Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Character reveal: Diane

Hello everyone! I’m Hearts™ and I am Familiarity’s newest writer. Lunch and I have been friends for some time and I told him a while ago that I would love to write for Familiarity if only I could come up with a good idea for a story. I think I have, so I pitched the idea to him and he agreed to let me take a crack at it. I’m excited and humbled by the opportunity to be a member of such a talented group, and I hope that my story adds something to Familiarity that it might otherwise have lacked.

Art by Rinbro, colouring by Chocojax

DiAnE is a Diagnostic Analysis Engine - or at least, that’s how she is described by the British Empire. Like many of the other characters in our story, she is an outsider. Having been salvaged by an expedition team from the remains of a foreign starship, Diane’s function as “medical automaton” was quickly discovered and she was repurposed for work in one of Familiarity’s medical wards. Being a “foreign artifact,” her degree of technological sophistication is beyond what one would typically find in Familiarity.

Unlike the other medical drones in the ward, Diane both speaks and behaves more like a human than like an automaton. Her skill as a physician further distinguishes her, and she’s proven to be every bit as capable as the doctors aboard the ship, even though she’s primarily tasked with things that are too tiresome or annoying for the senior medical staff. Because of this her patients tend to be highly traumatic or stressful cases, but she approaches each of them with a warmth and optimism that has made her extremely popular with those under her care. She is especially adept at dealing with young children who quickly grow attached to her nurturing, maternal nature.

Some early design concepts and general cuteness.

As if being upstaged by a robot weren’t enough, she’s a “woman” robot to boot, and the only medical practitioner in the wards to have that distinction. As you might imagine, neither of these things have endeared her to the rest of the staff, and many of them are quick to downplay her competence. But official reports of her being “just another drone” don’t quite line up with the rumours of her “innovative” procedures and her ability to rapidly diagnose cases that have proved baffling to her peers. Despite the unfavourable treatment she receives, Diane shows no signs of wanting to leave her role and appears to find her work on Familiarity to be both fulfilling and meaningful.

Diane’s visual design is almost entirely the product of Rinbro’s own creative vision. The sole direction I gave him was that I wanted an android that was human-looking, was a doctor, and had a “mature” appearance. What I liked in his design is that he managed to give her an air of maturity without making her look old or haggardly. Her colour scheme was mostly workshopped by me and Chocojax and might be subject to some minor adjustments.

What I intend to do with Diane’s story is put her and Gavin at odds with one another in ways that develop each of them as characters. They are very different people, but similar in enough ways that they can give each other a lot of perspective on the choices they have made in the past and the choices they will make over the course of the story.

Oh, and Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Character Reveal: Sheena

Hi friends. I’ve been known by many names in the past, Kenji among other instruments. I’m bad at describing myself, I suppose I could say I’m a fairly well-rounded person. I’m a writer here on the crew. Here’s a summary of the character I’ve been working with on and off for the past year or so:

It was a war as brutal as any known to humankind, spanning nearly half a century and encompassing the entire settled surface of Antares III. Through the courageous acts of those looking to end the conflict, peace among the people was eventually established. Stringent agreements of unification were approved by all of the factions involved with the planetary war, and on that foundation, they prepared for a new age of advancement and prosperity.

Enter Sheena, a daughter born from veterans of this war. A girl watched over with care by a doting mother and a wise father. Influenced by them as well as others in the tightly knit community she was raised in, Sheena has become a kind, gentle and curious young woman.

Since coming up with her original visual design, the main elements haven't changed much. I hope to keep it that way in the future. She's quite a cutie as it is, right?

Her surroundings and upbringing have given her a high air of enthusiasm and positivity. She was born under the blessing of the Artegian Right, a new movement rooted in the peace agreements that ultimately ended the war. Members prize the goodness in others above all else, believing that every being has the potential to seek virtue, and is vital to the advancement of all life in the universe. Like the rest of the children born in this generation, she is seen as a miracle, untarnished by the war, and innately peaceful if guided correctly. Her personality from early on in her life has been shaped by the ways of The Right, and as such, Sheena has always been held in high regard within the community. Sheena is as devoted a follower as any, pledging her life to these teachings and expressing their values in her interactions with others. She has a reputation of one who can be turned to when an extra helping hand is needed.

Sheena has followed these teachings, sworn to the words she’s heard through her life, and holds them close to her heart. Her sheltered upbringing has left her a little lost on Familiarity; every aspect of it is essentially alien to her. Perhaps she is in need of a guiding hand, someone who is able to understand her beliefs, as well as show her how to open her eyes as well as her arms.

