Shira Oka demo

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Ren

Shira Oka demo

#1 Post by Ren » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:35 pm

So, I was quite surprised to see this in my mail today:
Hello, from Okashi Studios!

We have some exciting news to share with you today.

Many people have been asking us for a playable demo of Shira Oka, and we
are happy to announce that the day has finally come to release one.

Please visit the Shira Oka website (http://www.shira-oka.com) for the
download links! There are versions available for both Windows and Mac
OSX.
I'm trying it right now, as I've been curious about it for quite a while...
I hope it's OK to post it here, I guessed some people in here could be interested in it!

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Re: Shira Oka demo

#2 Post by chensterrain » Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:31 pm

I was surprised to see it too - I've been waiting for this game since forever! While the demo is nice and everything, there's not much in it, however (not for 170mb, anyway :B) - it cuts off before you can really schedule anything, as far as I can tell. Still, the artwork / system seems solid, and it's nice to know the game is nearing completion... :)

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Re: Shira Oka demo

#3 Post by gekiganwing » Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:38 pm

I think development for Shira Oka started around 2005. There's been demos at cons since 2008, but most of the game's content has only been available for beta testers. At ACen 2010, the Okashi Studios staff mentioned that voice work was done. No clear statements on distribution or marketing yet.

...So like Chensterrain, I'm glad that a demo is available for the public. I'll start it soon, and provide feedback.

EDIT on July 13 -- not a bad demo, but I think there was a problem with the screen resolution I was using. The character sprites looked "zoomed in," and the shaking effect seemed more like an earthquake.
Also, I'll mention to the staff that I'm not sure I like the weekly planner just yet. It looks like if the hero chooses an option on Monday such as 'rest' or 'exercise,' then that's the activity he'll be doing during spare time from Monday all the way through Friday. The schedule planners in Summer Session and RE: Alistair seemed much more flexible.

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Re: Shira Oka demo

#4 Post by Deji » Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:23 pm

I've been keeping an eye on and off Shira Oka, Since it's been around for so long and all...
I went and downloaded the demo, but my horribly picky self made me drop the thing very quickly =/ I have to say I expected something of better quality, graphic-wise (in general, not limited to art)

Oh well, I hope people that are not as horribly picky as me will enjoy it C:
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Re: Shira Oka demo

#5 Post by Ren » Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:42 pm

I'm pretty perseverant, so I'm trying to overlook some things, but I have the same feelings about many things: the menus could be better organised, and not following the same dull blue colour of the room you spend most of your time in (which has some pretty annoying perspective problems, in my opinion, and most of the backgrounds, like the city at the beginning, look like they extend way too far in the space - which is the most common error in perspective drawing).

I also found the lip animations a bit weird; did anyone else have the impression they all talk at super high speed?

I didn't quite appreciate the intro song either, to be honest. I'd have rather had it in English, and perhaps not attempting to be all cutsey (the thing about the penguin I found a bit forced and cliché, but I'm not the person for cute stuff too much, admittedly), than sang in Japanese. I did appreciate how they made it all animated, though, it must have taken quite some time.

Still, I'm impressed by the effort in making this, I just think if it some things had been done a bit better, it could have been appreciated by more people.

I'll see what the story is about once I get my holiday days, right now I'm a bit knakered, to sit there and play it all.

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Re: Shira Oka demo

#6 Post by Deji » Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:50 pm

Ren wrote: I also found the lip animations a bit weird; did anyone else have the impression they all talk at super high speech?

I didn't quite appreciate the intro song either, to be honest. I'd have rather had it in English, and perhaps not attempting to be all cutsey (the thing about the penguin, but I'm not the person for cute stuff too much, so it could be me), than sang in Japanese. I did appreciate how they made it all animated, though, it must have taken quite some time.
I thought the same about the lip animation. In animation (as far as I remember) is common to skip lip movements in order to make things look more natural and fluid - I think their current animation could benefit from that. Even if it ends up looking like "maaa-ma-ma-mam-maaaaaa" it'll look less like high-speed talking.

I didn't appreciate the song either =/
I'm amazed they animated the intro and the sprites, though, and probably the gameplay will be very interesting and the story very detailed... (I was a bit overwhelmed by all the stats and things one has to keep in mind while playing, as it was explained in the beginning @_@ )


I just wished they had a Graphic Designer on their crew, they could seriously benefit from one >>;
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Re: Shira Oka demo

#7 Post by Samu-kun » Wed Jul 14, 2010 12:44 am

It looks pretty fun. The art isn't much to look at, but it's pretty decently animated, so I think it evens out. The weakness lies mostly in the backgrounds, since without animations, the low art quality comes out more. The major thing I didn't like is how slow the text scrolls on fast speed. I don't want instantaneous, but I want it faster than what it is on fast mode...

