Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Revival & Explanations

Hello! Anna here, it's been a while. :)

Some may have already read this on my twitter, we're back in action! The past few months we all carefully started dev-work again, and so far it has been going well. While full-time employment means we can spend less time on it than before, we still believe in making it happen. So here's a little update on what has been going on and what we're working on.

What the heck happened

Since there's no way to bring it lightly: I lost my mom two years ago and almost my dad as well right in the middle of the project we were doing in 2017 for NaNoRenO. Obviously, my productivity went down the drain, so we decided to let it be until the time came I was feeling up for it again.

I'm OK now and actually being productive again at a pace I'm comfortable with.

What now?

First of all, we're going to focus on finishing the last project we worked on, the fantasy story Path of Dreamers. It'll be a free visual novel with a small scope, meant to be a small taste of what's to come: it's a spin-off story of our mega-project Locus Magici (LoMa). The main character of that project will actually make an appearance in Path of Dreamers too, but otherwise it'll be an entirely self-contained side-story.

Note that we'll likely limit the scope on LoMa a lot, and introduce lots of changes (like the name), but we'll go into more detail on those after the release of Path of Dreamers.

For now, here's a quick peek of the synopsis of Path of Dreamers, since it's been a while:

Path of Dreamers

"Please, help me free my beloved."

With those words, the young spy Keir pleads for help to one of his more skilled peers.
For without an effective escape plan, his loved one is certain to die.
He accepts, but even together the flight from the castle will be anything but easy.
Can Keir reach his dream?

More will follow later! Also, I'll post art-updates on my Tumblr again :3!
Time for dev now.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Binary Soul (NaNoRenO 2015) Post-mortem

Note: This was written a few months back, but life slowed us down for a while so we actually forgot to post it.

Here we go; the Binary Soul post-mortem - looking back at a visual novel we made during March (and a few days of June lol).

We'll discuss what went right and wrong last NaNoRenO. This is mainly going to be a process-evaluation, for which I think BiSo is an interesting candidate.

What went right?

1. The scope
Amazing isn't it? Our main goal this time was to do asset-control (or whatever you call it); making sure the scope of the assets were limited beforehand and realistic within a month.

The scope used to be bigger, but since a fellow artist we would have been working with told us she couldn't participate after all, we nudged it down by a lot. What helped is she told us way in advance rather than in March! It allowed us to prepare well, so no harm done :).

In addition, we knew this month would be a busy one in real life, so we made the scope even smaller than we wanted. Considering we only really crunched the last few days (more about this later), I was pretty satisfied!

2. Teamwork, whoo!
We've never started on art before the script during a NaNoRenO before. The main reason for that was because we did this during our first VN and it ended up being a problem because artists IMPROVE after a while. However, it was always a bottleneck during NaNoRenO and a month is pretty short, so we tried it this time.

It turned out to be a smart decision; I started on the Titlescreen and GUI while Kiki was thinking up more ideas for the story and writing the outline from where I left off basically. We could both work this way and limit the time wasted; I might let Kiki outline our NaNoRenO projects from now on, while I do art and then finish the writing when she's done.
Finally, at the end we were in super-crunch mode and tasks went from me to her and back again; e.g. music, sfx and other small tasks. That way, both of us stayed productive the entire time even when we were done with our original tasks.

3. Daily progress log
While this turned out to be less useful for long-term projects (more about that in blogpost 2), this was insanely useful for NaNoRenO. It basically hammered into your head which date it was (omg) and what you'd done each day.

Personally it made sure we had a clear idea of the time-frame and ensured we worked on the project almost every day.

4. Destroyed dev-slump
Anyone who is telling me NaNoRenO was a waste of our time will be ignored :p.

You see, before NaNoRenO, we'd been through a hellish road of LoMa production, and it got me in a really big slump. Finally being able to work on something at the same time as Kiki (she's kind of waiting for art-assets in LoMa) and finishing something again felt really good. It also made me dev regularly which helped a lot.

tl;dr: this tiny NaNoRenO project destroyed our dev-slump.