That’s about the jist of it for now. I will continue to hammer out Sheena’s story as time goes on. My writing tendencies are abstract at best. It's often hard to determine what to write. Sheena's a bit of a different case. You know that feeling when creating an idea that it starts to pop into your head and whisper things? The type of voice that you just gotta let out? Sheena is that sort of idea to me. She's a little of this and that gathered from designs and ideas I've had in the past. She brightens my day a bit, maybe one day she’ll brighten yours.

What's next for us? Well, check back soon, as we may just have a Christmas present in store. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Character reveal: Sam

Well, now it looks like it's my turn so uh, here we go I guess. I'm Lunch, hello again. I used to do some writing under the name Scissorlips, and I'm not ashamed of it or anything, but it's a little too serious and Lunch is a name I've had for much longer anyway. Enough about me though. Today I'm here to introduce you to this little lady. 

Brash, headstrong and bitterly sarcastic at times, Samantha Sambrook is the lead mechanic at Shackley & Mackinder, one of the largest and most respected workshops on the Familiarity. She claims to have lived aboard the city-ship for almost as long as she can remember, but the rude and reckless attitude of her crew suggests that she hasn’t been in charge long enough to earn any love and respect.

Sam is rarely seen without her constant companion, a massive, hulking and brutish automaton named Fezzik (“The Fezz” to anyone looking to explore an exciting career in being a meat puddle). Slow to trust and quick to anger, Sam is initially wary of Gavin but unable to resist helping anyone so clearly in need. She offers him a place under her wing in a world of flashing gears and superheated machinery, but things at the smithy might not be quite what they seem... 

Sam’s design is a hodgepodge of things playing off the classic greasemonkey archetype, but as far as her character itself is concerned, I had no real central motif other than “figuratively tough as nails girl backed up by literally tough as nails robot.” Not to give too much away, but my biggest goal with her route was (is) to try something different from what I’ve written in the past and tell a story that focuses on external conflicts as opposed to internal ones. Basically, I wanted to have bar fights and bad guys instead of emotional talks and dealing with baggage. 

There may still be baggage (after all, everyone’s got some), and that’s not to say things will be all action and no fun or romance. But at the end of the day, I hope that Sam’s route will keep you guessing, occasionally punch you in the gut and just be a pretty engaging read overall. That’s all I can really want or ask for.

Thanks for dropping by. Tune in sometime next week for our fourth character reveal. This space for rent.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Character reveal: Morial

Hello. My name is SailorBart, and I’m the creator of our first route. I have been with this project from the very beginning, and since then I’ve seen what started as a small string of ideas roll into something much larger. Today I’m here to show you the fruits of what has been a long, strange ride so far, and introduce you to Ms. Morial Catherine Lincoln Westfield.

Concept art by Thighs (bottom left) and former project artist Cherubi

Born on an uncharted planet and raised by a human couple, Morial Westfield has risen far from what could ever have been expected of her. In a society that treats aliens as second class citizens, she’s become a teacher, a biologist, and the pilot of her own small research vessel. She lives aboard the Familiarity, taking contracts with the Crown to survey previously unexplored systems in search of valuable resources and the occasional untold wonder. Though she follows her work wholeheartedly, time has found her to be more and more out of step with the Empire. In spite of this, she continues on with her invaluable research, joined by the respected Dr. Clay and her fighter escort pilot Rory Harper. Together they face a rapidly changing empire, as they follow the Familiarity through all ends of the void—known and otherwise.

Concept art by Drawbro (bottom left) and Chocojax

Morial was developed over a long, long time, in amongst several now-rejected designs. Strangely enough, after hashing out my first character over and over again, I paired up with an artist I’d only spoken to once and almost without effort, her prototype sketches were completed. From there, you can say it snowballed rather fast. The character you see before you today is virtually unchanged from the character I wrote up several months ago. In this time I’ve come to get to know her much better, and I’m hoping to bring out her vibrancy and warmth.

Get it? Because she’s kind of like a fish reptile person… thing… and she’d be kind of cold blooded.


For Morial’s route, what I’ve tried to capture is the classic adventure tale. A young man, a young woman, pirates, monsters, spaceships, and much more can be expected here. I hope you find yourself enjoying it.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Character reveal: Gavin

Another week has flown by, and that means it’s time to talk about our protagonist a little as we promised. We’ve already mentioned the basics before, but today we’ll go into a little more detail.

