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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsMOONBRIAR - AAA Visual Novel | Changes to Traits & Levels
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Author Topic: MOONBRIAR - AAA Visual Novel | Changes to Traits & Levels  (Read 18656 times)
oldblood
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« Reply #120 on: July 27, 2022, 12:36:15 PM »

DEVLOG XXI | Dialogue & Decisions + Maps

I know, I know. I'm as surprised as you to be doing a devlog less than 2 weeks since the last update. But, I am back with another chunky Devlog. Today, I wanted to talk through a few new updates and share a gameplay video with you all. Unfortunately, you'll need to listen to me talking you through this scene, but hopefully, it will showcase how dialogue works and give demonstrations on Decisions (and how they impact other characters, the story, etc). You'll also get some snippets of things like Traits and the updated Inventory UI. Please bear in mind:

  • This video is just Alpha gameplay. Content, writing, etc. is all subject to change.
  • This video is missing things like Voiceovers, Music, SFX, etc.
 
Alpha Gameplay: Meet some characters and see how decisions work...



Your decisions can give you Diplomacy, Combat, or Willpower. Which empowers you to make game-changing decisions.

The New Profile & Inventory UI

EXITS & MAPS

In other news, I've been busy trying to implement a travel system to get around the world of Moonbriar. In the Profile screen, you can see that you'll have access to maps of either the Overworld or the Underworld, and you can essentially 'Fast Travel' to any location via these maps. In addition to this, I'm also looking for a way for the Player to be able to move from one area to another nearby area within each scene. This will be accomplished with 'Exits'. I think its important to add this as it gives the Player more of a feeling of spatial awareness and 'being there' when you can travel directly from one place to another.

At its heart, Moonbriar is a Visual Novel here to tell a story, so the gameplay is never going to be too in-depth. i.e. You're never going to 'WASD' around the world and engage in combat, etc. So I think things like Exits, Inventories, Traits, etc. are ways to add more traditional gameplay elements and feelings to a Visual Novel.

In the first iteration of Exits, when you first come to a scene, any Exits in that scene will flash for a few moments to show you where they are, then they will fade away (but still remain a little visible). When you hover over them, they will reveal the location you can travel to and fade back in. I'm trying to find a solution that will not cover or hide the beautiful artwork, but also give the Player a visual cue on where to click to leave one area for another. For Players who don't like to click from one area to the next, they will always be able to jump all the way across Moonbriar with the Maps.

Example of how Exits could function:

I'd love to hear any thoughts you have on the gameplay video or the exits/map system. Ideally, these first iterations of some of these features will eventually get improved after we do some closed demo testing and get more feedback from players on what they like or don't like. As always, thanks for reading!
« Last Edit: July 27, 2022, 12:59:44 PM by oldblood » Logged

Alain
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« Reply #121 on: July 28, 2022, 12:21:47 AM »

It was really cool to see a dialogue in action. Now I understand how you will have resources like diplomacy points, which you can use later-on.

I don't remember if it was asked before, but you are mentioning voice acting in your post. Do you plan to have every line voice acted or only key moments?
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« Reply #122 on: July 30, 2022, 09:05:33 AM »

I have just seen your youtube video and I had a flashback from when you only had some text and one character, good progress my friend the environments, menus, and tranzitions stand up to the character's quality, good job!!!!

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oldblood
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« Reply #123 on: July 30, 2022, 03:43:04 PM »

I have just seen your youtube video and I had a flashback from when you only had some text and one character, good progress my friend the environments, menus, and tranzitions stand up to the character's quality, good job!!!!

 Gentleman

Thanks Ramos! Glad you like how it's shaping up. It's definitely starting to take a little bit more shape, which is pretty exciting. Good to see you still lurking around. Hope you're finding a good balance in work/life post-release!

It was really cool to see a dialogue in action. Now I understand how you will have resources like diplomacy points, which you can use later-on.

I don't remember if it was asked before, but you are mentioning voice acting in your post. Do you plan to have every line voice acted or only key moments?

