Jan 16

Weekly Update #335: Plans For 2021

In last week’s blog post, I focused on our plans for the first month of 2021. Today, I’d finally like to take a look at the year in general.

During the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about how exactly to tackle the new year, what goals to set for myself and how to go about achieving them. And I came to the conclusion that, this year, I want to try a slightly different approach.

I think one of my biggest mistakes last year was that I stressed myself out way too much about hitting certain milestones, to the point of neglecting a lot of other important aspects of my life, such as my health and general well-being. I got obsessed with getting things done before my self-imposed deadlines would hit, and everything that got in the way of that became an infuriating hassle.

Over the course of the year, I dedicated less and less time to other hobbies, such as gaming, and in general didn’t really take the time to relax and recharge. Whenever I’d try to do so, my mind would mostly be occupied with one thought: “I shouldn’t be wasting time like this. I should get back to work.”

I guess that’s part of the reason why I had such a hard time making significant progress during the last few months of the year. Despite working most of the time, I was incredibly dissatisfied with everything I’d do and just ended up wasting time trying to fix things instead. Revising script passages over and over again or redrawing lines to get them pixel-perfect.

As a result, working on our visual novel projects became much more of a chore rather than something fun.

I’d rather refrain from getting any further into this somewhat personal topic here, but I’ve talked about it in more detail in a recent Patreon post if you’re curious. In any case, after talking about this with Natsu and Kuna, as well as getting some patron feedback, I’ve decided that, this year, I want to be a bit more chill about everything again and do take the time to actually enjoy myself.

I’ve been actually doing so since the last weeks of December and I think it really helped. Playing video games is not just something that helps me relax, it’s also important for the creative process. As strange as it may sound, even playing something such as New Super Lucky’s Tale actually helped me with the script for GENBA no Kizuna, haha.

And now that I’m finally getting around to playing Ciconia no Naku koro ni as well, I’m mentally transported back to that time when I first played Umineko, which sparked my desire to create visual novels in the first place. After every session, I have that motivation and drive to write again, and lo and behold, when I sit down to do so, things suddenly work much better than they did a month ago!

So yeah, that’s one thing I have already changed. I want to keep playing things that inspire and motivate me, just like I did back when SHINRAI was conceived. After all, if I had never played Umineko, Higurashi, Ace Attorney, Fatal Frame (aka Project Zero) Megaman Battle Network, the Zero Escape or Yakuza (Ryu ga Gotoku) series, or if I had never taken the time to watch anime such as Detective Conan… then SHINRAI wouldn’t exist today, at least not in the shape and form it does.

Now, the other, a little more difficult change I’d like to make is not to be so obsessed with meeting self-imposed deadlines anymore. Or rather, to give myself a little more leeway. Even to this day, it’s very difficult to anticipate how long a certain task will take and usually, I underestimate things rather than overestimate them. And every time I cannot finish something by one of my deadlines, it just keeps piling on the frustration.

Naturally, I don’t want to be so chill about things that I end up barely making progress, either. There needs to be a healthy and productive balance that ensures I will move forward at a steady pace while not getting burnt out. So I’m still trying to figure out how exactly to go about it. For now, I’ve set myself some deadlines, but will try not to be too hard on myself if I can’t meet them.

Of course, this is all easier said than done. Things are very different now compared to the time span from 2013 to 2016, when we were working on SHINRAI. Back then, I had a lot more free time and could spend almost every single day working between 8 to 12 hours on our visual novel project, while still investing a lot of time into other hobbies. Now, however, I have a day job and many other “adult responsibilities” in my life, which didn’t really exist back then.

Then there is also the fact that we hadn’t released anything yet, meaning that there was a lot less pressure resting on my shoulders. I often worry about disappointing those of you who eagerly await our next game, which only fuels that pesky perfectionist side of me.
And, of course, I neither want to make you wait too long, nor keep making promises I can’t keep, so I’m still wary of giving any kind of possible release window for our current projects. Even if I do have some very specific dates in mind.

I guess we’ll just have to see how things go from here. All I can tell you at the moment is that I feel like maybe I’m finally back on the right track now. The first two weeks of 2021 have been rather productive and, for the first time in a long while, I thoroughly enjoyed myself working on our projects. Writing is fun again, I’ve had an overflow of ideas and I generally feel very good.

I actually can’t wait to get back to writing after this post here is done, so maybe it’s time to wrap this up, anyway.
But first, let’s finish with a quick progress report for this past week!

Outside of working on the script for GENBA and my little SHINRAI-related side project, I’ve made significant asset progress. One of my goals this month, namely finishing two CGs, certainly seems quite doable. My part on one of them is basically done now (patrons can check out a preview here), meaning that Natsu can take care of the coloring. The other CG is more than 50% done as well, so if I get to keep my perfectionism under control, it should also be completed very soon, hopefully leaving me with some extra time!

Anyway, I’m sorry for not having a proper 2021 roadmap or anything for you, but it’s probably better to take things one step at a time for now. So rather than think about what I’ll be doing in September, I want to focus on January and then February. And naturally, the main goal right now is to get GENBA‘s first chapter finally fully playbable and then move on to the next one!

Now, while I get back to work, please enjoy the rest of your weekend and, until next Saturday, take care! :3