I've been meaning to make this post ever since it turned December.
But now I know exactly what I want to say.
Quite a bit has happened since the last update. Starting off with a pleasant surprise, we now have a musician on the team, Solo Acapello. He expressed great interest in joining the team, and he enjoys mystery novels just as much as we do, so there's no doubt his music will improve Detective Butler.
Speaking of that, we've made a lot of progress there in general. I've been taking quite a few photos for backgrounds, and the whole team is constantly brainstorming various ideas to make sure the plot is more solid than ever.
However, we are coming up short in the graphics department. That's good, in my opinion, because getting too hasty with pretty pictures can lead to a decline in the overall product. Unfortunately that means I can't really show anything off here, but I suppose that's for the best (and it's something you're all probably used to by now).
Nonetheless, there will be a new visual novel for download before the New Year.
...That's a promise; you have my word. I'd like to keep it a secret for now, but those of you who have been following us long enough may have a slight idea of what it may be. Try not to get your hopes up too much, though.
It won't be Butler EP2. According to my current game plan, it certainly won't be possible to get EP2 out in a few weeks. What we'll be doing is finalizing all ideas, forming them into a well-polished story, and then over winter break I'll do the majority of the writing. We'll also begin making music over break. After that, we'll be ready to move on to graphics in the spring. You could say, then, that summer is the earliest possible date for EP2. I'd like to go on the safe side and suggest that winter is a much more likely possibility. In either case, it is my goal to cut the development time in half, from two years to one, per episode.
But don't worry! I can get something else out during the summer, too -- that other game idea I mentioned in the previous blog post. I don't have enough of it fleshed out to really say anything on the website about it, but it is definitely something I'm working on. Hopefully I can get some sort of a demo up soon.
You may also notice that we're no longer in any collaborations. Simply put, we have enough difficulty getting our own projects done, so it's really inefficient to try and double the workload. Maybe one day, but now is far too early.
Previous Poll Results: Favorite Butler EP1 Character?
Butler 35.3% Gilligan 17.6% Cecila 17.6% Other*: 14.7% Galvano 5.9% Donald 5.9% Eliza 2.9% Howard 0% Blythe 0% Jack 0%
*one vote for the bodyguards, two votes for the nurse, and two votes for chocojax
Haven't posted anything in a while. Trying not to make useless posts, so I guess that's why. Been occupied with real life, but aside from that, I've done a lot of thinking on the side for future game ideas.
I believe I've got a good one, a puzzle/RPG hybrid of sorts. I won't be going into any detail on it just yet (I still need to work out a lot of mechanics), but Detective Butler and any other VN ideas of mine will be taking a backseat to it for quite a while. I want to branch out into other genres, and this one is particularly interesting to me at the moment.
In any case, I'd like to get something out each Comiket. No pressure if I can't, but I need to set deadlines or else I won't feel like there's any reason to finish anything. Try and check back around then, if you're interested!
So it's time for a decent blog post. I feel like I've had some time to think over a lot of topics, and the first I'd like to discuss is the idea of player feedback. Specifically, how should a developer respond?
Naturally, I was tasked with answering that question during the past two months. Initially I was ecstatic to begin talking about my new release, as I'm sure any developer would be. There are certainly some people who think that game makers who "keep in touch" with their audience are a lot more likeable and down-to-Earth for that reason.
While I definitely respect those who take time to respond to fan feedback, I believe there's such a thing as "too much" responding. Particularly in the EVN world, but I want to address most creative works in general with this post.
As a creator, you give rise to a fictional world. I believe that the work should be fully self-contained, and that if your work fails to convey its intended message to the audience, then that's your mistake as a creator. It's a fault. But that's a mistake you'll catch next time, right? So just learn from it.
Sometimes creators will be asked questions in order to get Word of God pertaining to their story. That's fine, although ideally you still don't want too many questions to be answered directly this way. For instance, an ideal answer to a question regarding a plot hole is "Remember that thing in that one scene? Yeah, that's what it was foreshadowing!" and there's your evidence -- while a bad answer is "Oh, uh, I never thought it out that far, but I guess [explanation] makes sense, sorry". The work must be self-sufficient, and it shouldn't rely on anyone else. In other words, as the creator of your universe, you should know how to plant evidence and where to point it out, to support what the audience should be thinking and feeling.
I think there is a point where, between the back-and-forth of creator and audience, the questions become less relevant and more redundant. What I noticed is that a large group of people tended to have the same negative opinion about certain parts (admittedly, parts I didn't do too well on, and I'm aware of that) while others had varied opinions. A certain scene which tended to be "least favorite" was surprisingly someone else's favorite. It just goes to show that even a perceived failure in the eyes of one person can be a success in another. Ultimately, you are your own best judge.
