I’ve found myself in an interesting situation that doesn’t normally occur. This situation is causing a delay in the next build, so I’m going to explain what’s happening.
The next elimination method involves a set of steps. I’m going to be super-vague about these steps so that I don’t “spoil” the surprise. The player must…
- Perform a task for a certain student.
- Have an important conversation with someone.
- Perform a task for a different student.
- Perform a kidnapping.
- Utilize a new gameplay mechanic in your basement.
- Have a text message conversation with someone.
- Watch an interactive cut-scene where the player is presented with an important choice.
6 of those 7 steps have already been implemented; a new character, two new tasks, and two conversations are already in the build. The only thing that remains is the interactive cut-scene.
This cut-scene is relatively simple in nature; it doesn’t involve much action. The primary purpose of this cut-scene is to present an opportunity to the player, and allow the player to chose the outcome of a situation (and thus decide the fate of a character). Because of the simple nature of this cut-scene, I thought that I could quickly animate it myself within the span of a day. I quickly realized several things:
- I severely underestimated how long it would take me to animate the cut-scene. I have animation experience, but if I tried to animate this scene myself, it would take me an unacceptably long amount of time.
- By adding up the voiced lines for this cut-scene, I can estimate how long the final scene will be…and it has turned out to be a whopping 3 minutes long!
- This cut-scene focuses on the emotions of the characters who are involved. If we’re going to be watching characters interact with one another for 3 minutes, I want to make sure that the characters’ body language and facial expressions are good enough to keep the audience interested and entertained for at least that long.
- Up until now, I’ve decided to completely ignore lip movement when characters are talking. However, 3 minutes long is way too long to stare at characters who are not moving their mouths, so this scene absolutely needs lip-sync.
- This is the first real cut-scene that is being added to the game, so if the quality of the cut-scene is low, it will leave a very bad impression on people, and cast doubt onto the rest of the production.
After considering all of the above factors, I realized that I can’t just quickly throw this cut-scene together myself; I should leave this task to a skilled animator.
Out of every volunteer I’ve worked with, there are only two who I would trust with a 3-minute emotionally-charged interactive cut-scene as important as this one. I’ve approached both of them about this scene. Both volunteers have informed me of the days they would be available to help out, and given me a time estimate for when the scene would be completed. In both cases, the cut-scene would be ready shortly before June 1st.
Deciding which volunteer to give the task to is a very difficult choice. I don’t have a magical crystal ball, so I can’t look into the future and learn which volunteer would do a better job, which volunteer would run into delays, or which volunteer would be unable to complete the task due to circumstances outside of their control. It would be nice to give the task to both volunteers simultaneously in order to feel like I have some kind of “insurance” that at least one of the volunteers will complete the task – but if both volunteers finish the task successfully, it will mean that one of them produced redundant work, and that would make me feel absolutely terrible!
For the time being, I’m going to let both volunteers animate the first 15 seconds of the cut-scene, and then I’ll reach a decision about how we should proceed.
So, what potential solutions exist for this scenario? In the past, whenever I was missing an animation for a cut-scene, I’d cut to a black screen with pink text. However, there’s absolutely no way I’m doing that this time around, especially for 3 minutes straight, and when there is interactivity during the cut-scene.
Another idea is to completely change the nature of the cut-scene; I could shorten it drastically, but I’d really, really prefer not to do that, since the events of the cut-scene are the player’s reward for following the steps leading up to the cut-scene, so shortening the scene would be robbing the player of gratification for their actions.
If I’m really determined to show a cut-scene, but don’t want to delay the build while a 3D animator creates the cut-scene, then I could try to find a much more simple way to present the cut-scene to the player. For example, I could display a storyboard; in other words, I could display a slideshow of images that tell a story as the voice actors speak in the background. For the sake of a demo / debug build, the artwork wouldn’t have to be super-polished illustrations that take entire days to create. Something like this would be perfect!
My final option is to decide “Wow, this cut-scene was a terrible idea,” scrap it, and do something much more simple. However, I would really hate to do that, because I think that this cut-scene will be worth the time and effort required to make it happen.
I don’t want to imply that this cut-scene is the most important aspect of the game, but it’s something that I want to happen as part of this elimination method. Yandere Simulator is a game about giving the player the choice to eliminate their rival any way they choose; with stealth, with violence, with kidnapping, with gossip, with expulsion…or even with emotion, as you’ll find out in the next build.
Of course, while I’m waiting for the volunteer to finish the cut-scene, I’m not just going to be sitting on my hands; this provides me with the opportunity to work on some of the game’s other features while I’m waiting on the volunteers. I can think of a bunch of things to add to the game that would take a day or less…
- Give teachers a daily routine / schedule.
- Allow the player to win a struggle against teachers.
- Update severely outdated sections of the game’s interface.
- Add the “Custom Soundtrack” feature to Yandere-chan’s phone.
- Add the “drop something heavy onto a girl from above” elimination method.
- Give Yandere-chan the ability to bury corpses in the Gardening Club’s garden.
- Replace some of the game’s less-impressive animations with superior animations that volunteers have already created for me.
In other words, when this build does come out, it’s going to be a Super Build that contains more content than the average build.
If there’s anything I learned over the course of 3 years working at a video game company and 2 years working on Yandere Simulator, it’s that game development is extremely unpredictable, and weird roadblocks unexpectedly pop up all the time. Honestly, it’s sort of a miracle that this type of situation hasn’t occurred more frequently over the course of this game’s development.
I promised to post a screenshot of an upcoming feature once a day until I finally upload a new build, so here’s today’s screenshot:
Oh, my! Whose house is that? And who are those two young ladies sitting down for a chat? Is it a friendly chat, or is it quite the opposite? Hopefully you won’t have to wait past June 1st to find out…
If this blog post looks way too long for you to read, and you just want a quick summary, here are the three main bullet points:
- The next update is 99% ready, but that last 1% is something that I can’t do myself. I have to leave it up to someone else, and I have no control over how long it will take them, so I have no way to tell you when the next build will be ready.
- While I’m waiting on a volunteer to give me the last thing I need, I’m going to work on implementing other features that I’ve been dying to implement for a really long time.
- Just because you’re not seeing a new build, it doesn’t mean that development is proceeding at a slower pace than it previously was; the pace of development is the same as always, and I’m still adding new things to the game every day, but this build can’t come out until I have the “final puzzle piece” that I need.
As always, thank you for following the development of Yandere Simulator!