Glad you found that helpful to show how it can work. Honestly, as a narrative-heavy "choices matter" type game, its really tricky to show gameplay as it you'll have no real context for characters, setting, where you're at in the narrative etc. so I'm not sure how much I'll be able to really show but hopefully the bits I do share will be helpful.

As far as the voice acting goes... Yes, that is still the plan to have all 20+ characters voiced for the entire game. That's going to be a huge undertaking whenever the time comes. Unfortunately, that likely wont be till late in development as we'll need the story not only fully written and implemented, but also polished and cleaned up before handing it off. Honestly, I've been a bit torn on keeping it included. I feel like it will do a lot to add more of the 'AAA' vibe I've been aiming for, and could also be helpful for people who don't like to read but are interested in playing. However, the cons are I do find myself sometimes trying to limit the number of narrative choices, varying dialogue etc. because I know that the more decisions I add the more voice acting work I'll eventually have to pay for. And obviously, in a narrative game you want as much choice and varying dialogue as possible. So, it's a difficult balance to strike...
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Alain
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« Reply #124 on: August 02, 2022, 11:49:41 PM »

As far as the voice acting goes... Yes, that is still the plan to have all 20+ characters voiced for the entire game. That's going to be a huge undertaking whenever the time comes. Unfortunately, that likely wont be till late in development as we'll need the story not only fully written and implemented, but also polished and cleaned up before handing it off. Honestly, I've been a bit torn on keeping it included. I feel like it will do a lot to add more of the 'AAA' vibe I've been aiming for, and could also be helpful for people who don't like to read but are interested in playing. However, the cons are I do find myself sometimes trying to limit the number of narrative choices, varying dialogue etc. because I know that the more decisions I add the more voice acting work I'll eventually have to pay for. And obviously, in a narrative game you want as much choice and varying dialogue as possible. So, it's a difficult balance to strike...

That makes total sense. I can see how it might be a good idea to put this decision off for later but as you say, it influences your writing... that's a tough spot. I can imagine the voice acting would cost you a considerable amount altogether (voice actors, editing, implementation). And I guess it won't help to have entry level voice actors, it must be spot on or it could otherwise even hurt your game's quality, because your are setting a high bar through the visuals. But as you say, it does not need to be decided today and I am sure you will make a good decision.
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« Reply #125 on: August 13, 2022, 09:15:05 AM »

DEVLOG XXII | New Characters & Approaching Milestone

I probably sound like a broken record, but it's pretty crazy to see that August is already halfway done. We're a matter of weeks away from the final quarter of 2022 and that blows my mind. Unfortunately, this will not be as "chunky" an update as the last few updates I've made. Partially because I was traveling for about a week and got no work done, and partially because a lot of the work that's being done right now is behind-the-scenes work that is leading us to our first really major milestone: ACT 1

We've written about 90% of the first act (of four) and are really just in the polishing phase for the last parts that have already been outlined and I've implemented about 80% of it all into the game so my hope is that we're just a few weeks away from having the entire first act both written AND implemented into the game. I'm so ready. It feels like its taken forever to get the first act done, but hopefully this will get faster from here.

Once Act 1 is complete and implemented, we'll be doing a lot of internal testing to ensure that it's fully playable and that all the scenes are tied together properly, working as expected, and just generally getting a sense for how the game feels. A big part of that testing will also be to determine if the game needs "more". i.e. other gameplay features that need to be implemented etc. I don't want to immediately jump into the 2nd Act until we feel like we've got the first act really cleaned up and have enough core features for it to be entertaining for players. Yes, it is primarily a story--but we want enough other elements to help spice some of that up.