Which brings me to my point. If you are aware of your flaws and weak points, is it really necessary to address them in audience reviews? For movies and books, the authors rarely get a chance to respond to the reviewer who asserts there was a gaping plot hole left open when there really wasn't (in the author's mind). That's why I believe a work needs to be self-sufficient, to stand up for itself.
I made something. It wasn't the best, but it wasn't the worst, and for that I am happy. However, I'm going to be less vocal toward reviewers from now on. Believe me, I honestly appreciate every word of feedback I receive -- but I feel no need to try and justify anything. If I haven't convinced you during the story, there's no point in trying afterward. I just need to improve for next time.
Or at least I'd like to think.
Generally, there are going to be less updates until I make significant progress on anything. School also takes up quite a bit of time which leaves me without much meaningful to say.
I can either continue blogging my thoughts on game development in the meantime or just wait it out until I have progress to show.
That said, Ozaki, Rudolf, and I have been brainstorming some ideas for another VN alongside Butler EP2. Before I begin writing EP2, I'm going to read more golden age novels to get more experience in the genre.
So this side project VN may be the next release.
Last month's poll: Favorite Detective Fiction Author? Total Votes: 25
Agatha Christie 48% John Dickson Carr 24% Arthur Conan Doyle 8% Edgar Allan Poe 8% Ryukishi07: 8% S.S. Van Dine 4% Ronald Knox 0% Raymond Chandler 0% G.K. Chesterton 0% Soji Shimada 0%
Sorry, nothing to report this week. New month, new poll. That's all.
Yeah, that's right... School's started, so productivity will be quite low for a while. But before discussing that, I have to say thanks to all 320+ people who downloaded, played, and reviewed Detective Butler EP1! It seems as though everyone has the same general reaction, which makes me happy.
Now, then. Where to go from here? I've been brainstorming the second episode with Ozaki and Rudolf. We're gonna do this the right way -- in short, the story and characters will be entirely planned out and set in stone before the end of this semester. So then I can quickly write the story in one go, the primary revisions concerning the writing rather than the plot. We'll also save art commissions for last so that we don't end up with wasted sprites or CGs, something I admittedly screwed up horribly on with the first episode.
However, EP2 won't be my only project. I've been brainstorming many ideas over the past few months. I'm thinking I might delve back into the realm of RPGs, in the genre of Fantasy/Adventure. Other ideas for VNs include a sci-fi space opera, a grimdark post-apocalypse, a classic bishoujo romance, and a subversion of the otome genre. Not sure which one I'd want to tackle first!
In any case, I'll let the ideas come to me this semester. I'm also pairing up with anon-kun to make Touhoucats and decided to try my hand at making a Dangan Ronpa nonstop debate game engine. So a fangame is a possibility, but I won't make any promises. Higanbana and Rose Guns Days fangames are probably unlikely at this point, mainly because I'd rather branch out my ideas.
Next; I've rearranged a few tabs, and you can see I've added one more. I'll also be helping out a fellow 07th Expansion fan with his visual novel, When the Bells Toll. I've added it to the newly-created "Collaborations" tab, as I'm sure more games will be listed there in the future.
Last but not least: now that I've finally finished something, I felt ethically justified with adding a donation button. Please keep in mind that funds gathered from the donation button will STRICTLY be used to buy assets for original games ONLY. Resources are expensive, and until we start making commercial works, I have to make use of what I can get. Not to suggest that I won't be investing money myself, but if you're a fan of my original content, you can help support the development of future works.
Yes, I can't believe we made the deadline either!Happy Comiket 84, everyone!
I'm kind of at a loss for words right now. There's really too much to say. Two years of intense work has boiled down to this day. I was hoping to get the game out a year ago, but compared to that older version, this one is just so much better. I really hope everyone enjoys playing it!As I've stated in many blog posts before, a lot of revisions have been made.
For those who played the old demos, you'll be experiencing something VERY new.I also made it a point to emphasize the mystery element. I mean, it's a detective story, so that should go without saying. But I've had numerous beta testers give me their theories and conclusions as they read the story, got their feedback, and edited accordingly to make sure that the logic would make sense and be presented in the most entertaining way possible. There aren't enough mystery visual novels out there (at least, in English), so I'm hoping that I've done my part.I'm not expecting you to call it the best EVN ever. However, I tried my best to make it as close to the best as possible. I've learned a lot and will use this experience to make future games even better!TL;DR: Here's the download link.
Last month's poll results: What should I ask next?
Something about mysteries 33.33% Something about VNs 19.05% Favorite color? 19.05% Something about games 9.52% Ask this question again. 9.52% Other: 9.52% Wow, it seems an overwhelming majority (7 out of 21) wanted a poll related to mysteries. Speaking of which, 21 is a record-breaking number of participants in the polls, and is also the legal drinking age in the United States. Amazing!Jokes aside, I have a few useless announcements to relay to you all.First, the opening movie is finished. I could put it on YouTube and spoil the fun right now but I kinda want to tidy it up (which I will probably do at the last minute, as usual). Second, if you check the actual Detective Butler website, I have (once again) changed the logo and added a plethora of screenshots for your eyes to gaze upon. Third,
I still have some scenes to write; that's nothing new.
