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the benefits of surprise (and the artwork)

Posted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 1:34 pm
by renke_
I wrote a rather lengthy entry before, but your auto-logout ate it. Here's a short version, ask if you need more input.

Three full disclosures: I'm a grumpy old RPG gamer and probably not exactly part of your target audience (but I like your combat system, especially the tactical depth in Loren), English is not my first language and if this was discussed ad nauseam I'm sorry.

The graphical presentation in Planet Stronghold worked great for me, it was a pleasant surprise to see Rebecca the first time in her casual clothes instead of the (sensible, job-related) battle dress.

Loren is different, most of the (N)PCs wear stupid garbs - Saren's armour is more a funnel directing enemy blows to his innards. I don't mean to "unsexify" them or the suggestive content option but imho the graphics should support the story line.

Take Loren herself: The first time the player meets her she's wearing chainmail and a full helmet - shouldn't this be represented in the graphics? A great place for showing Loren in the current default would be the tavern in Grimour - the plot places her and the player in one room and she's removing her armour, the shoulder plates and leather straps make a rather exotic ring mail undergarment but it would be setting-compatible and a plot-driven way to show Loren's look under the men-slaughtering Amazon princess-shell.

Two characters have good story-inherent reasons to wear next to nothing: Myrth (uncomfortable in clothing and half-tree) and Jul (part of her job description as succubus). Jul gave me the "Rebecca-moment" in Loren: Showing her rear rather late in the game was completely unexpected and worked great, also presenting Dora after winning wearing bikinis was a nice touch, especially because her normal garment was sensible and "thief-worthy".

I expected more situation-aware imagery, especially as Planet Stronghold laid the groundworks - and at least for me the story would work better with more "sensible" characters, when they show more flesh it's part of the plot and not some poor guy/gal going to war in the most stupid outfit ever :)

Re: the benefits of surprise (and the artwork)

Posted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 5:22 pm
by jack1974
Yeah in the sequel will work differently (If you check some threads in Loren 2 subforum here you can see for example Myrth new outfit, and so on).

Re: the benefits of surprise (and the artwork)

Posted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 5:54 pm
by renke_
I'm not exactly sure if I can concur (based on the sneak preview) - take Myrth, the clothed version feels _wrong_ as I'm aware of her explanation regarding outfits. OTOH, now I believe that Amukiki is a [s]babarian[/s]* oops nomad prepared for war and not only an artist staging showfights in an arena, though it would be absolutely okay if he loses strategic pieces of clothing when the plot allows it ;)

Rei here would be one example of a surprising element (dark night, the stars twinkle, the protagonist opens his/her heart for the first time, the gallant Rei takes of his coat to warm the hero -> show this image, *bamm* unexpected surprise) - though I believe this is simply his normal outfit when playing uncensored...

But anyway, I will wait and see and probably buy Loren 2, too - presuming the old-school tactical combat system works still as great ^^

*) bah, your BBCode parser neither supporst [s] nor [strike] :(

Re: the benefits of surprise (and the artwork)

Posted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 10:53 am
by renke_
To nit-pick some more :P

I had two scenes in Chapter 2 were I felt the graphics hindered my pleasure to see the plot's progress:

1. Rei is flirting with Elenor, she "felt a chill from how openly the elf evaluated her. She had never felt so exposed while clothed."
-> Elenor IS effectively naked, both in the sexy and conservative (I use this word loosely) outfit

2. Sauzer is explaining the player character the naked world concept, s/he covers her/himself up and yelps "Naughty!"
-> Saren in his suggestive clothing and Eleanor in both attires should be comfortable with exposed skin and ( to a certain extent) with nakedness; the reaction is contradicting

I said it before: I don't mind female underboobs and male nipples (or - for that matter - male underboobs and female nipples) but the well-written and delicate story (whoever wrote it: Thanks!) is bulldozered by the context-insensitive graphical representation (I very much like the artwork, but it needs more variety sustain the plot)

Re: the benefits of surprise (and the artwork)

Posted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 11:08 am
by jack1974
I know, it's not a choice by design, but by time/money constraints. Each scene costs about $100-200 to make (on average, some more). And take 1-2 weeks, or more. Do the math, if I added only 10 scenes would be $1-2k more (but I could afford that now to make a game better) and 20 weeks more (half-year, and this would be more problematic).

