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Taptics: The quick and wild tile tapping game for Windows Phone!

December 23, 2012 in Taptics by Chris Charabaruk

Welcome to the blog for Taptics, the quick and wild tile tapping game for Windows Phone! Taptics is a fun little casual game inspired by the classic game of Simon. In Taptics, you are shown a random pattern of tiles that you must hit in order to advance the game. Each level increases the difficulty with more tiles to hit, and every level is timed. When the game is over, your score is uploaded to our leaderboards, letting you see how well you did versus other players around the world!

Taptics is a free game, and will appear soon on the Windows Phone Store. You can download and install it directly to your phone from the Install link at the top of the page.

We’re spinning up again

December 20, 2012 in Painter Story by Chris Charabaruk

More details to follow, but suffice to say that Painter Story development is resuming. A warm welcome to smeep, a good artist who will also help out with writing and ass-kicking to ensure we make progress!

The Dungeon Crawler

August 12, 2012 in Prototypes by Chris Charabaruk

Texture, fog and colour test

Texture, fog and colour test

Over the last week or so, I began work on a new game project. It’s a dungeon crawler, somewhat in the style of The Bard’s Tale or Legend of Lith II; however, many, if not all of the dungeons in the game will be randomly generated so as to provide a different experience for every playthrough.

So far, I’m just doing prototype work, testing out basic rendering and figuring out how to build maps. Like my last two (non-game) projects, this currently unnamed project is for Windows Phone. I’m not sure when it’ll be available, but I’d like to get to a playable alpha stage by Christmas. I figure that I will be prototyping through the end of September, possibly later. Read the rest of this entry →

Figuring things out again

February 16, 2012 in Painter Story by Chris Charabaruk

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 by Chris Charabaruk

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 by Chris Charabaruk

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.

Interview with the Character

April 15, 2011 in Painter Story by Chris Charabaruk

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!

New character art, and some updates

March 10, 2011 in Painter Story by Chris Charabaruk

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.

Introducing the cast

December 30, 2010 in Painter Story by Chris Charabaruk

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.

Beating things out

December 28, 2010 in Painter Story by Chris Charabaruk

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!