In which we retool how we develop things so our writing won’t suck so hard

April 19, 2010 in Painter Story

Let’s start off by welcoming simpleDvorak to the Painter Story development team. As zahlman has been promoted from interstitial writer to actually managing one of the story paths, I decided that we should have someone who isn’t doing any path writing to handle editing, especially including smoothing out the differences in writing style between zahl and myself.

With that out of the way, I’d also like to announce that we are completely changing around the project schedule, and here’s why: Our current method of writing (straight into Ren’Py script files) takes away focus from writing the story, and puts it into making something that runs. And thanks to the horribly loltacular temp assets we are currently using for graphics and audio, this has caused much consternation for the people we’ve forced to read the story (as well as those who have received builds simply for hanging around in the right places on IRC).

So, rather than continue down this dark and dreary (and complaint-filled) path, we are, effective immediately, changing the writing workflow and all but entirely scrapping the Ren’Py stuff we’ve done so far.

zahlman and I are currently working on extracting the actual story scripts from the piles of .rpy files lying around, and reformatting them more along the lines of screenplay scripts. For one thing, this means instead of simple Ren’Py style direction, we can actually express what’s going on in a more meaningful way for the story. For another, this means we won’t be doing any more demo builds for a good long while.

Less complaints, a writing workflow that lets us focus on what’s happening in the story and not the engine — looks like a win-win situation to me.

Anyway, in the long run we’re probably looking at another nice big delay to a decent, public demo, although the format translation work for the scenes will probably be done before the week is even over. We’ll have to get used to the new way of writing out scenes, and now we won’t be doing a dev demo for recruitment.

And speaking of recruitment? We’re not going to look for artists now, after all. I might ask some people I know for concept art from time to time, but that’ll not be announced here, obviously. Even if we do show the results of it.

Have fun, see you in another week, or month, or whatever.

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Rewriting the prologue

April 15, 2010 in Painter Story

So, thanks to expert advice from someone else developing their own OELVN (you know who you are), zahlman and I are pretty much completely rewriting the prologue. Well maybe not completely, but a lot of editing work is happening as well as an expansion that will double or triple the size of the thing. That coupled with a bunch of IRL crap is the reason there’s been no update in two weeks.

Pretty much all of our focus right now is on this bit of rewriting, as well as cascading any necessary changes down the storyline. Hopefully these will be minimal, but as certain characters will now be introduced earlier than planned, there will be some work required.

We are still looking for artists, by the way. Just sayin’.

Act structure

March 31, 2010 in Painter Story

Progress is still progressing on the script. While there are a couple of troublesome scenes that need some serious work before they’re even badly written, a lot of what’s left to do for the first three days doesn’t look all that tough right now. Days 1 and 2 are practically done (apart from the aforementioned scenes), and I find myself writing the ending scenes of day 3 right now, and leaving about half of the rest of the work to my partner in crime zahlman.

Because the plan is to put out a story demo to attract interest in people who could help us with art and audio, and then later put out a real demo showing off the first three days, these end-of-day scenes for day 3 have to be a logical conclusion to the previous ones. I’ve taken to thinking of the prologue and days 1-3 as the first act, with the end of day three serving as the climax of the act.

Chances are that I’ll be making an act two out of days 4-6, and turn day 7 and the epilogue into its own act as well. I already have something in mind to serve as the climax for each of those points. Act three, as it were, won’t be that traditional, though, being mostly climax followed by coda. Still, it’s easier to think of the story this way, at least for me. Mind, I’ve not actually started plotting out the rest of the script in detail yet. That won’t happen until zahl and I are done writing the first draft for act one. (And even then, there’ll probably be a break to recruit/kidnap artists.)

Speaking of artists, we’re still planning to start looking for people at the beginning of April (which is what, tomorrow?) and seeing what people can and will contribute. I’ll have more details on that in a post tomorrow or on the weekend, but if you’re an artist and interested in helping out, doesn’t hurt to draw some concept art of the girls and post links to it in the comments. Just sayin’.

Progress report

March 15, 2010 in Painter Story

It’s been about three weeks since the initial blog post about Painter Story, and I’d like to share a couple things about our visual novel. Progress is going slower than I hoped for in terms of writing, but it’s still moving along well. I’m still working towards the goal of days one to three drafted by the end of March, although it’ll probably slip some. However, save for three tricky scenes, the first draft script of the first two days is done.

To make it easier to get a feel for what’s happening, I’m not writing in plain text and then copying over to Ren’Py. I started that way, but I find it’s easier to think in Ren’Py’s scripting language and write for that directly. It also has an added bonus of letting me test scenes as I write them out. The fact that Karl (my programmer/editor) and I wrote out a scene library (like Katawa Shoujo has, but not as pretty) certainly helps, as now I can go straight to the scene I’m writing, to test it out.

Whether or not I make my writing goal, we’ll start looking for artists in April, who can help us flesh out the graphical side of things. I might put out a low-distribution alpha of Painter Story when the draft is done through day 3, to help garner developer interest too.

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