“Why isn’t Osana done yet?” The short answer is, “Because I’m responsible for a lot of other things beside Osana, and sometimes I don’t have time to work on Osana.” The long answer would be to elaborate about all of the other aspects of this project that require my attention. That’s what I’m going to do in this blog post.
Other Kickstarter Critera
Looking back over my previous videos, I can see that it was a terrible mistake to imply that Osana is the one obstacle preventing me from launching a crowdfunding campaign. That was never the case. I don’t want to launch a crowdfunding campaign until I feel like the game meets my own personal standards for a game that I’d consider worthy of being funded; and that means implementing a number of things other than just Osana.
Here’s a list of most of the things that I’d really like to implement before launching a crowdfunding campaign:
(Some of the things on this list might have to be postponed until after the Kickstarter, like interacting with faculty members.)
Many of the things on that list require me to spend extensive amounts of time speaking with volunteers, describing what I need, and reviewing the assets that they deliver. Osana is just one of the many things I’m working on at any point in time.
I’ll give you an example: I wouldn’t want to launch the crowdfunding campaign if the school corridors are completely empty. So, time spent decorating the school corridors would not be “a waste of time that could have otherwise been spent working on Osana”; it’s something that needed to get done eventually, either before, during, or after Osana, but definitely before the crowdfunding campaign. As long as I am spending my time working on anything from the “Kickstarter Criteria” list, I feel that my time is being used properly.
This is related to the above category. If I play another video game and see something that makes Yandere Simulator look lame by comparison, I feel an urge to improve Yandere Simulator’s production values so that it’s closer to reaching the standards of quality that are being established by other games. One example of this would be adding new social animations and talking visual effects to students and teachers:
There’s no way that I would consider launching the crowdfunding campaign with the characters performing those stupid “salute” animations instead of proper-looking social animations. This is another example of me making progress towards the crowdfunding campaign, but in ways that aren’t related to Osana.
This might be considered an extension of the above category. Sometimes I come up with an idea for a general improvement, and spend time trying to get it to work, but the end result isn’t what I expected. I’ll give you an example; for a long time, I’ve really wanted the clouds in Yandere Simulator to move across the sky. At several points over the past few years, I’ve tried to accomplish this, but it’s never turned out exactly the way I wanted. Here’s the best I managed to do:
It’s always very regrettable when I spend time trying to achieve a goal, only to fall short of my objective and stop without anything to show for it. Not every single endeavor that is made over the course of 3 years can be a success.
Working with volunteers is not as simple as saying “I need a _____, please model one for me.” For example: If I want a cardboard box, I have to describe whether or not it should be open or closed, whether or not it should be hollow, whether or not the lid flaps should be rigged for animation, the width / length / height in centimeters, and provide reference of the exact type of cardboard box I want to see.
For other requests, there’s another layer of complication. If I say “Please model a fountain for me,” there is no guarantee that I will get a fountain that actually fits into Yandere Simulator’s high school. I need to describe the fountain thoroughly and provide reference images of exactly the type of fountain I’m hoping to see. Not only that, but I need to make it clear what kind of art style the game has, and what kind of style the school’s architecture is meant to have.
Most serious projects have a “style guide” or a “visual guidelines” document that is meant to demonstrate the “look-and-feel” that the project is meant to have. For a very long time, Yandere Simulator never had such a document. As a result, sometimes volunteers would create models that simply didn’t fit in with the game at all, and needed to be re-modeled or re-textured until they felt like they belonged in the game..
Last month, at my request, an artist put this image together: http://imgur.com/CgLSLnH.png This visual guide should prevent volunteers from doing wasted work because they didn’t understand what kind of look-and-feel the game was meant to have. Of course, working together with the artist, describing what the visual guidelines need to say, and refining the guidelines until they are ready to show to volunteers, is also all time-consuming stuff.
On the topic of “assisting volunteers”, there’s something else to mention…
If I want a volunteer to create an animation for me – like, say, an animation of a character vomiting – then I need to record video footage of…you guessed it…a video game character vomiting:
That’s not the only type of footage that I need to obtain for volunteers, though…
If there is a problem with a volunteer’s asset, the problem often cannot be understood unless the volunteer has seen video footage of the problem. For example, if an animator sends me a new walk animation for Yandere-chan, and the animation looks very good, but I discover that the animation causes weapons to clip into Yandere-chan’s body, then I have to record footage of the problem, and show it to the animator so that they can gauge how far they need to rotate Yandere-chan’s wrist to fix the clipping issue.
