Friday, 15 November 2013

Idol-eyes Game Changes

Hello everyone, hope you are well!

I've made a couple of changes to Idol-eyes recently based on a discussion with a colleague, I think it'll actually improve the game. There are spoilers involved as it relates to the ending so, be aware if you are going to play the game.

Originally the games 'true ending' was only possible to acquire after playing through a second time. After speaking with my colleague who is a game designer, we decided the the best course of action would not be to restrict the player in this way. What I find is players usually fit into one of two categories, and I can find myself in either depending on the quality of the game. Some players will play through the game once, and no matter what you do they will not play any further than that. As such, I need to make sure that all the endings a player is able to acquire as satisfying, and as such I don't want to 'block off' a key part of the story just to force the player to play it again for no reason. Originally I guess I thought that making the player do more of the story would increase the longevity of it but after actually thinking about it, the length of the game is not what's important.

Another change I've made is to the stats screen - it will only display on the second playthrough. This will allow players to play through the game naturally the first time without the distraction of knowing their player stats, so this is good for players who will only play through the game once and once alone. The second playthrough will have a stats screen which will enable players to see the influence of their choices and 'aim' for a specific ending the second time, if they are completionists. I think this is the best way to get the most of the game for both audiences. Originally the stats screen was going to be there the whole time but this can be really off-putting for those that play through the game naturally, and for those that want to get all the endings, the first playthrough will still enable you to obtain and ending no matter what so nothing is lost there.

I'm looking into a couple of the other things I've done but... the game is coming along nicely. I'm going to work on it some more this weekend.

Thanks,

Sally

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Fan-art

Check out our lovely fanart by Erin <3


He did a good job of creating our heroine in his style!

Thanks,

Sally

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Design Mechanics - Minigames and Interactivity

Idol-eyes is a visual novel, but I've tried to include elements of other games that I felt worked well. A lot of the design of the game has been inspired by other visual novels that I played and liked and so really it's a huge combination of those, plus my own ideas. Visual novels usually don't include mini-games or much interactivity, but I decided to try a couple of those things in Idol-eyes because I think it's important in this case to make the player feel immersed in the environment. 

Mini-games and Interactivity

A lot of visual novel games don't include mini-games at all because the focus is on the story. Mini-games can be executed well as long as they aren't superficial; I have seen games that just use mini-games for no real reason and they don't contribute well to the atmosphere of the game. If a game is in the middle of a story element and then has you playing a version of pair-matching card game, it can sometimes hinder the progress of a story rather than help it. (I've seen this in games before.)

I've tried to include mini-games or interactive features that make sense and make the user feel engaged in the story. The writer of Idol-eyes had an idea for one of the earlier games. One of the first interactive features that is included at the start is a basic game in which the user has to put an ID card into the correct slot; the correct district is given previously in the story and the user has to remember which district they are from. This is during a key part of the story where the user is giving the machine their identity (something they player can input themselves.) I thought including this part was important because the user is physically using the ID card, and it also gives the player an early indication that learning parts of the story and remembering what NPC's tell you is important. One of the key elements of a visual novel is engaging in dialogue with other characters and making choices based on those dialogues; working out who is friend or foe by the subtleties in their language.


Saturday, 24 August 2013

Lots of progress!

So after a bit of a slow period, I've made a whole ton of progress today.

With the help of the lemmasoft forum, I've got some basic puzzle stuff going on which will hopefully add a bit of interactivity to the game. I'm going to change it so the text is actually a highlighted image of the bit you are looking for. If you intend to play the game, this puzzle is a spoiler!


I polished some more of the UI based on some suggestions and it's starting to look better; I feel like the project is coming together a lot more. My boyfriend wrote me a script that takes the writers script and makes it ren'pyable which is pretty amazing and has saved me a lot of time. I'll share it when it's more polished if it'll be any good to people, I don't know how writers normally format their work but it makes it a lot quicker.

I'm also really excited about the story, it's good to see it on paper but actually seeing it flow, with all the choices, it's really exciting! I'm getting backgrounds regularly from a talented artist, Badriel from the lemmasoft forums. The themes fit perfectly and I'm really starting to enjoy seeing all the themes tie-in.

