I remember clearly sitting in a small mixing booth at a big concert hall back in 2007. There wasn’t much light, but the massive (and expensive) audio console was emitting a soft, blue glow.
Since there was very little to do, I was sketching out “Grid 1” and “Grid 2” – what would have been the basis for Acts 1 and 2 of Katawa Shoujo. In my naivety in game design, I didn’t realise that my design was incredibly flawed. Thankfully the other smart people in 4LS put an end to that design after we had written the 25 scenes of Grid 1. This wasn’t the “Pre-Alpha” or “Beta” version that has caused some annoyance, but something much earlier. Think Misha in a green blazer.
It wasn’t the first time my ambition led us astray. I think that most of the writers ended up writing something like 500,000 words for each path, and the word count of the completed game rivals the full Lord of the Rings trilogy.
So when people ask my advice on writing their own VN, I usually have two suggestions for them.
- If you do, keep it short.
However, I’m really crap at following my own advice.
In the last couple of weeks I’ve been annoying my wife and kids by trying to record “everyday sounds” at home, and given myself headaches by trying to make off-putting sound tracks.
And I’ve been annoying the Historia team (especially Rob) with dumb questions about how to code in SFX layers and volumes and the like. Needless to say, it’s taking some time.
We’ve made some creative calls with Historia that I’m totally happy with, but will increase the time required to make the game. Firstly, we’ve all decided to keep our jobs instead of working full-time on a game that likely won’t make any money. That’s a fair call. We’ve doing hand-drawn backgrounds. The scripts are constantly re-edited, and we want to try to do some interesting things with the UI.
If this were a book, I’d probably be at the point where I’d be stressing about getting cover art, but as it stands, Historia isn’t really at the play-testing phase for Doug’s path, let alone for the full game.
But I’m totally fine with that! I’d much prefer to work on a big, exciting project and see it some to life over a couple of years than to aim low and only be marginally happy with the result.
So, as we scramble towards having something that we can show at the Winter Comiket, spare a thought for all those devs out there that regularly bite off more that they can chew… and yet still somehow manage to finish everything they set out to do.