Nothing on the neography front, I haven’t touched a pen to work on it since summer.
Currently I am supposed to be working on my pro gradu thesis seminarium. Deadline in two mondays, ten pages overview on my thesis, 20 minutes in front of the seminarium class. Fuck. I keep on procrastinating, which is my usual modus operandi. But ha, I didn’t expect that, did I, Future-I? Past-I went ahead and chose the earliest time to hold my presentation, just so that I would get a fire under my ass and get some work done! Ahahahahahaha!
In honesty, rationally I feel quite safe. I should easily be able to do this… but I still keep on procrastinating! At the moment I should be reading up a book on linguistic markedness. Oh well, I finished that article I was reading anyhow, so I’ll take a short rest… And so it goes.
On the creative front, suddenly I have the urge to write a Visual Novel game. A VN game is, briefly explained, a choose-your-own-adventure branching storyline. On the screen is depicted a background, characters that are taking part in dialogue, and text representing dialogue and narration. The genre, or should I say game structure, is very popular in Japan, where it is first and foremost represented by the dirty side of nerdhood and gaming: dating games and porn games.
Naturally, the structure of the VN is not chained to those particular genres. There are many, many Visual Novel-style games that are only incidentally pornographic or romantic in nature, and tell a more general story instead. Famous examples include the Type-Moon games Tsukihime and Fate/Stay Night, an urban fantasy / horror setting with incidental porn content, and the When They Cry series of choiceless “sound novels” that tell linear horror stories centered around a Groundhog Day shtick. These stories are used to primarily tell stories, and they succeed quite well with it. The structure of branching is used to show different paths, points of views and secrets about the story that aren’t apparent from other story arcs, and the end result is a story that is integrated from several universes into a messy whole at the end.
The story I’ve been thinking of turning into a VN like this is the yet-untold part of Three And One Hearts, a poem I wrote some years ago. Of course, if I started on it, it would probably take years to get into fruition, and I don’t have the time this year because of my thesis writing. Which is of course why I’ve suddenly started to think about it now, aaargh.
A VN requires these things:
- a game engine
- a story, with the story structure geared towards branching
- music and sound-effects
- Very Optional: voice-acting
Out of these requirements, the first, second and third are possible for me to attain. There are free VN game development kits out there, with Ren’Py being my first choice. A python-based script-based VN-engine that fulfils basically all my planned needs. VNs are amongst the most simple and uniform types of games out there, so it’s not unexpected that a single development kit like Ren’Py is able to basically turn out perfect.
As for the writing and scripting, that should be possible for me easily, though there is no guarantee that it would be of any particular quality.
Music, as background filling, can often be quite generic. There are many sources online nowadays that provide people with free music to use in whatever projects they have. Kevin MacLeod’s pages contain many pieces of music I could see myself using as background music for a game like Three and One Hearts, and there are more sources. Sound-effects can also be found galore. Music and sound should not be an insurmountable problem.
The only thing that is required to be original, and that I cannot simply create myself, is the art. A VN requires three kinds of art images: background sets representing locations, character sprites representing characters against the backdrop, and cut-scene images depicting actions taken by characters that are important to the plot. Technically, these things could be all left out, but it wouldn’t feel like a VN-game then, really.
Commercial games usually include voice-acting nowadays, in Japan where voice-acting is an industry of its own. If I were to include voice-acting in Three and One Hearts, I would cut corners with a small idea have: using a noiselang to create contentless and meaningless babble based on a conlang phonology/phonotactics, and then reusing sentence-fragments to create an illusion of someone speaking in a foreign-language. I could probably myself do some kind of small narrative bits, or whatever. There are online communities of wannabe-voice actors, who seem to train themselves / have fun with doing freelance voice-acting, so maybe I’ll take a look at how things are done in those parts of the internet someday.
Anyhow, as things are now, a Three and One Hearts VN is obviously a dream that is in my head because I don’t want to work on my homeworkses. Aaaargh. Maybe it’ll help if I get it all out here.