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[devlog] an empty bliss beyond the woods

A topic by lysander created 1 year ago Views: 941 Replies: 39
Viewing posts 1 to 26
Jam Host (Edited 5 times) (+2)

i'm going to get all informal here, so don't mind my awful grammar, punctuation, etc. i decided that i'll be using this thread as a development log for my jam game so i can keep all my notes and etc. in one place where everyone is free to see.


overview

an empty bliss beyond the woods — a minimalist, surreal story in which you meet a strange, immortal being while lost in the forest. that's the tagline anyway. heavily inspired by this album, which i obviously stripped the game title from, and am currently modeling the ost from as well. i'll be using renpy since i've never finished a game with renpy before, and i think even with minimalist aesthetic, the engine will do well to combine the few audio-visual aspects i have with my writing. i hope to god my writing is good enough to pull off the atmosphere i'm aiming for.

assets — i've downloaded a lot of cc-licensed stock photos to photoshop— everything will probably be in grayscale. like i said, i'm going for a pretty minimalist look here (and i don't want to trouble people for art anyway) so i'm pretty much set in the background category. as for music, i'm familiar with editing and composing, but i wanted a more distinct tone for the game, so i also downloaded cc-licensed music that i think fits the atmosphere. also a lot of old vinyl recordings, which i may or may not edit to enhance the sound. or i might take samples, add some delay ad reverb, and loop them like in the album linked above. i'd say i'm pretty set on that too.

synopsis - incomplete

set roughly in the 1950s, the protagonist— a freelance painter —gets lost in the woods. they soon then realize that things are not what they seem, and that they are, in fact, trapped in a fae's labyrinth— an inescapable maze of illusion created by malevolent spirits living within the forest. lost and confused, the artist encounters a strange entity that gives them a curious ultimatum: you must stay here until the next new moon. during that time, you may stay at my lodge, and every day you will come see me. that is all I ask.

the story is vaguely inspired by the words "lovecraftian romance"— where, instead of the unknown holding abject fear, it holds something different— a kind of eternal, ethereal love, if one can call it that. i don't really think it's a game that many people will like, nor am i really intending to make it for a large audience, so i'm pretty much letting it be as weird and as unconventional as i want. i guess it's me letting my hair down, so to say. i've always loved strange concepts like this that try to grasp at a feeling that's so hard to describe

there are two major characters, and you'll probably only be seeing them for the entirety of the game.

the artist — a character of nondescript gender. eloquent, collected, analytical, and a bit of a romantic. they are a dreamer in every sense of the word, and they're the type of person to find sentiment in all kinds of things. they feel out of touch with the world, and so they use painting as a means to escape it, although it doesn't exactly bring in the dough (in supplemental materials, the artist is male, but his gender is not mentioned whatsoever in the game itself— i encourage people to insert their own interpretations)

the caretaker — a genderless, immortal, swirling mass of darkness. it has many forms, but generally uses one for the duration of the game. the caretaker is distant, highly intelligent, and occasionally sarcastic, as well as extremely powerful. as the guardian of the forest, it observes the activity within it day to day, and spends far too much time alone, deep in thought. it is a creature of many mysteries and secrets, which may not all be pleasant.

gameplay

there's not much gameplay to be perfectly honest, but there are a few endings i'm planning. two, with a little bonus scene for the jam, then in post i may add two more endings. as for choices and stuff, i'll be mostly using them as a way to add interactivity to the story and world, allowing the protagonist to explore and interact, though for the most part choices will probably not have very much impact on the plot save for the endings. but this may change once i get to developing it.

so that's what i have so far! i'll post wips and sketches in the next post.

Jam Host (Edited 4 times) (+1)

here are some of the sketches i did for the caretaker:


bear with me because i'm not an artist HAHA

and the lovely dorian ( whose art you should REALLY check out) also drew me a design! look for his stuff in the game later on!! we're planning a few supplemental materials that tie into the game and its story after the jam!


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Wow this looks awesome. I hope to play this!

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agreed. this looks really, really bomb.

