Backgrounds Complete!

example-2

As of today I have officially finished the backgrounds for Break Chance Memento! Not to say that I won’t have a couple things to do for them here and there, but I’ve done everything I need to do for the moment and so I’m celebrating.

Some close up details of the backgrounds.

I also thought I would talk a little bit about them. One main thing I am going to talk about is how I made them and especially the role photos play. Since I was in quite a rush to get these backgrounds done in time and I’m a hack  I have used photos a fair bit. First up, I use Photoshop CS5 and I have a Wacom Intous tablet.

I used a number of ways to create backgrounds for this game. Some of them are free hand, like the confectionary store. Others I used references, especially ones based specifically on Nagasaki or Japan or just for random bits and pieces within the backgrounds. Some are my own photos, some are photos by Samu-kun whom I made an arrangement with and the rest are creative commons or public domain.

If the photo is exactly what I want I follow it pretty closely.

(photo by Samu-kun)

Some I have to alter to get what I want and so I add or remove things.

(photo by Samu-kun)

And sometimes I only partially use one.

(based on a public domain photo)

As for the actual process, this illustrates it:

1. I pick a photo that at least kind of resembles what I want.
2. I create lineart based on the photo, changing or adding anything I need.
3. I create light and shadow layers. This technique is based on one by fox-orian
4. I paint in all the base colours.
5. This is what it looks like when you add the two.
6. And then I add in textures, lighting and a whole bunch of adjustment layers.

So that’s pretty much it. I’m pretty embarrassed I had to resort to photos so often to get these done. I’m a bit of a failure as an artist. I really want to learn to do them properly when I have a bit more free time, do some studies and really put some effort into it. Photos are okay for doing backgrounds quickly, especially when I am on a deadline, but they are restrictive and I REALLY should know how to do it for myself.

If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask ^_^

A composer has appeared!

(A note to those reading these on Google Reader, Planet EVN, etc: you will have to view the post on our actual blog to be able to listen to the audio sample)

From the beginning, our projects have been using royalty-free music that we bought from various websites. It wasn’t ideal, but at the time we didn’t really want to go through the hassle of finding a composer to work with. After RisAmo came out, however, we had people asking if they could download the soundtracks of the game. Of course, given the limited usage/licensing of the tracks we bought, we couldn’t let them do that, unfortunately. After that, we started thinking that at least Break Chance Memento, a commercial project, should have its own original soundtrack even if it’s less practical to have for our free games.

So I started looking into composers and Auro and I have pooled our money to hire one Korochi Kayoubi to compose for BCM. He’s super talented, not to mention driven, and we’re very excited about having original music for our game at last. The audio in this post is a sample of three of the songs he’s been working on. They’re still not quite finalized yet, but hopefully that gives people a good idea of what our game is going to sound like. Throw out everything you’ve heard from our old videos and the demo. XD Of course, we think it’d be nice if eventually a composer came along who liked Cyanide Tea and wanted to join us as an actual team member, but that’s another discussion for another day. (also, a dedicated programmer wouldn’t hurt)

And for more on the BCM front, Auro is almost done with the backgrounds! We haven’t posted all of them because some of them are somewhat spoilery and others we’d like to save for the actual game release (we can’t show you guys everything) but here’s a handful more. There’s only one more (and a halfish?) to go, but the last one is the set of dorm room backgrounds, so that will probably take some time. After that, Auro’s going to spend her time touching up the sprites and fixing things in time for our Beta 2. Thanks to everyone who inquired about becoming a beta tester! We got a nice new group of fresh eyes to pore over the game once Beta 2 is out in late August. I’m still hacking away at the writing… Recently I gave up writing at Winter Wolves because I found that my real life responsibilities + BCM work just proved to be too much for me to be able to write for another big project, too. So Amber’s Magic Shop will have a new writer who will probably be way more efficient than me. XD I’m still supporting that project from afar, though, so I hope everything turns out well. There’s been a bit of a lull since Moacube released Cinders not too long ago, but WW has a lot of games to be released over the next year or two, so the world of commercial VNs won’t stay quiet for long. (and BCM should be out this year, too, of course ♥)

