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castfire

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A member registered Feb 08, 2017 · View creator page →

Creator of

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I love Jules' sneezing sprites way too much. LOL! <3

I want to comment the additional description/explanatory text here, so the information's still here but the downloads don't get pushed so far down the page. Here it is--

Additional and Contextualizing Text (for assignment):

Inspiration and Purpose

I created this game to explore the realm of DIY games, the visual novel community, and the ethos of emotionally communicative/resonant games and use of the hyper-personal that stands next to the “Twine Revolution”; not using Twine in this case, but the other platform that dominates the democratized game-making space, Ren’Py.

As mentioned in my proposal, after exploring and defining this “niche” (for lack of a better word) that I’m drawn to through my annotated bibliography, I wanted to extend the theory and commentary into practice and follow the call to action of developers in this movement— making my own game to communicate something about my own experience, using the free tools at my disposal. While by nature the use of games and their systems to communicate unique and personal experiences has no single pattern to follow, I specifically looked to Mattie Brice’s comments and goals with her development of Mainichi (http://www.mattiebrice.com/mainichi/ and http://www.mattiebrice.com/postpartum-mainichi-how-personal-experience-became-a-game/) as well as following Anna Anthropy’s recommendations and ethos in her book Rise of the Videogame Zinesters. Anthropy’s book serves as exactly the beginners guide for games of this niche which is why I referred to it, and I referred to Mattie Brice’s approach specifically as her game, while referenced in the bibliography, is one I was already personally familiar with and admired— it was the first game in this “genre” that I ever played, several years ago, and it is what brought me into loving this topic. It even inspired me to attempt a game of my own at that time, though it was never finished. As I find her game to be a shining example of what I was trying to study, I looked at her words when making a game of my own. Specifically, in my work on this project I was inspired by her comment: “I made a game that only I could make”. This is the full passage, almost her thesis statement for Mainichi— the closest thing to a rubric for me to follow with what I wanted to accomplish with this project:

“I still had something to say, or rather, something I didn’t know how to say. I had something I needed others to play. This is how Mainichi was born. It was an experiment in translating a personal experience into game mechanics, and also a push to prove to myself that I can make a game, even if the video game industry wouldn’t accept me. I want Mainichi to be a call to arms, a triumph of the personal. I made a game that only I could make, and I’m hoping this exercise empowers others to express a life that is uniquely theirs.”

To follow the example of the developers and the spirit of their games cited in my bibliography, I used the visual novel engine Ren'Py to create a game exploring my own experiences and feelings, specifically in reference to coronavirus isolation. There are several tools and game types characteristic to the movement explored in the bibliography, but for this project I wanted to just explore one of the platforms and approaches discussed. I decided to do a visual novel that focuses on emotions, not only because that is a common exemplar of the genre, but because I tried to make one based on similar inspiration in the past. With greater knowledge of the game “genre” and its background, I wanted to revisit Ren’Py.

Scope of Ren'Py

I will provide more context on Ren’Py as a platform and what I chose to use in order to show more clearly how a project like this is an exercise in HCI.

A game in Ren’Py can be stripped down to essentially just a “choose-your-own adventure” book or a kinetic novel, but the games are all built through underlying code, using Python and Ren’Py’s own unique scripting language. My game uses dialogue, images, transitions and choice menus, but as a platform Ren’Py provides much more opportunity beyond that. A developer can customize their game and its interface essentially to the point where it no longer looks like the “packaged” Ren’Py game— there is full capability for customization of GUI and the game’s visual interface; custom sounds and sound effects; a fully custom menu and even complex image, language, screen and other options accomplished through code, such as mapping buttons to an image. My game is already more fleshed out than perhaps it “should have” been, i.e. I wrote a lot of content and created artwork as well as coding transitions, but within the scope of Ren’Py it is definitely bare bones; I’ve added no sound, or customization of the interface beyond the default that Ren’Py provides.