Fourth, and actually most importantly, I've been having some issues with a long-discovered bug on Macintosh systems. The graphics are acting VERY weird
and replacing the ONscripter build with alternate versions does not seem to help. It's probably something to do with the blending of transparent colors but I can't pinpoint a way to fix it other than:1. Go through each eye sprite with blending and erase any particles2.
Go through all eye sprites and merge them onto the head sprites3. Do nothing and ignore releasing on Macintosh altogether4. ????5. Profit!What should I do? I'm leaning toward number two, because it's the fas
test way (and I'd only do this for a special Mac version) but it limits the number of expressions characters can make.Haven't tested yet on Linux. If someone's willing to try, just comment.-Kinjo
During my beta testing session, my amazing beta testers found more glitches and typos than I had hoped. But, more importantly, they had found some plot inconsistencies and had difficulty putting some pieces together. I saw this as a major problem with the mystery aspect, and began to wonder to myself what exactly I was doing wrong.
The main problem was that I hadn't done a "proper" mystery before. In Umineko, the mystery is left unsolved at the end of each gameboard, but conventional detective novels always have the detective solve it instead. I still had yet to write that obligatory scene (known as "the denouement") because I was unsure of how the logic throughout the rest of my novel held up.
Suffice to say, it didn't QUITE, but it was on its way. After getting my wisdom teeth extracted, I was confined to my bed for a few days, which gave me some extra time to contemplate my story. And I came up with what I think is a great metaphor for the mystery-crafting process.
Previously, I was content with having "hinted" at the solution at various points in the story, not exactly knowing what "hinting" really means. Making a slight reference or allusion? No, that isn't enough. Normal mystery novels don't have red text battles at the end (which I'm not entirely sure was entertaining for people to read in my fangames, but I digress). Normal mystery novels have the detective announcing his conclusion, followed by a solid chain of logic.
What is the chain of logic? The way I've thought it up, it consists of locks and keys. You spread out these locks and keys throughout the story, always placing the locks before the keys. Most locks will fall before the murder is found, although that doesn't mean you can't have more locks later on. The point is that you'll place a piece of evidence -- subtle or not -- which will function as a "lock", hiding away some logical conclusion that will be proven by that piece of evidence. Then, later on in the story, another piece of evidence will be found which will function as a "key" -- thereby making sense of its corresponding lock.
However, the (average) reader will not know when they have found Key A to Lock A or Key B to Lock B. The Watson will only observe the evidence, not being smart enough to put it all together -- it is therefore up to the reader to remember all evidence and think of any connections between them. Perhaps I scatter locks ABCD and then keys DCBA in that order. The point is that, at the very end, the detective will have all the locks and all the keys, mentally "unlocks" the logical conclusions, and by putting together the conclusions, flawlessly solves the crime. Thus, the story truly becomes a game between detective and player -- or, on a more meta level, between author and reader.
Can you find all the locks and keys scattered throughout? Can you connect them all together to form the proper conclusions? And can you arrange these conclusions in such a way that you're able to tell me whodunnit, howdunnit, and whydunnit, before the detective spoils your fun?
I have learned a great deal in writing this first episode. I promise that the next episode will be much more of a puzzle for you all to solve, although the first one was specifically designed with beginners in mind. However, that doesn't mean it will be without its own twists and turns! Hopefully this "lock and key" system will be greater played up in future installments, ahaha!
One year ago today, I released the first demo of Detective Butler to the world.
And one month from now you'll be playing the final version.
(ironic how I said the same thing a year ago...)
Anyway, it's times like these that make me feel a bit nostalgic. I've compiled a small variety of screenshots
to demonstrate just how far the game has come.Those are just the visual aspects, of course. The story's taken quite a lot of changing and so has the internal code and various interactive portions. We've had two musicians come and go, and only one of four artists' work will be used in the final version. Word count is somewhere around 40-50k; I'm not entirely sure, but it still takes a few hours to read in full (comparable to my Umineko fangames, but don't quote me on that). The game will remain free, and will most certainly feature an opening video -- it's actually almost finished.So, what remains to be done? Lots of beta testing and debugging. I've gotten several people to download it and test what I have. There's also just a small bit of writing left to do. I'm primarily interested in getting people's thoughts and opinions on the mystery portion, so I've excluded the solution from their beta demo. The one unfortunate thing is that the Butler Hints idea is totally out the window. Either they ended up fitting into the story or really had no place in it, so it really just resolved itself. Anyone who played the previous demos will notice that the final game is VERY different. I hope I made the right choices in what to change and what to keep. Either way, what's done is done, and I've learned a lot from this experience.
Should be a busy few weeks
-- after all, Comiket is my self-imposed deadline!-Kinjo