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Experience the unique perspectives of Piro, Largo, and other Megatokyo characters as you play them in an elaborate visual novel game.
Experience the unique perspectives of Piro, Largo, and other Megatokyo characters as you play them in an elaborate visual novel game.
4,958 backers pledged $299,184 to help bring this project to life.

"State of the Visual Novel" project progress report

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It's been a while since I posted an update on the progress of the Megatokyo Visual Novel here on the Kickstarter page, and it's overdue - so much so that one of our team members actually wrote one up for me ^^;; Paarfi has been writing up regular updates to the vn.megatokyo.com page, so it shouldn't surprise me. He actually has covered most of the stuff I wanted to cover pretty well, so here is his update (which will let me get back to drawing which I am much better at than writing updates :P)

-- Piro

** Paarfi's update **

Hi. Paarfi here. I've been doing Megatokyo Visual Novel and other Megatokyo related updates over on the visual novel site. We know a lot of y'all don't check there, so this is a catch-up "state of the visual novel" update. We will try to do Kickstarter updates every few months or so, but you can check out the visual novel site for more frequent updates.

Progress on the visual novel has been, as you have probably guessed, a mixed bag. Yes, it is still very much in production and it's looking really good, but it is taking much longer than Fred had originally anticipated.

Fred is taking a 'slow animation' approach to the MTVN. Rather than the static images and heavy text typical of visual novels, the MTVN has the characters change as the dialogue advances. Their mouths open and close, expressions change, etc. It makes the visual novel feel so much more like the comic and more alive. It's not quite the Megatokyo anime we've all been wishing for, but it's about as close as we're likely to get. It looks great so far, but it's a huge amount of work, especially for a story as big as MT. Alarmingly, he seemed to think that he had to draw new artwork for every scene - kinda like drawing the entire Megatokyo comic over from the start. I think we've finally convinced him that it is ok to re-use artwork more than he's been doing.

Things were looking kind of bleak this spring with how very slowly progress was being made. But we pulled out of that, changed our approach a little, and had a strong stretch over the summer where we made real progress. In October, unfortunately, things stalled as Fred focused on several other projects that needed to be completed as he worked to bring the MegaGear store back online with new products for the holiday season. Thankfully, we are on the other side of that two month hiatus from the VN project, and Fred is in his usual panicky way desperately trying to make up for lost time.

We have learned a lot in the process of making this game so far. Visual Novels seem like deceptively simple things to make, but once you get into production you can really see how hard it is to make a good one. As I said earlier, Fred was taking this 'draw everything' approach that helped us get to where we are now, but is simply not going to work in the long run. It worked for the first chunk of this game because the first few hundred Megatokyo comics were kind of haphazard anyway, but now that we are well into the main story, we can use what we learned to be more efficient with the artwork.

One of the new changes we will be making is the development of a core set of character drawings. Over the summer, Fred and I had written the Ren'py script based off of the comics and Fred's storyboard thumbnail drawings. Fred has used that script to determine what character images he needed to draw. That way, he wouldn't have to draw more than was really necessary. Unfortunately, we've found that this gave us a little too much freedom in defining character expressions, poses, etc, in script, causing Fred to draw new images where reusing another existing image might have worked just as well. To try to improve this, Fred is developing a set of core character images with common poses, expressions, etc. Going forward, we will try to use those first in the script and only draw something new if there isn't a core image that will work. We think this should make things go a lot faster, once Fred has the core sets done.

Shadow has written some nice tools that have made the Ren'py scripting easier, including the renpedit script flowchart tool. Plus he has been handling the short animated scenes, decision mini-games, and trickier Ren'py bits. Chemi has been working on writing some of the filler scenes, non-canon story branches, and other routes. Shaggy has been making the background music and sound effects. If you are a registered beta tester, you can hear some examples of these in the beta section of the visual novel forum at vn.megatokyo.com. I have been helping Fred with the scripting in Ren'py. And DarkMorford and Klange have been helping with other parts of the programming. But so much of what needs done has to be done by Fred himself that our progress is limited a lot by what he can do.

Fred has been spending a lot of time lately getting the Megagear store back open. His tshirt printer is still broken and he's looking at alternatives there. But he got his dyesub and fine art printer back working, so mugs, mousepads, and fine art prints are back.

There is a new 2015 Megatokyo Calendar available, with a lot of the artwork also available as fine art prints. The new "Mugi in Leaves" blanket is available for pre-order until December 20th and should ship in early February. And he has a number of nice new fine art prints that should be going up soon, including the "Miho's Good End" (my favorite) and a number of excellent Mugis. Check it out. Xmas is coming and there's no better way to support MT.