To provide more context on Ren’Py as a program, an application: the Ren’Py program itself is just an engine. It exists in the form of a launcher, which shows all of the projects you have in your directory. From that launcher menu you can open the directories of your game, such as the images or GUI assets, as well as opening up the specific files that make up the game like the script file, which contains the code for the game. The Ren’Py launcher itself is only a workspace for your games; from the launcher you can export your games and create distributable builds, that is how you create a publishable and playable version of the game. From there, your work can be shared or uploaded wherever you like. The Ren’Py engine/launcher itself does not have the capacity to play other peoples’ games, unless you decompile them and add them to your Ren’Py directory. It is moreso a workspace for your projects, from which you launch off. 

Connection to Class

In talks with Jennifer, she connected this project to the class topic of augmenting human intellect. I think, in addition to the class topics exploring empathy, persuasive technology (i.e., use of technology for an emotional purpose), and even informal/distributed mentoring as far as the “movement” and community is concerned, her assessment is apt.

While this exercise in creating a visual novel, to connect better with myself as well as maybe resonate with others, is not “augmenting human intellect” in the expected sense, I think it as well as the emulated genre itself may qualify. What’s interesting about creating a game like this is that in some ways, it’s just a sounding board for my own thoughts— as the developer, I’m more interested in the experience of others and if it manages to be relatable or help them reflect— but in practice, it was actually an arena for sense-making within myself; and if sense-making is a part of augmented intellect, then I suppose this project qualifies. More than I initially expected, the literal process of construction for this game required me not only to record my disparate thoughts and attitudes, but follow them through to their end, actually go face-to-face with them and explore them to their full ends. When we go down different trains of thought we are making choices, but they’re instantaneous, we slide into them. Having to separate those same thoughts into concrete, coded narratives allowed me to distance myself from these emotions; I was not engaging with them purely in the emotional moment, but rather curating them, dissecting them, analyzing them. The game not only represents trying to make sense of one’s feelings during Coronavirus, but in the creation of this game, it actually allowed me to make better sense and have perspective on the feelings myself.

This is awesome. I'm definitely going to use this in my project! Thank you for this great work.

Omg yes. Haven't even played this yet but I am a SIMP for Quest so seeing this on my explore was such a welcome surprise!

Looking forward to playing this! Love that it's 17+ too, I can't find enough otomes out there that get spicy enough for me lol. Just finished chapter 1, definitely enjoyed it! Loving Gabriel.

Omg, only just started but already i find the UI just gorgeous. Sekheo is who's caught my eye just on first impression, so we'll see how that goes!

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Wow. I am adoring this. Quest is hot af lmao I love him .........

I really love all the Mystic Messenger vibes I'm getting. I really love this game format!!

Really enjoying this. I'm still not even close to finishing the endings, so I have a lot more playing to do lol. But first of all, this has SO MUCH CONTENT, just omg props to you right off the bat for all of that. So much writing, and so many routes. That's incredible.

Anyway... I feel bad because I kinda wanna f*ck Kaito. I feel bad. I feel bad that I like so much that we got that scene at Jelly Rock and got a kissing scene, and that we got to "initiate" a kiss in that scene too. Lol. (That scene where you give the angel food cake to ryo was great too...) And I definitely still feel this way after getting his ending LMAO who am I.

This game allows forum posts as opposed to the typical comment, but if it's appropriate, I thought I'd write some thoughts/praise here. Firstly, I acquired this game through the Palestine bundle and I'm thankful for that considering I may not have found this game otherwise. I just finished the game, my first playthrough, and just off my impression through my playthrough, though I did complete the game, I imagine there are things I have yet to discover and I may need to revisit it for another playthrough. (I don't know its mechanics or if there's just one way to finish it, but if that's not the case, there are places I didn't go that I imagine I would like to discover.) Overall, this game was an amazing experience and I appreciate it on several levels-- telling a story about dementia/alzheimer's firstly, something that affects many of us I am sure who are playing (as in, our family members); but additionally, the female first-person perspective and particularly our main character being an Indian woman I feel are experiences that are hardly realized or recognized within gameplay most of the time, particularly in "deep" or "psychological" games, or just otherwise games in general that make particular statements or stand of particular importance in discourse of mental health, and/or in games that are particular examples of using the unique game interface to engage with mental health topics in effective ways we haven't seen. The story of this game would have been great regardless of the identity of the protagonist, but I simply must say that it's incredibly wonderful to see a story like this highlighted through the particular lens of a protagonist like Sunita-- where her heritage, but mostly the experiences in her life, many of which are relevant to her race just by the nature of one's experiences growing up, provide relevance and contribute to painting the overall picture of the ultimate story depicted within this game. Again, I must say, a great experience overall and I really appreciate the details the developers took within this process. Amazing end result, incredible experience. I definitely recommend this game; it does not take long to play through to the end.