Especially when working with other people, you need to have the essential stuff done first - that's why with the new artists I do the romance CG as one of the first thing, so at least I know that an essential part is done. For writing/coding is different, since writing can be adjusted, writer replaced or others can finish stuff, same for coding. But art, needs to be same style. And anyone who dealt with artists knows that is really a pain: some are lazy/unreliable or simply they can have real-life problems that can easily delay a game release by 1 month or more (happened to me many times in the past, and is not cool).

Re: the benefits of surprise (and the artwork)

Posted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 11:58 am
by renke_
Okay, I do understand the underlaying issue - it must be hard to run a suboptimal financed indie studio...

Ever thought about a crowd-funding campaign? Especially not about the game itself [I'm quite sure your development plan is well-thought-out including the estimated budget calculated according to the general financial situation] but for extra content like artwork and story line? I could imagine a campaign starting with the alpha release, the potential funders can lay hands on the unfinished project and every donation is automagically transmutated to a better product.

One of the main problems with crowd-funding is the uncertainty, this issue would be avoided if the funds are only used for more polishing and not the basic product development.

Re: the benefits of surprise (and the artwork)

Posted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 12:54 pm
by renke_
I'm getting (finally, not unexpected) mad - I'm sure I wanted reply to a comment including something like "he's not fond of crowdfunding" by Miakoda :)

But madness aside - if project-based funding is not an option, what about venture capital? The platform Startnext comes to mind, targeting the capitalisation of organisations and not project financing.

Re: the benefits of surprise (and the artwork)

Posted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 12:56 pm
by jack1974
I am not a fan of crowdfunding for many reasons, first of all for personal reasons: I don't feel comfortable getting money BEFORE I have delivered something. This is really personal, I know it, and sometimes other indies tell me that I'm a bit crazy (probably they're right :lol:).
But even when I do betas and preorder, I make sure to have a good amount of the game finished, and in general all the writing/assets ready so that depends only on myself.

Anyway, even if I got crowdfunding, the problem is really people's reliability. Loren's artist is one of the most reliable, yet in the last 6 months he did MUCH LESS work for SOTW than in all previous games (I still don't have the final romance CG for example, waiting for them since over 45 days). Planet Stronghold 2 artist didn't finish the art in TWO YEARS. And to do the "camp talk", really a small part, she didn't finish it and started 6 months ago. So is not like the amount of work is big!
So even if I had money, is not simple at all to run an indie business :mrgreen: I really cannot wait 2 years to make a game, or decide to add 5 extra CG and then they take over 6 months - by then, I lost a lot of money.
The ideal solution would be if you are the artist, or you know the artist personally and lives nearby you in real life. That's the best solution :)

Re: the benefits of surprise (and the artwork)

Posted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 1:00 pm
by Miakoda
Sorry. That was a post by me. I initially removed it because I figured Jack1974 would respond (which he did).

And while I won't deny backing some Kickstarters, I also have some misgivings about it. Some of that is when people do succeed, and then keep coming back to Kickstarter to launch other projects. Of course, I can see the benefit of this as well as it at least shows whether there is a market for the product or not.

Re: the benefits of surprise (and the artwork)

Posted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 1:01 pm
by jack1974
Heh replied before could see your latest post. Anyway, really money isn't the biggest issue here (I also don't want to make games too big). But is that managing everything is really a pain, for the reasons above. I know that for someone external might seem strange but believe me, I'm doing this since 8 years and I know what I'm talking about.

Artists ARE unpredictable: I had some "good runs" like Loren's artist where he did 50% of the game art in TWO MONTHS only. Recently, he did the same amount in SIX MONTHS. So as you can see, when you have such big variable is really hard to not do compromises :oops:

On a related note, this is why recently I'm thinking to try some other genres, like tower defense, strategy/wargame, RTS, roguelike and so on. If you have pixel art or 3D art is much easier to replace an artist if problems arise. Or if the game doesn't need 50 sprites/CG to tell a story but only icons/buttons and coding :)