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[Devlog] Before They Leave

A topic by Ellis Kim created Sep 16, 2017 Views: 644 Replies: 11
Viewing posts 1 to 9
Submitted (3 edits) (+4)

Hi, my name's Ellis (I'm timefiddler on the discord server). I draw a yuri webcomic called Time Fiddler and I'd been meaning to start learning and making games with Twine and Ren'Py... and had planned to put it off if it wasn't for the fact that I made a chance visit to the home page and saw that this game jam was happening! Surely, its a sign :P

I'm making this: Before They Leave, a short twine story about depression, friends, and weird crushes.

I tried to think of a unique story that was unrelated to my comic, but I wound up doing something of a prequel exploration of depression. I'd wanted to touch more seriously and explore the subject better in my comic but I'd been having a hard time thinking of a good way to tackle it outside of prose, as I generally avoid thought bubbles. 

I've spent the past two days (though mostly today) working on what's effectively a pseudo demo, or first leg of a story using and learning Twine. (Big shout-outs to Leethe and DensetsuNoGomez on the Discord for helping me out a bunch!)

Man, trying to do specific things in Twine is way harder and more confusing than I thought it'd be with how people tend to talk about the program! But Leethe has been a huge, HUGE help! :)

I'm planning and hoping to move my outlining on Twine to Ren'Py once I'm happy with the script. The "demo" i have right now has one path that got super heavily written out and a bunch of nubby ends that I tied up quickly just so I could put it online and go to sleep, haha.

I don't imagine there's honestly much to react to right now; I tend to be a slow burn writer, and this is basically a first draft at my first attempt to write and use Twine :S


Aw, I get shoutouts! Good luck, I'll give the demo a shot some time soon. :)


Version 1.0 is complete! Before They Left is script-complete for Twine.

 Now I'm gonna be heading into learning Ren'Py and tackling that nightmare.

I'm sort of happy with the script, but really its more like I'm happy that its done at all. Writing so many different branches of text is so much work. I have a new level of appreciation for people who make adventure games and visual novels. 

Please play it and tell me what you think! If you come across spelling errors and grammar problems please let me know! I'm sure I have some past/present tense problems everywhere.

Submitted (1 edit)

Quick first impression: I liked the tone of it. It's very gentle and I could def. relate to the character!

Specific feedback: I wasn't quite sure what my action of "clicking things" meant in the story... mm I don't know how to express this. To start with, I thought I was playing as Sam & choosing her actions. But later, I had the option to click some things which said what other characters did, not what Sam did. So then I felt like I was the "director" of this scene... and the shift in perspective was jarring.

I don't know if those options can be easily changed so that they're based on Sam's actions - chosen by the player - rather than via the player "remote controlling" other characters; or if there's a way to reframe what's going on so you understand from the start that You The Player are not Sam, but you're just getting the chance to see what happens in this story.

Does that make sense?


Alright, I think I fixed it up! It should be better in terms of sticking to Sam's POV and actions than it was before.


Yaaaay, also fixed white spaces!


I'm in the middle of learning Ren'Py, but got distracted and wanted to fix the bad initial drawing of Sam's sketch that I had drawn a few days ago. I like the new posture better; the old one was stiff and was in this awkward position of standing upright but still vaguely hunching over? I finally addressed it. Also feeling wishy-washy on whether or not to include the sweater ribbing.


Made another change.


As of last night, I successfully ported Before They Leave over to Ren'Py, making a text-complete barebones version that's ready for art and other assets.

I'm both excited and vaguely nervous, lol....

I anticipate.... a programming nightmare going into the GUI stuff......


I made some new art. Finally finished the main background art, though I may make a few cleanup tweaks. The bottom image is of the main love interest, who's name I've since changed from Cheyenne to Hallie from the Twine version. I just wanted to put together a mockup of her, and may not be the final sprite.


As of today, all character sprites are complete, though I am considering working on adding a side sprite if I can find time.

Things still on the docket:

  1. 2-4 backgrounds (restroom, outside cafe, bedroom, suburb)
  2. All GUI design
  3. Side Sprites for main character
  4. Paint a dozen CGs
  5. Clean up code/find out if you can force shift layer order of sprites
  6. Make the game page look way nicer

So I just learned that if anyone had downloaded the previous Twine version, the itch app doesn't auto update to the newer renpy version.

rip. Oh well.

I also just realized I haven't made a devlog on everything that's happened since the last post, and also since the deadline.

So basically I finally got music in the game from my friend Lillian, who you can find here: She's super awesome so be sure to follow her on there :)

I also spent a shit ton of time just working on tweaking the sprites and proportions for all of the characters, though mostly Hallie. First draft, the proportions on everyone was super wonky. Second thing I did was attempt to work on backgrounds, including two different versions of the bathroom; I wound up going with this one:

I'm relatively fond of it. It was a lot of work Dx. But I ran out of time for the remaining backgrounds and wound up both taking photos and taking google image search results and doing a bunch of manipulation.

I also wound up spending two entire days working on Sam's sidesprite. I don't know if it honestly contributes much to the experience of the game because you see so little of her through the whole thing (she only appears during dialogue), but the thought of making her more persistent may be worth considering in a future update once I figure out how in the hell to customize the dialogue box.

There's certainly enough art of her :/ Photoshop literally lags because of all the layers. I honestly didn't plan the layers and folders very well, but its something I have to live with.

This whole process of working on this game, from inception to semi-completion, has been both incredible and awakening. Planning the story out in Twine, hammering out the kinks along the way, dealing with the difficulty of learning two scripting languages (with a shit ton of help along the way), successfully implementing ideas of what I want, and putting in all the hard work for what I need out of the story and characters to convey emotion has been really something. Its working literally day-in, day-out, getting a few things accomplished, seeing the growth of the game and watching it come together... yeah. 

I just don't know if people like the game or not, or how it stacks up. I don't know where I need growth as a storyteller, what's weak, what didn't work.

There are already places where I've come to understand through feedback that people really like certain characters or they want to see the secondary characters talk more. Its something I'll have to consider. The game was meant as a short story, and both Julia and Emily talk much more depending on which path you take. I wonder if I should expand the scripts laterally just a tiny bit more. Or if I should just move onto the next thing I need to work on (which there's been a lot stacking up, including commissions and my comic).

Also, people really, *really*, like Katey. People who both play the game and read Time Fiddler like Katey a lot, lol. It's given me something to think about.

Finishing and uploading the "deadline" build, and then going around and doing a shit ton of promotion on all of my feeds, has left me coming to this mental space where I feel like I'm desperately grasping in the darkness for the next thing to do. Working on the game had very clear steps and goals for things I needed to learn and implement on a weekly/daily basis. Now that I've "finished" the game, I'm left having to guide myself back to normalcy and other priorities in my life that I need to deal with.

Its been weird.