Gavin Clarke’s situation paints a clear picture of working class life on Earth. He’s got a stable job, he’s got a roof over his head and food in his belly, he has everything he could really ask for and yet he still feels somehow out of place. Much of the planet’s population had already emigrated to space by the time Gav was even born, but interstellar travel is dangerous, expensive and slow. Now the only people left are those who lack the means or will to leave and the rich elite who tighten their grip with every passing year. Gavin’s family has long since accepted this situation and worked to make the most of what they have, and to his credit, Gav has always tried to do the same--always done his best to ignore the nagging doubt, the quiet voice whispering that there should be more to life than this.

As a child Gavin displayed a knack for any and all things mechanical, and in another life he might have become an engineer of some renown, but few things close more doors than constant and crushing poverty. Instead, Gav continues the family tradition of working as a dockhand in the Liverpool spaceport--a time-honored tradition borne of necessity and never desire. He continues to tinker with odds and ends in his free time however, and even without proper schooling he’s grown so skilled that his employers rely on him to fix their steam powered loaders and other equipment. Only licensed technicians qualify for extra pay, of course.

Possessing both an enduring optimistic streak and a cynical (albeit well-meaning) sense of humor, Gavin struggles to make a life for himself now that he’s survived both his parents at the age of 22. Honest, hardworking and dutiful, he’s no stranger to good, old-fashioned elbow grease, and he would be perfectly willing to fight for the things he holds dear--if he could only find them first.

Thanks for sticking around. Tune in next week for a look at the first of the game’s three love interests.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The long and short of it

Hello and welcome to the new home of the visual novel project Familiarity. I’m Lunch, co-manager, writer and a few other things for Airheart Interactive, the development team behind the project. You likely haven’t heard of it or us, and that’s completely okay. Our history is better left saved for a slow news day though, as there are more important introductions to be made.

Ancient concept art by Drawbro

In the world of Familiarity, mankind's mastery of steam has allowed him to conquer every corner of the Earth before extending his reach to the stars and beyond. The advent of faster-than-light and then warp technology has sparked an interstellar revolution lasting more than a century, with the empires of man quickly spreading through the galaxy on spacecraft powered by the steam of nuclear engines. 

At the helm of this scramble for the stars is the British Empire, whose unrivaled naval might and unflinching trade monopolies have produced more colonies and ships alike than any other power. Her Majesty's colonial ship the HMCS Familiarity is a symbol of the Empire's grace, longevity and determination. 

Newer art by our concept artist, Chocojax

The first and finest of her kind, the Familiarity is a mobile colony--a city in space that carries travelers to the farthest territories and intrepid researchers to places still unknown to man. A complex and convoluted blend of civilian nobles and military bureaucrats known as the Court rules over its people, be they human or foreign races, permanent residents or so-called "tourist" waiting to arrive at their destination.

The ship is no paradise, however, and life on board is no easier than any other place in the Empire. The upper echelons of high society are always preoccupied with the latest gossip and drama, competition in the markets, factories and workhouses is often brutal and cutthroat, and rumors still persist of a shady undercity, carved out of massive engine compartments and filled with the forgotten and destitute. For better or for worse, the Familiarity and her trusty Royal Navy escort are at the cutting edge of the galaxy; a beacon of light in the darkness of space... and a boot planted firmly on the throat of the stars. 

Current concept art by Chocojax

Now far away from the seats of intergalactic power, Earth has been all but forgotten. Its natural resources have been depleted, its skies are grey and smoggy and its cities chug on as if by instinct, their people no strangers to both corruption and corrosion. 

It is here that Gavin Clarke works as a humble dockhand in the Liverpool spaceport, like his father and his father's father before him. Feeling adrift and out of place in a life that should be satisfying, Gavin has never dared to dream of anything more... until the Familiarity appears in orbit above, passing through the system on a rare visit before continuing its journey. Can he find a place aboard and start a new life among the stars, even if it means leaving behind the only world he's ever known?  

Familiarity is an adventure/romance game set in an alternate Victorian Era with a retro-futuristic twist. There are currently three routes in development, each with multiple endings and branching plotlines. We don't promise constant updates--we're a small, amateur team strictly doing this for fun in what little spare time we have--but next week we plan to shed a little more light on the main character, Gavin. We'll continue to reveal the three heroines after that, then probably run out of things to talk about.

Thank you for being a part of our launch. Even all this work behind the scenes has already been quite an experience, and everyone on the team has learned a lot. We hope to continue learning and growing as creators and as people. Please stay tuned for further updates, and remember to use no hooks.