Quick Pick

May 20, 2018

[Update] Live2D modeling progress

So, I announced Blanche Biche will be a Unity game due to its support for Live2D, but you might still be wondering what Live2D is all about. Simply put, it's a 2D animation software. But its specificity is that it's not a frame-by-frame animation tool. What it does is, it allows you to create a model which deforms itself according to a variety of parameters. Thus, you can effectively open and close the eyes, tilt the head, stretch the mouth, and so on, pretty much like you would with a 3D model--except there's zero 3D in there. So it's just animated 2D, but cleverly so. Models created by professionals may look incredibly lively and give an impressive illusion of depth.

Pretty nice, huh? Well, that's just what we're trying to do with our own graphics. My partner Blueroze is currently spending all of her free time rigging her first model, and she's not quite there yet, but most of the face is ready to be animated already. Here's a quick video from the editor to show you how it looks like so far.

So, I don't know about you, but as far as I'm concerned I'm a huge fan. And if you were wondering, it's her first shot at it, so I can't wait to see how it turns out in the end. :)

May 12, 2018

[Update] A name for Project Conversation

So, we've been thinking for a while about a proper title for our dear Project Conversation. And we've found it. Moonpearl and Blueroze proudly present: Blanche Biche (French for White Doe).

We'll leave it up to you to speculate about the implications of that title for now, and what on earth this has to do with a dating sim. :) But I'll provide a few elements of context as hints. Let us know if you have any theories in the comments!

La complainte de la blanche biche (The White Doe's Complaint) is a medieval ballad from Western France. Here's a link to my personal favorite performance of it, along with a translation of the lyrics.

Those who go to the woods
Those are the mother and the daughter
The mother walks while humming
And her daughter sighs
"What's with the sighing
My white Marguerite?"
"I have so much turmoil within
And do not dare tell you"

"I'm a girl during daytime
And a white doe at night
The hunters are after me
Barons and princes
And my brother Renaud
Who's the worst of all
Please, mother, quickly go
And tell him

That he must stop his dogs
Until tomorrow morning"
"Where are your dogs, Renaud
And the hunting gentlemen?"
"They are inside the woods
Chasing the white doe"
"Stop them, Renaud
Stop them, I beg of you"

Three times did he call them
With his copper horn
At the third time
The white doe is captured
Let's summon a skinner
To skin the doe
The one who skins her
Says "I'm at a loss of words"

She has blonde hair
And breasts like a girl
He drew his knife
And sliced her into pieces
They made a supper out of her
For barons and princes
"Here we're all sitting
Save for my sister Marguerite"

"You just have to eat
I'm the first one at the table
My head is in the platter
And my heart on spikes
My blood is splattered
All around the kitchen
And on your black coal
My poor bones are roasting"

(back to 1st verse)

May 1, 2018

[Update] A node-based editor in Unity

As I announced in my previous post, we were considering a switch to Unity, mainly because of the Live2D support. So I've been poking around, trying to assess whether the Unity framework and C# was for me. To be honest, I think if I'd tried it a few years ago, C# would've turned me off. But I figured, I have so much experience in programming, and I wish to go into business as a game developer, I can't just stop at the difficulty of a new language. Plus, I learned Python so easily that it encouraged me to take the plunge.

So I need to recode everything I've done for Project Conversation in Unity/C# and it's probably be tedious and boring (rather than actually challenging, since I merely need to translate scripts from a language to another). But first I had to recreate a visual novel-like gameplay, and that's when I realized Unity allows one to do something very cool--you can program the editor itself! If you remember my works for RPG Maker XP, you should know that I like to hijack the system to make the game designer's life easier, like I did with my Balloon System or the Party Interaction System. So the mere possibility of messing around with the editor was the ultimate argument to win my heart, I guess.

Thus, the first challenge I set myself was to create a node-based editor to make it possible for me (and more importantly, for my partner) to write dialogue scenes in a simple, visual fashion. I know such a system already exists in the Asset Store, but it's paid, and I don't like how it works, and I couldn't just build a game for someone else's scripts and call it mine anyway. So I gathered my courage and well, I made it. It's quite crude by the time I'm writing this, but the basic concepts are there. You can create dialogue boxes, connect them in the order you want them to appear. And more importantly, it all converts into game logic which make the scene unfold exactly like you've set it up when you run the program. To be honest, I was surprised it actually worked (almost) at first, with so few bugs. :p So I'm quite proud of my work. :)

So, unless I run into a huge problem, you can expect Project Conversation to go to Unity. :)

Apr 22, 2018

[Update] Project Conversation's first mockup screen

So, I can finally show you what the game might look like, or at least what you can expect from the interface.

First thing you may notice is that the girl is gorgeous. :) I was already in love with that character before she even had a face, but now I am even more. :p But enough eye candy already, let's talk a bit about the interface elements.

