Jun 02

Weekly Update #198: Welcome To Jurassic June!

It’s finally time! Jurassic June has arrived, meaning that it has actually been an entire year now ever since we publicly unveiled our next murder mystery GENBA no Kizuna! Because of that, I thought I’ll use the first blog post of this year’s Jurassic June to not only give you an overview of what we have planned for this month, but also to take a look back at what has happened over the past 12 months, what kind of things have changed and how the development of our new visual novel project is progressing in general.

So without further ado, let’s get right into it!

First of all, for those of you who might have stumbled upon GENBA only recently and might therefore be wondering…
What exactly is Jurassic June and why did we pick this month to make the initial reveal?

Jurassic June is mainly a month for fans to celebrate the Jurassic Park/Jurassic World franchise, but I guess in a broader sense, dinosaurs in general. So now you might be asking, okay, and what does that have to do with GENBA? Well, the direction and theme of GENBA have been heavily influenced by my love and passion for all things Jurassic.

I’ve been a dinosaur nerd ever since kindergarten and one day, after having already come up with the basic idea for GENBA, while thinking about its setting… I decided to have it themed around dinosaurs. Similar to how our previous project, SHINRAI – Broken Beyond Despair, is themed all around Halloween (another thing I’m very passionate about).

But even in SHINRAI, I couldn’t help but hide a Jurassic Park reference here or there…

My first idea for GENBA was to actually have the murder occur in the dinosaur section of a natural history museum. But over time, the idea evolved and the setting eventually turned into the Kaseki Residence. Once home to the late paleontologist Prof. Dr. Genshi Kaseki, it is now owned by his grandson, Ryuunosuke Hazama, who lives there together with his three friends, all of whom are enormous dinosaur nerds. So, just like with SHINRAI‘s Halloween theme, the dinosaur theme in GENBA is well reflected in the design of its characters and location:

(And as you can probably imagine, there are Jurassic Park references to be found here as well, because how could I resist? w)

Still, as much fun as I’m having with this theme and setting, this isn’t just about me indulging in my passion for dinosaurs.
Just like with SHINRAI, the two most important factors for me in regards to this project are providing a compelling mystery as well as compelling characters. As a matter of fact, it’s the characters who always take the top spot for me when it comes to working on such a project, so I put a lot of effort into creating GENBA‘s cast.

We have already introduced the four playable protagonists last year. You can check out their profile cards in the GENBA section of our website. However, these four just make up one part of the full picture. We have four investigators/detectives and, of course, a victim. However, you still need a little more than that in a murder mystery. While witness characters, for example, could be a nice addition, they rather fall into the “optional” category, though. You don’t necessarily need any to write a murder mystery. But there is something else you need rather desperately. One other category of characters outside of “victim(s)” that is absolutely essential: “suspects”.

GENBA no Kizuna will provide a total of four suspects. And this Jurassic June, we want to focus on them a little more.

You might have already seen a bit of them here or there if you’ve been following us for a while and, of course, patrons have been able to check out the initial design sketches ever since last year. But I thought it’s about time to finally reveal them publicly, so please look forward to that later this month (or check out our Patreon if you want to learn more right now)!

Of course, there are a few other things I want to show and talk about this Jurassic June as well, but for now, I’d like to get back to GENBA in general and, as promised in the beginning, talk a bit about the past 12 months and the state of our progress.

If you take a look at the initial character introduction cards I posted last year and compare them with the ones currently found on our website, you will undoubtedly notice that they have changed a bit. Some changes might be more obvious, others a little more subtle. A lot of tiny details have changed over the course of this past year, like the story now taking place in September rather than June, or Rei’s age having been adjusted. Everything has been a constant work-in-progress right down to such seemingly insignificant details. That’s actually one of the main things I’ve been working on ever since last Jurassic June: ironing out the details and direction of the story. I wish I could talk about this in more detail, but due to spoilers, I guess that will have to wait until after the game has been released. Maybe in the extras section or something, haha.

Either way, I’m more certain and even more confident about many story-related things now compared to one year ago. And to me, that is a big step. Writing an engaging murder mystery really is no easy task. With a story so heavily relying on logic and realism there is a lot of research required. The devil truly lies in the detail.

It’s very difficult to give a percentage of how much progress has been made or an estimate of how long it might take until the game will be finished. I’ve tried that in the past with SHINRAI, only to realize that I’ve always been way off, so I’d rather not make promises I cannot keep again. You always have to keep in mind that, in the end, we’re just a team of basically two people, so… it sadly takes a while. Especially in the beginning because, when starting a new project, the workload is extraordinarily high. You literally have nothing and need everything: sprites, backgrounds, CGs, music, a written script, sound effects, a fully designed and coded GUI and so on and so forth. That’s what we’ve mainly been dealing with over the past 12 months: asset creation.

On the flipside, this also means that, the more assets are created, the faster we will be able to make coding progress. After all, it’s not like each and every chapter needs the exact amount of new assets. Eventually, you will have all the expressions you need for a character, for example. When we got to the final chapter of SHINRAI, all of Raiko’s sprites were already there. Same with most of the other characters. So rather than having to spend a lot of time creating more assets again, we could mostly use those we had already created for the previous chapters. GENBA will be very much the same. The closer we will get to the end, the more drastically the workload will subside. But of course, right now, there is still a lot to do.

That’s the downside of being a tiny indie dev. So, if you’d like to support us, please consider checking out our Patreon. We would appreciate it a lot. And to those of you who have been supporting us there or even still are: thank you so much! It really makes a difference and helps us out a lot. Without this additional help, it would be very difficult to commission Solo Acapello for GENBA‘s soundtrack or to compensate our proofreader Ariette for her work.

Still, I do have to admit that, even if things once again took way longer than expected, overall I’m very happy and proud regarding the progress we have made so far. I mean, hey, at the very least, we have finally managed to release a first demo for GENBA! And we’re hard at work to follow up with that extended demo as soon as possible.

Anyway, this is starting to get a little too long I guess, so I should probably wrap this up. I will tell you more throughout the rest of Jurassic June and I hope you’re as excited to learn about our suspects as I am to finally reveal them in public!

Patrons can actually get an early look at a bunch of things I have planned to show publicly later this month and check out various WIP-postings, including the first one for this month’s Jurassic-themed artwork! And speaking of monthly artworks, don’t forget to check out the one Natsu drew for May, which was themed all around tsuyu, the rainy season:

As always, patrons can download a higher resolution version over here.

The image features one of GENBA‘s four main characters, Himatsu Mizu. She does not appear in our current demo yet, but patrons can learn a little more about her by checking out not only her introduction scene in GENBA, but even her original introduction scene from… 2008!??

So yeah, I guess that’s about it. Please enjoy the rest of your weekend! Until next Saturday, take care, and…
Happy Jurassic June! :3