Saturday, December 31, 2016

Welcome, 2017! (Be Good to Us, Please!)

Hey there! Happy New Year! And guess what, we've got a blog post for you!

2016, suffice it to say, was a roller-coaster of a year. Crazy stuff happening all around the world, new highs, new lows, and a gigantic deluge of Harambe memes in between for flavor. For better or for worse, it was a very eventful year for most people, and we at Somnova Studios are no exception. 

In our previous blog posts throughout the year we've written about quite a few new faces, writers and artists alike, on board to help the team as it chugs along the formidable path of delivering the game to you: one of them being me, Kuroe, working on a shiny new Twins route I'm doing my best not to butcher too badly.

So my story goes like this: basically, the staff has decided to remake the Holm twins' route outline from the ground up to address some issues it had raised in the past, and thus gave me this new framework for me to build on and develop into a full-fledged tale. We had to rework many aspects which I'm not allowed to spoil yet, but one of the most problematic points about the two were their names themselves--some fans have been complaining that Natalya and Natasha are merely variants of the same official name. We have since decided to change it, and since New Year's is also a day to celebrate new beginnings, we're going to have to say goodbye to Natalya and Natasha Holm, and hello to their sparkly new incarnations: Natalya and Sofiya Petrovna Volkova. Not exactly the most exotic of name choices, we admit, but we think that they're by leagues a better, more genuinely "Russian" alternative.

Speaking of new beginnings, then, we're also very proud to announce that yet another member has entered the fold: the awesome Eora, recently joining the team to beef up our art department, who are still working hard to produce assets for the game that's slowly but steadily taking concrete form. (As much as we'd like to let you in on all the amazing things going on behind the scenes, the best we can do for now is assure you that the wheels are turning, and we're doing much, much better now than ever before.)

Right now, the bulk of our work is more on the aforementioned art production process than anything else, and thus, once again, we call on artists out there to get in touch with us either through the forums or our very lively Discord server if you're interested in working with us as we slowly realise the dream of bringing our cute European waifus to life. 

And speaking of art, for this New Year's feature, we have not one, not two, but three fantastic art pieces for you, courtesy of Eora herself, AngryEvil, and Gniratnam! Enjoy!

Katja by Eora

Natalya by Angry Evil

Volkova Twins by Gniratnam

As the year ends and a new one begins, we'd like to thank you again for the undying support and unwavering patience you've given us, despite the rather sharp twists and turns the project has experienced throughout its nearly five-year lifetime. It gives us strength and inspiration to continue, and the only way we can ever repay that faith is by seeing the project through with all our enthusiasm and energy to the very end, no matter how long it may take.

With that said, we wish you a very happy New Year's Day, and a really awesome 2017 ahead!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Holidays!

Well, it's that time of year again; time for a few updates and some talking points for 2017.

Game progress has been moving forward at a steady pace – we now have a finalized version of our UI (thanks, Morthiasik!) and a better, smoother method of pushing out proper Ren'Py scripts to production. Kuroe (whom some of you have seen posting adorable artwork on our Discord server) swiftly moved in to replace one of our writers and has done a complete overhaul of the Twins route in only a few weeks time. Programming-wise, we're taking those Ren'Py scripts I mentioned earlier and actually making them work with new assets. Merlyn LeRoy has been our backbone on this aspect of the project, and he has been invaluable in getting the skeleton of the game up and running. Ultra_HR and Blank Mage have also been checking things out in an effort to help.

On the art side of things, we're still on the hunt for talented sprite artists to help make our characters come to life. While this may sound like a common request from us, we always try to reach out and find new talent as much as we can. If you're interested in a project such as ours, message us!

As always, you guys – our fans – have been amazingly patient as we do our darnedest to make Missing Stars a reality. It's neat to see our Discord abuzz with interested fans, and I really want to make sure everyone will enjoy our visual novel. We've managed to hit over 500,000 pageviews, which has been an incredible number to take in. Thanks a bunch, fans!

If you're an early follower or a brand-new one, thanks for taking the time to watch us grow as a team. 2017 is looking bright!

