Dec 28

Weekly Update #280: 2019 Retrospect

This year has been a rather eventful one. A lot of things have happened and there have been some pretty big changes in my private life, which inevitably affected the development of our current visual novel project, the murder mystery GENBA no Kizuna.

Overall, I am happy with where I am right now, but there were quite some obstacles to face along the road, especially during the second half of the year. But let’s start at the beginning and do a little recap of what we have accomplished over the past 12 months, because even though I wasn’t able to reach all the goals I was aiming for, I am still proud of the progress we have made on GENBA!

Sprite Work:

The first couple of months were spent working on the assets for our extended demo. Half of the characters appearing in it didn’t have any sprites yet and it took some time to lock down their poses, expressions and, in Terano‘s case, even the design.

Finishing these sprites marked a major step forward, though. Even for SHINRAI, it took more than half a year to complete the sprites for all major characters, which was rather discouraging, because it felt as though we were not making any real headway. Once they were finally done, however, there was a lot less to worry about and the same is true for GENBA as well.

With a broad range of emotions for all characters at our disposal now, sprite work should go a lot smoother from here on out!

We will definitely need to create more sprite variations for later scenes in the game, but it’s just a matter of changing an expression or adjusting the position of a limb now. The hardest part was to get the base sprite right, because that is going to be the base for all future pose variations. Development already takes too much time as it is, so I can’t afford to draw various, completely different poses for all characters. Just like with SHINRAI, we had to stick to one basic body posture per character, which required a good grasp on all the poses/expressions they will display throughout the entire story, and pick the base postures accordingly.

As you might imagine, this was a very time-consuming process, but with this out of the way, we can now speed things up a bit!


The sprites obviously weren’t all we had to worry about. A lot of time was also spent working on backgrounds, CGs and making tons of tiny tweaks to the overall presentation of the game. We really took the feedback to our initial demo to heart and adjusted GENBA accordingly. So I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who played our demos and even took the time to leave us their impressions and suggestions. This really helps us out a lot, because as a developer, you can easily become blind to certain issues. Sometimes, it takes a fresh perspective to point them out.


Originally scheduled to be released in April and then during Jurassic June, the release of our extended demo had to be pushed back quite a couple of months. One of the biggest reasons for that is that (compared to the time when I was still working on SHINRAI) the time I can commit to VN development now has essentially been cut in half.

In January, I started looking for a day job, because one little indie VN obviously isn’t enough to live off of. The first four months of the year were spent looking for offerings and writing countless applications. That alone took quite a bit of time away, but in May, I finally managed to get a job, which I have now been working ever since. Although it is only part-time, I still lose around 8 hours per day, which I could previously spend working on our projects, due to commuting.

On the bright side, this now provides me with a lot of additional funds that I plan to invest into our VN dev endeavors, and the job itself honestly isn’t all that bad, either. I feel pretty lucky, actually. Nevertheless, this is a major reason development started to drag…

Extended Demo Release:

On the 26th of August, the very day SHINRAI was originally released in 2016, we finally unveiled our extended GENBA demo to the public. Despite the delays, I am happy with not only the result, but even the feedback we have gotten so far.

This was definitely one of my personal highlights this year. Although it’s only a demo, providing about a fifth of the full game, it still felt almost as good as releasing a finished product. That feeling, coupled with the demo’s reception, really fueled my passion and desire to get this game fully done ASAP. I had some pretty big goals set for the remainder of 2019. Mainly to finish writing the entire script. However, as I alluded to during the opening paragraphs, the second half of this year turned into kind of a mess…

Unexpected Roadblocks:

It actually started in July already, when we had an issue with the water tank in this house. I don’t really want to bore you with all the details, but as a result, we were hit with a need for emergency renovations starting in mid August. Rooms had to be emptied out and various companies had to come by to renew floors and walls. It was a long, very work-intensive process and even by November, we were still cleaning up, buying new furniture and generally trying to go back to having a normal life “orz

Unfortunately, all of this happened right when Kuna, the mastermind behind the romance/mystery visual novel Pitch Black Serenade, finally moved to Germany, so we could start living together. And as some of you might know, we even got married on October 16!

As nice as the extended demo release was, this was easily the best day of the year (if not my whole life)! w

However, even though we had started planning all of this many months in advance, a lot of major last minute obstacles were suddenly thrown in our way, and I’m not just talking about those renovations. This could be an entire essay on its own and I’m already feeling the anger swelling up inside of me, just thinking about it again. So let me just sum it up in one word: bureaucracy.

In the end, everything worked out well and we spent a beautiful day together, so that’s all that matters. But needless to say, there was a lot of stress and frustration involved. So much in fact, that it severely affected my health. Ever since August, I’ve been dealing with all sorts of stress-related issues. All of this together really made it difficult to focus on VN development and devote a lot of time to it.

As a result, I barely managed to reach any of my goals for the second half of the year. Development got stalled even more than during the first half, but at the very least, I’m finally getting back to not just a normal life, but a much better one, now that I can spend it with Kuna. Our ultimate goal is to eventually work on something together, and we’re going to take the first steps towards that in 2020!

What Lies Ahead:

Like I said, in the end, I’m proud with what we have accomplished, but part of me feels very disgruntled about the lack of significant progress this year. I managed to get a lot of work on the script done, and even on some of the new assets, which will be needed for the next chapter, but it’s far from what I original had in mind.

Guess I’m gonna have to use this feeling of dissatisfaction as fuel to make a lot more progress on GENBA next year. As a matter of fact, I am hell-bent and extremely motivated to accomplish quite a few things, but I guess that will be the topic for next week’s blog post, when I will share my plans for the new year!

Speaking of which, for now, I just want to get the New Year’s artwork done and chill out a bit more, enjoying the final days of 2019.

I’m also trying to be a bit more active on social media again, which is another thing I barely had time for during the last few months. Even though we added Instagram and even Discord to our repertoire this year (I really need to promote the latter some more)…

Anyway, that more or less wraps up my summary of 2019. At first glance, it was kind of a mixed year. However, despite the setbacks, I will always look back on it fondly, because the positives far outweigh the negatives. So let’s make sure the same will be true for 2020 as well! We’re not just starting a new year, but a whole new decade, so let’s put some extra effort into it and work really hard!

But for now, please enjoy the rest of 2019 yourself and have a safe transition into 2020! Take care and see you next year! :3

PS: don’t forget that SHINRAI is still on sale until January 2!