Of Pieces and Memories (the official name of the game I’ve been referring to as Memories) is now available on itch.io!
I’ve been playtesting it all week. By about Thursday I noticed that I was getting really fiddly with the game (I’d make a change, play through one more time, then change it back). That was the point that I knew I was pretty much done, that this game is the best I can make it right now. Since most of the playtesting this week was devoted solely to checking all the dialogue options, I had a little more playtesting to do after I reached that point, but by Friday I was done.
From there, I had the unexpected problem of developing a page for the game on itch.io. I’ve never released a game on the platform before, and so hadn’t really thought about this part of the release. The biggest problem was that the page needed a cover picture and I had no idea what to use. I considered using the title page of the game, but that has art I got from the RPG Maker store (which I wasn’t sure if I could use as a cover picture). In the end, I decided to use one of my photos, which I altered using BeFunky to make it a bit more cartoonish-looking (and to add the game’s title). A bunch of purple flowers play a role in the game, so I thought this photo was fitting. 🙂
Now that it’s done, I’m going to take the weekend off to celebrate (I’m opening a special wine I’ve been saving). I also won’t be posting a #WriteTuesday post this week; instead I’m going to write a postmortem for Of Pieces of Memories, which will look at what went right and what went wrong as I developed the game. 🙂
I’m almost done Memories!
After doing my best to find voices for my characters (Wulfric and a few others are still giving me some trouble, but I *hope* I’ve done well enough with them), I started doing some final playtesting before I plan on releasing the game on itch.io. I thought the playtesting would just be a few playthroughs to mainly check all the dialogue as a complete whole (thanks to implementing different dialogue choices within the game, it does mean I’ll have to do at least 4 different playthroughs for dialogue alone). But I ended up finding quite a few little bugs, as well as a few bigger ones, that need to be fixed. So I’ve been making my way through all of that (with a break to finish reading Elizabeth Bear’s Jacob’s Ladder trilogy). Playtesting will be continuing this week (along with some more editing work by the looks of things).
Oh, I’m also really excited to finally have a proper name for Memories! I think I’m going to call it Of Pieces and Memories. When I gave it to my friend to try, I’d tentatively called it Hearts and Memories, but that didn’t sound right to me, even though it is, at it’s very essence, what the game is about. I considered several lines of dialogue as possible titles (like “Just trust your heart,” which resonates with me every time I read it during a playthrough), but nothing seemed right. Then over the weekend, I realized that a lot of the dialogue revolves around pieces of hearts, which is how I decided on the title. I ran it by my friend, too, and he approved as well. 🙂
How about you? How’s everything going? Stay safe! 🙂
Last night, while I was working on Memories, I came to the realization that the character Alexis wasn’t needed.
Alexis was the daughter of Albert (the butler), and Adalyn (or Lyn, the housekeeper), as well as the sister of Alea (the cook). I used one of the pre-made characters within RPG Maker for her (as well as Albert and Alea; Lyn was made using RPG Maker VX Ace’s character generator). Her character was created when I was trying to round out the number of servants within the house, and at the time it made sense for her to be related to the servant family.
But when I was really thinking about Memories yesterday (and specifically what character from the servants should be in the final cutscene), I realized that there’s no real reason for Alexis to be in the game at all. She served as someone that you brought an item to partway through the game, but that was all she actually did; that function could very easily go to someone else, and probably should, as the other characters do far more for the story. I was sad about this; I had just figured out her character and how she would speak over the last few days (and I liked her – she was upbeat and friendly). But she had to go in service to the overall story and game.
Removing her actually helped me with another character too (her mother, Lyn), who just disappears through most the game. I always assumed Lyn was offscreen in one of the areas you unlock later, which works but seems kind of weak. Having Lyn take over for Alexis makes her far more present within the game.
Thankfully removing Alexis from Memories was relatively easy. All I had to do was change up a few bits of dialogue, and a spot where Lyn appeared in the kitchen, which ended up easier than I expected (I just used Alea for that part instead, which also strengthens the cook’s role within the game). And done! That further cemented that removing Alexis from the game was the right thing to do; the other characters (and the game itself) are now stronger as a result.
Seriously, this book is fantastic! I really recommend it. 🙂
Over the weekend I finally read the book Writing Subtext: What Lies Beneath by Dr. Linda Seger. I’ve had the book for years but never got around to reading it (lol, such is the story of my life). But now seemed like a great time to read it – I was hoping it might help me improve the dialogue within Memories. Writing Subtext ended up a really great read – even as I was reading it I had all kinds of ideas for what I could do. Unfortunately now comes the hard part: actually implementing all of those changes into the game. I’ll hopefully be going over all the dialogue during the next bit to clean things up and start layering in some subtext to the story. 🙂
On top of that, I decided I’m going to implement something I considered a few years ago when I first started working on Memories: I’m going to add some branching dialogue options as you unlock more memories (and the corresponding emotions). So once you’ve unlocked the second emotion, you’ll now have two dialogue options with NPCs, rather than just the one I originally came up with. I started implementing this yesterday and got quite a bit changed already. So I uploaded the new game files for my playtesting friend. I haven’t heard back from him yet, so this is perfect; hopefully he hasn’t started playtesting yet and will be able to try the newer version instead!
