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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsFLIES FLIES FLIES - queer sci-fi comedy VN - Free demo on Steam!
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Author Topic: FLIES FLIES FLIES - queer sci-fi comedy VN - Free demo on Steam!  (Read 15120 times)
nathy after dark
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« on: November 27, 2021, 09:42:21 PM »

FLIES FLIES FLIES

The first 2 episodes are available on Steam!

Follow on Instagram

TEASER TRAILER





PREVIEW TRAILER - FIRST 6 MINUTES





PATREON

Roadmap

  • 10% - Feature-complete engine
  • 20% - Finish Episode 1
  • 30% - Finish Episode 2
  • 40% - Beta Test!
  • 50% - Release 2 episodes + demo on Steam & Itch -- (handle first wave of community/publicity management)
  • 60% - Finish & Release Episode 3
  • 70% - Finish & Release Episode 4
  • 80% - Finish & Release Episode 5
  • 90% - Finish & Release Episode 6
  • 100% - Release an Accessibility update with more features for blind/deaf players

Dev Log #1

After spinning my wheels on unfinished projects for a long time, I've settled on one with the right balance of manageable scope vs. passionate ideas. We're gonna see how it goes.

It comes from a really vivid dream I had, where I turned into a fly who was also a (completely powerless) superhero.

Fall of 2019, I started taking a Screenwriting Workshop class, and chose to write tv scripts for an animated comedy show following the vague story in my dream. That semester and the Spring 2020 semester (part of which took place in Discord, because we were all quarantined) I ended up writing a very rough six-episode season of the show, then refining the first episode to a point where I could submit it to TV pilot writing contests. I wanted it to be made into an actual adult cartoon like BoJack Horseman or Rick and Morty.

So far, that pilot--or 'Flylot'--script was chosen as a Finalist in one contest, the Wiki Screenplay Contest, which means I can post these cute laurels:



And I'm still entering the script into contests and sending it around to see if the Hollywood dream could come true. BUT. With COVID variants and the climate crisis so big on my mind, I decided I can't keep waiting around to break into the show biz. I'm a gamedev, and I can produce (a janky version of) this thing by my own dang self.


So far I have a demo, which includes a pared-down version of the cold open of the pilot. You can play it in your browser here:

DEMO

The password is 'flydemo' and I've only tested it on laptops/desktops, never a mobile device. If you try on your phone and it works, let me know!
Screenshots



The character sprites in the demo are all by MalibuDarby.
The rest of the base assets are from various public domain sources.

For such a short demo, there is TONS of code behind the scenes to make it happen (including a custom programming language and text editor). I'm excited to write more later about the journey so far.
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« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2021, 11:08:41 AM »

More good news!


The pilot script was named as a semi-finalist in the ISA Sci-Fi & Fantasy + Genre Busting Screenplay Competition! (Kind of a mouthful.) Apparently ISA stands for International Screenwriters' Association, and semi-finalist status comes with 3 months of membership in a program they have for connecting screenwriters with paid writing gigs. I'm probably gonna look into that, because getting paid for writing is pretty awesome.



Riding the confidence boost from this contest placement, I've set a goal to finish the first episode and submit it to MidWest Weird Fest, which seems like a good venue to debut the project. The tricky part is that I've missed every deadline for submission except for the final, FINAL late submission deadline of December 17. So yeah--paying late fees for contest submissions, and self-imposing crunch to make a deadline, is always nice.

I put together a voice cast for the pilot, consisting of friends I made in the Screenwriting class where I originally wrote the scripts for the show. The next two weeks are gonna be jam-packed with meeting with the cast on Discord and using Craig (Discord bot) to record lines remotely. I decided I'm gonna play a kinda big voice role myself, which is fun and challenging. Of course, if the pilot gets any traction for a real studio production, this cast might be entirely temporary. Who knows.
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« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2021, 11:43:30 AM »

Praise Bobble-Head Jesus
Despite getting my crew of voice actors organized and lines recorded much faster than I expected, there was no way I was going to finish episode 1 in time for the December 17 deadline for Midwest Weird Fest.

Then a miracle happened! They extended the deadline to January 14. To be honest, I still have to overwork myself to get the pilot done in time, but I'm offering my thanks to Bobble-Head Jesus regardless:



(He makes an appearance in episode 1.)

