Welcome (back) to madicienne.com. The blog’s been down so long that we need an entirely new introduction, so buckle up! In this update:
- an intro to my new passion project
- online update/resources/links
- a life update?
hon3ypot: intro & progress
My current passion project is a visual novel (VN) called HON3YPOT: an interactive sci-fantasy heist story where you seduce your way to success (or not). I’ve moved to this project because it allows me to combine three passions: writing, drawing and coding. In theory, this means I’ll be able to make better progress because I won’t be splitting my focus.
I unofficially started this project in 2022, but I’m more organized now, making tangible progress, and using this blog to keep myself accountable. Future monthly posts will recap the previous month’s progress, but today will be a bit of a catchup, including May’s progress as well as some from the Before Times.
Right now, I’m using Ren’Py, a visual novel engine, to help write my game. This way, I don’t need to write everything from scratch. I’m also keeping an eye on alternative engines, because I’m not deep enough into Ren’Py that I’m married to it yet. If you’ve got opinions, let’s hear ’em!
Initially, I wasn’t sure how to approach writing (or organising) a VN. Since the story will have branching paths as well as events triggered by player choices, it’s not as straightforward as a linear story. I did some reading online, but the actual writing is not talked about in much detail – maybe this is a well-guarded secret, or maybe no one knows what they’re doing!
At first, I tried planning the entire thing using Excel, and then using flowcharts. I liked this idea because it was logical, but the actual execution wasn’t fun and it wasn’t manageable from a device/schedule perspective. I tried “just starting”, and writing story + code directly into Ren’Py, but I ran into the same issues: this was only fun-ish, and finding time to sit at my computer in between my day job and toddler management was difficult. I also found that interrupting the dialogue – something that I love to write – with code made it difficult to stay in the writing flow. So…
In May, I just started just writing, and I’ve nearly finished drafting the first date. On the first pass, I write one branch or trigger from start to finish, as though it’s a linear story. In subsequent passes, I tackle different branches/triggers. This way, I don’t get bogged down in the logic, and I’m able to write my best dialogue.
The first date is with Candy, a cutesie children’s show host/public figure who’s learning to take pictures of secret graffiti…
SETTINGS, BACKGROUNDS & PERSPECTIVE
I talked a bit about perspective and backgrounds for VNs in a recent post on ko-fi (by the way, did you know that I share mini-updates and sketches on ko-fi?). Since working out my screen-versus-sprite-versus-background measurements, I’ve come up with a template and I’ve been drafting scenes for Candy’s graffiti date. Not all of them work out, but it’s fun to practice, and the template’s been useful!
I’ve drafted baseline sprites for Gideon (the player character), Candy (the date) and Kale (Candy’s over-protective brother). I’ve got details to refine for all of these, but for now I’m letting them sit.
I’m using ko-fi to share mini-updates and sketches! Right now, my ko-fi is completely FREE, but I’ve got plans to add paid tiers in future. Get it while it’s hot – early followers will get special benefits once tiers are added.
In June, I’m planning to finish up all the drafts for the Candy date (writing, sprites, backgrounds), and put them together in Ren’Py. This means I’ll have a “playable” draft / proof-of-concept for the first date. This is an aggressive target, so wish me luck!
I recently came across a trend on Instagram where artists are sharing their favourite online resources. One that I found particularly interesting was Sketchfab, where you can browse a library of 3D assets (objects, people, environments, animals, etc!) and rotate them to view at different angles.
I also learned a lot about VN background design from this tutorial by deviantART user SKY-Morishita. This tutorial is what got me started on my perspective template and on measuring my sprites compared to the background and the game GUI.
Sometimes, I’ll share a life update, but May has been pretty quiet! Maybe next time…
Thanks for reading! If you’d like this type of update in your inbox, check my newsletter link. If you’d like to see my mini-updates, follow me on ko-fi.