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Memories: A Year Later...

2015-02-23 00:26:48 by ksetsuni

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------ TL;DR kind of a post ------

So... it's already been about a year since the last release for our game Memories.  So I thought I'd give a little update as to where we are on that.

This post is basically just a rant/reflection/update on our future plans for the last chapter of Memories.  For those interested in making their own sim date/flash game, some of the content here might get you thinking about how to go about your own game (emphasis on "might because I can't guarantee anything.)

Let me answer a few questions in the shortest, most honest way possible:
Q: Are you finally releasing the next chapter??
A: Uhh... no...

Q: But you said it would be out at the end of last August!
A: Yes. Yes, we did.  Circumstances prevented us from working on the game... But those are excuses saved for later.

Q: Are you working on it at least?
A: Uhh... Not quite...

Q: Will you ever finish it?
A: We sure hope so.

Yeah, I know those answers didn't really clarify anything.  This is what this long post is for.  It's mostly excuses but I think you'll kinda have an idea why this is not moving along as well as it should.

First of all, I really need to stop announcing dates prematurely.  Secondly, I really need to stop putting up updates for our "conceptual" progress.  See, the two goes hand-in-hand.  Basically, we reach some conclusion as to what or how we're going to do the third game and we put up updates just to show that we are actually still working on it (or at least, it's floating in our heads).  But giving updates on conceptual progress is actually false progress (at least it is in my opinion, there's no scientific basis for what I'm claiming here, so don't go researching whether I'm politically correct).  Just because we make a decision to do something,doesn't mean it'll actually happen.  So I sincerely apologize for giving incorrect information in terms of our progress.

So where exactly are we in the creation of the third game?  Well, we're still juggling with conceptual issues such as gameplay changes: Should it be more like a visual novel, where the storyline diverges with each choice, or a sim date, where stats has more importance? What are the requirements to reach an ending?  Should it be experience based, where the player racks up points by choosing the "right" answer? Or should it be conditional where a certain ending can only be met if certain conditions are true?  Before making every decision, we have to consider how we're going to implement it and whether we can do it at all.

Every now and then though, I work on the script (though quite honestly I have not even worked on it since August, which was the beginning of the new semester).  But even that is extremely slow.  When I first wrote the original script 4 years ago, I finished Kakeru's entire story in 30 pages, which was something I was quite proud of.  The entire prologue of is actually about 10 or so pages of the actual script and after playing it, it was--without a doubt--too short.  Which is why the script for the First Arc was completely rewritten.  And the script for that First Arc ended up being about 20 pages.  So when you think about it, 10 pgs for Prologue + 20 pgs for First Arc = 30.  That's the entire script... But the story hasn't ended yet, and in fact, it's no where near close.  There are many issues, old and new, that still needs to be addressed.  Addition of characters is necessary to make the story more interesting, but those characters all must have purpose and roles; their lines in a script need to be written.  Tying all the characters together is actually quite difficult to do.  There is also the issue of the timeline, as in I don't know what should happen when and whether we should have dates at all; but this is really just a minor problem and can be solved as soon as all the events are in place.

Moving on, did I mention in a previous update that there is a second (semi-)dateable guy? Yeah, well for some weird reason, his story was occupying my head more than Kakeru's and that's B-A-D.  I'm sure some people would love a new guy but people wanna know what happens to Kakeru too right?  That's the assumption anyway... What worse is that generating ideas for "dates" with Kakeru is getting seriously difficult.  Those who played the first arc till the end should know why.  We used up a lot in that almost last scene... coming up with something new that is not repetitive is a real challenge.

In any case, we decided to resume the project...sort of.  NO GUARANTEES.  Being a college student who aims to go to professional school, academics take most of my time; and the little time I have left is used up in doing other responsibilities.  But I recently rediscovered pieces of the script for the Final Arc and the flame to finish the game is once again alit. 

The game is still very premature and much work needs to be done since we're practically starting from scratch.  We've decided to switch from Macromedia Flash to Ren'Py for the game media.  When I decided this, I knew NOTHING of Ren'Py programming language and in fact, I still don't know anything about the programming language minus the most basics.  So why did we decide to switch anyway? Personally, I would prefer to work in Macromedia Flash; I have experience in using it and I was barely starting to learn the more complicated codes (like that loading bar!).  But, file sizes become an issue in Flash.  Simply put, none of our computers are powerful enough to run a .swf file that has over 300 imported pictures in it's library.  Animations also make huge files, even those simple fade in/fade out transitions.  But take those effects away and the game becomes blander.  Ren'Py would allow us to work with large number of files simply because the game itself is just lines and lines and lines of code.  The graphics are kept in a separate folder that need not be imported.  This eliminates issues about the size and allows a more professional looking game.  

Speaking of professional looking, the GUI must also be designed.  Since ksetsuni is not a graphic artist, in addition to being script writer and coder, I also design the extra elements that are not necessarily part of the story.  This includes the buttons, the textbox, the options menu, character sprites, etc.  They may seem insignificant and people might take them for granted because they're just... there but time must be taken in creating, designing, and drawing it.  

Anyway, the point is making and developing a game takes time and it's time I don't have.  Nonetheless, we'll try to work on this, even if the progress is slow.  At this point, I still can't promise it'll be completed but the hope is that we can.  So cross your fingers ><

As expected, this just turned up to be a long winded post about... well I'm not even sure... Thanks for reading it, even  if it it didn't make much sense.

From:  Xiumi (Shem)
script writer, coder, graphic designer, music director for Artist Academy Sim Date

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