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Diverse VNs for All

Talk to Me Development Blog # 1

The Writing Ohh, boy.

I started writing Talk to Me in November, actually, as part of Nanowrimo. Except I didn’t set out to write a novel — I recently had and I was a bit bored with the story-telling limitations of one. Some heavy shit was going down in my personal life. And I was really into Alterego, which I’ve always been into anyway, so I wanted to try to tell my own choose your own adventure kind of story.

I’ve always been into dating sims, too, but when I was growing up, they were full on misogynist fuckfests. I played Katawa Shoujo when it came out and I found it pretty bad. The writing isn’t terrible or anything, I liked the inclusive nature of the work, but it fell flat. Or rather the idea of it being an inclusive visual novel — I’m sure enough has been written about the problematic nature of it. I also played a couple of dating sims growing up where part of scoring points with the targets was about giving them the right presents or dressing them up the right way or saying exactly the right thing. And saying exactly the right thing was always incredibly predictable and incredibly boring.

So I set out to create a Twine game, after playing Depression Quest, which wasn’t any of those things. I didn’t want the player to have easy choices or have easy ways to score points with someone. I wanted complex and diverse characters that had different backgrounds, different things that they liked and that couldn’t just be bought with a shiny present.

So after many revisions, we now finally have the almost completely finished script for the game. Things are still changing, obviously, but it’s been a total labor of love and I’m really proud of it. It was a lot of work, but I’ve finally managed to pull off four endings per choice. So that’s twenty endings for the entire game, which is pretty good.

And now that we’ve transitioned from Twine game to Visual Novel, I could not be more excited about the art.

The Backgrounds Rather, the backbone.

So, I love backgrounds. And I love our background artist. has been working really, really hard to get the backgrounds ready for the demo in time and she hasn’t had a break at all. In fact, one of the earliest conversations we had to have was regarding how we could cut down on her workload. Since I had originally written the story to be textual only, I had not take into account just how much work would have to be put into making every scenario.

And there’s a lot of work involved, stuff that I didn’t imagine. The process is actually quite intense. She doesn’t just have to think of the setting, but the emotion we are going for and the feel of the background. She has to sketch it, do the line art, and then do several variations of it. I know that seems really obvious to the artists that are reading this but it totally blew my mind.

And she has to do this between thirty to forty times before we are done. Check out some progress gifs here and here.

Check out the library from conception to end below, too.

Library Sketch Library WIP 2Library WIP3 Library 2 (Early Morning, Dark) (2)

The Characters The most important part

Something that was really important from the outset was making sure that the characters appearance matched their personalities. It was also really important that they were just as diverse and as far away from tropes as we could possibly get them. I looked for a character artist for a little while before I stumbled upon Jaye’s work. 

Jaye was interested in the story which turned out to be great, because their work was exactly what they story needed. They really get the idea of it and their work has been instrumental in creating the complex, varied, diverse feel that we were trying to embrace from the beginning.

These are the five choices that the player can make.

I’ll write up another post discussing the supporting cast later. For the time being, that should be enough to give you an idea of what I mean by diverse cast!

The Music I couldn't come up with a sound pun.

While Jimmy Changa had already done the music for the interactive fiction version, the scope of it was very limited. That’s why I was so excited that Fluffyrobotdog decided to join our team. We’ve kept some of the original tracks and we intend to keep some more where they are appropriate, but most of the music will be brand new once the game’s full release rolls around.

Here are a couple of tracks that we’re ready to preview.

So, this undertaking has been pretty massive, but we’re getting closer and closer to getting the results we want. We should have the demo ready sometime soon and I’ll be writing a bit more about the whole programming side of it then and about the supporting characters. But so far we are really excited.

If there’s anything you’d like to know about the game, you can leave us a comment here or drop us a line.

1 Comment

  1. Nice work, I hope it does well when you start selling it.

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