The word for tonight's entry is "last" because to celebrate the Without a Voice demo release, my boyfriend and I went out to a nice dinner at a restaurant we love that's shutting down at the end of the month. We had sukiyaki and it was delicious. And sad. There's surely a lot of reasons that they're closing, but it's surreal when you consider that we sat down tonight and all the tables were full of people.
(from Where We Lay Our Scene)
After dinner, I showed off all the VNs I've worked on up until now. He's played Shadows, but isn't super familiar with my other work. Afterwards, he commented on how different all the VNs I've written are. A lot of these games I hadn't opened in literal years, so it was an...odd feeling. I feel so detached from them—in the sense that it's been so long that I read the text and it doesn't sound like my writing. Who was I when I wrote those scripts? How far I have come!
Earlier today, we released the new demo for WaV. While I can't claim that we spent all of the last two years working on it, I can say that the new demo is the culmination of two years of growth on Adi's and my part. She's grown so much as an artist and I as a writer. I simply had to rewrite everything. When I re-read the script from the old demo—even the old outline—I just didn't like it at all. I ended up making some key changes to the basic story and I can say with confidence that it's made for a more cohesive, solid game. I've picked up some more programming skills that allowed me to do some really neat things with the UI. Ren'Py itself has progressed and evolved. While I regret that the game has taken so long, I believe that it's all the stronger for it. I'm so proud of it and I'm super excited to share it with everyone.
I have a lot of love for focused stories: one small setting, two characters. There's tons of fun to be had with large casts, of course. Group dynamics and banter are some of my favorite things to write. Yet there's something about focusing in on two character's that's so interesting. You really get to know each one and the effects of one character on the other can more clearly be seen. I guess that some element of choice is taken from the player—you can't choose a character to pursue, for example—but less characters doesn't automatically mean less choices.
I managed to cram 15 choices into WaV. It made balancing the points system difficult. I had to try a lot of things and a lot of those ideas fell completely flat. I didn't want to use something so straightforward as "affection points" in this game, though. To just call the complicated feelings between Cassidy and Elowen "affection" would be disingenuous. Instead, there are three stat points: delusion, knowledge, and understanding. The game also remembers certain choices that you make, similar to the system I coded for Break Chance Memento. If you pick a certain choice, for example, Elowen will insist that she's incapable of lying. The game will remember that and it will affect some text later. There's a lot of variations for a game so seemingly short. It's my wish that people really sink their teeth into this game and experience all the different ways the story can play out. It would make me exceedingly happy.
I've come to realize that it's so important to stay true to yourself when it comes to creative projects. That's not to say "if you build it, they will come" or anything, but if you overanalyze what your target audience wants, you may lose what makes your work unique. I want to create the things that I want to see in the world. Chances are there are others who want the same things created. It's just a matter of reaching them. I really believe that now. There's work that only I can create and so I want to dig deep and create that.
Hmm, this ended up being a little more philosophical than I'd planned! I hope you get a chance to give the WaV demo a try. Feedback really is crucial and after working on this game in a (relative) bubble for so long, it'd be nice to see what people in ~the real world~ think, hehe.
Early on in our relationship, he asked me something along the lines of "If you could recommend just one of your games to me to play, which would it be?" I spent a long while thinking on it and settled on Shadows. With what I know now, I might have gone with something else entirely, but he enjoyed Shadows and that's what counts. I'm very proud of my work on that game, even now. ↩︎
Knowledge and Understanding sound similar, but work very differently in the game. ↩︎