The project hit a bit of a slump for a while but it's back in full swing and I'm pushing towards the final hurdles! I have also included all the stat building stuff today and a new stat screen that adds up so you can see your progress. I really hope people will enjoy this and I really want to release some more soon!

Thanks!

Sally

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Slow Progress

Hey guys,

Just a quick update. Making slow progress on Idol-eyes. I'm never happy with the UI that I make, but I think I'm going to have to just pick one and roll with it, otherwise I'll never be able to sign off on it. At the end of the day it's just a frame for the whole game and I'm doing my best with it, so hopefully it'll pay off.

Just a sneak peek of some of the newer themes;


Hope to have more for you very soon!

Sally

Saturday, 20 July 2013

July Update

Hey everyone!

Progress has been admittedly slow on Idol-eyes this month, but I'm determined to complete it! Work has become busy with quite a lot of overtime, but we've still had backgrounds in development so we'll have some new art to share very soon.

I'm always motivated to finish projects, but it can become hard when working full time. Projects often have slumps in development, but I guess it's those moments that can mean the difference between success and failure. 

Idol-eyes is really a starting point for me. It's a realisation of a simple dream, simple game mechanics. I can say that it doesn't break any grounds in terms of gameplay innovation, and I'm looking at it now in a different light. But I think the story and characters will really say a lot, and I'm hoping the whole package will be memorable for people with all it's twists and turns. 

My original scope was huge, and I'm cutting it down into realistic chunks. If people enjoy Idol-eyes I'm sure I'll be inspired to make more games, but I really want to work on something completely different that sparks innovation and is a product of my own personality. Idol-eyes does have those elements, but I really want to create is some top quality, indie innovation. I'm not sure I can do it on my own. 

Actually, I've been playing Kairo. I'm feeling a little inspired by the project, because I know the time and effort that went into creating it. I've started to realise that quality takes time and it can't just be thrown together. I need to gather some more experience, and working on a Visual Project like Idol-eyes has given me some good skills for project co-ordination and how to stay motivated just to finish something. 

I wrote Earth Girl because I wanted something finished quickly, I wanted to have a product out there and I wanted to know what people thought of anything I created. Some people make games on a personal level, as an expression or even extension of themselves, and that's what Earth Girl felt like even though it was made in one afternoon. It received some good, and some bad reviews, which frankly was good in preparing me for any criticisms. I'm not precious about my work. I'm open to review, open to critique of my concepts and ideas, because at the end of it all, I just want to make good games.

Hopefully, a Idol-eyes will be the beginning. Just so I can create something that's polished and realise a dream to create something, with a bunch of talented people. The writers and artists I'm working with are so skilled, it feels awesome to know that everyone is on board and working towards this same goal. 

I love indie because it breaks the mould, it's not the same old stuff churned out again and again, I can really see people put a lot of heart into their games because it's not about financial risk. I'm not saying that big companies don't that because I see elements of it in AAA too. Every game dev I've met just wants to make the best of what they have, nobody ever intends to make a bad game.

I'm just happy to be part of it right now!

Happy developing,

Sally

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Hoshigawa/Idol-eyes Progress

Hey there everyone, hope you are well!

I have some good news; the Hoshigawa High script is complete! At the moment, I'm just plugging everything into the game and our writer is preparing a final draft to send to our voice actors. It shouldn't be too long before we can release Hoshigawa, so please look forward to it.

Secondly, we have our first background in! It looks just how I imagined, and was created by the talented artist, Sam Cullum.This is for the Idol-eyes project, which is coming along nicely. Just have a few more things to organise and we will be set to go.


Beautiful isn't it?

Thanks!

Sally

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Idol-eyes, Xander and Alicia

Hey everyone,

Idol-eyes is coming along nicely! Most of the sound track is done and it's sounding really awesome, really pleased with it. We also have a new UI artist on board, so we will be seeing some shiny things on the UI-side!

Also, things are coming along nicely on the character art and design side - here is a sneak peak of our character art by Kyra Hills. 


































Be sure to check out Kyra's portfolio!

Sally

Earth Girl.

Hey everyone!

