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I Come Bearing Gifts

Merry Christmas, everyone! It's that time -- all the little kiddies in Vienna are just waking up to the presents that Santa left overnight. Over here, it's a bit earlier, but that doesn't mean I don't have some presents for you just the same.

To set the Christmas mood, here's a little tune Kevin whipped up. He's dunked the theme song in egg nog and sprinkled it all over with tinsel to capture the wonders of the season!

If you're looking for a feel-good story filled with all the joy and love you'd expect of him, Gloom wrote a little something you'll probably enjoy. You can check it out right here!

Last but not least, here's a bit of art from our friend roz, who has a has a tumblr you should check out. (Also, try clicking on that present to unwrap something else you might like.)



And hey -- if I don't see you before again before then, have a great New Years! See you in 2014!

-alabaster

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Statistically Speaking

There's been a lot of requests for some more concrete details on the progress of Missing Stars. If you're hoping to see fewer words and more numbers on here, today is your lucky day. Here's a list of "interesting" statistics compiled from our Dropbox and IRC chat logs:
Boxes in our Act 1 flowchart: 432Total word count (so far) for Act 1: 127,591Percentage of Act 1 word count that belongs to Gloom: 37.31% (Ed. note: We do not endorse this)Named characters in Act 1: 24Pieces of concept art: 350Current runtime of music: 1 hour, 37 minutes, 7 secondsAverage runtime for each piece: 2 minutes, 21 secondsTimes keviniskool's music has been compared to the Zelda series: 5"Reference photos" uploaded by kosherbacon from his porn collection: 1144"Reference photos" that were requested by the team: 0Chicks with dicks: 1(?)Release date for the Act 1 de Well, would you look at that, we are out of time. We hope these numbers will continue to grow (minus the…

Check out the New Guys

We recently recruited quite a few new people to the Somnova Studios gang, and we figured it was time you got to know them.

First off, a new writer. raithfyre is here to take over the writing for Isolda. I personally thought we didn't need another writer, but Hamadyne ran away screaming when we asked him if he would take over writing for both Jeanne and Isolda. Apparently, this writing thing is harder than it looks; good thing raithfyre makes it look so easy.

We also recruited three new artists: U-1224, raichuuuu, and Reaven. Normally, I'd tell you what character they are each working on, but we recently switched to the new and improved Somnova Studios Art Workflow 2.0™, so each artist is no longer working on a single character in their entirety. It makes for less exciting blog posts, but it does help everything look more consistent, so I'd say that's a long term win right there.

We're working hard as always, and we can't wait to share with you what we have in s…

Discover the Missing Stars Soundtrack Pt. 2

Had enough fun with the last piece yet? Here's another piece that is much slower and has more of a choral focus.

"That Which Shall Not Be Named" is a piece centered around Katja and her singing aspirations within St. Dymphna. I felt that a liturgical piece of this nature would fit well in the context of both singing in a choir and finding redemption for one's own actions. I hope you have as much fun playing this as I did writing it.

As always, this is a work in progress and is likely to be changed at any moment. In fact, it changed once already during the production of this blog post.

PDF: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/249 ... 0Named.pdf

MIDI: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/249 ... 0Named.mid

-keviniskool
We have forums for discussing things. If you have thoughts about this, you should head on down there.

Discover the Missing Stars Soundtrack Pt. 1

Any other Visual Novel blog would just let you hear what we've been working on, but what if we spiced things up and let you come up with your own interpretation?

"The Past Comes to Light/Seelensplittersonate", or as I have been referring to it in shorthand, "The Past Comes to Seelensplittersonate", is a medley of two themes that play at the very beginning of Erik's journey. While they are separate at the beginning, they come together in a way that imparts momentum into both pieces, eventually converging into the same melody at the end. We hope you will enjoy the small taste we have provided here.

While this is only a piano arrangement, expect to see more fully fleshed out songs in the final product. This song (and those to follow) are all works in progress, and you can expect them to change before final release. In fact, the last piece we posted has already changed a fair bit from the last time we talked about it, in more ways than one.

PDF: https://dl.drop…

We Now Return to Your Regularly Scheduled Devnanigans

And we're back.

This thing's on, right? Can everyone hear me? Okay, cool.

So I hear you folks have been demanding more blog posts. I can't really blame you. We've been silent going on two and a half months, and that's probably not very reassuring from the outside. Let me assuage any concerns you have: we're still alive, we're still kicking, and we're still making progress.

Cards on the table, though – we've lost some people along the way. That may sound like pretty bad news, but we're a tighter, stronger team for it. It's sad to see old faces head out the door, but as we move forward, it's reassuring to know we've pared the team down to our most dedicated, most passionate, most hard-working people. And each loss hardens the resolve of the rest of us.

On the flipside, we've also welcomed a lot of new talent on board. TJeffy (aka TonyTwoFingers on the forums), one of our resident fanfickers, has been hard at work putti…

Happy Mother's Day!

The title says it all. Whether your're a son or daughter of an awesome mom, be sure to thank her for being awesome.

Speaking of moms, here's one of our character's!

Take a guess as to who she is in the forums!

Shiny New Things

Some of you more astute followers may have noticed a slight change on our forums. It took many a night chanting over forbidden text, maidens sacrificed, and making shady pacts with dark forces. But, we finally decided on a new design for our group's logo!




Many thanks to keviniskool for whipping this baby up and slathering it over our unworthy eyes.



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F__k it! We'll do it live!

Missing Stars is a visual novel. Since visual novels were pioneered in Japan, most VNs use manga-style artwork.

But Missing Stars isn't most visual novels.

