The Night is Our Friend [NaNo2020][Yuri][Romance][Supernatural]

NaNoRenO is an event where creators make a game from scratch during the month of March.
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The Night is Our Friend [NaNo2020][Yuri][Romance][Supernatural]

#1 Post by fullmontis » Sun Mar 01, 2020 2:51 pm

The Night is Our Friend
Type: Visual novel
Genre: Yuri/Romance/Horror
Length: ~30k words
News
  • 2020/03/08: Finished first draft, first screenshot posted, added Elisa and Valerie character sheets
  • 2020/03/01: Opened Topic
Synopsis
Elisa, a lonely high school artist, is struggling to fit in her circle of friends. Valerie, a vampire, is hiding in her school. An accident brings them to meet, and from there it is the start of an adventure that will change them forever.

Code: Select all

Concept	    [####################] 100%
Script      [##################  ]  90%
Art         [##########          ]  50%
Programming [##########          ]  50%
UI          [####################] 100%
Sound/Music [######              ]  30%
Characters
image823.png
image999.png

Screens/Music




2.jpg
1.jpg

About

Hello! I'm back for NaNoRenO 2020. I want to thank everyone that has contacted me in the last year regarding One Last Salty Kiss, it has been very encouraging and overwhelming in a way since I never really expected it to be read by anyone really.

While I'm sure that if you enjoyed OLSK you're going to appreciate this story, this year's project is different for a few reasons.

First of all, this is actually going to be my first commercial visual novel. I will release a demo for NaNoRenO and release the complete game at a later date (which I won't say out loud until I have at least a complete script). Don't worry, it's going to be cheap, I don't have much confidence that anyone would be reading it otherwise, probably one or two bucks top. This is mostly to wet my feet with selling something since I've never done something like this before and I'm curious about all the different aspects of a commercial release.

Second, I'm actually trying to do a visual novel this time around, as in multiple choices and endings, which is something that I think I can tackle this time around thanks to all the experience with my other projects. It is something I'm kind of worried about but let's see how it goes.

The game is going to have some spice, although it is probably going to be toned down (as in, no nudity). The general tone of the story is going to be lightweight, but there are going to be some strong scenes. I will give more details about this when the script is done.

For the first day of the jam I've written about 3000 words, which are about 10% of the whole story if my planning is accurate (which I doubt). While I have a clear plan of the game as a whole in my head it still needs to be brought to life, so it is time to get back to work. Thanks for reading and good luck to all the partecipants!
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concept-1.jpg
Last edited by fullmontis on Sun Apr 05, 2020 6:03 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: The Night is Our Friend [NaNo2020][Yuri][Romance][Supernatural]

#2 Post by fullmontis » Sun Mar 08, 2020 6:50 pm

Update!

The first draft for the main route has been completed, it needs some rewriting but everything seems to be in place at the moment. It turned out to be around 20.000 which is about the size I expected. I really like how the character have shaped up and the general plotline.

I have made the character sheets for the two protagonists, please check them out in the OP for more info.

I have been working on the sprites for the two protagonists and a couple of backgrounds, and the GUI is done for the most part. I have made a screen of what I've made so far (nothing is final atm):

screenshot0036.png
I have learned to use layered images, which are a MUST since for last NaNoRenO the biggest time waster was working with the sprites. I feel like i have a workflow now that allows for a much more flexible use of the characters on screen, which is fundamental since this time around the protagonist has her own sprite which means there is more work to be done.

I have also used for the first time Blender for backgrounds, and it is a huge time saver. I feel like painting over the base renders saves a lot of work in trying to figure out the perspective. I still think that it is slower for me to model everything in 3D since it isn't something that I am used to and I don't have time in just this month to figure it out.

While there is still plenty of stuff to do (mostly other sprites, CGs and music) I feel like the biggest hurdle has been overcome: shaping up the base of the story and creating the base assets to build upon. From here it is mostly a grind to shape everything up in a way that is presentable. I feel that I am about in line after 8 days of work.

I think that for the end of the NaNoRenO I will release the first act of the script in the demo, which is about 7000 words long, which gives me enough material to work for the rest of the month whie maintaining a modest pace. Last year I ended up having a 20.000 script in a month which was way too stressful for a solo dev like me.

