OSAS Dev Update: May 2022


Hi all! 

It's kind of hard to write intros for these posts--so let's not beat around the bush this time and get straight to business!

A first look at Camilla's sprite placeholder alongside Hugo's.

In a Nutshell

April went by with surprising speed, and we're already nearing the last third of May, somehow. In that time, we continued work on OSAS with the goal of creating and refining assets for the extended demo, which will contain chapters 1 and 2 of both Hugo and Seamus' routes.

Since the last update, we've...

  • Finished two new backgrounds: the Gentlemen's Club and Hugo's Office! 
  • Began a new background: Crosby Hall, a restaurant which was based in Bishops-gate until the early 1900s!
  • Began producing sprites for characters in Hugo's route, updating them from the 2020 Demo versions.
  • Designed new UI elements such as a Timed Choice Screen and CG Gallery.
  • Tested new sprite animations and manipulations
  • Scripted Hugo's Chapter 1 (save the missing placeholder sprites)
  • Continued programming new GUI
  • Received music previews for the Quiet Romantic Theme
  • Added to the story outline for choice refinement, character development, and plot flow.
  • Estimated and refined the backlog of assets required for the full game.
  • Started negotiations for background art outsourcing.
And as a special note, we celebrated Hugo's birthday on April 22nd! Happy 172nd Birthday to our favourite bookworm! 🎉
Hugo's birthday promo image, with art from the first CG in Seamus' route.

What went well

After the Patreon and Public releases of the April Prototype, your feedback helped us determine that this prototype was  a welcome improvement from our previous demo! 

(Your input really helped put wind into our sails in continuing with writing, drawing, and refining our game content over the past month! Thank you to everyone who gave the prototype a go. ❤️)

WIth the prototype as short and "raw" as it was--containing the short first chapter of Seamus' route and using placeholder assets--we asked for feedback on your first impressions on character art, story, and gameplay. We were happy to find that most respondents loved the presented sprite art and UI assets, even if they were unfinished! 

A screenshot from the April 2022 Prototype.
A comparison of the 2020 and 2022 MC sprite placements and interfaces, along with backgrounds and coloured sprites. 

Jumping off from the prototype content, I devoted a lot of time to background art to get a better idea for the OSAS world and how our sprites would look in it. For someone who doesn't consider herself a background artist or very good at environments, the Gentlemen's Club background and Hugo's Office background were created with a lot of ease and confidence! 

I discovered that when I allow myself to paint objects in grayscale one by one, I become less tripped up by perfectionism and can concentrate on incrementally finishing the background item by item instead of sketching, lining, and colouring the full thing. I can get overwhelmed by the scale and detail of backgrounds, so painting objects one by one allows me to focus on just one thing at a time, and then zoom out to see the full picture coming together!

See a full preview of the finished gentlemen's club background here!
Close-ups of the Gentlemen's Club and Hugo's Office in the afternoon.
A WIP showing the sheer chaos of my background art process, with sketches and fully rendered furniture side by side. (I don't know why I'm like this, but whatever gets the backgrounds done is the best way forward!)

On the writing side, we had already outlined the full plot and written a fair bit of the story when we were creating the 2020 Demo--but reviewing the outline showed some improvements to be made. We re-outlined the game, building upon character storylines and the overall meshing of the two routes timelines to generate point values and choices and resulting plot branches.

We were able to really enhance character development not only for our main characters but also secondary characters, and give them all moments to shine.

The new outline allowed us to estimate the final game's contents. By our current estimate, the final game should contain 12 chapters and 5 endings per route, comprising 10 total endings. Not accounting for endings, the word count should be around 36,000 words per route.

We were also able to narrow down a list of necessary sprite, CG, and background assets, and particularly those required for the extended demo, which are our current priority. 

The below numbers are still emergent, as the final game's contents still have yet to be seen--but it's very exciting to look at the outline and see a benchmark we want to achieve!

A screenshot of our game route, word count, and gameplay hour estimates.

As mentioned above, I also began work on other art assets such as sprites and UI elements--notably, Camilla's sprite and the new timed choice menu.

A GIF showing Camilla's expression variants.
A screenshot of the in-progress timed choice screen.

It has overall been a very fulfilling month on the production front!

What to improve

During the last sprint, AKA and I addressed an improvement regarding feedback and accountability on production. We've since found that posting in our development server to check in on one another, giving positive reinforcement on work, and starting conversations about production has been very helpful. We will continue to be more proactive in providing feedback and seeking opinions because it helps motivate us and reduces the feeling of isolation in working, as our team is very distributed and in all different time zones.

One thing I personally have struggled with this month is having a lot of different projects to work on--which isn't directly related to OSAS, but as I'm doing work for Otome Jam and clients alongside, it has been a little overwhelming! (I've still been able to work on OSAS a decent amount, though--as you can see from above!) 

In the last update, I noted that I struggled with being "spread out over many different areas," but I have found that this month it has allowed me to redirect my focus to whatever catches my fancy whenever my attention has been scattered. Rather than feeling restricted to continue work on just one or two assets, I've been able to work in bits and pieces towards making usable placeholders. The other day, I spent an hour or two just rendering the fireplace in Seamus' study, then moved on to game jam work without issue. 

I'll need to be careful not to overextend myself in the next month, especially with the goal of making a usable prototype, but I am overall curious to see how I can continue to juggle these various projects!

A WIP of Seamus' study, with its spontaneously rendered fireplace.

Finally, I'd like to improve on frequency and clarity of communication with our external freelancers, as there has been a little confusion regarding how some things should be implemented or how they will be used in-game.

What's next?

We're working towards a usable prototype of Hugo's Chapter 1 by the start of June, coinciding with the end of our current sprint (Sprint #5!)

We will have more news on that and how you can play it in the upcoming weeks--we can't wait to show you all the updates that have been made to OSAS!

After the release of that prototype and the end of this sprint, we'll be taking a summer break for a few weeks in June. Though AKA and I have been very proud and happy about our progress over the past few months, it's about time for a recharge! 

Until next time,

Ingrid

Get Of Sense and Soul [2020 DEMO]

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