  1. Whenever it's your turn to submit a conversation topic, you may choose any of them among those you have previously unlocked (as long as your conversation partner has something new to say about it).
  2. You are also required to choose the tone you want to use for that segment of the conversation, among 8 possible tones (for instance, "Teasing" in orange is a combination of "Hostile" in red, and "Casual" in yellow). This will influence what your character will say, and in turn, how your conversation partner may respond.
  3. The objective gauge depends on the conversation situation, but the general idea is that you have to reach an objective before it fills up. In this case, you have to follow the trail of topics that the girl is giving you, in order to reach a particular topic that's not on your list yet. Each time you choose a topic, the Annoyance bar will fill according to how far you're straying from the path she has in mind. So, by cross-checking what the girl chooses to talk about, and how annoyed your own choices make her, you should get a pretty good idea of where she wants the conversation to go! (well, at least that's what the game will be expecting from you :p)
Note that this is a Ren'Py screenshot, and well... I'm a bit annoying with my changes of heart, but I think we're going to move on to Unity. The main reason we may want to do that is because we wish to animate our characters using Live2D, and there's a Unity plugin that allows full support for it. So, if all goes according to plan, our game should be GORGEOUS.

I will be posting about a more in-depth overview of each game mechanic later. Don't hesitate to leave a comment to tell us what you think about that first mockup screen, and Blueroze's beautiful art! :)

Apr 10, 2018

[Update] Project Conversation underways!

Okay, so I've been itching to tell about this for weeks. I can't say there's much to see yet, which is the main reason why I've been waiting to make a post in here. But what I can't show yet, I can already tell quite a bit about.

Perhaps you remember me trying my hand at Ren'Py about one year ago, messing around to create a prototype of a conversation simulator. It was a timid attempt at impressing the game-making community, and it didn't work out as well as planned :p, but I wasn't just putting up a style exercise. I was intent on building a whole game out of it.

And that's what's going on in my life right now.

I've paired up with the talented Blueroze, who turned out really enthusiastic at the game I had in mind, and we're in the process of building it as I write this, stone by stone. The programming is actually well ahead, so I'm waiting on my partner to produce a few screenshots (no pressure, mate). :p

So, what's the deal? Project Conversation, as we're uncreatively referring to it, will tell the story of a scout camp taking place on a fictional island, off the shore of Brittany, France. So yeah, you'll get characters with French names, baguettes and cheese, obscure French songs at the campfire. And strange phenomena that might be explained by local folklore. Maybe.

Gameplay-wise, it will revolve around three main concepts:

  1. Topic navigation, where each conversation is essentially a maze you and your partner try to walk by taking turns at submitting conversation topics.
  2. Mood management, where you get to choose your tone at each topic, which in turn influences your partner's mood, and the way she will react.
  3. Memories making, where each conversation goal you manage to achieve lets you bond deeper with each girl, and improves the chance that her artificial intelligence finds you good enough to be her lover.
That's right—you're looking at the early development stage of a next-generation dating sim! Forget the routes, forget the branching plots, forget the hours of reading through hundreds of endless, boring dialogues, just to wake up every now and then for an obvious choice before going back to sleep again. This time around, you will actually be required to think, to feel, to read between the lines, to adapt your decisions to each situation... and to live with them!

No screenshots yet, but you'll be seeing more of Project Conversation very soon! :)

Apr 9, 2018

[Review] Doki-Doki Literature Club

Hi guys,

Wow, it's so dusty in here *grabs a spider web* I wonder if there's still anyone visiting anymore. Anyways, for those who read this post, you'll be happy to know that I've found an illustrator. You know what that means? THAT YOU'LL SOON BE SEEING AN ACTUAL PROJECT OF MINE!!! Didn't expect that after all these years, eh?

Anyways, in the meantime, I've been thinking about posting reviews of games I liked. So, today, you're in for a special treat. It's called...

Ok, so this is a bit awkward, because Doki Doki Literature is actually very hard to describe without utterly spoiling the experience. From reading the description on its Steam page, you might think it's just another regular, overrated dating sim. Well, it's not. Definitely not. It's all a set-up. The game actually tries very hard to make you think it's dull and harmless, and it just makes it all the more effective at what it does.

Which is—take your sanity from you.

Believe me, this game is the work of a mad genius. If Frankenstein had made a video game, it would have been this.

I know what you're thinking right now—yeah, right, like a game could be that disturbing, I've played Slenderman, I've played Amnesia, I've played Layes of Fear, I've played Outlast, I can take the cute girls, dude, bring them on! Well, that's the mindset I approached Doki Doki Literature Club with, and frankly I ended up more disturbed than I cared to admit.

Because no matter all the horror games you've played, there are things you haven't seen yet. Take it from me. Mad genius, I'm telling you. And that includes genius.

So, heed the many warning signs that have been placed on your way to the game, and if you think you have it in you to see it to the end, then by all means, be my guest. You won't regret the journey.

So, why should you play Doki Doki Literature Club?
  • Because it's a unique experience
  • Because it's free
  • Because sanity is an overrated commodity anyways
  • Because the developers have poured their heart into it (and probably sold their soul to the devil at some point), and they deserve a thumbs up :)
Stay tuned for more reviews, and news on my latest project to come! :)

Sep 6, 2017

War Wind Sprites Rip

This is an ooold stuff from an ooold video game called War Wind. A few years back, I found a way to extract all sprites from the game's archives, and I posted them online on a different blog, and now people are asking for it again. So, here it is. :)

War Wind Sprites (as separate images)
War Wind Spritesheets