5. Guinea-pig
Who cares the art quality isn't ah-may-zing for a NaNoRenO VN? You might, I don't, and this meant one awesome thing: I was able to test all the risky art-stuff I couldn't test in LoMa!

I also learned a TON about perspective and found better ways to do CGs, backgrounds and sprites. This helps picking up the pace since I'm now a little more prepared for the tough stuff in LoMa, which means hesitation isn't holding me back any more (often, a large cause of procrastination and slumps is hesitation as well).

6. We finished something
'Nuff said.

What went wrong?

1. Them bugs
We definitely underestimated the time it'd take to get out some nasty bugs; damn you, necklace-button! I still had a blast with the silly timer we put up on our blog, but this ruined it lol :'D...

2. Engine probs
We were using a Frankenstein version of the engine for testing purposes and boy did things go wrong :D. To the point where Kiki couldn't compile the game for us and I had to do it. We will use a new engine when we release LoMa though, so it's all right.

3. Random appointments and problems
No matter how well we prepared, if you looked at our daily log thing you'll see "appointments all day", which were mainly caused by me having job interviews in the middle of nowhere and Kiki being a nice girl and helping me prepare for them.

In addition, the weather was hell so we had some sleep issues; weird problem right? It's a small random thing but it kicked productivity in the nuts because it left us tired in the evenings. There's no point in staying up when it will just tire you out and slow you down more, so we slept instead.

4. Being a human
Let's face it, this is inevitable in normal circumstances and only gets worse with such a narrow deadline and problems; we definitely had ups and downs and what not. Kiki got the woes when she couldn't find the time to work or was too tired to, and I got annoyed and tired when things went too awry (the engine problems delaying the release further was a real kick in the groin for me, I had to remove myself from the internet that day).


Was it worth it? 
Hell yes. Look at all we learned and gained; do not underestimate the value of finishing a NaNoRenO project. Can you imagine us having the engine problems during LoMa's release? I don't even want to think about it. And last year we noticed skipping NaNoRenO didn't make a big difference for productivity, while participating got us all active and excited again!

Will you enter next NaNoRenO? 
Hard to say because I can't predict the future - but if we can, definitely!

Do you like Binary Soul?
Yes, I like it! It has a small but interesting story and characters we had fun thinking about. We kept discovering new things about them and the story as we worked, so yeah, I really liked it.

Sure, it's not perfect, but we poured our hearts into it for a whole month, and this is the result - isn't that cool? :D

What now?
Locus Magici, of course! Let's complete our goals for 2015 \o/! However, if you have any questions about our NaNoRenO experience or something else, feel free to ask.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

FE:A fanbook finished & updates

Time for another update! We know we've been rather silent on updates (life is not exactly being a sweetheart to me right now), so time to rectify that! Today is all about our past & future plans, sometime later this week we'll review the work on Binary Soul.

Fire Emblem Awakening Fanbook

Remember the post where we planned out what to do for 2015? Well, aside from NaNoRenO, we also finished the Fire Emblem Fanbook we mentioned way back then! And yes, it is as silly as it looks, we had a lot of fun thinking up gags for this one.

I and Kiki just returned from selling it at Animecon 2015 in the Netherlands. Sadly we won't do international shipping (the shipping costs could be more than our small and jokey book, which just feels too wrong), but for the Dutchies; let us know if you want one or drop by at Tsunacon to get a copy! 


Our website will be updated soon, mainly because we have a new member; Triah, a long time good friend and our musician in the VN-team! You'll be able to hear her work in Locus Magici :3!

Daily Blog

I continued the daily update blog for LoMa after NaNoRenO, but it turns out that this only really works for short-term projects. Since real life decided to interfere (even though we asked so nicely at new year's if it would behave!), it was hard to find time to work on LoMa every day and too demotivating to write "I can't work today D:" again and again.

So instead of that, I'm using the blog to keep a list of finished and to-do art-assets and to archive the daily progress logs we keep during NaNoRenO!

I hope this explains some things. Until later and thank you for those who dropped by to say hi; the weekend wouldn't have been half as fun without you :3.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A few updates

Hi all~

Just a short update from me on several things before we do our post-mortem on BiSo (we haven't had the time to write a post together yet).