I don't think I'd pay money for it though... Would you? ._.;

Also, wtf does that penguin in the OP have to do with the story? Is it somebody's pet? And does it live in a custom refrigerator with a recliner inside it and drink beer? XD...

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Re: Shira Oka demo

#8 Post by papillon » Wed Jul 14, 2010 3:48 am

I think it suffers a bit from Duke Nukem Forever syndrome - after so many years and so much hype expectations get inflated beyond anyone's ability to keep up. It's certainly not bad, but all the imperfections come to the front.

The lip animations do seem way too fast and distracting, particularly when the voice acting is playing at the same time. (Especially since I've played Aoi Shiro, which did a very good job of lip syncing IIRC).

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Re: Shira Oka demo

#9 Post by gekiganwing » Wed Jul 14, 2010 6:03 pm

I just now mentioned the inconsistent lip-flap on the Shira Oka forums. From what I saw, it was fine in voiced scenes, but lapsed into "frantic silent movie" speed in non-voiced scenes. I stated that hopefully it's just a tech problem that can be ironed out.

I recently told them I had a few concerns with the basic gameplay. It seemed that on any Monday, the main character could choose only one activity, and that's the only thing he would do from Monday through Friday. This concept seemed counter-intuitive. From the feedback thus far, it's not yet clear if this is the staff's way to reduce mouse clicking, or whether the full version will be different.
Samu-kun wrote:...The art isn't much to look at, but it's pretty decently animated, so I think it evens out. The weakness lies mostly in the backgrounds, since without animations, the low art quality comes out more...
I noticed in convention demos and the recent demo that character sprites in Shira Oka are often moving, even in non-cutscenes, and in scenes that aren't all that important. It impressed me, perhaps since I haven't seen any VNs which use a lot of moving sprites in the same way. (On the other hand, this could result in what TVTropes calls "Going Through the Motions" -- a limited amount of poses means the characters can emote too much or too little.)

Also, I'm not an art critic, so I'm curious what you meant by "low art quality." I noticed during the demo that the sprites seemed zoomed-in, for lack of a better term. But that may have been the settings on my computer.
Samu-kun wrote:I don't think I'd pay money for it though... Would you? ._.;
In 2010, we have a few stat-heavy renai games in English. I paid $20 for the full versions of Spirited Heart and Flower Shop, and enjoyed both. So at the moment, I'd probably pay about $20 for a full download-only version of Shira Oka as it currently is. But then again, RE: Alistair was freeware, and I enjoyed it just as much.

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Re: Shira Oka demo

#10 Post by chensterrain » Wed Jul 14, 2010 6:53 pm

gekiganwing wrote:I recently told them I had a few concerns with the basic gameplay. It seemed that on any Monday, the main character could choose only one activity, and that's the only thing he would do from Monday through Friday. This concept seemed counter-intuitive. From the feedback thus far, it's not yet clear if this is the staff's way to reduce mouse clicking, or whether the full version will be different.
I'd be surprised if they changed this, to be honest, as this is the exact same way things work in the Tokimeki Memorial series - you pick one thing to do, and the game just goes with it. As the game seems to cover three years of game time, I think this system might actually be a little better than choosing what to do each day, which works much better in shorter games in my experience. (The endgame in the TokiMemo games really drags despite choosing what to do a week at a time, so lord knows how long it'd take with a day-to-day system... though that might be just me :))

I feel bad about saying this about a game that's been in development for so long, but to be honest I'm kind of in two minds about Shira Oka - I was only really interested in the game for the stat-raising elements, since there are so few of those games around in english, and I'm really liking the TokiMemo-style system, but the game itself leaves a lot to be desired. The art is okay, and the animations are pretty good, I think (though having the sprites dart around the screen so often is pretty disconcerting tbh :B), but the whole thing just seems so... weeaboo? For want of a better word, anyway. :/ It's not even the Japanese high schoolers thing, as I like that sort of setting, but the whole rainbow-haired characters using honorifics and Japanese name order (even for western names, what?) and dropping Japanese terms seemingly at random ('Is-satsu, ni-satsu!' 'My tanuki pen broke!' etc) doesn't really do much for me. :(

But aughhh I really want a stat-raiser, so I'll probably end up buying it anyway, tbh. :?