If I want a programming volunteer to fix a bug for me, I need to record footage of the bug. For example, if I want to ask a programmer to help me fix the “camera clips through walls” bug, I can’t just say, “The camera clips through walls sometimes, please fix it.” There’s more to it than that. First, I should actually provide video footage of the bug and how to reproduce the bug, so that he knows exactly what I’m talking about:
On top of that, there is also something else that must be done…
Providing Debug Projects
I don’t feel comfortable sending Yandere Simulator’s project files to volunteers. If someone wants to fix a bug, then I send them a small Unity project containing a sandbox test environment where they can reproduce the problem and try to debug it. Here’s an example:
Preparing these debug projects takes time, just like everything else.
Investigating Technical Problems
You might also just classify this as “bug testing”, but sometimes I spend my time investigating technical problems, like why some users have begun to report the game running out of memory. This was an issue that did not previously exist, so solving the problem involves looking for the earliest report of the bug, then checking to see what changed in that exact build, then removing that change from the current build of the game to see if that will fix the issue.
Investigating this particular problem – the issue of the game running out of memory – also involves looking through the debug logs that the game produces after making a build, going down the list of all of the assets that take up the most memory, and determining what can be done to lower the file size of those assets. None of this is fun. All of this is time-consuming.
What’s the first step towards adding a new environment to Yandere Simulator? First, I create a simple mockup depicting the size of the room and how I imagine the layout:
Then, I need to gather reference photographs to help a concept artist visualize the room:
Then, a concept artist creates several sketches of how the room might look:
Then, a rough 3D mockup is created to confirm that it’s what we want:
Then, the final concept art is created:
Then, a 3D modeller actually creates the room.
All of this takes time.
Remember when I suggested the idea of a maid minigame, and asked the fanbase to vote on whether I’d implement it before or after Osana? http://poal.me/52p38v “Before Osana” won the vote – so, where’s the minigame?
The answer is that I delegated the task to someone else; another programmer is creating the maid minigame. Over the past 2 months, he’s made some very impressive progress:
Describing what needs to be done, reviewing his work, changing the design of the game as flaws are discovered…all of this takes time. (But, it takes less time than if I’d done it all myself.)
I announced a partnership with tinyBuild way back on March 1st, and haven’t said a single word about them ever since then. So, what’s going on?
tinyBuild has the project files for Yandere Simulator and has started their own “branch” of the game. Their branch stems from one of the most recent builds of the game. They will convert their branch to C#, get it to run on Unity 5, optimize everything that is inefficient, and then focus on adding every feature that I’ve added since the day our branches split. At that point, we’ll abandon my branch and begin using their branch instead. Until then, my branch will be used to develop Osana (or a prototype of Osana), demonstrate features that the final game will have, and keep people interested in the game by adding new content.
Best case scenario: I will implement Osana and launch the Kickstarter before tinyBuild’s branch is complete. Worst-case scenario, tinyBUild will simply finish their branch and implement Osana before I do, and then we launch the Kickstarter.
All of this has required a lot of discussion, planning, and coordination. Being introduced to various team members, making sure that everyone has a clear understanding of my vision for the game, outlining our plans for the future…all of this takes time.
Secret Projects and Spoilers
Everything I’ve described above is the stuff that I’m willing to tell you about. Obviously, I have not mentioned all of the things that I would prefer to keep secret.
I’m really looking forward to seeing how you’re going to react once I can finally show you all of the other stuff that has been in development besides Osana. I think you’re really going to love some of the surprises that I have planned.
It seems that, every time I post something to the Internet, I need to write a follow-up post explaining or defending my previous post. If I make a video about Persona, I need to write a blog post explaining that, no, I don’t intend to copy Persona. If I don’t show any Osana progress, I need to write a blog post explaining that, yes, I’m still getting work done.
You might say “Just ignore the people who complain! Defending yourself eats up time that could have been spent working on Osana!” But, you don’t understand. If everyone loses faith in me – because I didn’t take the time to explain myself – then nobody will want to back the crowdfunding campaign, and Yandere Simulator won’t ever be finished. Clearing up misunderstandings, clarifying my intentions, demonstrating my progress, explaining what I do, and keeping the fanbase updated…all of these things are equally as important – if not even more important – than actually getting work done.
I am not just a programmer with the task of implementing Osana. I am also this project’s director and producer, and also the manager of every animator/artist/modeller/composer/voice actor contributing to this game. I’m not trying to brag, and I’m not trying to whine; I’m just letting you know how things are. The bottom line is the same as the first sentence I wrote at the top of this blog post: “I’m responsible for a lot of other things beside Osana, and sometimes I don’t have time to work on Osana.”
By the way…looking back over this whole blog post, I can’t help but feel like it would have made a good “progress report” video. Sneak peeks at behind-the-scenes stuff, previews of upcoming content, status reports on things that haven’t been mentioned in a while…maybe, instead of making two videos about Persona, I should have just created this blog post in the form of a video, instead…
Anyway, I hope that the message of this blog post is clear. I hope you clearly understand the reasons why there isn’t always Osana progress to show you every 2 weeks.
Thank you for following the development of Yandere Simulator.