Jam Host (Edited 1 time) (+1)

another little sketch to get a feel for the aesthetic

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Ooooooooo this is looking really cool! I really like the fact that its based off an album - sometimes you listen to one and it just gives you a certain feeling you want to recapture! I'll have to check it out > : ] (the album, i mean, but also the game when its done!)

I'm looking forward to seeing this, I hope I get to kiss the cool skeleton monster. Or at least go on a nice outing with him. Or be trapped in a surrealist horror. One of those three.

Jam Host

thank you!!! :^) there will be lots and lots of nice outings, and probably a lot of Feels involved
but who knows, maybe there will be a kiss ohoho

but yesss, i found the album and kind of sat starting at my ceiling for an hour thinking about the game, and this concept happened !

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I can't wait to be a fucking skeleton furry with this game. (I also can't wait to cry, either, if we are getting the Feels out. I want to be emotionally destroyed.)

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The tone of the tree doodles is lovely!

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ohhhh wow i love the concept and synopsis of this game!! i'm so excited to see how this develops, omg. one of my favorite things about renpy is the freedom you have to really go all out when it comes to bgm and sfx, because audiovisual interest can be so hugely important in a visual novel imo. it feels so nice to really set the tone of your scene/the atmosphere of your game with the perfect sounds.

man i'm just so into the vibe going on here. your sketches are really nice and crisp and have a great sense of form, too!

Jam Host

oh gosh thank you!!! i'm glad to hear that you're interested!! and yes, audio and visuals do so much for prose, even if it's just a little bit *___* helps that i know exactly the kind of music to use !!

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you're so welcome!! omg that reminds me, i checked out your soundcloud and i am enamored with your music !!! being able to compose and create loops and really understand audio work is so impressive * U* and i'm excited to hear what you do with the music you've downloaded, it sounds like it's going to be neat!

Jam Host

forgets to reply for 16 hrs even tho i've read this hello THANK YOU! i'm so glad!! i've only been messing with digital production for a few years now but it's my biggest hobby outside of games and writing!! sadly i'm too busy to work on game atm but i wanna post demo tracks asap!! ;-

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IT'S ALL GOOD i do the same kind of thing all the time rip it's a hectic week/month so far too. but aaaa that is super cool, the time & regard you've put into it really shows in your work!! looking forward to your next posts omgggg, feel better and good luck with everything!

Jam Host (Edited 2 times) (+1)

Day 1: January 2, 2016

edited some bg pics today, not sure if i'm satisfied with them, but i'll put them in a demo test tomorrow and see how it meshes with my prose + music? if i don't like them, i'll probably end up just... attempt to draw everything??? thank goodness it's all forest & woods because i have painted a lot of those hahAHA

also got ~2k words written for the script! about ready to do that demo like i said, but i got some stuff to do tomorrow, so i'm gonna call it a night and tuck in. and it's also 4:30am anyway , so

also: not sure if i'll use this, but i snipped a little piece of rose of the world (via super old lo-fi vinyl recording) and made a little ambient loop— kinda like it, kinda feel w/e about it. i'll fiddle around with the rest of my samples and see what happens

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(+1)

I love the aesthetic you've got going, I really like your forest sketch and what you've got going with the edits. (I like your sketch a lil better but that's a matter or personal taste, also I don't know how each would feel in context.)

Your caretaker design is really great! I like your sketches of it a lot because it seems definitively eerie and nonhuman, but also kinda sweet and friendly. I don't think that's the vibe you're going for pfft but I think it's really cute all the same. Kinda reminds me of Terry Pratchett's Death. The other drawing of it definitely has more of a creepy vibe.

I'm really looking forward to seeing how it develops! In the meantime, I'm listening to the album it's inspired by.

Jam Host

thank you so much!!! yeah, honestly, i'm kind of feeling the sketch more, but if i do that, then i have to commit and paint all the backgrounds— and like, while i can definitely do art, i'm not that great overall, and it seems like a huge undertaking, doing all the bgs... but we'll see how it goes? if the photos don't work out in the demo i'm gonna hash up tonight, then i'll do what i need to do to get the atmosphere juuuuust right.

i love drawing macabre! but the juxtaposition between cute personalities and scary appearances is such a big thing that i love! though, the caretaker isn't supposed to be even remotely cute— that was me just messing around because it's cute to me, regardless of its appearance HAHA!

