Figuring things out again

February 16, 2012 in Painter Story

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.

Indie project management is for suckers.

January 15, 2012 in Game Development

So yeah, Painter Story. Hard to believe it’s been eight months since the last post, without anything really to show for it. Most indie game projects would have been dead by now, after such a period of time, but because I’m more stubborn than a mountain of goats, I’m forcing myself and my poor team to carry on.

Working on an indie project is an exercise in pain and frustration. Most of the time you have grand dreams at the start, which have to be hacked down into a stub because you’re short on all the elements required of successful project management: time and money.

Big, cheap, fast: You're lucky if you even get to pick two.
And even if you skimp on scope, quality will probably suck, too.

On top of that, everyone else has their own vision of the project, probably competing with yours. And unless you have money to pay everyone for their work on the project at the start, it’s a volunteer effort. As someone who runs conventions, I know how difficult it can be to get volunteers to actually do what’s needed, because they require some kind of mental or emotional buy-in to whatever mindless tasks you assign them. It’s worse than herding cats.

I remember from college, being told of a statistic. Something like four fifths of every project fails, and a good number of those failures are spectacular ones. Forgive me for not remembering the actual numbers, it’s been eons since those days. But yeah. The chances of a project not utterly going up in flames before finishing are not good. The chances of the project actually being completed are pretty bad. And for the project being completed, and turning out well, I’d say that calls for walking in a thunderstorm carrying a metal rod because lightning apparently never strikes twice. Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, success is rare, managing an indie project of volunteers is suffering.

Anyway, we’re climbing back on the horse again. I hope to have a draft of the first half of Painter Story complete by this year’s Anime North, and if it isn’t, feel free to yell at me if you see me there.

Fresh main character concept art, staff issues

May 8, 2011 in Painter Story

Yoshinobu by gebyy 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.

New character art, and some updates

March 10, 2011 in Painter Story

Yoshinobu by gebyyAnother 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.

What’s up with Painter Story?

September 17, 2010 in Painter Story

I’d like to start off by welcoming miipasu to the PS dev team. While her position is somewhat nebulous at the moment, she’s been helping out with organizing the replanning of the story, and will likely take on some writing and editing duties in the future. We’ll likely have some additional team reshuffling in the near future as mii gets better integrated with the team.

As for the story itself, we’re pretty close to working out the outline from a 50,000 ft perspective. There are a couple days we still have blank, and here and there on plotted days are still openings, questions, and worries. But I would say we’re certainly on track to begin rewriting in October. It doesn’t hurt that the outline for the first few days is still pretty similar to the old draft, which has saved some time and mental energy in this rewrite process. (That’s not to say we’ll be reusing the old draft’s scenes as-is; there are still tweaks and a few good-sized changes in those scenes for the new draft.)

Anyway, the rest of the month will be spent filling those holes, as well as dropping down to a 10,000 ft perspective for the first few days of Painter Story. I’ve been questioning whether or not we want to make a demo out of the first few days, given that all of PS will likely only be about the size of Katawa Shoujo Act 1, but it’s probably still worth doing. In any case, the planning so far has been contingent on focusing on prologue through Wednesday of the story, and that at least we’ll stick to.