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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsCheckmate - An Anime Social Sim Commentary
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Author Topic: Checkmate - An Anime Social Sim Commentary  (Read 1460 times)
JWMatthews
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« on: June 07, 2022, 04:40:25 PM »


WARNING: This game contains / will contain some pretty dark topics, like suicide, emotional/mental abuse, psychological manipulation, and loss of family. Be careful going in!

The following is meant to be a synopsis and isn't really going to be that refined in terms of narrative.

Kikue Aimori (愛守菊江) started as a painfully average student- in terms of grades and effort, at least. One day, she wrote a love confession letter to her classmate, Kokoa Rikima. Rikima wasn't aware that Kikue was watching from afar, and noticed her very blatantly putting the letter in a place that others would find it and waiting for them to show up, to out and embarrass her in front of her peers.

One day, she finds a letter in her room, sealed with black wax, promising her revenge in exchange for a deal. She takes it without second thought.

The plot of the game revolves around a deal that Kikue makes with a strange yokai creature named Kuro. When she enters the same high school as Rikima, it becomes clear that Rikima has her own yokai companion- Shiro. It now dawns upon her that she's been entangled into a game of chess between two beings who are far more powerful than she anticipated. It's the Black Queen and the White Queen of the board, fated to fight one another until the end of the game.

Check, and mate.

Let the games begin.





Checkmate is an anime-styled social strategy game taking place in a Japanese High School, inspired by Death Note, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Toire no Hanako-kun, and My Hero Academia. You play as the aforementioned Kikue Aimori, beginning on her first day of High School. In exchange for your protection in the school in your endeavors to sabotage the charismatic Kokoa Rikima, you are tasked by the mysterious figure 'KURO' to investigate specific members of your fellow peers and school faculty. You aren't entirely sure what his motivations are or what he really wants from you, but that doesn't matter - it's your duty, now.

This art is really freaking old, but I'm keeping it here for posterity.

DEVLOG #1 - JUNE 7, 2022

Hi there! Thanks for reading that blurb. It's subject to change, but I think it's going to stay that way for a while unless I suddenly decide to take a turn with the plot.

According to the timestamps in my Unity project, I started officially working on this game April 25th, 2022. I had the idea for it while trying to kill time on a two hour flight. What if a video game employed Death Note-like social mechanics where you had to out-manipulate an equally cunning force with an unknown motive, powered by a mysterious entity and followed by supernatural events?


So far, the game basically just looks like a Unity asset flip. I admit that wholeheartedly. I'm not the best at 3D modeling, so it's mostly going to be assets. I'm using a basemesh made by Ctool on Sketchfab for my characters.

Currently, I have a system with a crude GUI that keeps track of what season it is, what weekday it is, the time, and the year. (I plan on having the time progress, with the end of the game being graduation.) I have a random student generator, but at the given moment I've only modeled a single hair style so far. I tried using my own basemesh at first, but it looked...


Left: The basemesh I bought. Right: The basemesh I made myself.

*coughs* Well, obviously made by someone very new to 3D modeling.

The students I have are capable of pathfinding using Unity's navmesh system, and I can give them schedules and activities, but that's about it. Extracurricular clubs exist, but for now they're nothing more than an enum.

At the moment I'm working on animating the basemeshes. They came with detailed eyes, and I'm really new at rigging, so my blink that I made is a bit wonky, but it's functioning. The eyebrows can also emote.


As I work on it I'll keep you all updated. Feel free to ask questions and give feedback or suggestions! My Word!
« Last Edit: July 03, 2023, 09:11:28 AM by JWMatthews » Logged

I usually go by VERTIGOdivine elsewhere. | Lead Developer of Checkmate
JWMatthews
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« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2022, 09:23:28 AM »

DEVLOG #2 - JUNE 9, 2022

Happy birthday to my mother!  Beer!

I'm considering transferring the project down from Unity 2021 to 2020 so that I can take advantage of DOTS for controlling the NPCs. I'm also thinking about changing the title already. Checkmate may already be copyrighted for a video game title, and it isn't highly recognizable...

I was thinking of Black Letter / Kuro Tegami / 黒手紙 as a title, but I guess it depends. Since I'm still super early in development, this would be the time to make the major decisions that will affect how the rest of the game is structured.
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JWMatthews
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« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2022, 06:55:54 AM »

DEVLOG #3 - JUNE 12, 2022

Okay, well, dashing the ECS/DOTS conversion idea for now. Turns out, it requires a shader to support DOTS instancing, and I don't know enough about shaders to convert the ones that I use. So... that's going on the backburner. Maybe for some major update down the line. I spent the time since last devlog learning more about it and tinkering with it, but because it's still so early access, I feel like I should definitely wait until it's 100% released and a supported part of Unity.