So how’s your week been? 🙂
Over the weekend, I finally sat down and read the February issue of bUneke Magazine. I try to read it every month so I know what’s going on (and also to find articles to highlight on the Sustainably North Twitter, @SustaintheNorth). In the February issue, Anna East writes about getting things done. You can find her article here:
Anna East’s article hit me pretty hard because I know I am very, very guilty of not finishing projects I am working on. Take right now: I’m part way through the story I’m writing for the Make Your Way Anthology, I wanted to start another short story about aliens in the wild west, I have three RPGs that I’m building on RPG Maker (Tears of the King, Memories, and Soccrpg). And I have various other short stories I have started and failed to finish for one reason or another.
I think Anna East’s problem is my problem, too: I want my work to be perfect. So when a project is failing to live up to my impossibly high standards, I stop working on it. I also have a million ideas and there’s never enough time to get them all written, so that doesn’t help either.
And I’m busy. I know that this is a problem that everyone has: there just never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done. But specific to me, I started my other blog, Sustainably North. I started volunteering my time with bUneke Magazine, writing a monthly column. I’m trying to get a bunch of reading done (I did make a goal to read 25 books this year, plus I just really like reading). And then I do a fair amount of writing for my day job too (even more right now because I’m helping out on a few bigger projects that are coming up). All of this has been making me feel fractured and really time-pinched. Plus after a full day at work, I find myself coming home and just not wanting to work on anything else because I’m done for the day – I’ve got nothing left.
And since I have no intention of stopping Sustainably North, volunteering, reading, or working on those projects at my day job, I am going to dial back on projects at home. As much as I would really, really like to work on a story about aliens in the wild west, I honestly do not have the time for it right now (especially since it got stuck in worldbuilding). Plus the plot just isn’t worked out right now anyway, while the story for the Make Your Way anthology is plotted and just needs to be written. So I’m going to stop working on the wild west story, and just focus on getting the Make Your Way story written. And at this point I need to make sure I don’t bog myself down with feeling that it isn’t good enough; this is a first draft right now, so of course it won’t be perfect! It has to be written before I can worry about polishing it.
Filed under Updates, Writing
Happy New Year’s! It’s that time of year again – time to look at the goals I set for myself last year and set new goals for this year. Last year, my goals were:
- Read 25 novels. Success! I read over 50 novel-length books this year! I didn’t read many long ones, but that’s okay. Having no pressure to read made it much more enjoyable over 2018.
- Write two polished short stories. Failure. I wrote one, but didn’t finish the second one. 😦
- Finish a bloody RPG! Failure. I didn’t really work on anything at all. 😦
For 2018 I was hoping to work towards freelancing more. Even though I wasn’t really successful with my goals, I think I was somewhat successful thanks to starting my other blog, Sustainably North. Thanks to Sustainably North, I was asked by bUneke Magazine to write a monthly column, which has been a lot of fun and tremendous experience. For my day job I also wrote 9 articles, 7 book reviews, and interviewed 12 authors for TBPL Off the Shelf, so that’s pretty good, too. Oh and I almost forgot that 2018 saw my first published short story, “A Harmony of Soil and Sand,” which was published in Menagerie de Mythique Anthology back in May. So while I didn’t exactly meet all of my goals, I still think 2018 was a pretty good year of writing for me! 🙂
Oh yeah, and I participated in my very first game jam back in January! That was fun, too! 🙂
For 2019 I’d like to do things a little differently, particularly in regards to my writing goals. This year I’d like to set smaller goals every month rather than big overarching goals. My thought is that way I can use the end of the month as a deadline, plus I’ll have more flexibility in case other unexpected projects come my way (like when that big freelance project came my way back in 2017). Plus if something takes longer than planned (like how the story I’m working on for the Make Your Way anthology got bogged down in worldbuilding), I can adjust my scheduled goals accordingly. So here are my goals for 2019 so far:
- Read 25 novel-length books. 25 books worked really well for me last year and I’d like to keep the same goal. Like I said, this took the pressure off of me and made reading more fun. This goal is the only one I’m naming that’s for the whole year.
- Finish the story for the Make Your Way anthology by January 31st. I think that’s a reasonable amount of time to get this story written (and hopefully submitted!)
I’m not going to talk about Sustainably North goals on here right now. At this point I’m kind of just carrying on, trying to get a weekly blog post written plus an article for bUneke Magazine. If that changes, I’ll let you know. 😉
This will be an interesting year – I really hope that setting smaller monthly goals (with deadlines) will work better for me!
So what about you? Have you set any goals for the upcoming year? 🙂
Despite spending a lot of time watching Pitch Meetings on Youtube (they’re by Ryan George for Screen Rant – sooo funny!) this was a fairly productive weekend. I managed to actually work a little bit on the story I’m writing for the Make Your Way anthology. I’ve had such a hard time sitting down with it lately so I was very happy to go from 326 words to 687 on Friday night. Unfortunately I hit a bit of a snag in the story, so I need to sit down and actually figure out how to get past that before continuing.