An extended deadline might also mean that I have less competition in the running?

Happy holidays, everyone! <3
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« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2022, 01:29:02 PM »

Dev logging is hard! I always end up petering out on updates after waves of inspiration to write about every component of the project. So I look back on all of my old dev log posts and they always start with "sorry it's been so long."  Droop Well maybe someday I'll stop feeling bad and just write when I can.

Some news:

  • The pilot episode is finished.
  • I submitted it to the festival on time.
  • It got rejected!
  • That was disappointing! But I finally got back on the horse and made a Patreon:

PATREON
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« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2022, 09:24:49 AM »

First Trailer Release




I've been publicizing my new Patreon to friends and family who I know will want to support it. It's kind of like mooching off everyone I know who works harder or earns more money than I do, so I can make this weird passion project a more central focus of my life.

I'm always managing my energy against a day job, so I put minimal effort into the Patreon page at first, planning to start by canvassing the folks who will donate no matter how janky it looks, then iterate on it later to try to appeal to a wider patron base. Who exactly is the demographic for this very personal visual novel/web series?? I have some guesses but really no concrete idea yet.

So I'm still thinking through what the patron tiers should be. For now, I want to make sure people who can only afford 1USD/month, can still access full episodes, because there's only one episode and the production value isn't top-notch yet. But over the last couple weeks while begging my family members for money, I realized that without a trailer, I'd be asking total strangers to pledge a dollar a month for the project sight unseen!

So this morning I re-edited the cold open of episode 1 together, and I'm releasing that as the first trailer. Currently, even though the "show" is scripted and rendered by a game engine, I have to manually record the "game" running, then use OpenShot video editor to cut down long and awkward pauses in the dialogue that come from part of the code being optimized poorly--I plan to write a technical devlog about the voice-over/dialogue system soon.



A bunch of people have pledged at $10, which I didn't actually make a tier for. With people valuing my work higher than I expected, I've started coming up with ideas for a $10 tier reward. One idea which might appeal to fans, and also help make the project better, is that $10 patrons would be invited to the virtual table-reads of episode scripts, and have the chance to give feedback while the show is being written. I have to ask my voice cast if they would be okay with that--and at a certain point, I'd have to set a hard limit on the number of people attending. But I think it's a cool idea.
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« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2022, 10:23:20 AM »

Some Parts of my Writing Process

I'm the creator and main writer of the "show". It feels weird to call it a show while I'm sharing it on a gamedev forum, but future posts about the production (which is mostly done with code) will make it more clear why a web series would fit in an indie gamedev community.

So, I mostly make all the big decisions about the characters and the story. I write the first drafts of scripts alone, and at that point I get feedback from my writing group, and my screenwriting friend group that also makes up the voice cast. My friends are a diverse group of people, and I rely on their feedback and ideas at the revision stage to make the characters believable positive representations of the cultures, genders, and sexualities, etc. of the cast. Sometimes this involves doing a whole pass of scenes or episodes with one of my friends as a co-editor.

If this project is ever well-funded enough for me to pay my friends to create their own episodes, arcs, first draft scripts, etc., I'll be extremely happy to share that workload and also center more diverse voices from the first stages of the creative process. When the story structure and themes are all determined by me (white, middle class, from Utah), I think it shows in the final product that while the cast is diverse and many authentic perspectives go into the characters' voices, the show was still born from one pretty privileged person's brain.

Which is the norm for mainstream TV/games, so I'm not trying to beat myself up about it. Just trying to stay mindful and keep growing. This month I decided to revise every character to better match the person performing the role. Instead of asking queer people to play cis/hetero characters, I'm going to embrace how lucky I am to have a majority-queer voice cast (including myself) and make the show even more queer than I planned it to be.

Of course, the writing process can't be 100% identity politics. It would be paralyzing--I would question every line I wrote, and never finish a script. I know this from experience in past projects where I was so anxious to be sensitive, I never got anywhere. When I'm writing a first draft I try to be as un-censored and messy as possible. As a writing student in college, I learned that writing a first draft is more like spreading manure (literal shit, but fertilized with raw growth potential) for future, better drafts to grow from. You find the good parts in all the shit, and you build from there.