***

Separately, we've also hit a big milestone of completing 50% of all the core assets needed in the game (environments, characters, animations, etc). Obviously, as we get deeper into the game we will uncover other assets we need but in terms of the core things that we know we'll need, it's awesome to see we've already made about half of them. So while we're only a quarter of the way through implementing the story, we're getting a lot of assets churned out. Some of those assets include these awesome new characters:

Meet Aster: The Librarian & Warren Historian

Meet Hogweed: The Local Bully

As always I'd love to hear any thoughts or feedback you have on the characters. Hopefully you're all continuing to find success with your own projects. Thanks for reading and following this project. It's always so encouraging when I hear from you all.
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« Reply #126 on: August 13, 2022, 12:29:54 PM »

I just looked through this thread, and this is game looks really lovely so far! I really appreciate the care you've put into the art direction across the backgrounds, characters, and UI. One thing I really like about the character designs I've seen so far is the variety of fur patterns, body shapes, and clothing choices I'm seeing. I love detailed and carefully considered costume design- that's one of the main things I appreciate about the characters in Moonbriar so far.
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oldblood
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« Reply #127 on: August 14, 2022, 07:55:45 AM »

I just looked through this thread, and this is game looks really lovely so far! I really appreciate the care you've put into the art direction across the backgrounds, characters, and UI. One thing I really like about the character designs I've seen so far is the variety of fur patterns, body shapes, and clothing choices I'm seeing. I love detailed and carefully considered costume design- that's one of the main things I appreciate about the characters in Moonbriar so far.

Thanks so much jackalhearts! I appreciate you taking the time to comment and leave feedback. Character diversity is definitely a big part of what we're aiming for. There are 20+ characters in the game, which can be hard for some players to keep up with so we wanted to ensure that every single one was very distinctive in their look, personality, style etc. Which is pretty challenging. Luckily, the world of rabbits is filled with a ton of breeds so there was a lot of inspiration to draw from.

***

Small Update: Our Discord is live. I know TigSource is primarily just developers, but if you'd like to chat with me about game development, see behind-the-scenes art and videos for Moonbriar or Masochisia then feel free to jump on! I'll also eventually coordinate alpha and beta testing/feedback there.

CLICK TO JOIN THE DISCORD - https://discord.gg/kdhP7HTzyF

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« Reply #128 on: August 14, 2022, 11:46:37 PM »

That's cool, see you on the Discord Smiley
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« Reply #129 on: September 10, 2022, 10:32:05 AM »

Hogweed's a chunky boy.
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oldblood
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« Reply #130 on: September 11, 2022, 01:01:34 PM »

Hogweed's a chunky boy.

Haha, that summarizes him well!

DEVLOG XXIII | Year 1 Complete

Yeesh. It's been a month since my last update. I apologize for the delayed Devlog, but I also lost about a week and a half from Covid (I thought after 2.5 years I was pretty safe but turns out that was wrong). The month of August absolutely flew by, and I recently passed the 1 year anniversary of this Devlog on September 1st. I feel like I should have done something to celebrate--but here we are. In some ways, the fact I've been writing this devlog for a year and still have so much left to do is discouraging. No other way to say it. I think I really envisioned this as a 15-18 month project on the offset and we're definitely trending for 24-30 months, which seems steep for something as simple a Visual Novel. I recognize that the longer development goes, the harder it will ever be for this project to break even, but I also recognize that rushing it to completion by some arbitrary deadline helps no one either.

On a positive note: We've also come a long way in year.

From a handful of rough sketches of rabbits and a vague story idea to having over half the game's assets completed and the entire first act written and implemented into the game. So, it's not all doom-and-gloom. I'll be spending the next 6-8 weeks polishing up and adjusting the first act before proceeding into Act 2. I'd really like to ensure that any other features that are needed are implemented before I get much deeper into the game and the first quarter of the game is a great way to playthrough it all and see how the game and story "feel".

Long-term, this first act of the game is what will likely be used for the first Alpha Demo that I share with a limited audience for early feedback. With enough polish and fixes, it may eventually be used as a public-facing demo. In a perfect world, this alpha demo testing can move forward this fall or towards the end of the year. More details to come on that in the next few months. For now, though, I'll leave you with a few random updates from the last week to showcase progress on a few fronts. Art, animation, and environment. Enjoy and thanks for reading!

