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Senior Production Blog 9 (3/24/2017)

Work this week was light as people were still getting back into their routines after spring break, but this week I finished off the black story for each and every character as well as fleshing out the overarching narrative. I've taken the "Narrative Document" a document detailing the plot beats and locations of each and every person you meet in the game and given each character a more detailed backstory and reason for existing. You saw some of this in last blog post. This week I went through and I wrote backstory for the rest of the characters, who's art does not exist yet. It is my hope that my character backstories and personalities help influence the character portraits going forward. 

With this, after reviewing it with the team, I'm ready to move forward to actual dialogue, putting the pieces in place for the rest of the game. I'll essentially be writing all of the dialogue and thus setting the tone, pacing, and difficulty of the game forward, which is an exciting prospect. 

Senior Production Blog 8 (3/10/2017)

This week I reviewed the overarching story beats set out by Glynis and got to work starting to smooth those rough plot beats into something more approachable for the player.

The game starts with the players village being attacked, and razed to the ground by an evil Samurai clan, causing the player to flee for their lives and train to fight the Samurai. While you are fleeing you seem to see your twin get killed, and you swear revenge. Along the way you meet various Sensei and Samurai who challenge you and fight you and train you along the way. Each Sensei brings up the moral quandary you find yourself in: is revenge worth it? While you venture through boat, across great bridges, through forests and temples you become stronger, and when you confront the evil Samurai clan, you discover that your twin has been kidnapped by them and has been formed into a fighting machine. To defeat the clan, you must defeat him.

It's a large concept, and we might not be able to fit all of it in considering the time remaining in the semester, so I wanted to start breaking down the story piece by piece. I started setting the scene two weeks ago by writing the introductory prologue and tutorial that introduces you to the game. Changes have been made on that to change the controversial forced failure section, as well as early talks to potentially make it more story driven then it currently is. I noticed that when writing that tutorial dialogue, I was writing from the perspective of this old sensei lady, who's art was one of the first things that Artist Connor finished:

I always saw a Yoda-esque figure in her, and I wrote her dialogue accordingly, somewhat cryptic, yet kind. She never berates the player, but instead puts her trust in the player. There is some light ribbing from her in battle dialogue, but beyond that she's just a kind old lady. I wanted to do a similar thing with the rest of the current drawn sensei, so I set out to make a short document detailing the backstory and characteristics of each character.

Forest Sensei is a slightly paranoid man, who lives in the forest after being exiled from the army he worked for (the same army that destroyed the player's village). He is changed, and has seen the evils that he was commanded to do and has decided for himself to live a life of good... by becoming a hermit in the woods. He's slightly aggressive to the player, not out of rude behavior, but because he's been alone for so long.

Temple Sensei is a small, yet fierce woman. She's to the point and aggressive, and a perfectionist when it comes to form and training. She fairly reluctantly takes the player into her tutelage and acts as a trainer for the player. She has a darkly sarcastic sense of humor, and she's rough, but once she gets to know you she opens up. Her personality was strongly inspired by Furiosa from Mad Max: Fury Road, a quiet, aggressive personality that assumes that you are an idiot until proven otherwise. I wanted to have this aggressive character in order to jar the player out of the fairly safe space that the previous two characters keep you in. This game is hard, learning a new language with strict battle guide lines is a difficult concept, and while the first two levels start easy, Temple Sensei is a starting off point for when things get tough. 

Mountain Sensei is a sword for hire that lives in the mountains. Not out of a desire to be a hermit, but because he can wear no shirt there and not receive any weird looks. After two fairly aggressive characters, Mountain Sensei acts as a cooldown, he's much kinder, down to earth, and loves nature, but is as deadly as all the previous Sensei combined. While the game continues it's upward difficulty curve, I thought it would be nice to get back to a Yoda-esque calm with Mountain Sensei, taking things down a notch narratively while things are kicking up a notch gameplay wise.

But that's what I have so far, as that's what we have drawn so far. I'm going to be working with preliminary story beats to try to create other characters and backstories and build myself a really rich groundwork for which the rest of the narrative will flow. 

But for now, it's spring break. Party time. Excelent.

Senior Production Blog 6 (2/24/2017)

Hello! Pardon the dust, things are looking new around here. I decided to fully remake my website from the ground up, the only old content, beyond a few images, and links to download or play games are the contents of this here development blog.

Things are still in flux, project pages are due to get a make over in a new static, more detail oriented manner, but for the most part, this is home now.

Beyond remaking this site from scratch, I wrote a brand new tutorial. Glynis provided the group with a list of radials and concepts that would be ideal for the player to learn during a tutorial, and I went to town, creating a new tutorial using the art assets for a friendly old lady sensei that Artist Connor has been making, to take things in a more visual novel style. Previously the tutorial was delivered as text on a scroll to the left of the game board. This move to a more visual novel style, makes it more personal, fits the narrative arcs we want to hit, and makes it less dull. It also no longer pulls the players attention away from the game board, instead popping up art and a text box on the bottom of the screen, and removing them when gameplay is active.

I would include pictures of this tutorial, but it's just a word document, formatted as a screenplay script, nothing particularly flashy or special about it so far, something that will change in the weeks ahead. This tutorial is of high priority as our Producer Emily and Lead Artist Maddie are heading to GDC and will be showing off the game in it's current state. Having the tutorial and possibly a first stage after that for showcasing is a great way to introduce new players into our game.

Once again, tomorrow we have our weekly meeting, earlier this time however, and Emily will be assigning people work to do while she's out at GDC showing the game to various people, but that's pretty much it for this week.

Luca Hibbard-CurtoComment