I try to write in the morning, before news or media from the world can seep into my mind and set my attitude. I get my coffee and a snack, and make myself as comfortable as possible (blankets, a puffy coat if my room is cold in the winter, cuddling up with the dog when I'm staying at my parents' house, sometimes writing on my laptop in bed). Music. I took a video of myself dancing in bed to LCD Soundsystem one morning because I was blocked on how to write my second draft of episode 2:





I can proudly say that the episode 2 revised draft is done, and now I'm organizing the table read with the voice cast. $10 patrons will be invited to watch/listen and give feedback.
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« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2022, 06:23:09 AM »

Productive Procrastination

Protip: procrastination is very healthy if you do it right. This morning I'm procrastinating my episode 3 re-write by meal prepping for the week and cleaning up around the apartment. And now, by dev logging, which is much easier than script writing because my standards for the log are lower.

Here's a screenshot of me rewriting episode 2:



That screenshot shows my second draft on the left, and the first draft on the right for comparison/copying and pasting parts I can reuse.

I write my screenplays in Fountain, a plaintext language, because I need every one of my projects to be version controlled and proprietary scriptwriting programs like Scrivener and Final Draft, while cool, use non-portable formats that don't version control as well. Plus, I can do my writing in Visual Studio Code, which has the huge advantage that I can extend it with my own plugins. (When I started this project, the Fountain files were actually exported from an Emacs org mode file, which is a long story.)



For rewriting episode 3, I decided to try using the custom VSCode plugin that I implemented for the bigger purpose of converting the Fountain scripts to "game" code. (I think introducing this plugin will make more sense if I start with the example of rewriting a script before I explain that fountain->code conversion process.)

I call this the ktxt2 editor. The k stands for kiss, my custom programming language that powers this whole project. The txt2 stands for 2 text files in one--because this editor/the .ktxt2 file format links 2 text files together in one. The left side is a "source" file, and the right side is an "output" file. Blocks of source are linked to blocks of output, which can reference the source block as $source, or define their own manually entered text. So the ktxt2 file in the screenshot should export this:

Code:
Title: Flies Flies Flies: Episode 103
Credit: written by
Author: Nat Quayle Nelson (she/her)
Contact: [...]

/* Flyman asks to be with Miguel -- it pronouns -- etc **/




/* I didn't know you had a thing for BUG STUFF */

The 4 blank lines are because

in the source stands for \n\n, and the output file on the right has its own line breaks following $source which includes the original source block.

Well, ktxt2 SHOULD export the block above, but I'm always breaking it, so just now it was actually messed up. Whoops.

ktxt2 can also have complicated logic in an output block:



I used to be doing a code conversion like that (it's a regex replacement), but I made the right call to do it simpler now:



More on how those conversions work later.
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« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2022, 09:20:08 AM »

Writer's Room
I don't want to jinx it, but I've been writing the show every morning. I keep an electric kettle, instant coffee, creamer, and box of Costco muffins next to my bed. When I wake up, I make coffee, then write 3 morning journal pages on my ReMarkable tablet. These 3 pages are an exercise from The Artist's Way that have dramatically improved my ability to process life events, stress, creative discouragements, etc. because they require me to check in daily. Being unemployed for the last few months, before I started doing morning pages, I would bounce around all the time doing whatever I felt like, which did include a lot of productive and creative things, but didn't set me up to consistently make progress on any one thing, and left me without much time to think and plan my overall direction.

After the morning pages, I pull out my laptop and write at least one scene of FLIES FLIES FLIES. This has served me well so far, because I've roughly outlined the scenes of episode 3 and have a first draft to consult. This morning I almost got stuck when I realized I wanted to change the episode plot dramatically and it might involve creating whole new characters. Today I hope to figure that out and make a plan for tomorrow morning so the daily writing can continue.

After I write the show for 15 minutes, I let myself eat a muffin. It's kind of a nice reward.

I wish I were writing this show in a "proper" writer's room with other funny & smart creatives. Maybe someday I can, but for now, I write in bed before I shower or talk to anyone. Tongue I do get help with the writing from a critique group that meets online, and feedback from my friends/the cast.

