Saturday Morning Classes

March 19, 2013 in Painter Story

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 →

Interview with the Character

April 15, 2011 in Painter Story

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

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.

Beating things out

December 28, 2010 in Painter Story

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!

Plotting from the top down

October 5, 2010 in Game Development, Painter Story

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.

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.

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’.

Painter Story: A visual novel of art and romance

February 23, 2010 in Painter Story

A shy high school artist. A girl who came out of a painting. And the story which they create together. Painter Story started off as an idea in the summer of 2009, a visual novel where a magic paintbrush brought to life the girl of the protagonist’s dreams while he struggled to get acquainted with his new school. Since playing Katawa Shoujo for the first time in December 2009, I’ve refined the idea, and let my own project take shape.

It’s still quite early in the project, but the story itself is certainly taking shape. To start things off, I’ve been working on just the first quarter of it; developing the plot and writing scripts for the scenes belonging to the first three days of the story. My goal is to have a solid draft for those days finished by the end of March, and then start recruiting a couple artists and a musician so that a demo built on those three days will be completed by the end of June. Currently the dev team is myself as writer and director, and a friend of mine who is serving as editor and tool developer.

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