Sunday, August 18, 2013

Achievement unlocked: sprites!


AHAHAHAHAHA

It is complete!

We got there! Finally, the sprites are all done! Even though it felt as if some omnipotent force tried to do everything it could to prevent that.

So now that we're done, it's time to brag :D! And the best way to do it is by showing how much I made myself suffer over the past months (images blurred to prevent spoilers): 

Individual sprites (unique poses or outfits)
Sprite variations (expressions, added items, etc)

And for the unlocked achievement, I'll show you one of the completed spritesets (not including all expressions or outfits of course) - Sirus:



This is a rather stoic important guy in the story. I picked him because he had a lot of revisions, even when you compare him to the preview in our Lemmasoft wip topic or the even more prehistoric version on our website. ...We should really update those places soon.

And that's all for now, onto the next step; backgrounds!

~Anna



Thursday, July 11, 2013

5 myths of screen resolutions

I'll freely admit this post is written with only one thing in mind: the arguments people sometimes use when defending using lower resolutions for their visual novels. Often, those are based on either inaccurate observations or misunderstood information. I want to point out some of the more common 'myths' and discuss why they aren't true.
  

     1.  Downscaling is destructive.
 
This theory states that downscaling for whatever reason is incredibly destructive. By putting out a low resolution of the visual novel, all can play the game windowed on native size or upscale in full-screen mode.

In fact, it is downscaling which is preferable. With downscaling, the scaling algorithm can look at the neighbouring pixels and average those out. With upscaling, there are no surrounding pixels to go by, so all the computer can do is some glorified guesswork. This causes either a blocky or a blurry appearance.

Of course, that doesn't mean we should all put out full HD games, either. Upscaling a little is of course preferentially to downscaling a lot, since most scaling algorithms aren't good enough to handle a large factor. It is best to sit somewhere in the middle of your expected audience's computer resolution, so people will have to scale as little as possible. If it is possible, you can look into offering multiple resolutions.


     2.  High resolutions cost more work to draw.

The amount of strokes needed for both low-resolution and high-resolution are of course the same - the main difference is the amount of pixels in between the two strokes. You might want to add some more detail to take advantage of the higher resolution, though. 


     3.  High resolutions are too big in file size

Another often heard argument is that higher resolutions are too big in file size, causing longer downloading times for the user.

The effects high resolutions have on file size is quite minimal. For example, let's take a look at the  optimized image files of 'Days of the Divine', which are roughly ~260 images:

1920x1080      40,4 MB
1280x720        23,4 MB
1024x576        17,9 MB

Something important to keep in mind here is the word 'optimized' above. The original 1920x1080 .png image files are a whopping 217 MB, but there is no reason not to use at least a little optimization if you're worried about file sizes. While the many ways to optimize are too complicated to explore swiftly, using compressed .jpg images where there is no notable difference and basic compression when exporting images is far more rewarding than using lower resolution sprites. 


     4.  It's what Japan does

They don't, or at least not anymore. Although PC gaming in Japan is relatively niche compared to the West (and with it high-end computers), a more important factor is the fact that once a translation patch is released and word of mouth has started spreading, the VN is already a few years old. Most recent VNs from Japan are at least in 1280x720, so there is no reason we should stay behind. 


     5.   Nobody cares about higher resolutions

There are enough people that do. No-one uses 800x600 monitors anymore, and playing a lower-resolution game on a higher-resolution monitor is choosing between seeing a small post stamp on your desktop or going full-screen, ruining the images due to upscaling. Even if it was once acceptable, times change and your audience does too.



While there can be legitimate reasons to choose for smaller resolutions (one example being stock art being harder to locate for higher resolutions), keep in mind some people will care, so think for yourself if it's worth it in the end.

~Kiki

Friday, July 5, 2013

Nanolife translation: German version released

Good news time: the latest version of Nanolife is now fully translated into German!

Below you can find the download links for all platforms. Please note some engine-specific text couldn't be translated. Many thanks to Marcel Weyers for his hard work on the translation - he's a cool guy. We hope you'll enjoy it~

Download
Installer -- Windows XP/Vista/7
Application bundle -- Mac OSX
Zip file -- all platforms

And yet there isn't a dutch version :D...

~Kiki

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Two types of main characters in visual novels

This is a topic which will undoubtedly cross the mind of many visual novel creators and perhaps even a few readers too - the type of main character (MC).

While some MC's have a bit of both, in general you can classify them into the following two categories:
  1. personality-based MC (the character has a defined personality)
  2. self-insert MC (the character lacks a personality and is a stand-in for the reader)
Depending on the type of MC, visuals, narrative and choices may all be presented very differently to the reader. Let's take a look to get an idea of what kind of differences there are and what you should keep in mind when using them.

Visuals and Narrative
Basically everything you can see on the screen and the way writing is handled, such as point of view. The reason why I'm taking these together is because they overlap in visual novels.