A couple of weeks back, I did a game jam in the afternoon. It's called Earth Girl and it's a kinetic novel about a finding your way in unfamiliar surroundings. I'd really appreciate it if you could give it a try and give me some feedback! I've had a couple of nice comments already which is one of the coolest things about game development. It's really awesome when someone enjoys your work.

 

DOWNLOAD LINK:

WINDOWS:
http://www.mediafire.com/?jqawiub55urxhev

MAC
http://www.mediafire.com/?2808df5r1y1gst5

LINUX
http://www.mediafire.com/?xq3hadb3pwtnknk

Any comments or critique are welcome! (Or if you have any technical problems, let me know.)

Thanks,

Sally

Sunday, 19 May 2013

S-Rank Visual

Hey everyone!

So, me and my partner Sophie have been considering setting up our own 'company' for a while. We need a name to release our games under and as a result we've been preparing various branding items for our start-up. It's all pretty exciting! 'S-Rank Visual' will be undertaking a brand of its own and I'm pretty excited to present our prototype logo;


Our website is also currently in production, and will host a lot of our updates. This blog will remain for the core development process, however. I've also done a little more work on the Idol-eyes project, including a more final version of the main menu (with WIP buttons and a lack of characters) but it has some basic animation that brings it alive a little.


We also now have the art for Xander, so stay tuned for that! Next up is our lovely Heroine. We also have a new artist, Sam 'Tchuk'  potentially on board, so feel free to check out some of his work.

Thanks,

Sally

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Idol-eyes Blueprint UI

Hello everyone!

Idol-eyes is currently heading full steam at the moment. The environment art has been outsourced which means that our artists can now fully focus on the sprite creation. Our project has now finished Part 1 of the writing stage with 4 more parts to go; Part 1 has reached the 10k mark! We are very excited for people to see the progress of our project.

Today, I've been making some mock-ups of what I want some of the screens to look like, Obsidian Dawn have some great techy-brushes that I used to create this blueprint style save/load screen. I'm making changes based on artist feedback and it's still very early days but I'm just reiterating the designs until I'm happy with them.

Enjoy!




Thanks,

Sally

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

April Updates

Hey everyone, sorry for not writing for a while! I've been on holiday in Japan, but now I'm getting things back on track.

I now have a possible release date for Idol-eyes but I'm keeping everything under-wraps for now. I also need to also say that upon completion we are hoping to also release Idol-eyes on Android as well as PC, now. While Idol-eyes will remain optimised for PC, it will be fully playable on android systems.

Hoshigawa High is still in production, all the assets, backgrounds, design and gameplay are in place now, I'm just in the process of writing the game. It's a shorter project and will be a short but free-to-play android game and I'm trying to get the very best out of Ren'pyxAndroid here.

The Golem game is still in the back of my mind but I've made Idol-eyes the focus for now, mainly because it's the furthest along and it should be completed this year.

I've also started another game with my artist friend Sam, called The Ellsayan Elegy. This was meant to be a one month long project but, time caught up on me and I didn't have time to finish, but it will get done as soon as I have the time.

Can't wait to show you guys some new stuff!

Thanks,

Sally

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Hoshigawa High

Yep, the android game I've been working on. I released a bunch of WIP stuff to the world on the Lemmasoft Forum! Actually, it's weird to say this but I'm a little scared to hear what people think. I guess it's because I know that on this project I am the only one working on this game, so everything I've put into it is all down to me so far. (Except of course for the lovely art and backgrounds provided by http://tokudaya.net/ and http://mao.sub.jp.) 

So, please feel free to read about it on the Lemmasoft Forum! I'll post a little about development now and then <3 Who do you like best so far? Takumi or Leon? 

Image

Thanks!

Sally

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Android Development

Hey everyone!

Behind the scenes, I've been working on promoting the concept of Idol-eyes, and also working something that will work for android.

Ren'py and android are pretty compatible now. I made a short tester game just to see if I could get it to work on android, and with the help of my boyfriend whom is an android developer anyway we managed to get it working successfully... until we hit a screen in which you have to input text.