***

A Badger Mercenary Takes Shape

The Librarian Comes to Life

Choices (Really Do) Matter
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« Reply #131 on: September 12, 2022, 12:31:05 AM »

Wow, it has been a year already? Happy anniversary! I hope you can see all the great progress you have been making and don't stress too much about what total development time will be. The Librarian animations are gorgeous as always!
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« Reply #132 on: October 01, 2022, 08:14:36 AM »

DEVLOG XXIV | Act 1 Polish

As we head into October, we're almost move into 'polish mode' for the first act of Moonbriar. Polish makes it sound better than it is. Really, we're testing it to see just how the game feels, fix bugs as we find them, and try to determine if it needs more "gamey" elements before we continue with the next Act. Long term, this first act will become a public demo which is where we will really start to get some feedback on what is (or isn't) working.

The current iteration of the first act takes somewhere in the range of 45 minutes to 1.5 hours depending on what all conversations you have. If we extrapolate that out, it means we're likely trending towards the game being about a 4-6 hour experience to playthrough once. We are trying to create the game so that it can be replayed and that you can impact or change the story and how it ends, so ideally you will be able to get a few runs out of the game if you enjoy it--but overall I think this sounds pretty reasonable for a single-player narrative game. Ending in the 5-12+ hours of gameplay depending on how much you dig into it or replay it. Obviously, we'll confirm that number as we develop the game out further.

Here are a few screenshots from the first Act.

The residents of Moonbriar gather for the Conclave.

Sometimes even the kits have to make important decisions.

Putin... I mean Nightshade... gives a rallying speech.

You will have the opportunity to spend your resources on special decisions, or see paths you cant take if you lack them.

As always, thanks for reading!
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« Reply #133 on: October 03, 2022, 12:53:26 AM »

Cool to hear a public demo is on the horizon. The gathering scene with multiple characters looks nice and vivid even without animations, which is great!
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« Reply #134 on: October 24, 2022, 06:00:15 AM »

I was wondering when are you going to choose a name for your creation, it seems that my curiosity was just answered.
Good choice

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oldblood
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« Reply #135 on: November 04, 2022, 06:55:39 AM »

Cool to hear a public demo is on the horizon. The gathering scene with multiple characters looks nice and vivid even without animations, which is great!

Thanks so much, Alain. Appreciate the kind words as always.

I was wondering when are you going to choose a name for your creation, it seems that my curiosity was just answered.
Good choice Gentleman

Good to see you around again! And yes, finally got the name nailed down. Toast Right

DEVLOG XXV | Demo Status Update

Another month has flown by, and without a single Devlog to show for it! I've made a lot of progress over the last four weeks fixing bugs, rewriting dialogue, adding in some new conversations as needed, etc. Most of which, unfortunately, doesn't make for great Devlog reading or allow me to showcase new art or animations. My goals are two-fold right now: 1. To make the demo of Act 1 playable for public and 2. Attempt to make the game as stable and feature complete as possible before moving forward with Act 2.

THE DEMO

I'm currently focusing on a few areas:

  • Substituting the placeholder art & animation assets throughout Act 1.
  • Updating or tweaking the dialogue in all scenes of Act 1.
  • Creating an Audio Manager solution for music and SFX.
  • Fleshing out the SFX, Ambience, and Music needed for Act 1.
  • Putting feelers out there for Voice-Over casting and costs.

I'm very torn on the prospect of voicing the Demo. I have always planned to do voice-acting in Moonbriar, but have always assumed that any VO work would take place in the ending stages of development when all the writing and game has been finalized. However, the prospect of really amplifying the quality of a public demo by including VO has a strong appeal. It could really help elevate the project and interest. Both in terms of making the game feel more appealing, but also helping alleviate the gamers who dont want to have to read an entire game. Of course, if revisions to the first act are necessary after broader public testing, can also lead to needing to redo VO work later--which is a risk and increased expense.