Personality-based MC
As the MC does not represent the reader in this type, it's possible to show him/her alongside the other characters of the VN. This strengthens the idea of the MC having its own personality, which in turn helps the reader with their expectations of what type of MC and choices to expect. Of course, it's still possible to relate to the MC, so seeing the events from their point of view is equally valid. Since either (visual) point of view is possible, the choice depends on which one fits the creator's goals, story set-up and narrative better.

Self-insert MC 
Most visual novels with self-insert characters are seen from first-person point of view. After all, this increases immersion as you don't see the self-insert, and it can be 'you'. While some games like western RPGs give you the option to customize your main character to enhance attachment, this isn't done as much in visual novels because of the detailed art and lesser budgets.

Inner thoughts
While both types might show their inner thoughts during the story, they serve a different purpose.

Personality-based MC
The thoughts of a personality-based MC are about the events in the story ('A werewolf infestation? Is the local witch behind it?'), but should also reflect his motives behind his actions ('My sense of justice does not allow me to walk away!'). As the reader needs the thoughts of the MC to understand him, it is important to not hide critical ones. If the MC takes an unexpected action without explaining himself, the reader won't understand him and will feel less connected with him. This also includes motives the reader cannot connect with, like a serial killer killing for fun.

Self-insert MC 
In the case of a self-insert MC, his/her thoughts should either be about the events of the story or express thoughts the reader is likely having as well. Try to avoid thoughts that might not reflect those of the reader: if the MC is very sad at an event while the reader is not, the reader will feel more disconnected with the MC.

Choices
The kind of choices you encounter in the story.

Personality-based MC
With personality-based MCs, a choice can never be something which would be out of character. This includes matters where the reader is presented with choices about what the main character thinks of a situation. Since the MC has its own personality, he/she should already have an opinion based on their personality, so it makes no sense for a reader to decide.

It's still possible to give the reader a choice, but all options should be plausible courses of action for the MC. Examples of such choices are action choices (Stab the guy or blast him with magic?), order choices (visit the left room or right room first?), or moral dilemma's that are both valid options for the MC (kill the guy who killed your family or not?). Choices like these will create the feeling of being in control of the character - but not its mind - which we are also used to from games with this type of MC.

Self-insert MC
Contrary to personality-based MCs, for this type of MC all important decisions are up to the reader, as well as who to like and who to hang out with. You can even add choices that have little to do with the story, but give the reader the opportunity to role-play and grow closer to the self-insert. Longer stories can even tally how often certain responses are picked, and make the MC more angry, snarky or whatever relates to the answers best as a result. However, most VNs aren't long enough to utilize this effectively.



In short, the type of main character is dependent on which aspects fit the story better. Otome/bishoujo games benefit more from a self-insert MC, while some plot-heavy visual novels will probably want a MC with a predefined personality so the MC can take action on its own. Keep in mind what type of MC you want in your story, and model the visuals, narrative, thoughts and choices accordingly.

~Anna

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Animecon 2013!

It's convention-time!

This weekend, you can find me and Kiki in the dealerroom at Animecon 2013 (Netherlands)! We're totally hyped, we would love to see you all again and we booked a hotel for the first time ever. That last one means you won't be looking at corpses on the last day (goodbye camping out~).

We sadly don't have anything new to show due to our visual novel works, but we bring along our usual goods. Visit us for works like Firefly, bookmarks, keychains our full-colour manga and other goods! Even better; combine old with new as you get a free copy of our first work Cogitare with every purchase of Rose of Glass (as long as the stock lasts~).

Of course, you can always just drop by to admire chat with our awesome humble selves.

We hope to see you there!

~Anna

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Android news: Days of the Divine released, Nanolife updated

Since we love VNs on Android, we've recently added a few things.

Nanolife
The Nanolife version has been updated to run with full HD resolution (1920x1080), the PC-version's font and some other cool things now. You can check the Google play page below for more information and the download.

Keep in mind you will need an Android 2.2+ device for this version. Those with 2.1 will not receive this update.

Days of the Divine
Like Nanolife, Days of the Divine is now on Android! Complete with full HD resolution and the other bonuses of the Nanolife release, it's perfect to play on your phone and tablet and totally free /o/.

Below are some previews:


For more information, click the button below to get to the Days of the Divine Android page. Note that like with the Nanolife update, we support any Android 2.2+ device.

Have fun!


~Anna

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

We've got some releases for you~

What, an update!?

Why yes, we've been busy. In fact, we've been so busy we couldn't even update this blog, for there wasn't any time to write a post. To summarize: we're insane workaholics and spent the last 1,5 month producing two free VNs for you. Let's take a look!


Days of the Divine


 

What it is

A fantasy otome made for NaNoRenO (make an entire visual novel in March). Click here to visit the Lemmasoft page.

Synopsis

Long ago, in a valley where a small village lay, two deities fought each other. One was imprisoned, the other vanished. Yet some time ago, an unnatural mist began lingering in the village, dissolving people's memories.

Biyu, a young shrine maiden, is now working her hardest in the shrine of one of these deities in the faint hope the mist will one day dissolve. Even though her good friend also lost his memory, not all hope is lost; she meets a stranger who seems to be recovering from his memory loss, and rather quickly as well...