Switching gears, we have some news on The Elevator. First, for those who were concerned, we gave Kawa-Soft permission to translate the game into French and distribute it at Japan Expo. Auro actually designed the CD label and the box cover, haha. I believe they only charged for the game to offset the cost of production and renting the booth, so I hope you all supported Kawa-Soft by purchasing our game or the other ones they had for sale if you live in France/went to Japan Expo. Second, the game is now available for free download in German thanks to Marcel Weyers! You can download the German version of the game off The Elevator website. Finally, the other day I gave a New Zealander film student permission to adapt The Elevator into a short film. I reformatted the script and sent it to them yesterday, so if that gets done, it’ll be super awesome and I hope to be able to share it with you all eventually. I never expected that a little story I wrote for a school project would resonate with so many people, but Auro and I are both really happy about The Elevator’s success. After BCM’s done, we’d like to experiment with making more free, short VNs like that (or somewhere between the size of The Elevator and RisAmo), so look forward to it~ ♥

Thanks for reading! We hope you’re having a wonderful Tuesday. :D (or Wednesday, depending on where you are in the world)

Burnout

Gate-example

Well, it’s my turn to write a blog post. In fact, it’s past my turn >_> I had been wondering what to talk about and someone suggested that I should just write what I wanted, because the important thing was writing it. So since I didn’t feel like writing about something specific to visual novels and I won’t subject anyone to my musings on space and the eccentricities of Cavendish, I am going to write about something a bit more personal. Who knows, it might help.

What I want to talk about is burnout. Now, I’m trained in graphic design, and as a commercial form of a creative job, I’m trained to get stuff done, regardless of if I want to or not. A big part of my degree was learning how to basically force creativity. Things like art block or not feeling like doing something are just not acceptable, it won’t get you paid. And so you learn how to get around the feeling of not being able to think about something. Things like getting all the stupid ideas out, doing stuff traditionally, doing plenty of research. It kind of helps turn the creative process into a logical one. You still run into problems with not being able to get stuff right or being held back by your own skill level, but when push comes to shove, you can get things finished.

But then there is burnout and we are talking a whole other bucket of fish.

It’s something I find frustrating to deal with. I know both my mind and body needs rest and when I start feeling a lack of motivation or feeling angry about working on something, it’s a good sign I need to step back. The problem with that is I might not actually have time to do that if I want to get done what I want to get done. This is where you start wishing for more than 24 hours in a day.

I work full-time so my days can be quite long. Usually I try to come home and get work done as well. When I’m feeling good I work most nights and then all weekend. I’m the sole artist on a commercial project and there is a lot of stuff to get done. And generally I WANT to get it done. But doing it for months on end does slowly take its toll and I start to feel a lack of motivation and a sense of exhaustion.

Though I have been more exhausted before. I haven’t fallen into a puddle of tears because of visual novel work just yet. You know you are tired when you emotionally break like that. In my third year of university I did a lot of all nighters getting stuff done, waking up early to attend lectures, working part-time. It sometimes got to be way too much. But generally it was over shorter time spans, at most 10 weeks in a row, usually with breaks in the middle.

Visual novel work is much slower, and much longer. It’s a really, really long marathon. I’m working on backgrounds now and I was pretty excited to start them for the change. I have 20 done now and even though I only have 7 left, the mountain still seems very high. But I have a deadline I am pretty determined to stick to, no matter what happens. I simply don’t have time to do otherwise.

So, what have a learnt from this? If anything, I’ve figured out I need to plan my time a lot better. BCM started off as one thing and ended up as another and while what we are aiming for is super exciting, it also means I’ve been a bit all over the place with how I did things. Even just working on the projects we have done I have figured out a lot about the way I work, and the way Camille works. Next time I plan to actually do some time management so I don’t force myself into some stupid crunch time. If I do it properly I can make time to give myself rest and occasionally do my own thing instead of being in a mad rush.

One of the other things I think I need to do is figure out a good flow of work. Some way to space out the work and interchange different pieces so I don’t end up doing one thing for months. Everyone works better if there is variety, it keeps you interested. That is something I will have to think on a bit more, since there are also issues of consistency to think about. I think doing some more design work, like GUI and that, could help to since I enjoy design and it’s a different style of thinking.

Apart from that… I don’t think there is much else I can do. I have a day job, visual novels take a certain amount of work, there are only so many hours in a day. I just have to deal with that. It will all be worth it in the end.

I’m 75% the way through my backgrounds and I have until the end of the month to get them done. Let’s do this!