Megatokyo Visual Novel Pencil Test
If you are a Beta Tester for the game, you can now go to the vn.megatokyo.com beta testing forum and use one of the torrent links in the post to download the pencil test sample to download and review. The intent of this pencil test is to let you sample the look and feel of the game. It does not include any choices or any of the shopping and other variable-changing elements which we stripped out but follows the canon Megatokyo route up to just after you first encounter Seraphim. More information on the pencil test and what the kind of feedback are in the post in the beta forum. We hope that from this pencil test you will be able to get a solid, immersive sense of how the game is coming together. There are Windows, Mac, Linux and Android builds to test.
If you are having trouble setting up or accessing your beta tester account (people with hotmail accounts seem to have particular trouble getting the confirmation emails) please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will manually get your account set up so you can access the forums.
A few other things of note, we were invited by Valve to distribute and sell the Megatokyo Visual Novel game on Steam, including issuing product keys to everyone who has pre-ordered the game and its components through the Kickstarter. If you would prefer to not use Steam we will still be offering other ways of getting your copy the game, so don't worry if you are not a Steam user.
Someone recently commented that I owe everyone an apology for the time it is taking to produce this game. They are right, of course. I do. I apologize for the time it is taking to make this game. I have a great team of people working hard to help pull this game together and they have done an amazing job up to this point, but the sheer amount of writing and artwork that I am responsible for has been the biggest factor in the expanded production time. I appreciate your patience and hopefully if you are a Beta tester you will enjoy the pencil test and have a sense of the game in progress. If you are not a beta tester, you can play the first part of the Kinetic Short story Endgames omake I have been working on here which uses many of the elements and setup we have been developing for the MTVN (see the rant for the downloadable versions, or you can play through the online version) I am currently working on part 2 of this 3 part omake which hopefully I will be able to post in the next few weeks.
If you have been following me on Megatokyo, Twitter, Facebook and other places you already know about some of the difficulties I've faced over the past two years. These difficulties have not only impacted my visual novel work but Megatokyo and other things as well. I have tried my best to mitigate the impact these difficulties have had on things. Please accept my apologies for the impact this has had on the production of this game.
There are other factors, of course, why things are taking longer than I had originally hoped, and some of these are actually quite interesting. First, of course, is the fact that writing and drawing and producing a visual novel is nowhere near as easy as you might think. I have more respect for the studios and people who have made these games than I had before. Also, there is a learning curve. I am a comic artist and writer. It was harder than I thought it would be to write and compose and format the right look and feel of things in VN format.
One thing I learned is that Visual Novels are just that - they are a way of taking a novel (prose) format that describe scenes and events using words and a minimum amount of re-usable art to add dimension and depth to the story. When doing a comic, each and every frame, every expression and every background usually is unique and original, drawn specifically for what the character is thinking or doing. Distilling a comic format where every drawing is unique to a first person experience flow using standardized art was actually very difficult. Many of the times I used drawings to show things I now had to provide lengthy descriptions or change a scene completely from the original comic to make it work.
Of course, my first approach to dealing with this issue was to just draw everything that needed to be drawn and not worry about re-using elements. As you might guess, this quickly showed signs of growing exponentially out of control. Lessons have been learned on this front, and I feel like I now have a manageable (though still very large) amount of resources to produce to get the look and feel I want for this game.
There was one other thing I felt I lacked when I started this project - I was NOT comfortable with my coloring abilities. I had real concerns about my ability to properly color foreground and background artwork in ways that were appropriate to my art style. Since that time, I have actually worked quite hard on developing a coloring style with COPIC markers that I feel fits the look and feel of my pencil work appropriately. I'm probably the only idiot in the world currently drawing and coloring all the artwork for a visual novel by hand rather than digitally, but it is what works best for me AND I think gives a look and feel appropriate to Megatokyo. For a sense of how this looks, be sure to look at the Endgames Omake KN linked at the top of this update.
I should also note that the game we are working on is far more complicated that what I originally planned. It is basically taking almost 13 years of Megatokyo comics, redrawing them and then adding numerous additional story paths. It is amazing how quickly the pathing for a game like this can get very complicated. the flowcharts for this game are huge, and it took an inordinate amount of effort to keep the beastly things under control and yet interesting and entertaining for the player. They were so complicated that our lead programmer actually wrote a stand alone program to coordinate the flow chart events and codebit sections of the game. I like to think that our efforts in this will pay off.
One way I have been looking at this project is that it will be as close as we ever get to there being a Megatokyo anime. This "Visual Novel" is really more of a "Re-Visual Presentation of a Graphic Novel." A Visual Novel is an attempt to take a story that is in words only and add a layer of visual and sounds to it. What we are trying to do here with the Megatokyo Visual Novel is to add a layer of experience to a graphic novel. This has been a challenge, and I hope that you be able to enjoy the game as an expansion of the Megatokyo comic, not just a re-telling of it in visual novel format.
Regarding physical rewards, we had hoped to ship out rewards with the finished game, but given the time it is taking to produce the game we are going to look at starting to ship out rewards sometime next year so we can ship them with a 2017 MTVN Calendar to those who wanted that extra. We will be emailing you before we ship anything out to make sure that you have updated your address under your Kickstarter account.
Once again, I apologize for how long this project is taking to finish. Hopefully when all is said and done, it will be worth the wait.
Sunday - September 20, 2015