On Saturday, I realized that I still needed to finish editing today’s Sustainably North post. So I did that and scheduled it for earlier today. The post ended up being called “Why I’ll Never Be Plastic Free” and goes through a lot of the plastic I generate just from having Type 1 diabetes. I had a really hard time writing the ending, so this took a lot longer than I thought it would.
Then yesterday, I wrote and scheduled the next two Sustainably North posts. Next week’s is going to be about this month’s article in bUneke Magazine, which is about homemade gifts. From there I decided to write some posts about the wreath and banana bread that I have pictured with that article. So the end of the month talks about the paper flowers. I haven’t written them yet, but I’m also going to write some posts for the first few weeks of December about making the actual paper wreath and making banana bread (I think I’ll share my grandmother’s recipe for that one, too!)
So with Sustainably North taken care of for a little bit, I’m hoping I can turn my attention back to my gamebook short story and hopefully get a lot more done on it!
Over the last week, I found myself really struggling with doubt when it comes to working on the short story for the Make Your Way anthology. Specifically, I’ve been doubting myself and my ability to write this piece.
Deep down I know this doubt is silly. I’ve worked on similar projects in the past, most notably Holdfast. Holdfast is a game book that was developed by Black Chicken Studios. For Holdfast, I worked on two separate story lines. I developed the characters, and had to write out a branching story (rather like a Choose Your Own Adventure story) complete with a couple of RPG choices. And I did it all within a week. This experience is exactly what I need to call on for the Make Your Way anthology.
Perhaps part of the problem is that this specific experience happened five years ago. Yes I have done it, but I haven’t done anything quite like this recently. And in truth, this project is a little more intense than Holdfast was (even though all the work I did for Holdfast happened within one week, which is a very tight turnaround time); where in Holdfast I was just writing the story stuff, this time around I’m designing the RPG system, editing everything, and having to randomize the sections at the end, too. So it’s possible that this stuff is intimidating me a little bit, too.
Another thing that I’m worried about is the story ballooning out of control. Being a choose your own adventure style story, having multiple paths increases the replayability. But it also means the story becomes physically much bigger. While Make Your Way didn’t have any word length specifics, they do remind you that whatever you submit is just one part of a bigger book, not a standalone book on its own. How do I keep the word count down while making sure the piece is fun? Should I sacrifice replayability by making it a super linear story? I don’t really want to, but it might be the only way forward.
While grappling with all of these doubts, I have made a bit of progress. I have the main characters figured out. And I’ve brainstormed a lot of individual story elements (including a possible bad ending!) I think at this point I really just need to sit down, start writing, and see where things go, even with all the doubts. So wish me luck as I do that this week! 🙂
It’s #WriteMonday, it’s the end of the summer, and I thought that now would be a good time to reflect on those goals I set for 2018. To date, the only goal I accomplished from my short list was to read 25 novel-length books. That leaves me with four months left and two goals to go. I think what I’m going to have to do is set a goal for each month (which will also leave me with an extra month either for a goal that needs a bit more time, or to work on something else). For September, I think I’m going to finish the short story I was working on in June. I’d like to get that story out of the way since all it needs now is some edits. Depending on how long that takes, I may also do a bit of work on Memories (which I think is going to be the RPG Maker game I try to finish this year).
So with that in mind, I spend a couple of hours yesterday writing down everything I could think of about an idea I’ve had for a few weeks now. I love this idea and would really like to work on it. But first I need to finish some of my other projects that are on the go before I plot it out (and learn how to write for a whole new medium, which this project will require).
Over the last month or so, I’ve had a couple of different people ask me for game writing samples. I directed them to my main website, shaunakosoris.com, so they could see what I had readily available. Unfortunately in both cases, my available samples did not meet their needs (one person requested samples with romantic dialogue, while the other was looking for non-fantasy samples). Currently on my website, I have three samples: two are character biographies that were developed for different games, and the other is made up of actual scenes from a game (mainly dialogue with a bit of branching narrative).
I have written a couple of pieces over the years that I think would have better met what these people were looking for. Unfortunately I am unable to showcase them as samples. So I decided to set to work remedying this. Two nights ago I went looking for writing prompts to use as a starting point. I was specifically looking for more of a real-world idea, but ended up finding a fun romantic dialogue prompt instead. I was going to write the sample in Chat Mapper, with the intention of exporting it as a .rtf (I was really hoping to see what the output would look like with branching dialogue). Unfortunately I don’t currently have access to that capability, so I had to use a different program instead. Last night I played around with TyranoBuilder a bit, thinking I could build it there, but I don’t think there’s a way to export the dialogue (and I wasn’t planning on writing an entire Visual Novel, although that might be something to try in the future). So I ended up writing the first draft of the sample in Word. I had a lot of fun writing it (it’s currently over 900 words!) I’m hoping to get it edited and up on the site over the weekend. 🙂