March Devlog



Hallo! Time for the March wrap-up!

Ramble

And as you can imagine, I spent March…editing. Yes, I am still trapped within the depths of editing Purgatory trying to claw my way out to freedom. *sobbing*

Writing

Last time I posted, I was nearing the end of editing Chapter 5, and currently I'm in the middle (well, just past the middle) of Chapter 7. That doesn't actually sound like I did a whole lot, but to be fair, Chapter 7 is the longest chapter in the game. In fact, Chapter 6 and Chapter 7 combined are more than 110,000 words of content.


I haven't actually added that much to the word count since last time because while I am fleshing things out, I'm not really focused on drafting or adding to the length for its own sake. The increase is incidental to me fleshing out scenes that feel rushed, inadequate or that may need additional variations and call-backs to earlier choices and scenarios. 

Additionally, when I draft, I tend to not focus a lot on descriptive detail, banter, humour, etc. I always add those things in during revisions because it lets me get the rough draft done faster. As a result, my rough drafts are often quite sparse through certain types of scenes like…romantic moments, character moments, and action sequences.

And wouldn't you know it, Chapter 7 has an important romantic moment, followed by an important action sequence.


As such, I've been fleshing those scenes out quite a lot compared to other chapters. 

The current total word count of the whole game is just under 515,000 words.

Ch 7 is currently almost 75,000 words of that, but I am expecting that to reach about 80,000 words by the end.

A lot of what I'm doing right now is addressing some of the plot fixes I initiated when editing  Asher's path. I have to pull all existing chapters into alignment with those changes. I also have to account for the fact that there is now a brand new chapter and incident that happens (which also partially re-frames what happens in Chapter 7) so I've been making a lot of small continuity tweaks.

Another aspect of what I'm doing is adding in "none" options for when the player fails to initiate one of the character paths. 

As I've mentioned before, there wasn't originally (and, honestly, even now) a "non-romance path" because the player gets off-ramped pretty quickly if they don't end up on a romance path. In the event that no character path is triggered, I was planning to just have the player pushed into Noel's interactions and include small variations with less flirty/romantic/relationship oriented conversations.  


Eventually this just got annoying to deal with because there were so many variations with alternate dialogue. Additionally, I ended up extending the length of time before the player is definitively off-ramped out of the game for not being on a specific path. This was just due to the existing endings seeming a little abrupt and unearned. I wanted there to be enough space for the build up to those endings to be a little more impactful.

As a result, I thought having a proper "none" option in some of the scenes just worked better than co-opting Noel's interactions for that purpose.


But it does mean going back and drafting that content. So that has been part of my revision process as well.

I keep feeling like, when this game is done, I want to sit down and really discuss the differences in this game structure with overlapping routes vs my usual strategy of self-contained routes (like in Gilded Shadows and Changeling). It's a very different process that comes with its own unique set of problems.

Writing this game has been very eye-opening in a lot of ways. But that's another topic of discussion for sure!

Artwork

So I have received at least two complete BGs and a new sketch since last time. A Noel-centric BG, and a general location that will appear in Chapter 8.

And BGs are now about 52% complete. 💪

Other

So as I mentioned last time, I have been formatting the raw script into Renpy as I get them edited and proofread.

This has been useful for, as I mentioned, setting up route selection (which I have coded and figured out, I think). As well as just understanding the general layout of the game.

It also lets me keep track of the actual coded word count of everything which is useful because when you translate the raw script into functioning code you tend to lose a lot of words.

Right now, I have over 250,000 words put inside Renpy!

Upcoming month

I am not free of Writing Purgatory yet. Unfortunately.

I will be continuing this journey for a while yet. I was really hoping to be done with it all by now but a combination of the game being longer than expected (of course) and real life being far more chaotic than I ever could have anticipated since the end of last year - PLUS some persistent health issues - have pushed the development out a bit.

But I am still progressing and have rounded the corner of being more than half done with the edit.  

Because this structure is, in some ways, a lot more complicated than self-contained story routes, the polishing process is just a lot longer. I didn't expect it but that's why it's always interesting to experiment and try new ways of writing stories.  

I feel like I've learned a lot from making this game and while I don't prefer this structure and probably won't make another game set up this way, it's been a really interesting journey.  

Chapter 8 and Chapter 9 are a little bit shorter (particularly Chapter 9) so I'm hoping that by the next update, I will be done or nearly done with Chapter 9.  

Unfortunately, Chapter 10 is another very long chapter, and then, finally, we have the ending sequences for each character (which are comprised of Chapter 11, 12, and 13.)  

Oof. It sounds like so much when I put it that way. 

I'm really eager to start releasing episodes but I maintain that it's going to be best for my sanity to have the writing and editing done (or at least like 95% done) before I even attempt to jump into releases. So I'm going to hold out and just keep editing.  

Anyway, that's all for now. Thanks for your patience and support, as always. 👋

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Comments

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I would sell my soul for you. So excited with each update!

I admire your work so much! Gilded Shadows is one of the absolute best games I've played. Your writing is fantastic, and your world building is bar none. I'm sorry you're dealing with health troubles and the general wtfery of 2024. Thank you for continuing to create!

(+1)

Thank you for the updates :)

(+3)

As always, you do such amazing work. I'm always in awe of your word count! I also absolutely think you should release only when you feel ready to.

Wishing you lots of love and luck with health issues as well... I know how stressful those are. <3 

(+2)

Health issues are annoying but I guess they come with being a flesh beast. 

(。﹏。*)

Oh, to be a robot making romance games for everyone...

(+1)

<3

(+3)

Awesome , take care of yaself and looking forward to playing when it's ready.

😁😁