Happy Holidays!

Jeanne loves hot cocoa.

Monday, October 31, 2016

'Tis the Season to be Spooky

The leaves are falling, the memes are spooky, and pumpkin spice is suddenly a financially viable flavor again. And with the change of the seasons comes a blog post.

You may recall our last blog post recruited one writer, and actually, we ended up securing a few more to boot, one of them being me. I'm Blank Mage, and I have to say, it's weird seeing these posts from the opposite side of the fence. I'm like your man on the inside now. I've infiltrated the headquarters, bringing you intel.

Since our last update, things have settled down considerably as us new writers are brought up to speed with old material, and a push is being made to categorize and integrate the enormous amount of raw material into something that works when you click on it. This means new backgrounds, new CGs, new UI, and a whole mess of formatting. It's slow going, but it is going. Really, the hard part is getting all of us in one room at the same time, something our resident Discord lackeys fans can attest to.

But it wouldn't be an update without at least one image, and Kuroe, one such an obliging fan, has graced us with a Halloween gift. Sadly, our dedicated artists are too busy making art happen to dedicate time to the blog, but on the bright side, our dedicated artists are too busy making art happen to dedicate time to the blog. In related news, we're still on the lookout for artists, especially ones proficient at backgrounds, to help speed up production as much as possible as we enter a new phase of development. If you think you’ve got what it takes, feel free to get in touch either on our forums or through Discord, so that ye may be judged.

Erik took the photo, so you'll just have to imagine his costume.

Now, as for actual secrets, I have a few I can probably get aw- oh god it was a joke I wasn't going to I swe-

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Discord is now open!

Just a short update this time:

Remember that Discord channel we mentioned in our last post? Now you can join us.

Official Somnova Studios Discord Channel!

Feel free to stop by and say hello!

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Gang's All Here

Look at this, another update! Holy crap we’re still alive!

It’s actually quite interesting to look at the progression of blog posts in the past years. 35, 22, 20, 6, and now 3 with this post just sent out. From the looks of things we’ve certainly declined: not only with just the number of written posts but simply with the general forum activity as well. However as I’m looking at the loads of work this team is putting in there certainly seems to be a strong seen difference between telling everyone what you’re doing and actually doing it.

So what is new with us and what are we currently doing?

Well for one thing me. I’m a new writer that is. Myself and a few other individuals have been brought on to spark some new and fresh talent within the project and so far it seems to be working. Frankly it’s been so refreshing to see the energy and dedication everyone is now putting into a VN 4+ years in the making.

Here’s the list of everyone new assisting with polishing up a demo that is still proving to be a massive undertaking. 

Blank MageGeneral Writer of connecting scenes and overall story flow.

KuiperUpdating the “twin” route into a new story to make more sense.

Windreda(Myself)Taking over Isolda’s written route.

DM_SinclairTaking over Annaliese’s written route.

Ultra_HREditor to assist with grammar, continuity, communication, etc.

Turns out the current script needed some massive reworking from the previous few months (Which is a good thing that we're editing this). Like in the past we are still working hard to send out something that you all can enjoy.

This time around there are a few key differences:

  • Somnova Studios has always been plagued with communication issues: not only in regards to simple miscommunication but with certain members being unable to be reached. This time around we’ve moved to Discord for team communication/Missing Stars organization. The formatting is not only a lot easier to navigate, but if someone from a specific area of the VN has a problem this can be addressed immediately.

  • Stronger emphasis of deadlines are being implemented. Bi-weekly voice chat meetings are used to not only have existing members check in, but also to establish certain time frames for things to be submitted. Sprites, backgrounds, and especially editing are hot priorities for completing our upcoming public demo(that is at this point long overdue). While we all unfortunately have lives outside of Somnova Studios VN completion at some point needs to be prioritized.

