Placeholder [Psychological Thriller][Metanarrative][Horror?][Free]

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Davidk
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Placeholder [Psychological Thriller][Metanarrative][Horror?][Free]

#1 Post by Davidk » Fri Apr 06, 2018 7:29 pm

title_screen.png

Edit: Now on Itch.io

Okay, so a bit of backstory here. This was supposed to just be a test to prove to myself that I was actually capable of making a visual novel and was never meant to be released to the public. Almost everything but the writing consists of royalty-free placeholder assets as a means of getting used to Ren'py (before starting on this, I had zero coding knowledge and I still pretty much know nothing). The story itself was to be a very partial adaptation of one of my indie novels just to see how it would work in a visual format.

But as I put more and more work into it and because I'm a weirdo, I started thinking about the concept of placeholders in general. So it kind of transformed into something else entirely and now I'm just sitting here asking myself "why did I make this?" But I figured it's unique enough for at least a few people to find it enjoyable, so might as well just slap it on the internet somewhere.


Length: Around an hour and a half.

Synopsis (taken from the novel this is based on):

Seven people wake up in a strange facility. None of them remember how they got there or why. With no way of figuring out their situation, they decide to explore the mysterious building.

A camera on the ceiling, steel-plated walls, rooms that shouldn't exist; the deeper they venture, the more confused they get. When impossible things begin to happen, the group struggles to keep their grip on reality—and their lives.


And a screenshot:
placeholder_screen.png

Art assets from:

Tokudaya
Lemmasoft's own Elze (Elzee)
http://www.jewel-s.jp
http://camellia0313.blog.fc2.com
http://ayaemo.skr.jp
http://material.animehack.jp
www.alamy.com
www.rgbstock.com
anilestock.deviantart.com
http://masato.ciao.jp/haikei/furemu.html
http://mao.sub.jp
Skimlines on DeviantArt
freepik.com
istockphoto.com

Music Resources from:

Musmus (http://musmus.main.jp/music.html)
Asobeat (http://www.yonao.com/asobeat)
Arn Andersson & Nights Amore
DJ Rolfsky
Ivan Chew
Alexander Hoff
Yuri Santana


Download it here for PC and here for Mac. Will put it in more places than just Mediafire if anyone actually likes it.

So yeah, enjoy :D

Edit: If anyone cares, link to the novel this is VERY loosely based on.
Last edited by Davidk on Thu May 24, 2018 5:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Placeholder [Psychological Thriller][Metanarrative][Horror?][Free]

#2 Post by Zelan » Wed May 23, 2018 9:49 pm

I enjoyed this a lot, and I would definitely recommend putting it on itch.io at the very least. It's very easy to set up an account and upload games and it'll get you a lot more traffic.

I thought what you did with this concept was incredibly clever - media focusing on metanarrative themes is nothing new, as I'm sure you know given your special thanks to Dan Salvato, but I've never seen the idea of placeholders explored before. It actually reminds me a lot of conversations my friends and I have had before when we stay up way later than we should be, and I found some of the things that you delved into incredibly fascinating.
Perry's sprite was one of the first things that originally irked me - even though I knew that you were using placeholders, and that there's only so much variety available, it irked me that his physical description was so different from his sprite. I was really pleased to see you lampshade that later on when Vivian called up his image file. Similarly, I was impressed by what you did with Randall - when his sprite changed, his character changed with it, and though it was only mentioned briefly the others did notice it as well. (I was also incredibly alarmed when his sprite and then Farrah's changed, so kudos for getting me attached to these characters so quickly.)

Vivian's speech brought up a lot of interesting things. I found the part where she laments the fact that her face doesn't match her emotions really powerful, especially the line about wanting to cry. The only thing that I really disliked was that I felt it was a bit more long-winded than it needed to be, and by the end of it I started to click through a bit faster trying to get to the end of it. There are probably some parts that could have been cut out to make it flow better. Overall, though, it was an impactful moment and I think it worked really well as the turning point of the story into the metanarrative. The changing sprites was a really cool idea, too, I was not expecting that at all and I was impressed by how fluidly her sprite changed. Also, having Randall and Farrah's sprites appear over top of Perry's and Vivian's was a nice touch; I was low-key indignant on Vivian's behalf after that.