Chemi [Thomas Knapp] published his new Megatokyo Endgames light novel "The Tower of Kartage" a few months ago. It is available in print or for Kindle on Amazon or for the Nook at Barnes&Noble. Give it a try. I really enjoyed it.

Fred broadcasts a lot of his visual novel, comic, and other drawing work live on Twitch. Fred is now a partner on Twitch, and you can subscribe to his channel or follow him in the "Creative" and "Game Development" categories, so feel free to drop in at any point and see how the drawing development is going for yourself. He usually announces when he's drawing live on his Twitter or Facebook, but the best way to make sure you don't miss a live draw is to make an account and follow him on Twitch. Join us for the live draws; they're a lot of fun.

When will we have a Beta version for you to play around with? Not yet, but we are working towards it.

tl;dr The visual novel is progressing, if slower than we'd all like, with Fred (as usual) blaming himself for the pace of progress. Sorry this is taking so long. Thank you for your patience.

-- Paarfi

John Skotnik, Chris Webster, and 32 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Trowa Barton on

      take your time and thanks for doing this! some games take good time to do. just keep us in the loop!

    2. Todd on

      Any chance for another update? its been over 6 months...

    3. Justine Stefaniec on

      Looking forward to a update. I also vote for fun rather then pretty too.

    4. Missing avatar

      Minhchau Dang on

      In case it matters, I'd much rather have a game that adds in the fun perspectives of the multiple playable characters (those stretch goals are what appealed to me) than a game that's pretty. After all, history has already shown us what happens when the owner is too focused on pretty.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Development_of_Duke_Nukem_Forever

    5. Missing avatar

      Fawzi Mohamed on

      Eh eh comments tend to be negatively biased, but just to counter that up a bit I wanted to say that I am glad that the project goes on, and that I supported it. I actually knew it already from the megatokyo site, but there were too many posts that required a "sorry", so I wanted to post one that didn't :) go on, and looking forward to the visual novel, I am sure it will be worth the wait...

    6. Missing avatar

      Rob Miller on

      paarfi here.
      Robert: Sorry we've disappointed you. There have been more regular updates including screenshots over on the visual novel website [http://vn.megatokyo.com]. You can also follow much of the drawing work live on Twitch [http://www.twitch.tv/fredrin].

    7. Missing avatar

      Robert J. Hansen on

      This update is not just overdue: it ought be a professional embarrassment. Eighteen months after taking in 15 times the sought-for backing, and coming up on a year after the expected ship date, I was hoping for something a little more substantial than "sorry it's been slow, but hey, it's going to be cool when it arrives." Screenshots from a current build, an updated completion/ship schedule, a description of what's done and what remains to be done, *something*.

      An artist can get away with missing deadlines occasionally. But missing a deadline by eighteen months, and then issuing an update which really updates nothing, isn't a missed deadline. It's somewhere between gross neglect and mistreatment of the fanbase.

      I think we deserve better.

    8. Missing avatar

      AC
      Superbacker
      on

      Paarfi, I knew it! I still have yet to read Hawk, myself, but hopefully soon! (In the mean time I've been rereading the viscount books and shaking my head at the number of names that contain "aa")

    9. Missing avatar

      Rob Miller on

      paarfi here.
      Tim: Unfortunately, we haven't gotten far enough yet to insert people with NPC level pledges. When we get there, Fred will contact you to discuss what you'd like to see and how he can best fit you in.
      There is a 2015 MT calendar available in the megagear store [http://www.megagear.com]. The current plan is for the visual novel rewards calendar to be the 2016 one next year. Fred would be willing to substitute the 2015 calendar, but he doesn't have the other rewards ready yet and frankly can't afford the added cost of the extra shipment.

    10. Missing avatar

      Tim Howe on

      Hi i was wondering if there was any news on the NPCs? were do the NPC fit in the development timeline for the MTVN.

      also i got a calendar as an addon. have all the calendars shipped?

    11. Missing avatar

      Rob Miller on

      paarfi here.
      Manuel and Eva: Sorry we've disappointed you. We wish we were further along with this as well. We are still working on it and can only hope that you will feel better about it once we're done. Thank you for your support.

      Eva: I can see how the mention of the store would seem ill considered in light of how you feel about our progress on the visual novel. This is my fault, and I'm sorry it upset you.

