Monday, December 1, 2014

They already have the christmas music on the radio, someone please shoot me.

    Winter is upon us.  As I type this, it is currently 23 degrees (-5 for the civilized world) outside, and the weatherman says that it isn't getting much better.  Try as I may, Ibrahim Ferrer is doing little to change me to sunnier states of mind.  The good news is, now that I can't escape Lunch, I have to actually sit down and write for a change.

    Speaking of.  It should be pretty clear to anyone reading this that we weren't able to meet our Fall release goal for our first demo, and for that we're really sorry. It's been a crazy last few months for almost the entire team, and, unfortunately, real life has to come before all-volunteer collaboration projects. But now, things have largely settled down enough that we'd like to announce that our new goal is to have this demo out by Christmas. Will it happen? Let's find out!

    As we patch our paths together, we've spent a lot of time thinking about the mechanisms of the titular ship, the HMCS Familiarity.  One of the biggest challenges so far is to convincingly create a steampunk universe that is both factually sound and unobtrusive to the actual story.  This is something I personally have a horrible time with, because, as my cohorts will tell you themselves, I am just as happy dissecting a facet of our universe as I am to actually WRITE about it.  The historical aspect is even worse, because we can (and have) spent entire nights discussing just what the political landscape of our story is like, stopping occasionally to tell a dick joke or to say “Hey, wasn't there a character route we were talking about?”

    The short of all that is, holy crap is there a lot of little stuff we can play with.  Steam power may have gone away before even my father's time, but learning about it gives it life anew.  Writing this story has brought romantic images of tramp steamers, locomotives, and factories from a time where the world was still very much large, mysterious, and exciting.

    Anyways.  The holidays are right around the corner, and my path isn't going to write itself (as Lunch will be sure to tell you), so stay tuned for something new.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

No More Puns

Hello again. Lunch here, reporting in to bring you both a follow-up to our last blog post and an update on the project in general.

First off, we’d like to announce that our search for artists has yielded good fruit: in the past few months we’ve recruited LordFryingPan as a background artist and Urn as a sprite and event artist! This brings our artist count up to a healthy five, and now we’re beginning to create some of the in-game assets we’ve been needing for some time. Both Fry and Urn have been a joy to work with, and we’re thrilled to have them aboard. Urn will be working primarily on art for Morial’s route, while Sam’s route has been entrusted to Chocojax.

Below is some (not yet final) background art by LordFryingPan. Click to enlarge.

Some early WIPs for Morial's sprites, and a piece that was part of Urn's audition. 


While we’re on the subject of staffing changes however, there’s another announcement that needs to be made. I regret to inform anyone reading this that Kenji will no longer be a writer for the project and has departed the team. Unfortunately, because he designed Sheena almost entirely on his own from the ground up, it wouldn’t be right to hand her off to someone else, and as a result we must also say goodbye to one of our heroines.

Everyone on the team believed in the potential of Sheena’s route, and this means shelving a good bit of already completed artwork, so please believe me when I say this decision wasn’t made lightly. However it’s in the best interests of both the team and the project as a whole that we go our separate ways, and so we wish Kenji all the best in his future endeavors.

This may make our roster seem like a bit of a revolving door these days, but actually most of these things happened months ago, we just don’t feel it’s worth it to post constant but brief updates. That brings our current route count to three, which is something that we’re okay with for the moment. We may decide to undertake a new fourth route in the future, and if we do, things will be laid out better to avoid having to start over from scratch again.

Our current lineup of main heroines, plus Gavin who is a pretty space princess. Artwork by Chocojax.

We do have one more thing to announce today though: we’re currently working on a short demo that we hope to have out by the fall. It will comprise the first three scenes of the game, and is intended both as a proof of concept and to solicit as much feedback as possible so we can know what we’re doing right and what still needs fine-tuning. The writing for these scenes is complete and has been for quite some time, now we’re just making the slow grind of completing and polishing art assets and making sure it doesn’t explode if someone clicks in the wrong place.

As we continue to work towards releasing this short demo and, further on down the road, a longer and more substantial one, is there anything you’d like to see from us? Anything you’d like to know about our development process or the world of Fam? If so don’t hesitate to ask, whether it’s here in the comments or in our public IRC channel. Thanks for checking in.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Getting Familiar

Greetings from deep space!  It’s sure been a while since our last news update, but rest assured that the gears are still in motion as we approach completion of Act One of our story.  That having been said, there’s a lot of news on our team and our development blog is overdue for an update.

