Visual novels and Psychedelica

While I’m taking a break from my second novel, I’m learning how to make a visual novel with Ren’Py.

Why a visual novel? I’m experimenting with branching narrative. I’m a software dev. I used to compose music, and am curious about doing it again. And of course I write!

Why Ren’Py? Some of my favorite VNs are made in Ren’Py. To be fair, I could use Twine since I’m starting with almost no graphics. Maybe I should do that for story drafts.

But as research, I’m playing lots of visual novels on the Vita. I’ve been focusing on otome games: these are generally targeted at women and have pretty dudes in them that are sometimes dateable. The genre is often SFF, too, which makes it entirely my catnip.

Beautiful rainbows!

I started with the Psychedelica games: Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly and Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk. Black Butterfly is now available on Steam as well as Vita.

There’s a wolf AND a hawk!

Black Butterfly reviews:

Ashen Hawk reviews:

I enjoyed both of these games so much- I look forward to replaying them sometime soon. They’ve got angst and some bittersweet endings. If you want a more hopeful game, I guess I’d go with Black Butterfly.

Nobody suspects a thing…

It’s a new calendar year! I hope to continue as I have. With a few little adventures to New Mexico and New York City in the works.

January and February is when I tend to spend the most time on video games. I think this is because that’s the time of year when I’m low energy but not on Power Save mode yet.

Radiant Historia

2017, Nintendo 3DS

A worthy remake, I hear, though I didn’t play the original. It took me a while to get into it, but then I was sold. The mechanics for moving around in time are fun although I sometimes thought I needed a walkthrough to avoid wasting a bunch of time.

Good music and voice acting, turn-based combat, and an interesting story. That’s what I like from my RPGs.

Octopath Traveller

2018, Nintendo Switch

I’m addicted to Octopath because it’s…well…fun. The characters are reasonable if not remarkable, the music is pleasant if not earwormy, and the combat is well-balanced.

Primrose Azelhart is my favorite character so far because I love myself a tortured heroine. She has waited so long and suffered so many indignities for her revenge…but what will she do once she gets it?

Books and games for vacation

Part of the fun for vacation prep, for me, is figuring out what video games and books to take along. Here’s my current lineup:

Switch

  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2
  • Octopath Traveler

Well, what are you going to play in Japan besides Japanese RPGs? Okay, granted, that’s most of what I play anyway. I’ve started XC2 and have heard good things about it. I mean, it has the Nopon, who are super-cute.

On the other hand, it has Pyra, who cannot possibly be anatomically correct.

Well, at least there are shirtless men too?

Octopath Traveler is, I’m told, super crunchy. I don’t know if I’ll get around to playing it, but it’ll be good to have on hand if I’m feeling retro.

3DS

  • Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse
  • Bravely Second: End Layer
  • Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia

I dig the aesthetic of SMT4

That’s a lot of colons, a lot of RPGs, and a lot of remakes. I still have a backlog of portable games, as you can see. 3DS and Vita seem to be continuing to wind down, and that’s okay with me because games are coming to Switch. Faster than I can play them, it seems. In any case, I’d love to finish Radiant Historia.

Books

  • Necrotech by KC Alexander
  • Medusa’s Touch by Emily Byrne
  • Mixed Signals by Alyssa Cole
  • Masked Possession by Alana Delacroix
  • Pure Sacrifice by Jami Gold
  • Inouye by JC Hay
  • Dangerous Promise by Megan Hart
  • You Only Love Twice by Bec McMaster
  • An Accidental Goddess by Linnea Sinclair
  • Scardust by Suzanne van Rooyen
  • Psion by Joan Vinge

This is mostly science fiction romance with some paranormal romance and some science fiction. I will probably pick up a few historicals as well. Because between planes and trains, who doesn’t want to read? I doubt I’ll read all of them but I’d like to make a dent in my TBR.

Complications, spies, and androids

Congratulations, Ashley, Mona, and Lauryn! They’re the winners of the giveaway of the previous post.

The revision process has been slow. I’m depressed enough that I don’t have the energy and focus to tackle what’s next: the really big problems that span several scenes. I need to do a lot of reordering and cutting, and some new writing. Unfortunately I don’t really have the brain for that right now, since I use it on my day job. I’m under the care of several health professionals and can complete job functions, but that’s my productivity limit.

When I’m not staring at the wall listlessly, I play video games, or if I have the energy, read. Reading is the most difficult of these three to do these days, but I did read a spy novel by John Le Carre. I wanted to see how he conveys complicated plotlines through conversation. He makes the game of who knows what when seem simple, and that’s what I need to do with all my information streams.

As far as video games, I don’t have a Nintendo Switch, but I like what I’ve seen of it: one of my officemates brought his in. He loves the new Zelda game. It requires far better reflexes and reaction time than I have, so I’ll watch John play it when we inevitably obtain it.

John ordered Horizon Zero Dawn, which seems to feature using a bow and arrow against robot dinosaurs. It’s post-apocalyptic and involves AI, so I’m game. We’ll see whether he gets to it before I do, as he recently finished NieR and is working on Advanced Puppy Simulator 2016– I mean The Last Guardian. If you’ve played it you will understand the care and detail that went into simulating a puppy. Who is also a gryphon.

I, meanwhile, am awaiting NieR: Automata, which is at home in my mailbox. I’m a huge fan of the game’s director, who’s also done Drakengard, Drakengard 3, and NieR. The games are unashamedly weird, with the stories being awful in a complicated and compelling way. Anyway, Automata features as your team a bunch of killer robots who have to fight other killer robots for existential reasons. The demo music is fantastic, and there’s a bloody easy mode for people without reflexes.

The director for NieR, Yoko Taro, said something interesting about story writing and a technique that I like using: work backwards. Think of a scene or situation in the story, and figure out what had to happen and what has to be true to make the scene work. The first scene to tackle in any story is the emotional climax, he says. He visualizes it since he works with game scripts. I’m not great at visual details, but writing down what is going on in that moment and why lets me expand and build the story’s spine.

A lull, but exciting adventures coming up!

The post-wedding recovery has begun, and I’ve been taking it slow, playing Tokyo Mirage Sessions, Pokemon Go, and Xenoblade Chronicles X. Taking walks with my mom in the Woodland Park Zoo, reading, and zoning out. I started to write a bit again, and now I have climactic conflict scenes to do. While I’d love to finish by the end of August, I don’t know how feasible that is, so I’ll shoot for the autumnal equinox. I can’t do NaNo this year, as I’ll be traveling through Asia.

I love having my mom around, even if I get grief about being a bad housewife (housecleaning and keeping the plants watered are not my forte). I guess this is why I have a day job? Even if I went part-time I wouldn’t be good at doing housework. Mom thinks I’m getting the better end of the bargain here…

At work I started a new project that involves streamlining a hiring process. It’s all done by paper and random emails now, and I’m going to put it into a database so things can easily be viewed side-by-side and HR doesn’t have to organize everything by hand.

In a month is the honeymoon, which is a vacation in New Mexico, Land of Enchantment! I found myself fascinated by Albuquerque and Santa Fe last time we went. This time, John and I are going to the opera. We also anticipate seeing a really large Moon, desert air, and afternoon thunderstorms!