Back in August, I ran the first table read of episode 2 for Patreon subscribers and the cast. I was nervous about having patrons there, because the cast isn't used to having a live audience. So I focused on scheduling it around the cast's availability and I didn't do much to promote it to patrons. (Also a lot of the patrons are my family, and the show is raunchy/adult in places so I was embarassed.) This backfired when some cast members got sick, so we only had 3 readers--one for screen directions, then me and one other person to somehow voice every character in a pretty chaotic episode. Our one audience member was my Granny, which made it the most intense version of what I'd been afraid of (dropping F bombs and making innuendos in front of my religious relatives). It actually went great! Now I don't feel so afraid to upset my loved ones by writing and performing my truth. For the next table read, I will broadcast the news wider and include patrons in the scheduling poll.

Since so few people made it to the event, I posted the episode 2 teleplay PDF for patrons to read. If that interests you, become a patron!
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« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2022, 04:01:59 PM »

Not to into these types of games but I saw the preview image thingy on the first video and have to admit "I'm not a girl, I'm a Gryffindor" made me laugh. The writing seems solid. Beer!
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« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2022, 12:33:10 PM »

Thanks a bunch! That means a lot.

This project is pretty much a vehicle for my writing, so my worst fear would be for the writing to fall flat with people.

I've kept up with my daily writing work, and finished a new draft of Episode 3. It was extremely hard, I had to restructure the whole episode and barely reused anything from the first draft. Now I'm revising Episode 4 and it's going much smoother, because I actually felt good about the first draft.

I'll probably organize another Patron table read for the new Episode 3 script sometime in November.
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« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2022, 01:42:08 PM »

Write Write Write



To recap: when I started programming and directing the animated pilot episode, I had already written 6 first-draft episode scripts comprising season 1, and edited the pilot script into something like a 5th draft. My next task has been revising the episode 2-6 scripts to lock them in before recording and directing the rest of the episodes. 2 and 3 are pretty much done, and we’ve held online table reads for patrons.

The latest news: I’ve been writing a lot! I had almost finished my second draft of Episode 4 when I realized I needed to restructure it completely—So I kept the parts that worked well, and wrote a third draft! My private writing critique group has read that draft and given me a lot to think about (But they liked it)! When I write a fourth draft, we’ll have a table read.

Now I’m working on episode 5, which is getting an ambitious all-new main plot so I had to re-outline the whole thing! I did this using a tried-and-true method: index cards. You can see here the bigger A plot and smaller B plot below it. There are a ton of cards, so this draft is probably going to come out long and need to be cut a lot (a good problem to have)!

I took this photo from as far away as possible so hopefully you can’t zoom in and spoil the whole thing for yourself. You might strain your eyes trying—don’t blame me if you do!
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« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2023, 03:49:56 PM »

Developing the first 3 episodes for Steam and Itch!

Since the last update, I've quietly finished new drafts of episodes 4, 5, and 6. These scripts were hefty to write, because they build up to season 1's big ending and try to tie so many loose ends together, while still being funny. I'm excited with these drafts, but I think I can still make them even better, so I decided to postpone doing online table reads for them.

I've been thinking and planning what to do next. The hybrid nature of FLIES FLIES FLIES (I wrote it like a TV show, programmed it like a game, and threw together all kinds of art to make it work)--made it a challenge to decide where I could publish this project to the right audience. In the end I decided to publish where I have some experience as a visual novel developer: Steam and Itch.io! Sometime soon(ish?) I'll be sharing a store page link where you can wishlist if you're interested.

Patreon supporters will eventually get early preview/beta access to all 6 episodes of season 1.

I'm starting to program and produce episodes 2 and 3, plus polishing and adding some content to episode 1! The first 3 episodes will come out at some point, then a mid-season break as I take the time needed to get 4-6 top-notch.

AaaaaaAaaaAaa!!
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« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2023, 11:36:15 AM »

Title Card: "FLIES FLIES FLIES"

This project started as a series of scripts for an animated TV show, and every draft has contained some variation on this:



I always envisioned that each episode would start with a cold open, followed by a sharp transition to a black screen and the title of the series in white. My first rendition of the title card was made in GNU Image Manipulation Program just by typing the text big and not being too picky with the font...



I thought this looked too formal, and I knew I might want to use title cards with various different text, or translate the title card to other languages, so I ended up writing a function to generate title cards with subtitles in HaxeFlixel:



That's the one you see in the trailer and pilot. I'm a bit ambivalent about HaxeFlixel's default pixel font but I didn't have a ton of time to look for alternatives.

