Monday, July 26, 2010

The Post About San Diego Comic Con

Just got back from SDCC! I had a BLAST, for the record. Seriously, I figure Heaven has to be something like Comic Con.

I got to meet a lot of really cool creators behind tons of different stuff. Most notably Man of Action, the group responsible for Ben 10 and Generator Rex, two shows on the Cartoon Network. Along with professional VN developer and actress, animation screen-writing is up there with my dream careers. Getting to meet those guys (and get stuff signed by them!) was awesome. Joe Kelly is amazing, for the record. Check out his comic "I Kill Giants". I just finished it and loved it to death.

I attended a panel on Sunday about "full-time creative projects on a part time schedule". I figured it was important to me, considering my VN development is precisely that.

The panel was really helpful - I got a lot of good tips that I'll share right now!

- Find like-minded people to help out
- Know what your goal is right from the beginning and make sure the entire team is aware of and committed to that goal
- Designate responsibilities and deadlines from the start so everyone pulls their own weight.
- Be friendly and professional
- Use people's talents to your advantage! Specific skills can REALLY come in handy, even if, at a glance, they seem irrelevant.
- Make contacts NOW.
- If you're a student (which I am) do something besides your school work. Every early success story starts with "well, it was just this thing I was doing in college..."

So yeah, I'm hoping to put this knowledge to good use. I have a small team developing (read: my friends and my sister) around MaGi Studios - maybe it's time to think about how I can REALLY use their skills to help me out.

Nerdy weekend was nerdy and awesome. <3 If you can make it to Comic Con, do yourself a favor and GO. It is too awesome for words.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Post About Character Building

The very nature of Ren'Ai games demands strong characters. Considering the mechanics revolve entirely around attaching yourself to a character and pursuing them, it's important to make sure the people you create are engaging. Some other games can get away with weak characterization through innovative gameplay or an interesting plot. But it's my personal belief that the best stories are the ones about interesting people, not the ones about interesting events.

That's why I pretty much start every story by drafting characters. Don't get me wrong, I have SOME idea of what the plot's going to be like - it would be pretty impossible to create characters otherwise. (Errr...well, in the story, she could be uhh...well I don't know, but she likes whales and beer and has purple hair! Whoo~!!)

But I have literally created a cast of characters and then COMPLETELY changed the story to fit them. Example:

Awhile ago, I came up with an idea for a game and created an INCREDIBLY lovable cast. I was seriously in love with every single one of the characters.

I then decided the idea for the story was, to put it bluntly, stupid. Not to mention it literally wasn't going anywhere. Like, I wrote a few pages of this and was stuck because I had no ideas for conflict that weren't trite as all get out. So I scrapped it.

But what about my cast? I didn't want them to die just because their creator had a crappy idea. So, I drafted a new idea (a much BETTER idea for the record), and molded those characters into that story. There were tweeks, re-designs, changes made along the way, and there will probably be more to come, but I managed to save the cores of my charming little people. It was kinda fun to see them transition from one world to the other.

Right now I'm in the process of drafting characters for a new project and I'm having a lot of fun investigating these people.

What are your tricks for creating characters writers/developers out there? I tend to interview them, look for character questionnares online or whatnot. My FAVORITE way of building characters is sorta roleplay. That is, someone other than me asks questions about my character and I answer as said character. It's just kinda nerdy and fun, to be honest. Not to mention super helpful for finding voice. <3

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Post About the Home Stretch

Who else is watching The World Cup? I know I am. This year was incredibly exciting for some reason. I followed the US team adamantly and was heartbroken when they lost to Ghana in the Top 16. After the US went out, my interest waned considerably, but I managed to keep up with all the scores. I'll definitely watch the finals!

Still, it's weird, but the World Cup is one of those tournaments that actually gets LESS exciting as it goes along, mostly due to the fact that the team you support has probably already lost. If the US was still in it, I'd be cheering my head off every game, wearing red, white, and blue to work, stalking, the works.

In writing games, you should hope for the exact opposite effect - the end should be the most exciting, nail-biting part! It's important that you don't make the most exciting event in your game happen at the beginning. Some people think starting off with a bang is the right way to go - I completely agree. But no one wants to watch the fall-out of a bomb going off when the explosion was so much cooler.

I'm currently in the Home Stretch of Project "O". Major climaxes are coming, the endings are being written - this is where it counts. The last thing I want my players to think is "God, this is dull - just end it already!". There's nothing more disappointing than...

"Epic warriors with dragons have to fight alien ghosts that have invaded the entire Northeastern United States! Their only hope lies in one magical boy who can stop time and conjure up mythical beasts from a far off-dimension! After much exposition and a fantastic inciting incident followed by hair-raising build-up, our heroes find themselves stuck in line at Starbucks."

There's NOTHING more disappointing than a crappy climax. Especially when it's prefaced by some fascinating exposition. A crappy climax isn't a climax at all. That's the point of the word: it's supposed to be climatic.

My personal strategy? I make my climaxes super dramatic, heart-wrenching, action-packed - maybe overly so. I can always go back and tone it down if I need to. Sure, I may go back at roll my eyes at my cheesiness, but at least I won't get stuck in line at Starbucks. :/

(Awesome Shakira video is official World Cup Music Video! ENJOY!)