I created one, so shameless plugging go:
It'd be cool if you can donate ~anything~ since all the little bits help, but don't feel pressured please <3.

Daily progress log
I tested a weekly update report on Tumblr before, but the daily update report I did during NaNoRenO worked better for me; was really fun and useful to do! So I'm continuing it and moving the nano-progress log here:
The url reflects a deep and serious part of my soul.

Polish round LoMa
I want to do a final polish round after finishing all the art-assets for both music and sprites; the sprites especially are giving me nightmares because I see many, many mistakes (they are very old), and we want to upgrade the sound quality of our music once we get the resources to do so. So uh, if you see any horribleness in the sprites now... I'll totally pimp them later~

I think that's all for now, have a nice day! :D


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Binary Soul Release! (NaNoRenO 2015)

Download it now! (yes, really, it's here this time)

Visual Novel
Short story (max 10-15 minutes)
3 endings


She finally has him cornered: the evil spirit which threatens her people.
It is her sworn duty to finish him. But, can she do it when the spirit doesn't even attack her? On this final day of her training, the knight begins to discover how little she truly knows...


>miss April 1 deadline
>miss April 4 deadline

Yes, we fail. If you waited for this, thank youuu~ And we're so sorry ;_;... we had a few nasty bugs in the code -- should you still encounter something, let us know and we'll try our best to fix it.

Hopefully you'll all find it an interesting read at least. We tried to work a bit with reader expectations and dynamic fighting. We had a ton of fun working on this, deadline-fail or not~

We'll do a blogpost with more about our NaNoRenO 2015 experience soon, so until then :)!

~Anna & Kiki

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 - 2015; here we go!

Happy New Year!

It's sure been a while, but with the end of the year at our doorstep, let's look at what happened in 2014 and what will happen in 2015!  


Locus Magici

Firstly, although we focused on LoMa the entire year, the tentative release was pushed way waaay back due to several big issues in real life (life, please be kinder to us in 2015). However, progress picked up again a few months ago so we're back on track! I'm not going to say much about a release-date until I'm 100% sure now, except that I'll be greatly dissatisfied if we're not done before coming summer.

So, while Kiki was doing magic with her code, I finished sprites, backgrounds (save for some edits), polished the script and made some cutins (mini-CGs). Turns out that sleep + dividing and finishing work per chapter + no more bachelor and master studies = really good for productivity.


Locus Magici

This is the year we'll finish LoMa~

Do not look at me like that ;_;! I understand many projects have kicked the bucket when they got into delays, but you don't understand; we are stubborn. We are insane. And we love this project~

On the agenda now are finishing code (putting everything together, adding amazing effects, panning, animations, all that good stuff), the remaining art and then the opening movie and some more polishing since some assets are growing beards by now I..I'm sorry.

In the end though, I can't blame you for being a skeptic in EVN-land, so we'll just have to finish it and pleasantly surprise people :).

NaNoRenO 2015

2014 broke my heart because we couldn't participate in NaNoRenO 2014 (it was far from realistic). I want to enter NaNoRenO *fist of determination* we will enter this thing.

Fire Emblem Fanbook

For those of you going to Dutch conventions, we've been working on a jokey Fire Emblem Awakening fanbook, which is nearly done. Here's a preview page without tones;

And that's about it! I hope 2015 will be awesome and that your end of the year is great as well! Best wishes from us.

~ Anna

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Plans for 2014

So, we haven't updated for about half a year. Obviously, this will raise some questions about our status and our future plans, so we'd like to address those questions in this blog post.

First of all, the long delays were caused by an influx of work from university for both of us and real life doing its thing, which sadly left little time to work on our projects. Right now we have some breathing space again, so hopefully we can pick up where we left off. The little time we had to spare went straight into Locus Magici, our big project, and nearly all background lineart is done at this point in time (and believe me, there are a lot of backgrounds).

That also means we will not participate in NaNoRenO 2014, instead focusing on Locus Magici. While NaNoRenO is always an enjoyable and useful experience, right now it is more important to work on our main project and get back on track. Hopefully, next year, we will be able to participate again :p