We've just crossed our minimum goal! Yay! While it's not over yet, our thanks go out to all of the backers who made this possible. Just as a reminder, we have a lot of stretch goals planned. If you're interested in what they are and might want to help us make it to one, or all of them, here's the list!
Stretch: Should we surpass our stated goal of $8500, we would like to include stretch goals. Here's what we currently have planned:
$8,500 - Initial goal. 20 musical tracks, 12 backgrounds, editing
$12,000 - Same as above + 12 additional backgrounds
$15,000 - Same as above + voice acting for special event CG sequences
$20,000 - Same as above + enhanced music (better instrument sets, more musicians, more studio time, a few more tracks, etc.)
$28,000 - Same as above + 1st Priss branch (extra writing, sprites, event CGs)
$32,000 - Same as above + full voice acting for the entire game.
We're a two-man-crew who, for the last decade, have been working under our studio name, Pseudomé Studio LLC. We've worked on animation projects, webcomics and print comics. If you want a succinct overview of our last project (Van Von Hunter), you may want to consider checking out the Wiki.
Having been inspired by the depth and complexity that the mechanics of Visual Novels can afford a story teller, we're very eager to combine our passion and talents with the medium. In a pie-in-the-sky, perfect world, we'd love to popularize the consumption of Western-penned Visual Novels—be they on the PC, or tablets, or any other format. But realistically, all we want to accomplish with this project is to create a good, engaging, entertaining story that we can be proud of. Something that we can point to and say, "Yup. That's what all of our passion and talent looks like, when concentrated into one little package".
Errant Heart takes place in a fictional 1940's Europe (sans Hitler) and follows the exploits of a young painter, Lira Moretti. As she leaves home in order to establish herself as an artist in the cosmopolitan mainland city of San Moritz, she has a bizarre encounter with a street urchin which leaves her with a gap in her memory.
Unsure of how she arrived at her final destination of Mrs. Hinze's boarding house, she runs afoul of her granddaughter, Elena. Accused of being a disruptive drunkard, Lira does her best to salvage the scenario and surprisingly, ends up on the good side of Mrs. Hinze.
As she settles in to life in San Moritz, Lira struggles to choose between starting her painting career or following up on the bizarre circumstances that she encountered upon her arrival. Eventually, after having apparently been followed by the street urchin, Salima draws Lira deeper into an extraordinary world where the passage of time takes on new meaning—a world which runs parallel but utterly unseen to the eyes of the banal.
Rather than a temperamental, bombastic creative figure, Lira is a shy, demure, introverted artist who is unsure of her talent. She's a very private person—preferring to keep her thoughts and feelings to herself whenever possible. Typically, only her paintings allow her inner self to show through.
Being such a reserved introvert, dropping her mask and confiding her thoughts in others is truly a special privilege bestowed on only the closest family and friends.
When faced with the challenge of stepping into the world of Gods and Demons, only her developing relationships will help prepare her for the life that fate has bestowed upon her.
Lira's younger sister, Priscilla is almost her polar opposite. A talkative, social butterfly, Priss cultivates relationships with myriad people and has developed an information network that is quite impressive given her age. She talks to anyone who looks the slightest bit interested, about any topic under the sun. A truly gregarious young woman, she's also a talented violinist at the age of 16.
Apparently more excited about Lira's trip to San Moritz than Lira, she pines to follow in her sister's footsteps. The prospect of moving from such a small, isolated island to a large city, filled with diverse people excites her to no end, and hopes dearly to move to the big city once she graduates high school.
A fourth cousin to Reme Girard, Karl works as an assistant in a veterinary hospital in San Moritz. As luck would have it, Karl was visiting Reme for his graduation celebration and is returning to the city at the same time as Lira is moving there herself. Being a very handsome young man, this makes him a very intimidating person to Lira and someone whom she would prefer to avoid.
An archeologist from San Moritz, Cassandra met a local girl—Salima—at her latest expedition. Because of Salima's assistance, she managed to make a number of spectacular finds. Finds, not just in regards to artifacts, but also in regards to herself and her own latent abilities.
After tragedy befalls her expedition, Cassandra takes Salima and what remains of her finds back to San Moritz. There, she tries to determine the cause of the tragedy. But misfortune has followed her back to the city and threatens to snuff out her and Salima.
A young Egyptian girl who befriended Cassandra during her latest expedition. Her parents, having died a few years ago, lives
with her uncle in her home village. Wanting more out of life than
existing as virtual chattel, she takes an interest in the newly arrived archeological expedition by the Europeans.