The final speech that Vivian gave about the Creator and his insecurities was also pretty impressive, although again, I found it to be a little bit more lengthy than it needed to be. I liked that it ultimately had an uplifting message, though, encouraging people to create without worrying about what people would actually think of it.

I found all of the little programming tricks you used to be effective, like the static for Jack's last name and over the disappearing sprites, and the portions where the text continued without my input, especially the "Why is" section. The bit where Vivian appeared at the side as a messed-up version of her sprite was pretty eerie too. It really added to the atmosphere of the game.

I had to laugh a bit when I saw the background with all of the stock photo watermarks. It made me wonder how that would show up to Vivian - would she see the words just floating in the air? Would they be tangible? I liked Darren's quip at the end about the serial killer in a dating game too. (I think he'd be surprised at some of the dating games out there, haha.)
Overall I thought the game's concept was executed incredibly well; the only negative things I really have to mention are the aforementioned tendency to draw some scenes out longer than necessary and the occasional typo (although these were pretty few and far between so they're not a huge deal, but fixing them would add some additional polish to the game). This is good enough I would suggest a version 2 remake of the game with assets commissioned specifically for the purpose, but that would... ruin the point, haha.

I'm definitely looking forward to seeing more of your work in the future, and I'm planning on buying The Distorted Facility off Amazon asap. c:

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Re: Placeholder [Psychological Thriller][Metanarrative][Horror?][Free]

#3 Post by Davidk » Thu May 24, 2018 5:55 pm

Zelan wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 9:49 pm
I enjoyed this a lot, and I would definitely recommend putting it on itch.io at the very least. It's very easy to set up an account and upload games and it'll get you a lot more traffic.

I thought what you did with this concept was incredibly clever - media focusing on metanarrative themes is nothing new, as I'm sure you know given your special thanks to Dan Salvato, but I've never seen the idea of placeholders explored before. It actually reminds me a lot of conversations my friends and I have had before when we stay up way later than we should be, and I found some of the things that you delved into incredibly fascinating.
Perry's sprite was one of the first things that originally irked me - even though I knew that you were using placeholders, and that there's only so much variety available, it irked me that his physical description was so different from his sprite. I was really pleased to see you lampshade that later on when Vivian called up his image file. Similarly, I was impressed by what you did with Randall - when his sprite changed, his character changed with it, and though it was only mentioned briefly the others did notice it as well. (I was also incredibly alarmed when his sprite and then Farrah's changed, so kudos for getting me attached to these characters so quickly.)

Vivian's speech brought up a lot of interesting things. I found the part where she laments the fact that her face doesn't match her emotions really powerful, especially the line about wanting to cry. The only thing that I really disliked was that I felt it was a bit more long-winded than it needed to be, and by the end of it I started to click through a bit faster trying to get to the end of it. There are probably some parts that could have been cut out to make it flow better. Overall, though, it was an impactful moment and I think it worked really well as the turning point of the story into the metanarrative. The changing sprites was a really cool idea, too, I was not expecting that at all and I was impressed by how fluidly her sprite changed. Also, having Randall and Farrah's sprites appear over top of Perry's and Vivian's was a nice touch; I was low-key indignant on Vivian's behalf after that.

The final speech that Vivian gave about the Creator and his insecurities was also pretty impressive, although again, I found it to be a little bit more lengthy than it needed to be. I liked that it ultimately had an uplifting message, though, encouraging people to create without worrying about what people would actually think of it.

I found all of the little programming tricks you used to be effective, like the static for Jack's last name and over the disappearing sprites, and the portions where the text continued without my input, especially the "Why is" section. The bit where Vivian appeared at the side as a messed-up version of her sprite was pretty eerie too. It really added to the atmosphere of the game.

I had to laugh a bit when I saw the background with all of the stock photo watermarks. It made me wonder how that would show up to Vivian - would she see the words just floating in the air? Would they be tangible? I liked Darren's quip at the end about the serial killer in a dating game too. (I think he'd be surprised at some of the dating games out there, haha.)
Overall I thought the game's concept was executed incredibly well; the only negative things I really have to mention are the aforementioned tendency to draw some scenes out longer than necessary and the occasional typo (although these were pretty few and far between so they're not a huge deal, but fixing them would add some additional polish to the game). This is good enough I would suggest a version 2 remake of the game with assets commissioned specifically for the purpose, but that would... ruin the point, haha.