      Chris: We have all kinds of problems with hotmail/outlook blocking automated emails from both the MTVN and regular MT forums. If you could please message DarkMorford again, I will poke him to take care of your issue.

      MisterSaxon: Et tu?

      AC: Yup. I haven't had the chance to read "Hawk" yet, but I'm looking forward to it.

      Britany: Unfortunately, the preview was rushed out before heavy copy-editing. If you were to buy the actual book, you'd find it much better. Sorry about that.

      Everyone: Thanks again for your patience and support, Sorry this is taking so long.

    12. Missing avatar

      Britany on

      I, personally, don't mind the wait. As a long-time MT reader, I backed this project knowing that it would take time to get to completion because the artist tends to be a completionist (which is great for quality!) and because he has always had a tendency to try to finish what he's started (and I only say "try" for the off chance that he might not have completed things in the past that I'm unaware of).

      I do have one small concern, however. I saw that the person doing some of the alternate paths is the same guy who is writing the EndGames novel. If it's not too forward or rude to suggest, it would probably be a good idea to have someone proficient with editing run through his scripts. The Karthage preview had so many errors in it that it was a bit hard to take it seriously as an MT product even though the writing itself was decent and entertaining.

      Just some humble 2 cents from a reader.

    13. Missing avatar

      AC
      Superbacker
      on

      "Paarfi", huh? Is someone, perhaps, a Dragaera fan?

    14. Richard Shearwood on

      That's such a Wall o' Text(tm) that I thought you had gotten Iffy to write it for you :) Thanks for the update guys - I always knew it would be a lot of work for you all. Good to see the team doing what teams do and supporting each other to make this happen!

    15. Jai Nelson on

      Thanks for the update, but I wasn't worried. It's a very ambitious project, so I knew it was going to take a long time. But also, the longer it takes, the better it's going to be in the end.

    16. Missing avatar

      chris tatum on

      i'm glad to hear things are going, however slowly. however, there are issues at the forum. for some unknown reason, it seems that all microsoft e-mail addresses are rejecting any mail from MTVN forums. unfortunatly, this means that i cannot reset my password, and i have absolutly no access to my account whatsoever. this is an issue as i'm a beta tester. i've tried to get in touch with darkmorford, but i have had no luck in months of waiting. i would appreciate if something could be done with this.

    17. Eva Neimanta on

      Hi Fred,

      I messaged you a few months ago and you never responded to my queries. This project was funded a year and a half ago and I really wish I had never given you any money. It is ridiculous that you can't even write your own updates and instead have other people do it for you. It is not up to us to try and track you down to figure our what's going on with this project - the ownership here is on you, and you have not fulfilled the expectations of your backers at all. You have taken my money and the money of all these other backers and so far nothing at all has been forthcoming from you. I have no game. No additional rewards - and in my tier I'm due quite a few. You could have at least sorted out the prints and the t-shirts by now. But I don't even care about that anymore. I'm way past the point of waiting for those items. I just want my money back now because let's be honest, this project has been a complete and utter failure.

      I'm sure this is not what you wanted. I don't think you're a bad person. But I think you owe it to your backers to be honest and admit that you gave up on this a long time ago.

      Oh and by the way, advertising your online store in a project update when none of your backers have received any of their rewards, when they paid for them a long time ago - seriously bad move.

    18. Fred Gallagher Creator on

      Actually, if you follow my twitter, facebook, tumblr, twitch and main Megatokyo page you will see that i have always been very much alive - not to mention updates on the official Megatokyo Visual Novel page. I apologize for not updating here enough - which i will attempt to rectify in the future. As for other items... the stuff in my store is related to my comic project and such things are always in motion. I don't use my KS page to promote such things because i dont want to spam all of you. I wish i could finish this project faster than I am doing. :(

    19. Iván de Neymet
      Superbacker
      on

      Thanks for the feedback.

      Any chance Fred may consider inserting that long stretch goal we didn't achieve?

      Thanks and keep it up.

    20. Roy Romasanta
      Superbacker
      on

      Thanks for the updates. This being a MegaTokyo project, delays were expected. But can we at least have some filler art "Dead Piro Days" (weeks, months) even if it's reused art?

      That way we'd know that you're all still alive!

    21. Missing avatar

      Manuel Peisker on

      I mean it is halfway acceptable to have delays, but the lack of information sucks. I mean the developer has enough time to sell goodies and calendars now he got our money, but not willing to inform us proper, Actually this is the first project i really regret that i spend my money. I would take back the money if there was an option.