Despite the need for strong, male backs, Salima catches the eye of one of the expedition members; Cassandra. Or rather, Cassandra catches Salima pilfering some of her findings. Rather than an antagonistic response, Cassandra finds the young girl intriguing. With her help, Cassandra makes a number of discoveries in the area. She also learns about the wider world, of which Salima is a part.
Mrs. Hinze's granddaughter, Elena is a stern, stand-off-ish woman. She appears to have a single-minded tenacity. That tenacity is directed at making certain the boarding house runs smoothly and that her grandmother is not troubled by any of the tenants.
Noel manages Flower Shop Melchior and is something of an enigma. A large and aggressive-looking woman, her mannerisms and dress belie a desire to appear more dainty and feminine than she really is. A long-time friend of Eva, the two have an unusual relationship. Eva works for her at the flower shop, and is typically admonished on a daily basis for sleeping or otherwise slacking. Yet, at times, Noel almost behaves subservient to her. It's unknown just how deeply their relationship goes and what path their affection for one another travels.
is quite the social butterfly. She's a supremely confident individual
who has a passion for antiquities. She has a hand in a number of prominent associations and charities around the city. And yet, she works the register at a flower shop as part of
her day job.
She takes an immediate and somewhat unsettling interest in Lira the moment she shows up at the shop. Over time, she positions herself in such a way as to be there with a job offer at precisely the moment when Lira is in need of funds. And yet, for some reason, despite all the apparent planning and plotting, she doesn't seem to care if her obviousness is exposed.
The mother of Lira and Priscilla. She's raising her two girls on her own, as her husband died a number of years ago. She struggled quite a bit to make ends meet shortly after his death. However, she has gained some notoriety—some would say
infamy—by becoming an illustrator for a popular "Gentleman's Magazine". By securing work with such a widely distributed publication, she's been able to afford her girls a very comfortable life, and give them both a chance to strike out on their own.
A talented young woman from San Moritz. Nina attends one of the schools near Mrs. Hinze's boarding house. However, her talent doesn't lie in academia. Rather, she's very mechanically inclined—an unusual, and rarely encouraged skill for a woman in this time period.
Her father secured her a job at a local auto shop. However, the owner has no intention of letting someone so young, let alone a woman, actually take part in the tasks of repairing automobiles. Frustrated at having been relegated to custodial work, Mrs. Hinze gives her a chance to shine by becoming the boarding house's "manager". With that position, she has the opportunity to fix whatever might break or fail in the house.
Reme is Lira's childhood friend. Their homes are next to each other. And being from such a small island, they were classmates ever since they began attending school. Over the years, their relationship deepened. However, there's some ambiguity over whether that relationship veered more towards a platonic, almost familial role, or whether they "experimented" with one another in a romantic way.
The landlady of the boarding house in San Moritz in which Lira resides. She's a kindly old lady, who apparently doesn't speak a word of English. She primarily relies on her granddaughter, Elena, to impart her desires to the boarders.
She's apparently a long-time friend of Eva Klein, and insists that someone always picks up a fresh bouquet of roses from her flower shop every Tuesday.
Traditionally, the term Visual Novel (VN) is associated with Japanese gaming. They are essentially computerized "Choose Your Own Adventure" stories. VNs typically don't include standard game play elements, as one would see from a game on a console system. Instead, VNs really are "novels", with some accompanying graphics and music to help set the mood, as well as a series of choices that the reader makes, which steers the outcome of the story. The graphics themselves tend to consist of background images used to denote locations in the story, and "sprites" of characters overlaid on the backgrounds. A variety of sprites are swapped out at key moments as the emotions of the character change. During especially important moments, specially-crafted "Event CGs" are typically displayed. These are usually fully-colored and complex scenes, meant to punch of the impact of special event.
In Japan, the best selling VNs have historically been associated with sexually explicit content. Ironically, this does not mean said titles are ever intended as pure pornographic material. In fact, many titles that succeed will end up getting "sanitized" versions created for release on the major console systems, like Playstation and Xbox. Some titles, like Fate/Stay Night even spawn new games in new genres (e.g. fighting), as well as generate television series', movies, manga and various other material which have no connection to sexually explicit content.
In the west, VNs are a nascent, virtually unknown medium. There is, however, a dedicated fanbase of the genre. In fact, there are a number of programs designed to help game-makers create VNs—Programs like KiriKiri, NScripter and Ren'Py. In our case, we found Ren'Py to be the most robust and versatile engine, and that's what we're using to build our project. Through Ren'Py, we would very much like to foster the popularization of non-sexually explicit VNs in the west, written by western authors.
