We’ve decided to put up a draft script for one of the scenes in Painter Story. The scene selected is actually the very first one, and no doubt it’ll end up rewritten before we even get to the point of releasing a demo! Still, it does serve to give some idea of the tone of voice of the story, and provide a bit of insight into a couple of the story’s characters. Read on to enter the world of Painter Story. Read the rest of this entry →
A lot of talk has been going on recently in IRC about reforging the project. We are considering changes to the story that would lengthen both it and the timespan in which it happens, amongst other things. We’ve been thinking about this because of issues we feel are potential problems with the story, or that could detract from enjoyment of it.
This is one of the problems with creative projects. It’s incredibly hard (if not outright impossible) to have an idea form fully and perfectly from one’s head like an Athena of thought. Instead, you have to keep adding and taking away, iteratively building up the concepts behind your story. This becomes annoying when you’ve already made progress on things that might have to be redone or completely thrown away.
In the end, the goal is a better story, a better product than what it might have been before, but the constant work at fixing and redesigning can be a dead end, as developers keep making changes instead of putting their foot down and saying “this is it”. That’s something that worries me, given my personal tendencies to get bogged down in details in the pursuit of perfection. At some point, the line must be drawn, and work has to continue.
Hopefully we can draw that line appropriately and tell a good story.
Bonus: new art from gebyy-terar: casual Kourin.
Thanks again to gebyy-terar for another piece of concept art for Yoshinobu. This time, instead of being in a school uniform, he’s wearing something he can paint in.
Another in-development visual novel project released a one-scene recruitment demo over the weekend, in an effort to get people interested in helping out. I’ve been wondering whether or not to wait for the “prologue” scenes to be written out before doing something similar for Painter Story. After all, despite the assistance of Raide and gebyy, we still don’t have any artists on our team. Nor do we have anyone to handle music and find appropriate sound effects.
Meanwhile, it seems that the team is down to just three people now. One of our team members has been MIA for over a month now due to personal issues, and while it pains me to cut someone when we’re understaffed to begin with…. So we’re down to writer, editor, and director at this time. (It might be for the best having me do all the writing, though — it’ll make life a bit easier for our editor simpleDvorak since he won’t need to merge the writing styles of multiple people.)
Anyway, I hope to actually get the final prologue scenes written by the time Anime North rolls around at the end of the month. Even if I don’t, if I can at least get most of the way there, that’s better than the spinning-wheels feeling the project’s had for me over the past little while.
Last night, I got to be the little girl. What I mean by that is I tried an experiment last night, role-playing as Kourin, being interviewed by another writer from a different visual novel project. The results were… interesting.
One of the issues with Painter Story is that I’m not really that good of a writer (yet). And one of the reasons for that is it’s generally difficult for me to put myself in another person’s shoes, even if that person was created by me in the first place. Thus, the interview, to force me to look at the world from the character’s perspective and respond to things the way she would.
I doubt we’ll bother putting the interview up anywhere, at least for now. It was done on IRC, and is pretty rough, so even if we do put it out, it’ll have a lot of editing for clarity. I plan to have similar interviews for the other characters done by the end of the weekend as well.
In the meantime, I’m looking at starting work on beating out the Monday scenes, and finishing up the writing for the opening scene. Hopefully we’ll have some good progress by the end of the month!
Another piece of art, another KS dev (well, former). Thanks to gebyy-terar, we’ve now got a coloured sketch of Yoshinobu, the main character in Painter Story. We’ve also got an idea of what the male school uniform might look like!
In other news, writing is progressing very slowly lately, but it is actually progressing. There are a couple scenes we’re stuck on at the moment, but hopefully we’ll work through the humps soon.
Part of the writing issue is staff commitments outside of the project, but the big thing for me right now is completely overhauling the very first scene. As originally planned, it didn’t have enough of a hook to grab the reader’s attention — never a good thing, whether you’re reading a book, watching a movie — or playing a VN. So I’ve got to figure out how to redo things so that readers will be pulled into the world of Painter Story quickly, but still give an idea of who Yoshinobu is on the inside.
After that, it’ll be on to beating out and writing the next day’s scenes. Well, writing some of them, and assigning the rest to the other writers.
I feel we’re getting close to the point where it might be good to actually recruit some artists to do backgrounds, sprites, CGs. After we’re up to about the mid-point in writing, I’d like to get a demo put together and use that for getting feedback for revision. At this rate, though, we’ll probably not be at that point until at least November.
Thanks to Raide, one of the character artists for Katawa Shoujo, we finally have some art to show off the Painter Story girls! Along with this commissioned concept piece, I’ve put up character profiles that give a little bit of detail about our hero and heroines! Check it out. The image above leads to a larger version on deviantArt, if you’d like to see the girls in more detail.
With the detailed outline for “act 1” complete, we’re a step closer to actually writing the second draft for Painter Story. Our next step is “beating” the scenes — breaking them down into the particular actions and reactions of the characters.
This is something I picked up from a screenwriting book, Story, by Robert McKee. We’re not doing things exactly the way he says to do it, but VN writing isn’t the same as writing for the big screen anyway. Right now we’re still getting used to it, but the end result should be stronger writing and a more consistent storyline.
Right now, we’re going through the prologue’s scenes, working out the beats and writing them into an outline. Once we’re done with that, we’ll be pushing onto the main story, with the first day’s scenes beaten out, and at the same time start writing the prologue scenes. (There’s nothing saying we have to wait to beat out the whole first act this time!)
Meanwhile, I’m still working on writing up some character profiles that won’t spoil things while still providing a decent amount of information on the characters (who finally have permanent names). It’ll be a while before they’re up, however, as I’m waiting for a surprise to go along with the profiles!
One of the problems with the first attempt at writing Painter Story was the unstructured plot. We knew a bit about the main character and the various girls he could pursue, as well as some potential outcomes. But we never really worked out the route from A to B. And in the old pre-alphas I used to circulate on IRC, it showed, just as badly as the temporary art and audio.
Something that I’ve been doing since we reset the project is building out the plot, working from the top down. (I say me, because the bulk of the work on laying out the plot has been mine, but the others certainly did contribute as well.) Things began by outlining a story for each of the dateable girls, entirely separate from common or shared events. From there, we worked together to take the three disparate mini-outlines, and combine them into one big outline that included common events. At that point, we also identified major story choices that would lead the reader towards a particular path, as well as other choices that might trip them up or lead to better endings.
That work is pretty much done, but for getting to the actual writing, it’s not really enough. It gives a good overall view of what happens, but this 50,000 ft outline doesn’t provide enough low-level detail to identify anything more than key scenes.
So for the past little while, I’ve been working on a more detailed outline for the first part of Painter Story. This one identifies individual scenes, as well as provides at least a paragraph of explanation for each one (or will, when complete). We can identify what’s missing at this level, and let us know where things will go from each particular scene. That way, when it comes to actual writing, I and any other scene writers are more likely to really drive the story forward, and lead in to following scenes better.
This is a long, slow, painful process — but without it, Painter Story would never be as good as I’d hope for. While it’ll probably never be on par with Katawa Shoujo or Cradle Song, I’d still like to create something that sits in the top 25% of original English language visual novels. By constructing a strong story, I’m sure that’s achievable.