Haven't played this yet, but just wanted to say I love and 100% stand for this concept. Jaehee wasn't my soulmate from MM, but SHE DESERVES EVERYTHING. So I heavily appreciate and respect the existence of a project like this lol!

Loved that twist. *Insert character here* was already my favorite before I knew it all! Great, fun game.

Very cute and fun! And horrifying! lol

Can't wait for this! Love the guys, already know that Jude will probably become my husbando lol. So excited for this game!

Amazing.

Finally got around to playing this, right after I played XOXO droplets and realized it was the same studio! Imagine my pleasant surprise when I saw Shiloh and Jeremy. shiloh was my boy of choice in droplets-- so I really loved that. hehe!

Oh shit, I wasn't expecting this.

In multiple ways... Lol, I misread the description at first and thought there was more than one guy in the story. I didn't really like Lyon *insert laughing emoji here because itch won't take emojis*. But once I realized that this story was just about their journey, I sat back and enjoyed. Wow...!

Beautifully illustrated.

OMG, thank you so much!!

The production value on this is off the charts. Completely loving it so far, and wholeheartedly second the motion to make Dex romanceable. Lol!

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Oh my god. I've kept playing, and reaching the "two truths and a lie"-- I was also literally born on Halloween, so seeing that option totally floored me! Lmfao!!! Such completely random things in your game so far fit me to a tee! Only surprising me and making me enjoy it more so far.

I only just started this game, but right from the start... I'm playing it at just the right time, because I AM turning 23 this year just like the protagonist lol! Makes it feel more realistic! Very excited to continue playing.

Definitely! I think if you were ever to make additional content for the game, that kind of extra scene would totally be the thing to do. But I totally enjoyed the game as it stands! And appreciate that finding all three endings didn't just rely on one single choice (so it wasn't too easy), but it also wasn't too crazily hard either.

Thanks for the reply! Yes, I definitely figured. I think that part was made pretty clear, (arg I wish itch had spoiler text tags LOL, if you haven't played yet don't read this) especially the "rest in piece" on the bathroom wall helped with that I think; I guess that's the curse/incident with that bathroom, that's where she did it.

I was more curious as to her bullying story and hearing what happened there, you know, how long ago it was/about her bullies and what they did or what she was being teased for. It's definitely not a complaint though, the basic facts of her story are made pretty clear I think. I was just wondering about it because I was interested in knowing some of those details about her backstory.

Great job on this game though, seriously, especially since it was made in just a month. I've only ever worked on Ren'Py games by myself, so I know working with a team definitely helps make that easier, but it's still a crazy feat to me LOL, especially with the great quality of character sprites/graphics you guys have, and what I found to be a really nicely robust path structure. My first natural playthrough brought me to the neutral ending, which initially surprised me; from the choices I had made I could tell what was gonna give me the "bad" path, but I wasn't expecting that I got a "neutral" path, and going back and figuring out how to get the true happy ending was really well done I think.

Just started this about two days ago, somehow I've already played 15 hours apparently. LOL. I'm loving this so far, I'm still only early on into chapter 2, but I wanted to just say off the bat that the "opening theme song" scene thing was amazing! Just so professional, freakin' awesome, and well done! I'm sure I will come back and comment or review on this much more as I continue/finish the game.

