All posts by Ethan

About Ethan

“Oily” is one of the original members of the DevTeam. He’s the mediator of the group: “The Great Compromiser.” Fitting, considering his favorite U.S. History figure is Henry Clay. He just can’t understand why Jackson was such an asshole to his homedog Henry. Again, a gifted writer, though he keeps his past shrouded in a veil of intrigue and lies. We know, Oily. We know everything.

Act One Draft Outline Complete!

I’ll admit, things haven’t been progressing very quickly for the last week or two. College finals, computer meltdowns, and full-time jobs have gotten in the way for a few of our members, and things have naturally slowed. They’ll be picking back up soon, but in the meantime I thing you’re all due for an update. This one’s a pretty big one.

We’ve finally finished our draft outline of Act One! All 21 major scenes in this act are now fully detailed. The only thing left is to go over the outline to fix inconsistencies, throw some extra (but still meaningful) scenes into the mix to pad things out and get back to editing and writing. After that, we can start commissioning some more backgrounds and get those sprites updated. That means you’ll be seeing new art from us relatively soon, which is always awesome. I might be a little too optimistic in saying this, but once everyone gets back into high gear, it shouldn’t be too long before we start needing beta readers for our Act One demo. But you didn’t hear it from me…

Fifteen Thousand Plus

The Human Reignition Project has gone through a few iterations and false starts before it became the story it is today. One of those iterations was a nice, campy little Slice-of-Life story about a kooky old professor dragging a group of regular people along to take part in wild shenanigans while learning the importance of human connection. This, aside from its current form, is the Human Reignition Project that we stuck with the longest. It seemed a decent enough story, the setting was nice, and the characters appeared interesting.

The only problem was that it wasn’t, and they weren’t. But we never noticed that our story didn’t have a story to it, that it was just a group of people sort of aimlessly wandering around without motivation or reason. The characters had depth in our minds, but they didn’t have any real involvement, because again, there was no story to speak of. And the worst part of it all? We had no appreciation for The Holy Outline. Our outline at the time probably topped out at around two hundred words for the first act, reasoning with ourselves that even though we couldn’t figure out any more details for a particular scene, we’d just leave it to the writers to ‘figure it out later’ and patted ourselves on the back when we thought that would give the writers the greatest amount of flexibility (notice: we’re the writers.)

And so we thought up scenes and wrote. We wrote what came to us, as it came to us, outlines and structure be damned. After all, it can’t possibly be that difficult to write a story with multiple branches involving at least six heroines, right? It wasn’t too much longer before we wrote ourselves right into a corner, and we were left with a sickly script that limped spasmodically from one event to another. By the time we realized it had to be scrapped and the idea reworked from the ground up, the script topped out at around fifteen thousand words.

But this week, a little over two weeks after we started drafting again, we’ve finally reached and surpassed that word count. Our shiny new rough draft, with its interweaving plot and characters that actually matter and develop throughout the story, is over 15,000 words long so far. And we’ve not even done with the first act yet. Hell, we’re not even done with the first quarter of the first act yet, and we couldn’t be happier with how things are shaping up!

The further we get into writing, the more necessary it’s getting to hire a CG artist to finally fill out our ranks. If anyone reading this post is interested in applying for the position, click here to get an idea of our initial contract terms, and send an email along with your portfolio to AlienWorks.Recruiting@gmail.com

Updates and Our Opinion On Deadlines

Hey everyone. The past two weeks have gone really smoothly for us at AlienWorks, and we thought it might be time to give you guys a little more info on what’s been going on behind the scenes since our last post.

First and most exciting news first: We’ve tweaked our story a little bit to help things flow a lot more smoothly, adding a whole new subplot that’s meant to tie up a few of our loose plot threads and bring them back into the overall plot in an interesting way. Things are way less ‘jerky’ now when it comes to plot developments, since they now all have some connection to something that’s happened earlier in the story. I really wish I could go into detail about what we’ve thought up, because – and not to toot our AW horn – it’s pretty awesome and leads everything to an amazing climax.