After releasing the Patreon pilot and deciding to make the rest of the episodes/revamp episode 1, I wanted to make a title card with more theming to it. I thought about making it "FLiES FLiES FLiES with a little fly for the dots on the eyes. So I found a free line drawing of a housefly and started to play with it, again in GNU IMP.



The results were not great and I didn't save any screenshots. I noticed that the fly has 3 legs on each side and wondered if I could do a capital E where the left half is normal and the right side is a fly (symbolizing a transformation/hybrid thing) but again I couldn't get it to look right.

A couple days ago I was writing my morning pages on my ReMarkable tablet and I had a spur of the moment idea that it might look good handwritten, with the simplest doodle of a fruit fly on the i dots. So I traced that out and emailed myself the PDF so I could invert the colors and see if it works.



Then I proceeded to overanalyze my letter-work and kerning, and the thickness of the strokes and so I went a little crazy trying over and over to get it perfect:



The word "FLIES" lost all meaning, and whenever I tried again I would look at the letters and they would cease to be writing and start to be random lines and archaic symbols. I got a little scared. The whole point of doing it handwritten was to give off a "idgaf" casual kind of vibe, so I decided to give it a rest. I think I like it, though? So I want to use some variation of this--The only problem is if I use this, it might make the pixel font of the subtitles clash, and I also may end up having to handwrite every other title card in the future, which isn't easily localizable and is also literally a manual process (I hate manual processes and I've gone to absurd lengths to cut them out of every other aspect of the dev pipeline for this). Maybe I could use one of those fancy shmancy AIs that turns handwriting samples into a font.
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« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2023, 10:46:18 AM »

Flywriting

Our hero, after transforming mysteriously into Flyman (a normal-sized fly without superpowers), can no longer communicate in conventional human ways. Spoilers for episode 2, but he will eventually communicate with the help of a harness which sprays colorful vapor enabling "flywriting", which is just as impractical as skywriting but smaller.

Writing the story, I never knew whether a team of animators would be figuring out how to make flywriting look good (if I sold the scripts to a real studio for production) or if I was going to have to figure it out myself (which I am, because I haven't (sold the scripts)).

3 years after putting "flywriting" in a script, I've finally coded up a prototype.

Every playtester complained about my Lovecraftian walking simulator VN when I locked the player's movement at an actual walking pace to build dramatic tension. They're gonna hate this even more:



Obviously I need to figure out why it lags the frame rate, AND speed it up some, and make it look cleaner. And the lines won't appear from the top-left corner of a white-background sprite. But the idea is that it will be at least a *little* annoying, for the thematic purpose that Finn/Flyman has been robbed of his literal voice and being a fly obviously stunts his ability to connect with humans.

I had a stripped-down plan to implement Flywriting, where Flyman would just move left-to-right and typed text would appear behind him. I thought tracing out the letters of a font would be beyond my coding chops, but when I stumbled on this open-source Javascript library called PathToPoints I knew I could run with it: demo/source code

It takes any SVG image or TTF font and renders your text into a series of 2D points, which is exactly what I thought would be impossible for me to achieve in code. My game is written in Haxe and not JavaScript, so to get the letter geometry into my game, I render it at compile-time with a nodejs subprocess and pass it along. The library was written to be a web app, so I had to do a lot of fiddling with the code to make it run in a node environment.

I have no idea who made PathToPoints or what they were using it for, but I need to reach out and buy them a coffee as thanks or something.
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« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2023, 09:58:46 AM »



I optimized out the FPS lag and coded Flyman to zip and rotate around while writing!
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« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2023, 10:03:17 AM »

Credits

Who's ready for a boring update about game credits??

I made my last visual novel in a team of 3, and in the end, the credits list was so compact that it's just one static screen in the menu:



I don't remember it being particularly hard to throw all that together. Maybe a little hard to read with the small text in Terminal font.

