Apr 22

Weekly Update #454: The Devil’s In The Detail

I feel like I may have done a post like this before, same title and everything, but I thought that, today, I’d talk a little bit about the reasons as to why work on the script for GENBA no Kizuna‘s penultimate chapter has slowed down a bit again recently.

It really all boils down to the complexity of its murder case as well as it being an interactive experience rather than a kinetic VN where your path is pretty much predetermined and unchangeable. Let’s take Himatsu‘s latest interrogation route for instance. There, you have four suspects to select from. You can choose to interrogate them in any order you wish and you can pose four questions to each of them, some questions being unique to the individual characters, while some are the same for all of them.

For example, you can ask all of them to tell you how their morning unfolded or what their personal thoughts on the victim are, but you can only ask Amber about the injury on her left hand or Terano about his pet vulture Alexis.

Now, rather than pick one suspect and ask them all available questions before moving on to the next, some players may choose to pick Amber first, ask her about her thoughts on the victim, then switch to Terano to ask him the same and so on and so forth, in order to get a better and more direct comparison between their replies.

In other words, there is a multitude of ways in which you can go through this interrogation segment. And while this kind of freedom is undoubtedly more pleasant to the player, it can be a bit of a headache for me as the writer. Because, depending on which order you go through these scenes, some may require alternate versions.

Let’s say you talk to Amber and Shiku about how the group spent their morning. Amber‘s story seems fine and plausible, but it’s when you talk to Shiku that she mentions something that puts a big question mark on Amber‘s statements. Now, due to the non-linearity of the interrogation, that means that there are two different levels of information you can have upon questioning Amber about her morning. If you choose her first, everything’s fine, but if you choose to talk to her after having heard Shiku‘s story, you suddenly notice that some of the stuff Amber is saying sounds a bit strange. As such, you’d assume that Himatsu would bring this up, right?

So, essentially, I need to write two different versions for this part. It’s these kinds of things that drag out the writing process a little and not just because of the extra scenarios I gotta write. I also need to spend tons of time going through everything over and over again to even notice the necessity for them. In the very example I just described above, it took me weeks to even think about a “what if the player spoke to Shiku first” scenario! It never occurred to me until I did a proofreading run out of the usual order.

I generally gotta pay close attention to the details. We have four suspects, each of them with their own version of events, plus the “real version” (since all of them are lying to varying degrees) and if that wasn’t already enough, I still have older, scrapped versions floating around in my head from earlier drafts of the story. So, sometimes, it’s easy to lose track and I may write something only to realize… wait, that was something that happened in a previous iteration of the story, but which I decided to kick out of the final one!

That’s why the devil’s in the detail. Especially with a case as complex as this one, I constantly need to double-check, compare and refer to various planning docs in order to ensure that everything makes sense, nothing’s left forgotten and it all aligns as it should.

Thankfully, though, the most complicated part finally lies behind me now. From here on out, things are going to be a bit more straightforward again. Still, sometimes, I really do wish I had chosen to write a kinetic VN instead. That way, I would’ve saved myself many headaches, but alas… that’s the price you pay for more interactivity!

Anyway, not the usual kind of update, but since the stuff I’m currently busy with is once again mega spoilery, I can’t really share much about our progress, anyway. That’ll change next Saturday, though! So, until then, take care and, as always, please enjoy the remainder of your weekend :3