I tried to use the softkeyboard framework but for some reason my build was just having none of it, but lurking somewhere in a forum I found an onscreen keyboard that makes use of python buttons which was really useful and worked perfectly well on android!

There are a few things that won't work for example cross fades and I also found changing music volumes didn't work, but the volume buttons etc. on the phone still work in android so not a massive problem. You can increase the text size to make it readable on a phone with just a change of settings in the options, but you'd have to also increase the button sizes because they can be a little difficult to press if you aren't careful.

All in all, pretty exciting stuff! I will still of course be developing Idol-eyes for the PC, Mac and Linux but it's cool to think it may be available on the app store at some point.

Other than that, it is confirmed that Chapter 1 will be the demo for Idol-eyes and we hope to get it out to you in the coming months. We'll let you know when the full game is available!

Thanks!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Idol-Eyes Progress

I've made quite a bit of progress with the game recently, the game now has an inventory system. You can buy items which affect the progress of the story, and an amount of coins is displayed at the top left hand side. I also managed to do something that supposed to be simple, but really wasn't! I wanted the character name box above the dialogue box UI, realised the reason it wasn't working is because the image of the dialogue box took up the whole screen (was a PNG with a transparent background) so that's why I wasn't seeing any changes.

Anyway that's all fixed and the game is starting to look a little better and has some more interesting features. What I want to do next is make a menu which enables you to open the inventory system and look at what items you have in there. At the moment you just kinda have to remember what you've picked, which is fine if the story changes straight away but if you want items to effect the story later on down the line you need to know what you've got. I played 'Magical Diary' and it was awesome, but you could pick choices and forget you've even made them, until you are prompted later on in the story, so I kinda want to make sure you can always remind yourself if you need to.

Another thing is, I'm working with Jennifer Birch whom is a character artist on the project; she's taking care of all the costume design and doing an awesome job. Here's an example:



Don't you just love his galaxy style top? Amazing!

So I'm really lucky to be working with talented artists and a writer. Coming up soon will be a working demo video of the game in it's current form. I'm hoping to get a first chapter complete and up to polish level, which would be a pretty good indicator of how the final game may function.

That's all for now, thanks!

Sally

Monday, 4 February 2013

Idol-Eyes UI variation

I've done quite a few dialogue boxes now and I'm really not sure if I'm happy with any of them. I did a mock-up at work but actually prefer it to the one that to the one I spent more time on, I guess you can overdo things. None of it is finished though!


I hate the font, I can't find a font that I like that's not OTT cheesy but has a sci-fi theme. Will have to figure it out later.

As for everything else, it's going pretty well! We have some environment art from Kyra Hills, it's looking really great:



Some environment concepts for some of the scenes, it's got a really great sci-fi atmosphere without being too cheesy and what I like about it, is the fact it's basically how I imagined it; particularly the second crystallised landscape.

We also have some character art, which I'll post if I get permission to do so.

Thanks,

Sally

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Idol-Eyes Custom UI

The custom UI for Idol-Eyes now works! It's all placeholder art at the moment because I need to include more buttons and options, and resize everything. I tried to do it last week but it was causing me problems so I left it and came back. I separated both the dialogue box and quick menu into separate images, and now they are both clickable image maps that display text and the quick menu will perform the various functions listed in the UI.


Background art is placeholder, but everything else is mine. Writing belongs to Sophie Johnson. I also fixed the padding on the text because it liked to go over the limit.

The next step is adding a tab that has character names in it, easily done the same way I've managed to do this UI. Also, there are various other menus that need customisation such as the options, save and load menus. I now know how to do it though, so I'm going to leave those until I can do a final design and have some more artwork to roll with and take inspiration from.

Pretty pleased though! I also went back and tidyed up some of the Ren'py code because it was a mish mash of random stuff with no comments and I could never remember what I'd done, and also re-scaled the whole project to a suitable size.

Thanks

Sally

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

New Game Projects: Idol-Eyes

As mentioned, I also have another project on the go which is in a completely different format and direction. I want to practice a variety of different methods of game creation and I have experience with Visual Novel games in the past, so this is a shorter term project that I'm working on with two artists and a writer.

