years ago, and it's currently gathering dust on my shelf. In the early 2010s, my interest in story driven games on home consoles was decreasing. I spent disproportionate amounts of time with handheld console games. It's been a long time, and I should give DAO a second chance.)
BioLizard wrote:
Sat May 04, 2019 9:00 pm
This plan is to launch a Kickstarter sometime in the next few weeks...
Take some time to study how people have used Kickstarter to fund video games and visual novels. Write down details. Think about what factors have helped KS projects succeed. Likewise, think about what factors have kept some KS projects from succeeding.

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Re: LoveSick Darlings [Visual Novel] [Romance] [High School] [Dating Sim] [Drama] [Player Choice]

#5 Post by ZanthosAC » Tue May 07, 2019 9:31 pm

gekiganwing wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 9:02 pm
Take some time to study how people have used Kickstarter to fund video games and visual novels. Write down details. Think about what factors have helped KS projects succeed. Likewise, think about what factors have kept some KS projects from succeeding.
Great advice. A lot can be learned from watching the success and failures of other Kickstarter Campaigns. It's important to have a plan and execute accordingly. Constructing a well thought out and prepared campaign can be the difference between getting funded or not.

For indie games, advertising is one of the most crucial elements to success. If people don't know of your game they cannot download or support it.

Based on the state of the game, I don't think it's ready for crowdfunding. However, it is your decision to decide that as the developer. In any case, best of luck in your efforts with the game.

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Re: LoveSick Darlings [Visual Novel] [Romance] [High School] [Dating Sim] [Drama] [Player Choice]

#6 Post by BioLizard » Wed May 08, 2019 11:35 pm

gekiganwing wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 9:02 pm
Positive points for letting the character Steph wear overalls. :D
Overalls are a gift to the world.
gekiganwing wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 9:02 pm

In my opinion, a sense of time and place can make a difference. Help the reader understand when and where the story is happening. It might help if your story's setting is based on places you've visited or places where you've lived.
I will definitely try to create more of a sense of place. I kinda phoned the setting in, admittedly. I thought it was quite novel to have a VN set in inner-suburban Australia, but I've hardly done much with it except drop a few names and ideas in randomly. Nothing really meaningful to the story. I will try to improve this.
gekiganwing wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 9:02 pm

It clearly indicates that your story will be about characters in romantic relationships. However, I don't think that your title indicates that your story will involve jealousy, or problems resulting from love triangles.
The jealousy and love triangles come in soon, it's true. The first two-ish weeks of the game are dedicated to setting up all of the relationships. The last two weeks are about seeing them all collide. Perhaps I should come up with a subtitle to make it clearer...
gekiganwing wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 9:02 pm

I've been passionate about series, characters, and creators. It wasn't that long ago when I would talk extensively about Hikaru no Go or Thieves and Kings or a thousand other things. That said, think about how to portray a fictional person who likes pop culture media. In my opinion, it can be tough to write a fan without them seeming like a caricature.
I have done my best for Jayda to find the balance between being a real, nice, lovely person - and also someone who indulges in fandoms like many of us do, without being an insensitive caricature. That line about her in the character bios is just a quick summation of her - and no one looks especially in good in a quick summary haha.
gekiganwing wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 9:02 pm

About nine years ago, I played the first Tokimeki Memorial Girl's Side. It had some problems, but I thought one of its good aspects was its rival system. The female protagonist can be a friend to one of four girls. If she spends a lot of time pursuing a romantic relationship with a boy who her friend likes, then there will be an event in which her friend becomes her romantic rival.
That game sounds really cool! That kind of system/interaction is exactly what I had in mind :)
gekiganwing wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 9:02 pm
(I bought a used copy of Dragon Age Origins for XBox 360 years ago, and it's currently gathering dust on my shelf. In the early 2010s, my interest in story driven games on home consoles was decreasing. I spent disproportionate amounts of time with handheld console games. It's been a long time, and I should give DAO a second chance.)
The game is slightly dated, and I'm not usually crazy about western RPGs, but Dragon Age Origins is really special. I love that game.
gekiganwing wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 9:02 pm

Take some time to study how people have used Kickstarter to fund video games and visual novels. Write down details. Think about what factors have helped KS projects succeed. Likewise, think about what factors have kept some KS projects from succeeding.
I will make sure to study up before starting a kickstarter! Thanks so much for all these tips and feedback, I really appreciate it :)

ZanthosAC wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 9:31 pm


Great advice. A lot can be learned from watching the success and failures of other Kickstarter Campaigns. It's important to have a plan and execute accordingly. Constructing a well thought out and prepared campaign can be the difference between getting funded or not.

For indie games, advertising is one of the most crucial elements to success. If people don't know of your game they cannot download or support it.

Based on the state of the game, I don't think it's ready for crowdfunding. However, it is your decision to decide that as the developer. In any case, best of luck in your efforts with the game.
I think this is quite wise. I, at the absolute least, need finalized sprites and backgrounds before crowdfunding.

I will be drafting the kickstarter in the background while I organize this stuff, and will make sure to pay attention to the successes and failures of other similar projects! I'm also gonna try keep expectations and targets realistically grounded too. Thanks for the advice!

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