Dec 26

Weekly Update #332: 2020 Retrospect

With the year slowly coming to a close, today, I’d like to take the time to look back on it, on what we originally set out to do, how things actually unfolded and what we have ultimately accomplished. 2020 was a ride full of unexpected surprises. From a global pandemic to many personal difficulties and challenges, a lot of unforeseen developments affected our work and progress. Both in negative and positive ways. So let’s delve right into it and take a look at these past twelve months!

When I look back at my initial goals for 2020, I unfortunately have to admit that I wasn’t really able to achieve most of them.
In exchange, however, we did some things I’m rather proud of, which we originally didn’t aim for when the year began.
One of them being the anniversary update for SHINRAI, for instance.

That certainly wasn’t on my to-do list back in January, not even back in May. However, over the course of the first half of the year, we had some behind-the-scenes developments which prompted this endeavor. There were actually two major reasons for it, one of which I sadly still cannot get into publicly. I was hoping that would change before the end of the year, but I guess I’ll have to keep it a secret for a little longer, so… sorry about that!

The other reason I can talk about is Withering Without Hope. Due to story developments over the course of the last four years, I wanted to take the opportunity to update Broken Beyond Despair, in order to properly set the stage for its sequel. Delving back so deeply into the script of the original story also helped me in figuring out some of the last remaining problems I had in regards to WWH and provided me with some more inspiration which sparked even more new ideas.

I can safely say that WWH has turned into a much better and more interesting story, compared to what it was a year ago.
I have continued working on it during the last few months, trying to get a detailed outline done, but due to spoilers, I can’t really get into that. The term “outline” does lead me into our next accomplishment, though…

The story for GENBA no Kizuna has finally been set in stone back in summer!

That’s right, although I’ve always known the destination, there were many points along the way at which I wasn’t entirely sure which direction to take. What’s the best, most interesting path to take to said destination? Sometimes, you can take two different paths and, even if they lead to the exact same outcome, what happens along them may vary greatly. Thus, it was difficult to choose at times.

There’s also the issue that some story ideas might cancel each other out. Maybe you have a scenario A and a scenario B, both of which are pretty cool, but the problem is… there is no way to connect them. If A occurs, it actively prevents B from occurring.
So what are you going to do if you can only go with one of those two scenarios…?

For a long time, I wasn’t really sure which of my ideas to kick out and which ones to stick with. As I’ve mentioned before, GENBA has undergone some drastic changes ever since its initial conception (like the original victim now being a suspect). However, earlier this year, I finally sat down and wrote a detailed outline for it, setting a clear path. Something I should have done much sooner.

If there is one thing I have learned while working on GENBA, it’s that I never again want to work on assets for a game until its story is complete. I think that was one of the big advantages with SHINRAI. When we started to turn it into a VN, I already had a complete story before me, knowing all of its twists and turns. With GENBA, that just wasn’t the case.

I thought it might be more fun to alternate between script and assets, but in the end, it actually put a lot of strain on me, because I would regularly be overwhelmed by anxiety and depression.

It may sound ridiculous, but I was really afraid of all this hard work ultimately being in vain, because I’d mess up the story.

Since I didn’t have a clear picture of it yet, there was a lot of uncertainty involved. I was working on this all by myself and therefore couldn’t tell if it’s actually any good. I mean, what if it sucked? SHINRAI received a lot of unexpectedly positive feedback. We have fans now who are looking forward to our next project and I don’t want to disappoint them. Sometimes, I get really conscious about these things and subsequently… extremely worried.

The only way to get rid of that uncertainty was to sit down, focus and figure out the full story already. And that’s what I did, which is why I barely had any art-related progress to show off for most of the year. Finishing the outline for GENBA took quite some time, although that partly lies in the fact that my definition of “outline” might be a little… off.

Not only did I plan out all chapters in very detailed and elaborate key notes… I actually wrote huge chunks of the script. So, this “outline” of mine almost surpasses the word count of SHINRAI (~150,000) now.

And with it finally done, it also alleviated a lot of the stress and fears I had. After all, with a finished outline, I could finally share the full story with someone else for the first time and get some feedback! So, from here on out, I’ll continue to handle things like this, which is why I am currently working on a proper outline for WWH. Because I’d really like to have the complete story in front of me by the time GENBA releases (and thus no worries of being unable to figure out some of the steps along the way)!

Since this took so long, I had to give up on some of my goals, however, such as the whole merchandise thing. We’ve been asked about merchandise before and even if I’d really like to put some stuff out there, just on a personal wish fulfillment level, it was ultimately more important to me to ease my mind and make progress with our next, actual VN product.

I will likely get back to the merchandise thing once we’re a bit closer to finishing GENBA, but for now, the latter takes priority.

Since both the outline and the anniversary update took over the majority of the year, I’ve only been able to get back into asset work starting from September. Ever since, I’ve worked on new backgrounds, sprites and CGs. We’re very close now to having everything done that’s visually necessary up to the end of chapter 3. This also took a little bit longer than expected, mostly due to some personal struggles, but I managed to get some of the scarier art assets done, so that’s another weight lifted off my shoulders, haha.

After more downs than ups, I’m starting to feel more positive and motivated again, so I’m pumped to start into 2021 in a way that I can be proud of in another twelve months. I will talk about our plans and goals in next week’s blog post, so until then, please enjoy the remainder of 2020, stay healthy and take good care of yourself!

Thank you for sticking with us yet another year! :3