Of course, there are budgetary concerns. One growing concern is around just how much money should be invested into a Visual Novel. This is a project that, from my first Devlog here, has always been aimed at trying to be a "AAA" visual novel. Which I've known was a risky move from Day 1. But, as the scope for the game has grown, I do wonder at what point do we begin to hit a point where even breaking even on the project is a challenge. The VN market isn't the biggest in gaming, so in some ways there is a "ceiling" on how well a game like this can even do. These are tricky things to consider with no clear way to identify the 'right answer'.

OTHER FEATURES

Two narrative-focused features that I'm working on in the Demo are Moonsigns and giving the player more control over the larger narrative. Moonsigns are sort of the astrological signs of Moonbriar, and early into the game you're presented with the ability to choose which Moon you were born under. The impact of this can be felt in how your character builds up certain kinds of resources like Diplomacy, Strategy, or Willpower, but also how some characters will respond to you--either more or less positively.

Prototype showing various Moonsigns and impacts to gameplay.

In addition to the Moonsigns, I'm also trying to incorporate more world-impacting decisions on the player and one thing I'm currently adding is the ability for the Player to control more of the world lore and taking a bit of control over how some events are unfolding. Essentially: You will be the Protagonist and you will be the Narrator. This will have the Player making decisions as the Narrator--then having to deal with the effects of those decisions as the Protagonist. I think this adds an interesting narrative element to the gameplay. More on this feature later.

We're still powering through developing more environments and character art, including for places outside of Act 1. While we're not actively developing anything past Act 1, it doesn't hurt to stay ahead of the curve on game assets we know we'll eventually need. Here are some early rough concepts of several new locations:

A WIP Dungeon.

More glimpses inside the Underground Warren.

As always, thank you for reading.
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« Reply #136 on: November 05, 2022, 04:46:08 AM »

Your thoughts regarding voice acting very interesting and I don't envy you for having to make that call. You also said in your post that the player is the protagonist and the narrator at the same time. I'm just thinking out loud here: Wouldn't it be possible to voice all the narration as well as all characters by the same talent? This could save organizational workload (not having to find and coordinate dozens of talents), time and by that money. When characters speak, the talent would always stay in the narrator's character by saying: "she says: 'Hello to you my friend!'".
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« Reply #137 on: November 27, 2022, 06:28:07 AM »

I missed a bunch. Was cool to see the dialogue video, seems like things are already working well and looking nice as a whole Smiley Congrats on getting this far! Voice acting for all of this does indeed seem like a big, scary undertaking…
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oldblood
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« Reply #138 on: December 22, 2022, 09:57:45 AM »

I missed a bunch. Was cool to see the dialogue video, seems like things are already working well and looking nice as a whole Smiley Congrats on getting this far! Voice acting for all of this does indeed seem like a big, scary undertaking…

Thank you, Prinsessa! Appreciate the kind words as always and for swinging by. Always good to get some outside perspective on progress. I do wish I was further along, I keep telling myself "its just a Visual Novel, its not that hard, you should be further along!" but I'm trying to combat that urge and feeling. There is no such thing as a simple game, they all take work and time so I'm trying to be less pessimistic about progress. It's the biggest project I've ever done, far bigger than Masochisia--so I should probably cut myself some slack that it wasn't completed as fast as Masochisia.

Your thoughts regarding voice acting very interesting and I don't envy you for having to make that call. You also said in your post that the player is the protagonist and the narrator at the same time. I'm just thinking out loud here: Wouldn't it be possible to voice all the narration as well as all characters by the same talent? This could save organizational workload (not having to find and coordinate dozens of talents), time and by that money. When characters speak, the talent would always stay in the narrator's character by saying: "she says: 'Hello to you my friend!'".

That's an interesting idea, Alain. Would definitely make my life a LOT easier for sure. However, I feel like if I'm going to go through the process and costs and hassle of VO I should probably do all the characters as that will make them all feel more 'real' and unique in their own way. I do appreciate the idea, though. It's actually a great way to approach it and save time and money. But, I feel if I'm going to make the investment, I should just go all the way with it or not at all.
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oldblood
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« Reply #139 on: December 22, 2022, 09:58:09 AM »

[Placeholder for future devlog...]
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