I'm definitely looking forward to seeing more of your work in the future, and I'm planning on buying The Distorted Facility off Amazon asap. c:
Wow, thanks a lot! This was my first stab at VN development, so it's definitely not perfect even with the point I was trying to get across, so I'm happy for any feedback I get. But of course since I'm a nobody and my only means of advertising have been Twitter and Facebook, you're the first :D.

My plan with this was to see how I dealt with coding in general (as minimal as it is) to see how it would go if I decided to make a full-fledged VN. Basically, this would be a sort of weird alternate reality demo version of an ACTUAL adaptation of The Distorted Facility, complete with commissioned art, music and all that good stuff. I'm still not 100% certain I'll pursue that as I legit don't know if I have the work ethic for it (making this crappy placeholder was extremely frustrating on its own and a full adaptation would be a nightmare) but I'd like to think I'd push myself into it eventually with how empty I feel when I'm not creating.

I actually have put it on Itch.io since making the post, but kind of forgot to mention it here. Will edit the OP with a link. Tried to get it on Gamejolt, but the process ended up being pretty confusing, so I gave up. Need to give that another shot as it seems like it actually has some level of appeal.

I'll search for those typos you were talking about when I have the time and fix it. Thanks again for the feedback :D

Edit: Oh, and just a heads up. The Distorted Facility is VERY different from this. Before things get all meta in Placeholder, only the first chapter and a half was adapted. It's more of a proper psychological thriller/horror that goes in a very different direction, even if there's still some similarities. I also may have overdone it on the gore, so keep that in mind if you're squeamish.

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Re: Placeholder [Psychological Thriller][Metanarrative][Horror?][Free]

#4 Post by Zelan » Thu May 24, 2018 6:30 pm

Davidk wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 5:55 pm
Wow, thanks a lot! This was my first stab at VN development, so it's definitely not perfect even with the point I was trying to get across, so I'm happy for any feedback I get. But of course since I'm a nobody and my only means of advertising have been Twitter and Facebook, you're the first :D.

My plan with this was to see how I dealt with coding in general (as minimal as it is) to see how it would go if I decided to make a full-fledged VN. Basically, this would be a sort of weird alternate reality demo version of an ACTUAL adaptation of The Distorted Facility, complete with commissioned art, music and all that good stuff. I'm still not 100% certain I'll pursue that as I legit don't know if I have the work ethic for it (making this crappy placeholder was extremely frustrating on its own and a full adaptation would be a nightmare) but I'd like to think I'd push myself into it eventually with how empty I feel when I'm not creating.

I actually have put it on Itch.io since making the post, but kind of forgot to mention it here. Will edit the OP with a link. Tried to get it on Gamejolt, but the process ended up being pretty confusing, so I gave up. Need to give that another shot as it seems like it actually has some level of appeal.

I'll search for those typos you were talking about when I have the time and fix it. Thanks again for the feedback :D

Edit: Oh, and just a heads up. The Distorted Facility is VERY different from this. Before things get all meta in Placeholder, only the first chapter and a half was adapted. It's more of a proper psychological thriller/horror that goes in a very different direction, even if there's still some similarities. I also may have overdone it on the gore, so keep that in mind if you're squeamish.
I'll bet an actual adaptation would go over well! Psychological thrillers are pretty popular around here, I think, and it seems to me that you have the programming skills necessary to pull off all sorts of things that would make it really polished. I know from experience that it can get tough trying to wrangle Ren'Py into doing what you want it to do, but if you keep at it you can make some really neat stuff.

I know what you mean about Gamejolt, I've never tried to upload anything there, but even just downloading stuff is a huge hassle. :/ Good luck with that, though!

Oh, and I forgot to mention yesterday: this game reminded me in some ways of [redacted] Life, which I think is something you might enjoy.

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Re: Placeholder [Psychological Thriller][Metanarrative][Horror?][Free]

#5 Post by DirkB » Fri May 25, 2018 4:43 am

Really cool, original story idea! It also remains fascinating until the end.

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