This is all for now :D

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Re: The Night is Our Friend [NaNo2020][Yuri][Romance][Supernatural]

#3 Post by Zelan » Sun Mar 08, 2020 8:33 pm

I'm really loving the art style of this game. Looking forward to seeing more ^_^

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Re: The Night is Our Friend [NaNo2020][Yuri][Romance][Supernatural]

#4 Post by parttimestorier » Mon Mar 09, 2020 10:27 am

This sounds really cool! I love yuri and vampires, and the monochromatic aesthetic looks really nice. Good luck with development!
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Re: The Night is Our Friend [NaNo2020][Yuri][Romance][Supernatural]

#5 Post by fullmontis » Sun Mar 15, 2020 7:58 pm

Thanks for the comments :) , and sorry for the lack of consistent updates :( .

Mid jam update:

The demo is at a good point. The script for the demo is basically done, minus some reviewing and animations. I made the sprites for the other characters appearing in the game, and the roughs for the cgs have been done (there aren't a lot of CGs in the demo, 3 or 4 tops depending on how much time I can use, which is very doable). The UI is mostly done minus a screen that I need to complete (or cut :D ) and a couple cosmetic edits; I still decided for a very minimal UI since I am not a good UI designer unfortunately.

I got a little lazy with the bgs, I haven't completed most of them even if I have the renders done, which is why I don't have new screenshots right now. It is kind of a problem because there are quite a lot of them... I was a little too liberal with the locations.

Attached are the sprites for two new characters, Cristina and Giada. They are Elisa's classmates. There is actually another important character to the story but I will unveil him when the sprite is done.
character-cristina-min.jpg
They are in grayscale because I still haven't settled on a color scheme for them. Color is in fact something I really struggle with, since they are important to pull everything together but they are also very hard to work with, and since I don't really have any kind of design training: I am just eyeballing things most of the time until they look good, which is hardly a time saver.

All things considered, I am rather optimistic about the demo being completed in time. I am still going through the script's second draft and I have to say I am really enjoying it as a story, I really got sucked in the characters and plot. A few parts made me tear up a little, which is usually a good sign. I am really excited to complete this and share it with you!

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Re: The Night is Our Friend [NaNo2020][Yuri][Romance][Supernatural]

#6 Post by kohdrams » Sun Mar 15, 2020 9:55 pm

Reading about your process in figuring things out and finding out the fastest/easier ways to get assets done is really interesting. I learned a couple things from your posts. Your game looks promising and your art style is really cute! Even in single color value, all your characters stand out. Looking forward to your updates!

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Re: The Night is Our Friend [NaNo2020][Yuri][Romance][Supernatural]

#7 Post by Zelan » Sun Mar 15, 2020 10:24 pm

I actually think that the sprites could work really well as-is. The unified blue of the sprites makes them work well together and is a really unique look. (:

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Re: The Night is Our Friend [NaNo2020][Yuri][Romance][Supernatural]

#8 Post by fullmontis » Sat Mar 28, 2020 5:15 pm

UPDATE!

Alright, so there have been a few important changes in the game that I need to talk about.

Since the last post, I have been rereading my script, and I ended up not liking it as much as I thought. I ended up spending one week trying to rewrite it, and now I am close to being done with what is the third draft now. And it is much better, but a few things also had to change.

The most important thing is that it is probably going to be a kinetic novel. The problem here is that I planned the routes carefully, but then as I got to rewrite the drafts and know the story better, these routes felt flat and without any kind of impact. And I would much rather have one good ending than three or more underwhelming ones.

I had the same problem with other scripts, and I think the problem here is that my plot are strongly character driven, which means that I plan most of their choices in advance to make cool things happen. If Elisa was less of a character and more of an avatar of the player, it would probably make this kind of job easier for me, and it is very probable that I am just not very good at this kind of stuff, but alas this is how things are going.

Multiple endings aren't completely ruled out thought, since I still have a couple ideas for the script. But I need to complete it again, and I won't know for sure for at least another week.

The fact that I lost this much time with the script means that I am now behind with a lot of things. While I made a few soundtracks for the game and the art is mostly complete, there are still things I need to complete, including one cg and one background. And I still need to make all the animations, which however won't take a lot because I have been careful to not make things too complex for myself this time around.