Our staff lineup has been going through a lot of change this year, so that’s something worthy of mention.  Sadly, one of our sprite artists, Thighs, has had to leave the team, citing personal reasons.  We wish him all the best and leave the door open to him should he find himself able and willing to contribute in the future.  But that does leave us with a hole in our lineup that we’d like to patch, so we are now accepting submissions by artists who would like to contribute sprite art for us.  At present our core team of artists is still pretty strong, and we are still getting a lot of work done in the meantime, so we’ll consider applications on an ongoing basis.  It’s more important to find someone right for the job than it is for us to fill the spot quickly.

If you’d like to volunteer as a sprite artist, send us some concepts via e-mail.  Our immediate need is a new artist for Sam, so try drawing a few pictures of her.  A portfolio or link to a gallery is also recommended.  Working on a shared creative project can be fun, challenging, and rewarding in its own right, and it’s something you can proudly hang your name on once it’s completed.  We’re a very friendly and welcoming group, so you’re also guaranteed to make some new friends in the process.

Right now the art team is working on making sprite sets for use in the game. We hope to be able to showcase some of them in our next blog post.

Some concept art of Sheena and designs for two supporting characters.

Another change to our lineup is that we have added a third musician - Doc Jekyll.  Our music team has already put out a lot of great tracks for us, both individually and in collaboration with one another.  At this rate our soundtrack is going to have a lot of diversity that is in keeping with the hybrid sci-fi/Victorian setting of our story.  Here are a few samples of the music we’re working on:

So what has the writing been up to this year?  For the most part we have been working on getting Act One of our story into a completed state.  This has been a challenging but also very educational process as we work to reconcile all of our discrete values as writers and give our inherently implausible story some semblance of credibility.  And this isn’t just in terms of how 19th century England winds up in outer space.  We’ve had to nail down many elements of the setting that continue to be matters of contention.  How futuristic do we make the past?  How antique?  How do we justify the existence or inexistence of certain technologies when writing a “what if” story set in an alternative past?  Frankly we’ve had to do a lot of research and brush up on many of the rudimentary elements of history just to get a stage where we’re writing historical fiction, let alone historical futuristic fiction.  Still, the bulk of these elements of setting will be limited to background details and it’s likely that much of our hard work will go unnoticed in the end.  But such is fiction-writing.  The details that snag you are never the ones that seem important or wind up being noticeable.   

Something neat that we’ve been working on for our Act One is the extent and nature of the “choices” in the story and how they will shape Gavin and the people around him.  Writing a branching story is one of the most fun aspects of VN writing, but it can be difficult to make sure that the consequences of the choices made reasonably flow out of them.  The things Gavin chooses to say or do either shape people’s perception of him, the world itself, or even his own nature.  We are currently experimenting with a “points” system that will keep track of the kind of person Gavin winds up being by the end of Act One, both in reputation and in fact.  Is he a law-abiding citizen, or an unscrupulous liar who will do what it takes to save his own skin?  In that regard the subject matter of Act One is the kind of person you want Gavin to be, and what role you want him to have in the story he’s thrust himself into.  The challenge in writing it is that all of these choices need to be different enough to have meaningful consequences, while still being things that are consistent with Gavin as a character.  

Anyways, that’s just to give you an idea of what kind of story we’re writing in a more practical sense, as well as what the experience has been like, at least from my point of view.

More updates to come, so check back with us again in the future!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Shifting gears

Greetings, salutations and well wishes, Lunch here. I know it's been a little while since our last update, but some major changes are happening behind our closed doors and I come bearing exciting news!

In response to feedback and in order to keep in touch with our steampunk roots, the team has decided to undertake a major revamp of our aesthetic and setting. I'm proud to announce that Familiarity will now include at least but not limited to 300% more gears!

Other planned changes include the titular ship now being one gigantic gear in space, all characters now being comprised entirely of gears and the soundtrack being retooled to be almost completely gear and clockwork-based. We hope you enjoy this exciting and unprecedented new direction, and to help get you hyped we even have some samples to show off!

Doctor Jekyll, one of our hardworking musicians has even produced an example of our brave new sound! Stay tuned for more as we grind out future updates!

Friday, February 14, 2014

A very special Valentine's message

Is this thing still on? Good. We apologize for the lack of updates in the past month but not really, and in celebration of Valentine's Day we'd like to introduce a very special message from one of our dear friends associates sponsors! Click here to be whisked away to our event page, brought to you by the good folks professional staff people who pay on time at The Daily Space Walrus!

Stay tuned, more info/announcements to come in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Years

Hello! With 2013 on its way out, we thought now would be a good time for just a brief update. The past month has been an exciting time for us, and we'd like to announce that Emi's Waifu has joined the team and will be contributing sprites and additional artwork, and Dr. Jekyll and Ara Aradair have joined as musicians!

Happy new year from the team here at Airheart Interactive! Here's hoping for a safe and productive 2014, for us and everyone else in the EVN community.