This game is a visual novel game, so will mostly be text and art based, aimed at young girls. 'Idol-Eyes' is the working title for this game, and will aim to create a more sophisticated and engaging story for young female players, as well as a style of art that is appealing but moves away from the traditional Japanese/anime aesthetic of visual novel games.


For this game, I'm using Ren'py and I'm in charge of putting the game together and also GUI art. I have experience in Graphic Design and an interest in GUI, but my main focus for this game will be the design and user experience. I want to add some interesting features to this game that may not be usual for visual novel games, but we'll see how ambitious I can be with this, considering it will be my first commercial project.

I'm excited about this because it's a format I love and know very well. I can't wait to see the story unfold! There is a working demo at the moment with a CG Gallery, custom menu selection with placeholder images and GUI.


This was my initial design but I've changed it since then, will upload the new version soon. And here is the menu screen with a bunch of placeholder images.

Here is a little of the story:

'Amidst the chaotic war between the planet Everdeen and Duslo, a competition sprouts on both sides to give citizens hope. Alicia Dew is one such contestant in the fight for fame and fortune. The winner of the Everdeen Promise Project will become the beauteous symbol of the military and the greatest celebrity in the land, all  whilst boosting morale for the troops and the citizens. Yet the lines between allies and enemies begin to blur when Alicia is kidnapped. Now she has seen both sides of the story, who will she choose?' Created by my good friend Sophie Johnson.


Look forward to working on this in my spare time!

Sally

New Game Projects: SunSeeker

Hello everyone!

Let me take this opportunity to say that I will try and update much more regularly from now: particularly because I'm pleased to say I have two new projects on the go at this time.

The first is a co-operative platform game that I am developing alongside people from work; this will be a longer term project. My goals for this project are simple; it's just to design and make a finished game. I posted a little about it in a previous post, but I'm hoping to work on it more soon. I've had a good mess about with Unity and so I'm just trying to get used to that technology, I've found Sketch-Up is really amazing for blocking out basic ideas of levels and seeing what would work in a 3D environment. I'm in the process of developing a 3D world for the game to take place, in Sketch-Up.


This is the second part of an initial level, created in Sketch-Up. It blocks out various corridors you could run through, and places where you could collect puzzle pieces. Here is a little segment from the design doc so that you can get an idea of our concept with this game:

'SunSeeker is a co-operative platform game with a competitive element. SunSeeker aims to achieve a balance between competitive and co-operative gameplay, working together as a team against your enemy. SunSeeker hopes to combine traditional platforming elements with newer styles of gameplay. SunSeeker will include everything you expect from a platform game, with pits, spikes and traps, but with a twist.

The main aim in SunSeeker is to be the first to assemble your puzzle. In SunSeeker, you play as Soul Golems, trapped in an abandoned temple. The Soul Golems are using the last remaining ounce of their life spirit to piece together an ancient relic to please the God of the Sun, in an attempt to be taken up to the heavens. If they fail, their spirit and remaining life will be stuck forever deep inside the temple with no hope of ever escaping.

The puzzle pieces, in the form of a relic, are scattered around the temple grounds. With varying puzzle weights, you will have to decide whether to pair up to transport the heaviest pieces first, or to go it alone with the lighter and smaller pieces. It’s all about speed and strategy, heavier pieces can be dropped on switches to open new pathways, but smaller pieces allow you to be more agile and more easily avoid traps. You can hinder your enemy team by releasing traps, locking doors behind you, and reaching the top of the pyramid before your opponent. The first team to assemble their ancient relic at the very top of the pyramid will please the Sun God and you will be transported to victory!'

At this stage, SunSeeker is just a working title; and it's a collaborative project. These game ideas have come through discussion with other members of the team until the idea became more solid.

Here is the imported level in Unity, with Denes' character and code.


I've also been doing some really basic modelling to get me back into the swing of things, so I did an urn with a jewel type design on the front.


Nothing amazing, but I do enjoy 3D modelling now and then when I have the time. These were done in Maya as a quick excersise.

So, I'm pretty excited about this project. It's slowed down over the past couple of weeks because we've all been busy, but hopefully it'll pick up pace once some more ideas have been put together.

Thanks,

Sally