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Re: Shira Oka demo

#11 Post by Chansel » Wed Jul 14, 2010 7:01 pm

Just finished playing the demo. Initial reaction:
"Nooooo!"
But why, you may ask? Let me tell you.
The scene where you have to take that personality test from the magazine? I have the same thing written out for School's Out! T^T And here I was, thinking I was being original.. Well, guess not. Darn.

Anyway, I must say I rather enjoyed it to be honest. Though I didn't particularity liked it that that you get to pick only one activity for the whole week and one for the weekend. Especially when I got the MC sick and had to pick the 'sleep' option for the whole week.
It looks pretty fun. The art isn't much to look at, but it's pretty decently animated, so I think it evens out. The weakness lies mostly in the backgrounds, since without animations, the low art quality comes out more.
Really? Huh. I found the art to be quite nice, really. Much MUCH better than some other art I've seen pop up in a lot of games. Though I did have the feeling that some of the art was rushed a bit in comparison to the others. But still, I rather liked it :)

I'm anxious to see the full release for this one, though I’m not sure I'd pay 20 bucks to play it. I've never been a big fan of buying downloadable games. But that's just my personal quirk.
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Re: Shira Oka demo

#12 Post by Samu-kun » Wed Jul 14, 2010 7:36 pm

I'm generally comparing the art to what's available on J-List and other commercial VN, not amateur works that were released for free. Well, this is pretty much what I mean:

Image

Compared to other commercial games available in English

Image
Image
Image

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Re: Shira Oka demo

#13 Post by IceD » Thu Jul 15, 2010 2:12 am

I don't know why some people got so fired up over this title - it's preety much mediocre to every possible extent. The only thing which i can count as a plus is the complex story (at least from what creators say) and a fact it was one of the first english doujin titles ever announced.

The art isn't bad, but it's quite unrefined. I'd rather call such work unfinished presets and placeholders - everything is very blurry and crude. Such art can't be called complete - there's still much work to do with it. Compared to what other indie devs take for their games the twenty dollar price tag is absurd for such work. Either they will hire a better artist (or someone to help them and refine the art), or they drop the price below because I doubt they sale this at least that much to cover the expenses made through production.

Nonetheless, I'm glad people started to take things that way. We still need a lot of experience but when the path gets cleared a bit, other devs will surely follow :)

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Re: Shira Oka demo

#14 Post by DaFool » Thu Jul 15, 2010 4:12 am

The only thing that really bothered me was the voice acting cutting off after the first few lines of each girl, then I just see a disturbing series of lip flap yakking without any sound. I don't know if it's a bug or not.

The animation, though crude, was impressive -- both the OP and the constant sprite posture shifts. I also don't mind the generally 'less shiny and crispy' graphics. In fact I think the less than crispy graphics lends better to the animation... I'm currently playing Trinity Universe (a PS3 game that features the advanced VN motions seen in White Album) and the constant swaying is just too surreal. Here at least, with the rougher graphics, my mind is able to fill in the in-between interstitials for more convincing effect.

My biggest question is how these guys were able to keep themselves afloat despite all the videogame industry-related casualties left and right.

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Re: Shira Oka demo

#15 Post by GLACIER » Sat Jul 17, 2010 2:10 am

I've only started the demo, but what I've seen looks promising. The basic presentation is nice, from the interface to the character posturing. However, the real draw is that this is a genuine love simulation...............it's a shameless Tokimeki Memorial clone, but we haven't seen anything like it in English (aside from Konami, who've simplified the design over the years, no one else in Japan makes these either).

If the developers can nail the game system (the hard part......making a good simulation game with depth, balance, and high replay value is a tall order) and offer a large variety of events and options, we're in for a treat.
Also, I'm not an art critic, so I'm curious what you meant by "low art quality."
Art is pretty rough. There's a washed out look to everything. Some character postures are off-model, and the transitions are jerky. If the game were free, no one would complain. However, it's a commercial release, so customers expect professional quality.
As the game seems to cover three years of game time, I think this system might actually be a little better than choosing what to do each day, which works much better in shorter games in my experience.
Absolutely. The game would be way too tedious if the player had to select an activity for each day.
I didn't quite appreciate the intro song either, to be honest. I'd have rather had it in English, and perhaps not attempting to be all cutsey (the thing about the penguin I found a bit forced and cliché, but I'm not the person for cute stuff too much, admittedly), than sang in Japanese. I did appreciate how they made it all animated, though, it must have taken quite some time.
Honestly, the song is hard to listen to. The music, lyrics, and vocals are ridiculous, so I wonder how anyone thought it was a good idea.

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