Keen readers and frequenters to the forums might have noticed a decline in releases of concept art. That is because the artistic direction of the project has shifted.

Missing Stars will now be using digital photographs for character sprites.

The user interface and promotional materials will still feature drawn artwork, whenever necessary.

Given the game's setting and our aspirations for the broadest audience possible, this is a logical choice. After all, most if not all of our backgrounds were intended to be filtered photographs and photorealistic (w)renderings. However, this does present us with production related challenges. Our strive for visual realism has upped our demand for on-location photographs since rendered images will just have to be that much better(and time-consuming) to keep up. Fortunately, our staff advisor on…

Happy Easter 2013!

Happy Easter folks! Hope you manage to grab more eggs than your basket can carry!


Just a little production update along with our Easter Greetings;

- Our writing had been restructured to fix storyline intertwining, continuity problems and character events - the greatest problem among these is to ensure the transition between one writer's scene to another to be merging in a smooth way
- Music materials are pouring in - our particular challenge is a proper execution of leitmotifs to fit their intended momentum
- Art organization and breakthrough had been achieved - we are aiming higher for the visual experience in this VN and there are new standardizations. Expect more art-related news in future!

That's all for now - I suspect that we will have subsequent update blogs from our respective departments soon enough. Stay tuned!

- Imperial

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How To Be Hated on the Internet in Five Easy Steps

1. Announce you're creating an obviously derivative project that follows in the footsteps of a beloved earlier work to which you will never live up.
2. Tackle a delicate subject that most people are uncomfortable with.
3. Accept a couple people onto your team who occasionally post on reddit so you will forever be labeled a reddit project (which is a bad thing I guess?).
4. Release previews in which you mostly drop the names of more successful and popular works (to increase your nerd cred!) instead of saying anything of substance about your own.
5. Profit!

It's no secret that Missing Stars has a bit of a bad reputation in some circles. We would be the first to admit that we've made mistakes, of course, and that maybe some of that reputation was well-earned.

Recently, though, the hate aimed at us seems to be dying down somewhat or, at least, balancing out with the more positive impressions. We're probably loved and hated in about equal measure these days, wh…

So You Forgot About Valentine's Day...

Ah, that special day is upon us... You know, the day where half the population voices their resentment of yet another commercialised holiday out of bitter loneliness, while the other half scrambles to get a gift basket from the convenience store on the way home from work.

You gotta admit, a squeaky teddy bear and stale chocolate is a lot cheaper than alimony.

Speaking of last minute gifts, Blackjack bailed us out and picked this image up from Tesco on her way home.

 image by Blackjack

How would you guys spend Valentine's Day with your waifu? Discuss here in the forums.

(Seriously, we need romantic ideas for tonight or we're in the doghouse.)

-kosherbacon

Why Did It Have To Be Snakes?

The issue of what the optimal degree is of letting a fictional character be defined by a so-called "mental illness" is one that is obviously of great relevance to our work and that by extension has already been discussed at length several times already by several different persons on this very blog, some of which are probably smarter than me or more knowledgeable on the subject matter and all of them undoubtedly more capable of expressing their opinions in less than a thousand words.

I still haven't done so, though, or at least not to any degree that I would consider satisfactory and thus I have decided to take a short break from the job I've signed on to do and that is by all means expected of me to once again bother the lot of you with my pointless verbosity and meaningless rhetorical cyclicity. My desire to spew forth purple prose must, after all, be satisfied if I am to further postpone the inevitability of me one day snapping and going on a destruc…

Progress, Of a Sort

Now that we've got all that feelsy stuff out of the way, let's get down to business. For 2013, I've resolved to post more regularly about our actual progress. I know, I know: Missing Stars making progress? Preposterous!

But we are. Besides, it's a lot easier to track and explain development when you know the general direction you're headed in. That first year was pretty chaotic -- lots of false starts and squandered time. But we're firmly in the saddle now and looking forward. It may be a little ways off, but for the first time, we're looking seriously at a demo release.

So what progress are we making toward that goal right now? Well, we're getting one scene completely polished and up to the level of quality we expect from the VN as whole. That means sprites, backgrounds, music, and however many passes over the script it takes to make it behave. Once that's in place and playable and -- most importantly -- up to snuff, we've got a mod…

Happy Birthday

What were you up to a year ago?

One year ago today, I was lurking the Katawa Shoujo forums. I happened to be there, in the right place and at the right time, to stumble on this little thread about a proposed visual novel. I happened to have some skills, maybe, that were needed, but more importantly, I happened to be in the right state of mind to want this thing – this thing we're now calling Missing Stars – to be made.

There's been a lot of happenings happening just right for a while now – a thousand little moments that string together into the story of Somnova Studios so far. Even after the project was on its feet, if one vote had gone another way, or if this character had been chosen instead of that one, the team might look a lot different today. The events that led to my being a staple of the team is probably the most convoluted roller-coaster of them all, but here I am. Sometimes I wonder about all the different ways things could have played out, but I thank my…

Con Amore!

Okay, here's something a little different. Instead of an update on Missing Stars this week, we wanted to give some love to another project. Our friends over at Rainy Day Studios have been working on their own VN, Con Amore, for the better part of 2012. To celebrate the new year, they've just posted their very first reveal, and I'm excited to see where they go from here. If you don't quite have a long enough list of VNs to look forward to yet, you should check it out. Or... even if you do.

About that -- the English language VN community looks like it's blowing up. In a good way. There are so many awesome projects coming down the pipeline, and it's a pretty interesting time to be a fan of the genre. At Somnova, we were fans before we were devs, so it's nice to take some time off now and then to be fans again.

We've got our eyes on Con Amore. What projects are you watching?

-alabaster

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