Our overall vision for Errant Heart encompasses a story that takes place across four major paths. Each path encompasses interaction between multiple characters in their own "branch" of the story. For purposes of this Kickstarter, we want to complete the first path. As it currently stands, this first path consists of roughly 100,000 words, and an estimated read time of between 6-8 hours.
We have sprites for seven primary characters and four secondary characters. The primary characters have three different poses, three different outfits, some have alternate arm positions, different hair styles, different accessories, and typically between one and two dozen different expressions.
We currently have 10 finalized background images and are looking to source 12-24 more. Also, effectively all the game coding is complete, which includes a customized menu system, a lighting system (sunny day, cloudy day, sunset, night), a positioning system for the sprites, and a skip system to help facilitate those who wish to skip past parts of the story they've already gone through.
If you'd like a more complete idea of the story, the characters, examples of how we work, what's been completed, etc., I'd recommend you take a look at our Errant Heart thread on our forum. In there, you'll find behind-the-scenes samples, insight into our work and the story and past updates.
Likewise, you may be interested in downloading and playing a small demo version of the game. The main intention of this demo is merely to give potential donors an idea of what the finished product will look like. Indeed, this 5-10 minute segment of the game does represent a 95% completed product. The primary missing ingredient is music—which is obviously one of the reasons we're starting this Kickstarter. There's three versions of the demo. The content of each is the same. The only difference is the platform that they're made for.
As mentioned above, the majority of the game is done. Up to this point, we have either done or paid for everything out of pocket. What we're asking from backers are funds to finish off missing items: Music, the rest of the backgrounds and editing.
Music: We have secured the talents of Jake Kaufman—a very talented and passionate video game composer who has expressed a keen interest in scoring our Visual Novel. You may not immediately recognize his name, but Jake has been around and churning out content for years. In fact, you may have unknowingly come across his work in a number of games, or even through articles on gaming and tech websites, like Kotaku and Arstechnica.
If you'd like to listen to samples of his work, you can check out samples from his studio site, Big Lion. Of our remaining budget, we can only afford a pittance of music from him. We have approximately 20 tracks planned. Consequently, we need backing from donors to be able to afford anything of significance from him.
Backgrounds: All of the exterior backgrounds that were displayed during our promo video were done by Owen Carson. We have 24 more backgrounds that we want for the game. The initial Kickstarter goal will be paying for a bare minimum of 12.
Editing: Despite going through a number of revisions already, a good, trusted editor is always a necessity if one wants a tight, interesting story that reads well. As it happens, our former editor at Tokyopop, Lillian Diaz-Przybyl has agreed to provide her services.
Additional: By offloading music and background creation to other parties, that frees up the rest of our resources to more quickly complete the last of the sprites as well as the special event CG images. The end result should be a higher-quality game that gets completed more quickly than if we were to attempt to finish everything ourselves.
Super Special Additional: We've been approached by IU Casting, which has expressed an interest in providing Errant Heart with voice acting resources. After discussing the possibilities, we've decided to add in two stretch goals in regards to voice acting. The first stretch goal will be for partial voice acting of the game. Effectively, voice acting only for our special event sequences. You could think of these as "cut scenes" from a video game. The second stretch goal is our final one and will be to add voice acting for the entire length of the game. If you'd like to know more about IU Casting, I'd suggest you check out their site, their past work, and reviews of said work. I think you'll be suitably impressed with what they can deliver.
Rewards: As you can probably tell, we're not offering much in the way of rewards. Aside from those few incentives, we'd hope the prospect of creating a high-quality, polished final product will be incentive enough to elicit donations. And of course, do please note that just because we only have four donation levels, there's absolutely nothing stopping you from donating more, like say, $200 dollars or $10,000 dollars, if you feel so inclined.
Risks and challenges
This project has always been intended as an "art piece" for us. We haven't approached this game with any intentions of selling it for money. As such, even if the Kickstarter fails, there will be a released version of Errant Heart—it'll just have no music and only a handful a good backgrounds (along with a lot of junky filtered photographs).
The risks come simply from the unforeseen. We've worked with Lillian and Owen in the past, and they are both driven, consummate professionals. Likewise, we've followed Jake's musical career over the years and asked him for his assistance because of his ability to consistently and rapidly produce high quality music.
But, there are no guarantees in life. Someone may fall ill. Someone may experience an unfortunate incident that keeps them from meeting their prior obligations. If something like that occurs, we will do whatever we can to compensate. But as was previously stated—come hell or high water, a version of Errant Heart will be released to the public. It's simply a matter of how refined and complete we can make it.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (45 days)