This means that I am not entirely sure if I am going to be able to complete the demo for the end of the jam. I think I am one day short, give or take, and while I know the jam submissions don't close until the 4th I don't feel comfortable posting something I didn't complete in the required timeframe, since it is mostly a competition with myself. So, well... It's rough :D Hopefully things will smoothen out. In any case, the demo is going to be out in the next week even if I don't make the deadline.

So, now some long due screens. Here is a screen from the demo
2.jpg
And here is a screen of the main menu
1.jpg
And here is the music for the main menu.



I kind of like how the music came out, I have a few similar ambient tracks that I really like. They fit the mood of the story really well. This time around I went for some more synth/dark sounds, since I really can't seem to make soundfonts sound good in my current setup

Question!

Okay, so I still have kind of a problem with rating :? For the story I am aiming at a PG13 rating. But I am not sure how to go about a few scenes, and what I can/can't include.

For example, is petting considered too much? As in, intimate touching with very bland descriptions and illustrations, nothing that wouldn't appear in movies and the like. I FEEL like it should be ok but I am not that sure to be honest, so I am asking.

What about violence? Is blood considered too much? After all it is a vampire movie, so some blood needs to be there :D

This isn't going to affect the demo, since most of this stuff is in later chapters, but I still want to know to understand how to organize things.

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Re: The Night is Our Friend [NaNo2020][Yuri][Romance][Supernatural]

#9 Post by Zelan » Sat Mar 28, 2020 7:43 pm

I agree that one very impactful route/ending is better than multiple, more flat ones. I have the same problem when trying to write games with a branching narrative - the routes tend to feel tacked-on, since I've put them there just for the sake of having routes.

Regarding the deadline, the jam deadline has actually been extended by two weeks due to the craziness in the world right now (you can see it on itch.io as well as on the counter on LemmaSoft). I totally get what you mean about it being a competition against yourself, so it's up to you whether you want to actually submit it as a NaNo game or not, but I think a lot of people will be using the extended deadline. I'm working as a proofreader with two teams, one of which is definitely taking the extra time, and the other is trying to meet the original deadline but will probably need the extra time as well.

I really love the main menu image. I don't have the brainpower right now to come up with the words to describe why, but it's really beautiful. Same for the music!

Blood/violence is fine for PG-13 as long as it isn't "excessive." I don't know for sure what your script has but it's probably fine - "excessive" usually refers to stuff like incredibly detailed descriptions/imagery, guts coming out, etc. As for sexual content, it depends on exactly what you mean by "intimate touching" - are you talking about touching in a loving way on the breasts and genitals, or somewhere else? If it's anywhere else it's fine, but if it's on breasts and/or genitals that would probably bump it up to 16+ or 18+. The distinction between 16+ and 18+ is a little harder to define exactly; it's more of a case of "I see it and I know which one it is" rather than "this is the line between them and that's it." Feel free to post here, or PM me if you don't want to post spoilers, if you want any help figuring out what your rating would be. (:

Really looking forward to this project! I loved One Last Salty Kiss and The Sound of The Rain, and vampires are one of my favorite supernatural creatures, so this game is definitely one of my most anticipated releases.

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Re: The Night is Our Friend [NaNo2020][Yuri][Romance][Supernatural]

#10 Post by fullmontis » Sun Mar 29, 2020 1:56 pm

Thank you for your post Zelan! You have no idea how encouraging is to read your post :D

I didn't know about the extension of the jam, that actually comes in handy. I guess at this point I can use the extra time to finish the demo, and maybe add a few touches I thought I had to cut. I am still aiming to finish up on the 31st though.

In terms of violence the game is very tame, there are a few strongs scenes but they are all off screen or obscured and the descriptions aren't detailed, so I feel like these are OK. Regarding the "sexual" content, yeah, technically that is what is going on, but it is neither shown nor described, just implied. Is that enough to bump up the rating?