For this project, instead of working with a visual artist and SFX/music person, I'm using a combination of purchased asset packs and public-domain licensed assets. In a lot of cases I'm not required by individual licenses to credit the creators, but I want to. So until recently I kept a big .tsv file listing the sources and authors of every sprite, photo, sound effect, song, etc. which became quite massive and unwieldy because it's hard to get everything I need without pulling from a wide variety of sources. This also comes with a drawback that I call, in marketing speak, the "collage visual style" but my inner critic would really describe as a disjointed, unprofessional look and feel.  Shrug

So anyways, when I was done with the episode 1 demo, I had to go through the assets tsv file and manually organize and write out the credits, and write some code to scroll them as text accounting for 2- and 3-column layouts, headings, etc. so it looks like a traditional credit roll.



And after putting all that together, I realized I really, really, really never wanted to handle credits manually ever, ever again.

But that I would have to for 5 more episodes, each of which would reuse some but not all of the assets from episode 1, and so I'd have to manually go through again, cross-reference which credits to keep, which to remove, and add all the new ones. And what if I made a mistake and left someone out? I'd feel bad, not to mention in some cases potentially be violating licenses.

After some thinking, I came up with a design for a new system that would automate everything. Instead of one big .tsv file, I'd save a one-line .tsv file for each asset, and code my engine so whenever an episode loads an asset, it reads the .tsv file and stores that info to automatically insert it in the credits when they roll.

Then yesterday I had to go through my 70-line tsv file splitting everything up, verifying the info, formatting tsvs, etc. And that was probably one of my all-time least favorite gamedev experiences.

But now that I have a perfect (?) bug-free (?) automated system handling credits for me moving forward, the future is bright!



(Frame from BoJack Horseman, used here without permission.)
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« Reply #16 on: May 25, 2023, 03:05:02 AM »

Thats a creative way to handle the Credits with an auto-insertion haha.
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« Reply #17 on: June 07, 2023, 12:47:06 PM »

Thanks! And it's actually working!

I took it a step further and started making a Firefox extension that quickly downloads and records credit information from various free asset sources, starting with pixabay.com:



When I click "Source this asset" it downloads the image along with this tsv file:

Code:
pixabay.com Clker-Free-Vector-Images https://pixabay.com/vectors/right-arrow-red-shape-directional-24825/ user id 3736

Which plugs the uploader's username into my credits system when I load the arrow image for any given episode of my VN.
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« Reply #18 on: June 14, 2023, 01:59:41 PM »

Dialog History

I don't play many visual novels, but in the ones I have played, I always love it when you can pull up a log of the recent dialog. It's such a great feature because I'm constantly zoning out or getting distracted lol. And as a writer/artist I'm not very happy with glossing over parts of well-written content. I want to go back and make sure I absorb everything, so I use features like this in VNs, and I always watch TV with subtitles and rewind when I get lost or confused.

I gather that VN fans have come to expect/demand a dialog history feature. Newer Phoenix Wright games have this, and hell, Tears of the Kingdom has it, too:



Ren'py has this feature built-in. If I could go back in time by a few years and give Ren'py a shot before making my own engine for this, I would. But I'm in too deep at this point, so I had to implement my own dialog history window.

Here's what I came up with in my engine:



I'm trying to keep all UI in the game extremely simple. Text-only (though not strictly on an ASCII grid or anything). The X button on my windows is just a label set to "X". For the up/down buttons on the history window, I knew I could use "^" and "v". which I think is how I've seen it done in true ASCII games. But I don't want to UI to look so wonky that the up and down buttons aren't even symmetrical. So I just used "v" for down and flipped the same text sprite upside-down for the up button. Success!

I should probably let scroll wheel input also control this. And arrow keys. And maybe add a draggable scrollbar (ick--hard to do something like that in HaxeFlixel when you're too stubborn to use the provided ui library).

I also realized this week that I hadn't even considered adding gamepad support yet. Much left to do...  But I'm closer than ever to having all the core features ready for beta testing.
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« Reply #19 on: June 15, 2023, 12:25:35 AM »

Interactive fiction is one of those game genres I respect, but haven't managed to get into myself. I think it would be the same for me if I tried to actually play this game. But the devlog is intriguing and I'm curious to see where you'll go with this so if you don't mind I'll still follow the development and ask dumb questions now and then Smiley

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It comes from a really vivid dream I had, where I turned into a fly who was also a (completely powerless) superhero

There's a Tollywood movie with almost the same premise, actually:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eega

Not very queer though. In fact very patriarchical from the looks of it
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