Monday, November 26, 2012

A Tale of Seven Writers

Hello, little darlings. Uncle alabaster here with a progress update.

Things are moving about as fast as you might expect for a big project organized over the internet, but we're on track. Even with a more ambitious Act 1 outline, scenes are coming along nicely.

It's worth noting that we just finished up the opening stretch of scenes in the story, which is a big deal. And it's not just about introducing the setting or the main character. It's about establishing how he speaks, how he thinks, how he feels. What it's like being inside Erik's head, basically, and that's a good thing to have on record when you're trying to unite the writing styles of seven different people. Doesn't make the job easy, of course, but it's nice to have a foundation, which is exactly what we didn't have on our first try.

On our first go, the writing team basically split up at the beginning in order to tackle their respective girls' scenes. Actually, I don't think it was until Hamadyne had written all his Act 1 content (which he did before anyone else because he is a super-moe robo-writer who works at the speed of light) that he went back and cranked out that opening scene of the VN. Since no path girls are involved until quite a few scenes in, that's how it worked, with the more prolific writers claiming those general scenes once they'd already worked through their other ones.

You're smarter than us if you've already pegged this as a bad plan. Whoops. In retrospect, it seems really dopey, but I guess... live and learn?

What we ended up with was some really great scenes and some wonderfully characterized, consistent love interests, but maybe four or five drastically different Eriks. When you put all the scenes together, the transitions were jarring to say the least. It was a mess, and that's one of the biggest reasons for the revision of Act 1.

But like I said, we've got that foundation set this time and I can already see it paying off. Erik's shaping up to be an actual character and not a blank slate. Even writing styles are falling a little more in line, which isn't to say we're trying to iron out the uniqueness of each writer, just that you can't have a VN that feels like it's seven distinct, interwoven manuscripts. That's the hardest part, really: maintaining the integrity of our writers' individual flavor while you're building a single, cohesive work.

I haven't found the miracle solution to that issue yet, but I'll let you know if I do. It's a work in progress.


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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Never Stick it in Crazy

Article images by sho-N-D

Today, I'm taking a break from putting off writing ACTUAL game content shoehorning unforgivable amounts of girl-on-girl action into Missing Stars to talk about everyone's favorite subject. No, not cupcakes. Everyone's OTHER favorite subject.


So uh. Yeah. There's gonna be sex in the VN. There's gonna be naked people doing naked things to other naked people using their naked parts. However, the prospect of sexuality in visual novels is a bit of a touchy subject. More than a few fans and followers have expressed apprehension about sexuality being presented in this project. Why?

It can't be tastefully done in a story about mental patients.

The main concern brought up is fear that the player will partake in fictionalized rape of feeble-minded persons.

At the risk of sounding timid and unambitious when it comes to the story, I can safely say that no, the player will not be raping anybody. One of the first things we as a team agreed on was that rape would not be depicted positively(if at all) and that all the sex scenes will involve only individuals capable of consent. Trust me, consent has always been on the top of our considerations when it comes to sexuality.

Also, the love interests aren't developmentally disabled. Disorders or not, they all will be depicted as being capable of making decisions and comprehending the consequences of their actions.

Sex scenes would be unrealistic.

The majority of characters in Missing Stars are teenagers. Teenagers, by their nature, are driven by their hormones. In reality, teens have sex, so why shouldn't they when they happen to be implausibly pretty and in an idealized fantasy setting?

Sex scenes are unnecessary for the story.

We're writing a romance story here. That means it'll be about relationships. Relationships mean emotions, and emotions DO in fact occur during sex. If you cut the dirty bits out, you're only getting part of the story. For example, if the first time someone says "I love you" to their partner is in the throes of passion, when he isn't actually sincere, it changes things. Those three words throw the whole relationship into a new dynamic with new consequences, moods, and expectations. If you cut that out because it happened while someone's penis was on the screen, then the rest of the story won't make the same sense as it does untouched.

Sex scenes in Missing Stars won't be self-contained to the point where they could be removed seamlessly. Now, I can't guarantee that ALL the sex will be plot-relevant, but I can promise that it won't ALL be gratuitous.

Can we turn off the adult content?

We have at least discussed various forms of self censorship, but it remains to be seen if any will be implemented.

To begin with, most of us don't like censorship, period. As I described above, cutting sexuality out of the story make collateral damage out of vital plot elements.

On a technical level, it might not even work. If the cut scenes are vital enough, and the level of censorship pervasive enough, we could end up having to do huge amounts of rewriting and redrawing. In some cases, it might be straight-up impossible to smooth over the holes and be satisfied.

Finally, our VN as a whole will have adult content in addition to sex anyway. When you've got things like drug use, insanity, despair, violence, and illness to deal with as potential themes, hiding away nudity seems awfully trivial.

We cannot promise any sort of censorship option at this time.

I don't like the idea of mai waifu having sex.

The characters don't belong to any one person. It's cool and all to get attached to a character, but if you really respect or admire her that much, then you should let her grow in the ways writers(including fanfic authors) intend. Even mistakes and deliberately out-of-character actions add substance and depth.

I'm too young to view written and drawn nudity.

Then whatever you do, do not click this link (NSFW, obviously).