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I really love the Caretaker's design :D and I love the premise of your game, I look forward to seeing more of it!

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As long as there's no jumpscare, I'll definitely play this game.

And, yes, the Caretaker's design is great! S/he looks scary but not that scary at the same time.

Jam Host

naw, i don't plan on jumpscares! i wouldn't be able to make it without scaring myself!! but it's not really meant to be a scary game anyway— just unsettling probably??

the caretaker is aesthetically pleasing yes :^) it's unconventionally beautiful

(Edited 1 time) (+1)

Cool, no jumpscares. I'll play your game for sure then. :))

Anyway, get well soon if you still feel sick by the time you read this reply.

Jam Host (Edited 2 times) (+2)


Day 2: January 3, 2016

not a ton of work done as i've been out all day and am sick, and extremely tired. but i started putting stuff together into renpy! gotta customize menu and and stuff tomorrow probably... and i need to find a better font & make a better frame graphic

also, obviously not featured: menu music& rain sfx added in

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(+1)

This sounds very "Over the Garden Wall". Neat designs all around especially the Caretaker!

Host(+1)

AAAAA LUBE i am dying your aesthetic is My Entire Shit and i can't wait to play this!!!! i need more Weird Games and i'm excited to see how u push this... your ui design already feels very gently surreal and i'm digging your backgrounds so far. i can't wait to see more *q* !!

Jam Host

replies like 10 days later GOSH I'M GLAD!!! i hope it's satisfactory because, atmosphere-wise, i feel like this is a Bit Ambitious.. but i gotta try!!! i'm so glad we have The Same Aesthetic.... it is Good

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caretaker sounds amazing! :>

a+

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OH DUDE! I saw your design for the caretaker on twitter!

Didn't know he was for your game : 0 :0 :0

I'm REALY diggin' everything about this, 'unsettling but whimsical paranormal' is so my jam.

Jam Host

oh gosh thank you!!! if only i could draw it better/more??? but we'll see what happens on that side of the fence o-|-< i'm glad you're interested, it makes me really happy!!

(+1)

i am 100% here for the cute caretaker and the spooky forest aesthetic 8))

Jam Host(+2)

aughgh it's slow going because i keep getting distracted, but at the very least i'm having no absolute 0 days ;;;;

going for a different aesthetic that's more in line with what i want to do, also made 2 songs that will most likely be used:

a short, simple piano piece

some ominous harp thingie

aaand here are some bgs + a little screenshot

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it's hard because my schedule keeps changing so i keep... being unprepared LMAO!!! but tomorrow i'm gonna sit down for 12 hrs staight and hash out that script

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I like your bgs- using photos is so damn smart! I liked the previous ones too, but this set has more of a traditional 'paranormal' look vs. the previous which felt dreamy but still grounded in familiarity.

Jam Host

thank you!!! i don't have the patience to draw all the bgs so YEAH! it's faster, and also it's an aesthetic choice!! i definitely wanted it to look slightly unsettling since that's the direction of the story!!

Host(+1)

ohoh your new direction is honestly Exactly My Shit how do you do it :)c

Jam Host(+1)

before i sleep, updated start page ! i also went and downloaded more sound assets, and i think i know what i want to do with the rest of the script now.. but first i gotta sleep zzz

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man I love the direction this is going!! I love the greyscale photos and both of your music pieces are beautiful. You're setting up an amazing setting and atmosphere, your visuals and sound make it really cohesive. I am eager to see more of the story!!

Jam Host

oh gosh thank you so much!!! i was kind of unsure if i was hitting the right tone with the music & images but i'm really happy you think so!!

Jam Host(+2)

did a lot of work today! probably going to do more before i sleep, but i'm gonna update with some screenshots before i take a break

also a little song i made for some of the scenes later on; it's actually a mash up of 3 ost tracks, which i'll use separately in context


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Jam Host

updatesssss

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(+1)

WHOA. I'm enamored with the direction you are taking the game. I'll just be back here patiently waiting to play it!

Host(+1)

these previews make me wanna play this so baddddd