First off, here’s hoping everyone had or has a sufficiently spooky Halloween. The holiday doesn’t really start for me until tomorrow, when all the candy goes on sale, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have any treats before then.
Let’s start with Highway Blossoms. Progress continues to go well there, with one or two scenes being finished every week. The last time we did a word count, which was a couple weeks ago, we were at over 40,000 words and about halfway through the story. So far, the game is shaping up to be a little bit longer than we had first expected, and will probably be somewhere in the 70 or 80 thousand word range once it’s completed. For some context, the Human Reignition Project demo clocked in at about 50k.
What I mostly want to talk about with HB is the audio side of things. The narration in our announcement trailer understandably raised a lot of questions and assumptions as to whether or not the full game will feature voice acting. As of this moment, we are not planning to have the game be voiced, because it would take us too far beyond our budget. Depending on how the game does once it’s released, and the reception as well as the demand, we might look into adding voices at a later date. If we do take that approach, voice acting will be a free update and you’ll be able to turn it off if you’d like.
Aside from voices, there’s also the music! We have a bit more to go off of here. When Syon and I were initially deciding what we wanted Highway Blossoms to be like, both visually and musically, we had pretty similar ideas. Without saying too much, music plays a pretty important role to Amber in the story. As such, we wanted a memorable soundtrack that goes beyond the typical VN assortment of classical and electronic music.
Ultimately, when we hired on the musicians, we gave them a wide array of references, ranging from Pat Metheny to Weather Report to the Trigun soundtrack to Native American folk music. There’s a heavy focus on some tracks being very Americana, western (southwest! Not midwest!) feeling, while some others will hopefully be very… trippy and strange.
To assist in this, we’ve brought on two talented musicians. We’ll be introducing one of them later on, but we’ve got a sample from our other musician: Jake Abernathie, AKA Jabs. Syon and I have worked with him in the past. Jabs was the musician for the ill-fated Amare in Bellum project that Syon and I were a part of, but we’ve stayed in touch since then and are really happy to have him providing the guitar-heavy, folksy sound for Highway Blossoms. You can check out one of his tracks for the game here, entitled “Hitchhiking Wind.”
Thanks to Rosuuri for the adorable chibis at the top, and that’s all the Highway Blossoms news we have for now…
… But that doesn’t mean there isn’t Human Reignition Project news!
If it seems like the updates for HRP have gotten slower, that’s mostly because we’re really getting into the meat of the project now: we’ve had completed outlines for the routes for a while, so at this point it’s just a matter of writing them! Expect more news on the individual routes as we hit certain milestones.
But before that, have some info about the visual direction for HRP. One thing that we’ll be doing a little differently from other VN’s is giving more depth and motion to the scenes. We’ll be using a 3D-camera plugin for Ren’Py, crafted, demonstrated and best exhibited by Alice in Dissonance in their game “Fault Milestone 2 – Side:Above.” It allows us to pan around a scene, focus on specific characters, place actors on different parts of the “stage,” and a number of other things.
It’s a bit early for us to really have anything to show in that regard, but I do want to brag and exhibit one of Zydaline’s new BG’s for the game.
One thing that the demo kind of suffered from was failing to appropriately demonstrate the scope of the city, and how comparatively empty it all feels. Zydaline’s art does a great job of capturing both those facets of the setting.
Lastly, let’s talk about girls.
While the character designs didn’t have as many issues as some of the other stuff in the demo, there was clear room for improvement. Fortunately for us, Myuto has been consistently leveling up since Anime Expo, and has gone back over the heroines once more to improve their looks and have them more in line with what we wanted. A big thing here was making the girls look more their ages. Some of the girls also dug through their wardrobes and are sporting new default outfits. You can see some of the results here.
I’m bad at WordPress image placement apparently, and don’t know how to set the images side-by-side. Oh well; that’s why I’m a writer and not a programmer.
We’ll try to keep these updates happening monthly, so please look forward to the next one towards the end of November. Cheers!