Features

  • 3 routes/love interests
  • ~35.000 words
  • original artwork
  • 1920x1080 resolution (smaller ones also included)
  • unlockable extras
  • our blood, sweat and tears

Download (v1.2)

Windows version
Mac version
Cross-platform (windows, mac, linux) version (.zip)

Night at the Hospital


 

What it is

A comedy, thriller(?), boy's love Visual novel made for the PPHS Jam in which Anna teamed up with seven other crazy devs to form Team Snugglebunny.

Synopsis

A spooky game about hunting ghosts, finding love, and cuddling.

Features

  • 3 endings
  • ~5000 words
  • original artwork
  • 3 CGs (with variations)
  • unlockable extras
  • our love, insanity and crack combined! 

Download

Download it at the website please~

Now what?


Taking a break? Hah! Now me and Kiki go back to work on Locus Magici; we've learnt a lot of tricks we can use now, so we're pretty excited to continue the work again!

We hope you'll enjoy these games in the meantime!

~Anna

Friday, February 22, 2013

Music achievement and some updates~

We are now halfway through the required music for Locus Magici, and so I present you a new unlocked achievement:


It's our saddest song, for the delicious drama-- unfortunate events in the story :)! Oh, what perils await you? *mysterious smile*

Other than that, me and Kiki have been doing what we were doing before; drawing sprites and scripting more. It's a lot of work, but we're making good progress.

And finally, NaNoRenO is coming up very, very soon! Keep an eye on this blog, because next month we'll tell you what plans we have thus far. For now... let's just say we are googling for old China references and this is the concept for the main character:


~Anna

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

One goal down, several to go! Updates!

We're still alive somehow! We have the bad habit to work ourselves into the most impossible deadlines. At least we've always succeeded thus far, so that's something?

Anyway, this post will nicely summarise what we did, what we are doing right now, and what we will do in the near future.

So first, in January we did two things:
  1. Finally opening a Work-In-Progress topic for Locus Magici on the Lemmasoft forums.
  2. Finishing the full-colour manga one-shot we talked about in this post.
1. WIP topic
This one mostly speaks for itself, but it means we've reached the point where we have enough content to open a WIP topic. If you haven't taken a look yet, you might be in for a pleasant surprise; that topic contains a lot more up-to-date information and images about our newest visual novel!

2. Full-colour manga
This was our first goal and project for 2013, and we made it~ As we've mentioned before, it is a short story, but all of the pages are done in colour. Below you can see the cover and some preview pages.



It will be available at Tsunacon this Sunday, as we'll be there. Drop by and say hi if you feel like it~ 

Plans until March
This month, our focus will be back on Locus Magici. I will be sketching as many sprites as I can, so Kiki can use them as place-holders for her scripting and storyboarding the fighting scenes. We'll keep you updated~

And what will happen in March, you ask? Well.. think; which event starts in March...? ;)
I'll give you a hint: last year it was Nanolife.

I wonder, I wonder, what will it be this time~?
*shot for being a tease*
Well, okay, we don't have much to give you yet, but I'm afraid you'll have to stay curious for a little while longer. For now, we have some work to do!

~Anna

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

End of the year summary and future plans

Happy New Year!

Did you all make any new years resolutions? We certainly did! Let's first take a look at the most important events of 2012 and then we'll discuss what you can expect in 2013~

2012
Nanolife
Our most notable event of the year was the release of a free visual novel we made during NaNoRenO (the visual novel equivalent of NaNoWriMo). We barely slept and worked very hard that month, after which we finally managed to release Nanolife. We didn't expect much, so the big positive response came as a pleasant surprise.




For the first time, we started releasing visual novels on Android this year! We were very happy with this, because what's a better place to read a VN than wherever you want? I certainly rejoiced as I tested our games while relaxing on my bed :D!


The Lost Angel Arianna
Since this is one of our mangas, we didn't release it internationally which meant it automatically had a smaller impact for our group. Still, this particular one-shot did rather well! It was our first manga ever to have over 100 pages and we put a lot of detail and effort into the pages. Furthermore, it won an award at the Dutch anime convention Animecon!



2013
Locus Magici
That's right, our current commercial visual novel in production will be released in 2013. Our estimate is that we'll release it around summer. We will try many new things for this release when it comes to graphics, story and music and we're very excited about it! If anything, Firefly and Nanolife taught us a lot about storytelling and how to enhance it with visuals and special effects.

The project page still needs to be updated with more recent art, but we'll see to that sometime later this month.

NaNoRenO 2013 
Yes, we'll be entering it once more this year! We're actually already looking forward to it and have about three incredibly different ideas for it; now we just need to pick one. Just expect fantasy to sneak in there in one way or another.





First full-colour manga
We've found a way to print full-colour manga without being left too poor, so we're going to abuse that too! Since this is a test, the story won't be too long (only about 20 pages), but in return each page will be a work of art ;)!

This story is planned for Tsunacon 2013 in February, so we'll have to work hard. Although I'm positive we can do this since we survived NaNoRenO 2012.

---
There it is, 2012 is over and the plans for 2013 have been laid out. Let's make this a great year!

~Anna