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Re: The Night is Our Friend [NaNo2020][Yuri][Romance][Supernatural]

#11 Post by Zelan » Sun Mar 29, 2020 4:36 pm

If it isn't shown or described in a lot of detail, you should be fine for a 16+ rating (difference between "she touched her vagina" and "she touched her" - even "she touched her between the legs" is something that you can get away with if it's not overly detailed).

This is where it does get a little complicated because, to me personally, as long as a sex scene isn't overly detailed or pornographic, I think that it can be okay and even healthy for younger teenagers to be exposed to sex scenes. However, most rating systems don't agree with me, and anything sexual, even if not detailed, tends to be for older teens only. With this in mind, I would suggest rating your game 16+ to be safe, but also like... it's not your fault if some 13 year old goes "I'm gonna download this anyway lmao" and it's also not a huge deal and probably won't result in anything extreme like legal consequences.

If you don't want to wrestle with an age rating, you could also just list any content that could be "questionable" and say something simple like "viewer discretion is advised."

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Re: The Night is Our Friend [NaNo2020][Yuri][Romance][Supernatural]

#12 Post by fullmontis » Sun Mar 29, 2020 8:05 pm

Thanks for the explanation, you made it a lot clearer for me. I checked the ESRB rating guide and yeah, it seems like my game is technically M (mature 17+). I finished recently to write the scene in question, and while it isn't explicit it is quite spicy. On top of that there are actually some rather stressful psychological situations which I guess aren't exactly family friendly. So I guess I will bump up the rating and call it a day, from the script it feels like it isn't a game for younger audiences anyway. And while I was a teenager too and I am pretty sure I wouldn't have even blinked at something like this, I understand why this kind of rating system is in place. I am always pretty careful with the audience my stuff gets exposed to because it helps me understand how much I can push the content.

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Re: The Night is Our Friend [NaNo2020][Yuri][Romance][Supernatural]

#13 Post by Zelan » Mon Mar 30, 2020 1:21 am

Glad I could help! Good luck with finishing the game.

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Re: The Night is Our Friend [NaNo2020][Yuri][Romance][Supernatural]

#14 Post by fullmontis » Sun Apr 05, 2020 7:44 pm

UPDATE!

I have finally finished the backgrounds, which were probably the biggest hurdle for me to overcome. Even if I used Blender for the base and I kept them rather monocromatic and simple, there were seven of them, with day and night versions of most of them, which is quite a lot for the lenght of the script. I didn't think much about this when writing and that was a mistake because it ended up eating a lot of time I could have better used elsewhere. I like backgrounds and they are very important but I am terrible at them and it takes me a lot of time to get a decent result, so there is that.

The script is technically complete, I could use it as it is for the whole story, but I am still working on it a little, trimming things and adjusting the pacing a little.

I have been scripting the animations for the demo, and I am almost done with them. I feel like I really nailed the sprite workflow because it is very easy to work with them and edit them. I guess this compensates at least in part the mistake on the backgrounds.

I have ironed out all the problems I had with the UI, which is now 100% done. First milestone hit, a small one but an important one.

I have also worked on the cgs for the demo, the linearts are done and all that is left is coloring.

All in all the demo seems to be very close to completion, which is making me very excited! I am taking a little more time to work on this due to the extended deadline, and I feel like the results are very good. Really looking forward to share this!

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Re: The Night is Our Friend [NaNo2020][Yuri][Romance][Supernatural]

#15 Post by fullmontis » Sun Apr 12, 2020 7:57 pm

Update!

So, a sad but important decision: I have decided to not post the demo for the NaNoRenO :( there are a few things that needed more work than I expected and I ended up short on time. I could do it in time for the deadline if I rush, but I realize that at this point it doesn't really make sense, since I was mostly aiming at the 30 day jam (which has been already over a while ago).

That said, I will still be working on the complete game, especially since most of the hurdles have been taken care of and it is mostly grinding from here, which is longer but a lot less stressful. The demo is almost complete, I will post it when it is done on my itch page.

Here is a screenshot from the current build that shows Elisa's sketchbook, which you can examine and flip throught at any time during the story:
screenshot0047.png
This isn't a strictly necessary menu, but I feel it adds enough flavor to the story to be worth the time required (which isn't actually that much, it's a very simple screen).

This is all for the moment. I just wanted to congratulate everyone who completed the jam or that just partecipated :)

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