Other than that, I've got some character concepts jotted down and plot points figured out. I want each club to have one character that functions as the player's 'best friend' / helper. I've been referring to them as companion characters. I have the companions figured out for the Drama, Agriculture, and Fashion clubs. Still gotta figure out the rest. Maybe the skillset of the associated companion character should be factored in when the player has to choose their club at the beginning of the year.
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JWMatthews
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« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2022, 09:12:48 AM »

DEVLOG #4 - JUNE 14, 2022

I've been working on the system for randomly generating students by giving them varying hair styles, eye shapes, and colors for both. Originally, my system just gave things flat colors and generated shadows and speculars itself through the shader, but this time I created some textures myself to make them look a bit more dynamic. Here's a little preview of how some of those components are looking together.

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« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2022, 09:34:01 AM »

DEVLOG #5 - OCTOBER 22, 2022

Wow, ouch. I'm bad at devlogs, apparently. School and work caught up to me, I guess, but believe you me, progress is being made!

I gave up on the randomized hair styles constructed from pieces. Went ahead and just decided to make a chunk of pre-existing hair styles. Less varied, but easier to maintain, for me at least. I edited the hair shader as well, and started work on some environments and main characters. Here we can see our protagonist wearing her summer uniform!



As per an advertisement post I made here, I managed to team up with someone willing to help me out by doing floor plans for various rooms and the school itself. It's been pretty promising. Smiley

Progress is being made, just nothing concrete enough for a demonstration. I'm working on redoing the concept art soon, because I need to put a bit more effort into making it look... well, good. Hehe.
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« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2022, 10:40:08 AM »

Hi everyone, My name is Alex, and been helping with the floor plans and with anything else JWMatthews needs, I'm really excited for what's to come. you're doing a great job juggling a lot of things.

look forward to the progress.


DEVLOG #5 - OCTOBER 22, 2022

Wow, ouch. I'm bad at devlogs, apparently. School and work caught up to me, I guess, but believe you me, progress is being made!

I gave up on the randomized hair styles constructed from pieces. Went ahead and just decided to make a chunk of pre-existing hair styles. Less varied, but easier to maintain, for me at least. I edited the hair shader as well, and started work on some environments and main characters. Here we can see our protagonist wearing her summer uniform!



As per an advertisement post I made here, I managed to team up with someone willing to help me out by doing floor plans for various rooms and the school itself. It's been pretty promising. Smiley

Progress is being made, just nothing concrete enough for a demonstration. I'm working on redoing the concept art soon, because I need to put a bit more effort into making it look... well, good. Hehe.
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« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2022, 07:18:55 AM »

DEVLOG #6 - DECEMBER 31 2022

The last devlog of the year! Believe me, the lack of posts aren't because I've given up, but rather because I've been making a lot of steady progress. First of all, I slowly started to hate how the characters looked and knew I couldn't progress unless I could get them to a point where I actually kinda like them, so I spent a lot of time revamping the style. I think it turned out well.


(left: old style, right: new style)

This isn't the style I was going for when I started, but I actually loved how it was starting to look, so I leaned into it. Since making this comparison I've also updated the uniform quite a bit, giving the summer uniform a sleeveless sweater vest and adding normal maps and better textures.



As another note, I've decided to remove the childhood friend from the plot since he didn't actually add anything to it. I've named all students in the same year as the player and am working on designing them all. Rikima herself went through a few design changes too! I'll show a bit of progress as I model more of the characters. Smiley

This project is now being more focused on being a commentary on the social sim genre as a whole. I think it's funny how social sims expect you to say what a character wants to hear rather than giving them the truth, so I'm leaning into that by making it abundantly clear that what you're doing here is manipulation, and that the player isn't a completely good person, nor is Rikima totally evil. I hope curiosity will drive the player even if Kikue isn't the most morally sound...
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« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2023, 09:18:56 AM »

DEVLOG #7 - JULY 3 2023

Aaaaand it's been like, 6 months.

Shoot.

I've been hard at work on Checkmate still- just haven't been putting much thought into making a devlog again. Is that a good sign? No idea.

I've updated the original post, since it contained an outdated version of the plot, and added a promo image using the new 3d models. Yes, I've revamped them again. Hopefully for the last time, this time. I made the shading much more cartoony than it was before, and I'm pretty happy with the results.

I've removed the randomized student feature. It added significantly more work for significantly less value, and I wanted more control over the dialogue to make it interesting. Also, the randomized students outnumbered the handcrafted ones, and it felt so... soulless.

I have a spreadsheet open to track progress on the modeling and stuff, and it's...


[Headdesks]

It's going, alright.

I have some Checkmate characters and lore up on Artfight, if you're interested in joining me there. Thanks for the patience, if anyone is reading this. :D

https://artfight.net/~VERTIGOdivine
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