Loved it! I got all three endings, but if there was a scene that ever explicitly said what happened to sophie, i missed it. Is there dialogue I missed that goes into that, or is it kind of just implied?

Wow, wow! I can't believe I finally finished this game!

10/10, what an amazing experience. I think I started playing when only 2 or 3 chapters were released; waiting to finish it almost made it that much better. Again, I can't believe I finally finished it! Just incredible, I absolutely loved it! Thank you!

Haven't played it yet, seems really cool, I just wish there were options to change the font in settings or something. :/ It is really hard for me to read!

I definitely enjoy the whole concept behind that idea. I just couldn't help but feel unsatisfied getting the same statement of doubt at the end, regardless of if I got it right. Hahah.

So... does the game give no indication when you are right? 

When's part 2 coming? Loved it!

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Of course. I have played most of your other games as well -- I have to say, I love the style and types of stories your studio makes overall. This one is absolutely my favorite though, I'm not even sure if I could fully say why. The tone is just incredible, the protagonist's appearance and personality work perfectly. It's eerie from the start, even though you don't know why, and the endings are haunting in the most delicious way. I also loved the detail and focus spent on the artistry of the dollmaking.

Spoilers-ish ahead:
Possibly my favorite part are the mysterious cracked doll-face portions we begin to find. I immediately noticed, or had an idea of who it resembled, even though I didn't know where that would go. But just with the already established odd personality of the character, and at least how he seems to have some reclusive/attachment issues,  it already felt a bit eerie, even though everything was still unclear. The fact that these were clearly pieces of a doll's face, but there's no doll we have that it comes from? Spooky. The payoff for those pieces was just immaculate, and I ADORE that the symbolism was kept throughout that scene. It was beautiful and horrible, and I couldn't help but imagine what was REALLY in front of the protagonist's eyes at that point (rather than what he "saw"). 

The last thing I'll say is, I also really liked how ambiguous the protagonist was throughout the story. By being a reclusive single man who makes dolls, it's like he already was supposed to be creepy, but he actually wasn't. And through the dialogues, (ignoring that this factor of his personality is kind of decided by what the player chooses) he comes off quite self-aware, but maybe just a bit quirky. I really liked that fact; the fact that he was very understated and honestly, it really was unclear what was "going on", what was sinister, or who/what the "sinister" force was at first. In fact, from the way the game was made, I was really unsure of if the protagonist was "good or bad" for most of the game -- Because it seemed like he was probably SUPPOSED to be creepy, but also, he hasn't done anything and am I just predicting that because it would be "obvious"? Would it be TOO obvious, and they're just trying to make me think something is wrong with him simply because he's reclusive?  Is the twist that he's normal, or is the twist that he isn't? I really was teetering back and forth on that edge for most of the game, and I love that. 

Overall, I would absolutely love more creepy and narrative games like this from your studio. I honestly adored it!

I first played this game 4 months ago, and it remains, I think, my all-time favorite game I've played on itch at this point. 

I absolutely LOVED everything about this! ESPECIALLY the art! It is just gorgeous all around, with great atmosphere and gameplay. I love love loved it. Can't wait for a longer version, though I thought the demo length was really good and gave you a few levels to get the feel of the game.

Loved it, the note part was difficult (the sensitivity's still off) but I was able to make it work eventually! Unfortunately it never recognized the photo as finished so I couldn't proceed from there. :( Love the style, gameplay and writing though, hope to be able to finish playing soon!

I enjoyed your game a lot! I was wondering if you're looking for a proofreader or editor? The spelling mistakes unfortunately take away from the game. If you want to keep your project small, no worries!

I loved it, and the full voice-acting was such a nice touch. Probably the best part, IMO. My only thing is, why does the Comtessa's sprite look so out of whack? Her proportions in relation to all the other sprites makes her look ridiculous - she's completely tiny - and her arm is totally mangled on one of the speaking sprites. I wish she had been redone to fit better with the rest of the cast.
That said, I loved everything else about her, and the rest of the game too. 

Nice game! Took me a while to figure out the robots, and just the controls in general, but once I got how it worked it was very fun.