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A New Endeavor

Not a new interest – because I’ve blogged about loving Big Fish Games before.  I love hidden object and time management games.  I also recently played my first visual novel game:  Regency Love.

And that got me to thinking.  Hard.

I love all kinds of romance.  I love all kinds of games. But how come there aren’t very many good ROMANCE GAMES?!?

A very very long time ago, when Survive My Fire was first published by now defunct Drollerie Press, we talked about making a Keldari game.  At the time, I knew nothing about such games or how that’d work.  Then of course Drollerie went out of business.  But the love for gaming–and story telling, obviously!–is still there.

After playing Regency Love, I even went so far as to buy a new (Objective-C) programming book.  Just in case.

I code all the time for the Evil Day Job – but it’s not in a game-friendly language.  I know a little html and js – but I’ve never been a “developer” in those languages.  It’s just bits I’ve picked up after supporting back-end processes that feed to our websites.  I do know Java, but am far from an expert at it.  FAR.  I’m strongest in a vendor language that is as far away from gaming as we are from the sun.

Or is it?

The way a programmer thinks is the foundation for any code.  I don’t care what the language is.  There’s an inherit understanding of how to tackle a problem, break into pieces, reuse, etc.  Adding polymorphism and inheritance does drive the learning curve higher, but I’ve been taught in several object-oriented languages.

So I know how to think in code.  I know how to write.  I know to how game!

And even in my weakest language – Java – we have a development tool in house that helps as much as possible.  e.g. if you start typing, it tries to be smart and fill in for you. All kinds of built-in look up capabilities and smart help information. Heck, with a push of a button I can make code auto-generate all the getters and setters for an entire class without even thinking about it.  It’s barely even “coding” in that regard.

So what I need is a good tool. I’ve been researching various software development tools for gaming and I may have stumbled across a gem.

I’ve demo’d several that were not for me, though I could see how they could be useful for others.  I walked through an entire HTML5/JavaScript tutorial on how to build a game from scratch.  Learned a lot – but still had too many questions about how to do a story-type game. GameMaker Player wasn’t bad – but crashed on me 15 mins in.  Construct 2 could also work… But it just wasn’t clicking for me. I’ve downloaded and installed Unity, but I’ve read that the learning curve for it is high, and haven’t had time to dig into it yet.  (Plus it’s not cheap!)  For what I want to do, it would be like buying a supercharged Porche for the sole purpose of going to the post office.

Then I found Tyrano Builder.  It’s ONLY a visual novel software tool.  Plug and play – drop in elements you want.  OR you can code in JavaScript or pseudo script for more complicated needs. Pretty quickly, I was able to get a basic scene going in a new Keldari novella/game.

And it is so freaking cool!  I haven’t been able to play in this world for a long time.  Too long, actually.  The game is based on what I’d planned to include in Given In Fire.  The only problem: it’s been so long since I had that idea, I can’t even remember the characters’ names, let alone what the story was going to be.

So it’s going to take me some time to a). learn the tool and b). learn how to write a visual novel game and c). write a meaningful story (several, actually, to accommodate multiple story lines through interaction).  But I have started it and it’s been a lot of fun.

I’m going to do a little more due diligence and check out Ren’Py – though at first glance, it’s too heavy on the Python scripting for me, after seeing how easy TB is to drag and drop the elements I want into play – and probably Novelty too.  The slight advantage with it might be the ability to get and develop game assets (like characters and backgrounds) easily.

I haven’t had a problem uploading images to TB – the problem is I don’t have very many images to play with.  I’ve got a couple of backgrounds I bought for Keldari novellas that are appropriately grim deserts.  I even managed to make a very easy/rudimentary text box tonight with Gimp to give a slight customization to the game.  I also downloaded a small dragon sprite to use – but I couldn’t use it for a game I plan/hope to sell someday.  It’s enough for now to let me see how the game develops.

Graphics are my biggest weak point in this area and I can’t compensate for it.  I’ve tried to learn PhotoShop and it’s just not my thing.  The graphics just look cheap and lazy and take me way longer than they should to cobble together.  I’ll have to hire that out.  Luckily, Raelyn’s son has an interest in graphic design and is helping me with a few secret things.  And I’ve been scoping out several artists in various forums to get an idea of what the going rates are.

I even bought a domain! So that’s my FUN thing I’m doing.

I also completed a short novella in April, but it’s a secret.  You’ll have to use your detective skills if you want to find it sometime this month.  It’s off the wall and crazy – my stress reliever project.

I also bought a cover for Three Cuts Deader.  I’d *like* to write it this year yet, but I need to get my mind around what I want to do.  I have a direction a little further along than before.

Oh and I still have a Celtic-inspired fantasy romance I’m working on.  I stepped away from it temporarily to work on the secret project, but should be returning to it in the next month or so.

3 thoughts on “A New Endeavor

  1. YAY to all of the above! I am super excited about a Keldari romance game! :mrgreen:

  2. Oh awesome! Good luck to you on this game writing effort!

  3. I’m glad that you’re regaining your love for writing and creativity in general, and look forward to seeing what you do with the Keldari game. I must admit that I’m a pretty bad detective, though, because I haven’t managed to track down your novella yet. Would you be willing to give me a hint?

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