The only small downside to having a new, amazing subplot is that we need to integrate it into our current story in a way that will make it seem like it was always there. This basically means we need to mess with a few flowcharts, edit a few scenes, and add some others. No big deal.

The second thing we’ve gotten going again since last post is our background image production. We’re starting to produce a few more of those to catch up with what we’ve outlined so far in the story. They all look great, because our art team keeps getting better and better as time goes by. We’re all looking forward to seeing how much they’ll both have improved by the end of this.

And speaking of “the end of this”, you guys might be wondering just when that will be. After all, The Human Reignition Project (in one form or another) has been in development for over a year. We must have some idea of how fast we can work by now, right? We should at least have some estimate for when we’ll be releasing a demo. And the truth is, we do. But you won’t find anything on this site that says “Q4 2015” or “late September this year” when we mention the possibility of a demo.

We’ve learned through our own experience and the experiences of others that announcing deadlines at such an early stage in development (we’ve only just figured out the general direction to take this game in the last, what, six months?) can be either a good idea or a  terrible idea. We don’t want to get people’s hopes up only to disappoint them in the end when it turns out we’re going to miss our deadline for one reason or another.

For most of the AW crew, this is the first visual novel we’ve worked on, and definitely the first one we’ve worked on together. We spent a very long time doing not much more than just learning the ropes, and we all know we still have a huge amount left to learn. Most amateur first-time visual novel projects fail, and others might be released years after their first announced project deadline. We don’t want to belong to either category, so for now and probably until release, we’ll be keeping our deadlines private.

Of course if you’re really determined to find out our internal project deadlines, feel free to drop by our IRC and hang around. You might find out more about our project than we’ll ever post on here.

Split Decision

If you’ve ever worked with a group of writers before, you know that it can be tough. Everyone has different ideas about where the story should go, how this or that character should behave or react to this other character, whether or not a character should be used to further the plot at this point in the story rather than that point in the story, things like that. It gets a lot more difficult when you’re working on a visual novel: not only do you need to deal with the above, but you also need to figure out how to combine everything into a single, flowing story with multiple endings while at the same time shaping it into something that people will want to read by the time you’re finished with it.

Continue reading Split Decision

Eleven months in

The team noticed something yesterday. Our subreddit was founded on October 1st. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been working on this project (in one form or another) for that long. It feels like only a few months ago we were responding to Tony’s VN recruitment thread over at /r/visualnovels over on reddit. We’ve gained and lost a handful of people since then, and we’ve learned a ton about VN development, including a lot of stuff we probably should have known before we even started. We’ve had our share of problems, some setting us back by months. One thing we didn’t realize was exactly how difficult making a game would be. No one came into the project thinking it would be easy, of course. We all knew this would be tough, but what we imagined wasn’t even remotely close to reality.

But for how difficult it can be at times, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had creatively, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the others felt the same. To create a world  and story this detailed is nothing short of liberating. You start to live in the world and see these characters as if they’re real, see things through their eyes and think like they would.

So we want to celebrate this anniversary of ours. October 1st. The day we’re going to reveal everything. Up until now, we’ve been mostly quiet about what we’re doing, what the story is really about, who these characters are. We’ve never told you what the Human Reignition Project really is.

October 1st. Thirty days from now.

That’s when we go live.

Progress 2.0

Early height comparison image

Early height comparison image, minus one heroine

So we’re preparing for something. Something big. You probably know that already. Don’t worry, it’s not another ‘restructuring’, ‘consolidation’, ‘reimagining’ or any other big word that tries to spin something bad into sounding good. This thing we’re preparing for is actually good, and we need to clean up for it in advance. Unfortunately that’s why the blog suddenly looks so bare right now; we need to make a good first impression.

I promise you that in a few weeks (or months) you’ll finally find out what the hell this project you’ve been following is all about.

Continue reading Progress 2.0