For starters, I almost ended 2017 on a sour note! My laptop had been having a lot of smaller, strange issues over the past few months (such as freezing when coming from sleep) but on the 26th the hard drive decided to really start failing by making all my programs not respond and freeze the entire computer for over an hour (which it had done before, but it usually came back from it or we just turned it off). Frustrated, I ran a check on it, and found that the hard drive was failing. Over the next few days I went through the process of saving all my data onto another computer- the biggest jump drive we have is only 64GB, so I had to transfer some files to it and then transfer them to my parent's computer and then repeat the process about 5 or so times. Once the files were backed up in numerous places, we installed a new hard drive and my laptop is back up and running!
This summer I wanted to work more on visual novels that weren't my own, so I offered sprite artwork. This took up most of my summer, but I was able to meet with and work on several different VNs from a variety of stories. However, now I've taken priority to my own VNs, as I have a lot to finish on my own time.
Around the beginning of the year, I started getting more into Discord and joined several VN communities- now, I've met so many amazing people and learned so much about VN dev that I'm thankful for it all. I eagerly look forward to the road ahead in the next few years.
For my second LD entry in 2017, I had Lights Out, my RPG horror-homage. It detailed a few young girls having a sleepover, only to be thrown in the middle of fairies fighting. This entry was alright, and I later expanded upon it for a post-jam build where I included a bunch of small improvements, from more fairy types, a harder difficulty, more puzzles, a much bigger map, and more.
Last but not least, my third entry for the December LD was Feathers, my first real attempt at Twine. A short, sweet story about a harpy and a boy that I made in 5 hours. I feel like this entry best shows how far my writing has come this year.
Now, onto full releases!
This project has had a long dev cycle, for me.... it had been in limbo for about 3 years, as it was one of the first projects I ever started. Suffice to say, a lot has changed since I started it, which is why it took so long for me to finish it. Cause I didn't want to. It started off a cutesy VN about a LGBT couple wanting to make a bakery... and that was it. No plot. No actual characters. If I had to make a game with a similar concept completely from scratch again, I'd quit dev. This project taught me that I can only really work on projects with fantasy, drama, and intrigue.
Still, after redoing all the assets, learning how to do custom GUI, and finishing the 20k word script, I was able to release it. I still try to shove it in the corner, but some people have liked it so..... more power to them...?
The Witch in the Forest
Again, this is another project I started a few years ago but never finished. However, TWITF was originally a webcomic, not a VN. Like Starry Dreams, it's a moege, so it's mostly for the cutesy characters and simple plot, but it was easier for me to work on because I worked harder on making the characters and interactions more interesting. It also helped that I only worked on it for a month, for the Yuri Game Jam. I tried a lot of different stuff with it- I made a new moe style for the sprites, and went for a more classic NVL type to make it reminiscent of older VNs. I've gotten good feedback on it, so in early 2018 I'll be releasing a mega-update that adds a fair amount of content for it. It's only 10k words and is mainly about the two girls, Fidelia and Jastiline, going on dates, but this is definitely my best full-length VN so far and I'd like to possibly get it on Steam in the future.
That Which Binds Us
The last entry in the list, and the one that was the most fun for me to work on- it's a modern fantasy, mystery, josei, and romance VN (gee, I wonder why it was the easiest for me to work on?). This was made for IGMC, the somewhat-annual game jam held by Degica, the publishers of RPG Maker. Likewise, I made this is RPG Maker MV, and found out how hellish it is to copy and paste dialogue into RPGM while also changing sprites. It took forever, which is why after the jam I opted to move it to Ren'Py where I can finish it much faster and hopefully release it around Valentines Day. The post-jam version will feature a much longer script (currently about 16k words), more characters, and a more fleshed out plot.
Now onto New Year's Resolutions! Here are my resolutions from last year:
- Focus on my original projects / games! I want to finish some longer (AKA non-Ludum Dare) games this year, but I also want to do more original art in general. Currently I do about 1/4th original art and 3/4th fan art, but this year I want to make it more even, and maybe draw more original art more than fan art. I'll still draw fan art, but focusing on original art will help me a lot more in the future than drawing fan art will.
- Work on one non-Ren'Py game. I love Ren'Py and I'll always try to be active in the visual novel community, but if I want to be a better game developer I need to broaden my horizons and work with other engines. I've done work in other engines, but nothing as concrete as my work in Ren'Py.
- Work on composition and thumbnailing. In 2016 I worked on anatomy and lighting, so this year I want to make more interesting drawings.
Looks like I finished all of these, except a bit on the last one. I didn't do too many full drawings in 2017, though the ones I did I tried to make more dynamic. So... not a total fail! Now, onto 2018 goals!
- Publish all the games I've started. Now, this one comes with a bit of a catch- basically, I want to publish something from every project I've started. I want to finish That Which Binds Us, upload the update for The Witch in the Forest, finish a side project, and upload a demo for Asterism (as I'm shooting more for summer of 2019 now). That sounds like a lot, as you also have to include all three Ludum Dare games I hope to make in 2018 and maybe other side projects, but I'm nearing completion on a lot of projects right now, so publishing 5~ games this year isn't out of my scope at all.
- Get faster at writing. In 2017 I started writing much more heavily, and thus got better at it as I went along. In 2018, I want to focus on writing better and faster.
- Get better at marketing. Yeah, I've learned marketing is super important this past year. So, in 2018 I want to get better at it.
I hope I'll be able to accomplish all these things in more! Here's to another great year 🎉