  • Finally it’s just fun at this point. Despite some of the issues in the past the members of Somnova are just having a good time working on this project. We laugh, goof off, and share our occasional meme but at the end of the day there’s a real sense of pride and enjoyment pushing out the new written/artistic/musical drafts that will be put into our “finalized” product. To be working on a project that’s educational, heart wrenching, and enjoyable just means the absolute world to us.

And so far it’s still looking just as good! Here’s a colored sprite of Ela (one of our side characters at St. Dymphna) that Morthiasik sent over that still makes me smile every time I look at it. 

Any questions/comments/concerns or frankly any simple hellos you have I, or any other member, will be more than happy to address in the forums. 

Thank you for your continued patience with us! 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Blog Post of Doom

Greetings and Salutations, everyone.

I'd like to say that this year has been a little rough for Somnova, but really, every year has been rough in one way or another. Over the course of the last eight or so months, we've lost (or lost touch with, in some cases) writers and editors. Fortunately, we've secured a very talented pair of writers plus a superb editor to help us out. That said, we still need at least one writer for one of the routes.

Although the route in question was already drafted some time ago, there are some issues that need to be addressed. Without the original writer, it wouldn't be right for the rest of us to pick at it in an attempt to patch things up. Instead, we'd like to have someone dedicated to the route who can make it work from the ground up.

Although there is an existing framework to work within, the new writer would have the freedom to change the plot, within reason, as well as their characters and associated backstory. We also need someone capable of carrying the route beyond act 1. For more details, visit the forums and leave a message. If you've applied with us before and haven't heard back, (probably because we weren't hiring at the time) please do reconnect.

Moving on, let's have a status update:

Editing, as always, is progressing. I myself am inserting stage and sprite directions into my scenes.

Lena doesn't cry, she just gets madder.

I know that simply saying that we're editing is rather vague, but it's a huge job. The mere act 1 of Missing Stars is in the neighborhood of 100,000 words and has gone through a number of comprehensive rewrites.

Fun fact: At one point, the main character had amnesia and at the end of Lena's route, he overdosed on MDMA while attending a rave in the catacombs under the school. 

Things get pretty sticky when elements get added to the story only to be removed. You get things referencing other things that aren't there anymore, and eventually you get two consecutive scenes that feel like they've come from two completely different VNs. It's a long and frustrating process but we've been fixing that.

Also, this girl should be wearing trousers.

Our intrepid background photographer, amarsh1138, is pulling double duty and doing some editing. He spent a small fortune at the print shop to give us the red-marker treatment.

Scenes 1-45(The first half of act 1)

The whole demo.

Merlyn's been pumping out tech demos whenever we revise the script. These mockups don't have much in the way of graphics, but are used to test the user-interface and path functionality.

Dat Splash.

Thanks for sticking with us this long.

Click here to discuss this post on the forums.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Another Year, Another Blog Post!

It's 2016! That means leap years, presidential elections, and a progress update from Somnova!

2015 has been busy for a lot of us. Some of us moved across the country, others got new jobs and responsibilities, and several members have had to leave due to changes in their lives.

But what hasn't changed is our dedication to this project. Despite our silence, we assure you guys that we're working hard behind the scenes to bring you Act 1! Let's go over where we're at in terms of writing, sprites, and other stuff.

Writing: As of writing this blog post, we've entered the final stages of writing and editing Act 1. Our new editors have done a great job in helping us make some great improvements for the story and our lovely characters. Kosherbacon and myself have slowly begun work on Act 2 for Lena and Jeanne, respectively.

Sprites: Morthaisik, AngryEvil, and Hexagod have been champs of sprite making. Check these sweet-ass sprites below:



Other Stuff:  Aaron joined us late this year willingly offering his generous services for background work. He's taken some great shots for our school campus, so stay tuned for some stellar backgrounds!

I've also been working on an actual website for Missing Stars, which we'll have up before the demo is released.

Speaking of, the scripting and design of the demo is going well. All it really needs to get started are some finished sprites and backgrounds!

Once again, we thank all of our fans for being awesomely patient and cool. It's thanks to your support that we've been able to keep going and getting that much closer to making this project a reality.

Thank you!


Discuss this post on the forums.