I’ve been thinking a lot about you this week – you, as in the player character. The princess. Wondering what kind of person she is, what kind of princess she is, and what kind the player would want her to be. There’s a balance to be maintained between believability and accessibility: a girl with modern attitudes would be completely inappropriate in a medieval-ish world, not to mention as a princess locked into the duties of her birthright, but avoiding, as well, the shy, sweet, submissive otome game protagonist is exactly the reason I wanted to make my own and do it differently. That kind of player personality may be popular in Japan, but I think it has a limited appeal to American audiences.
After a lot of rumination, I decided to just hit the ground. I mentioned that I think better with my hands on a keyboard, didn’t I? Sometimes it helps to get a feel for a character by just writing oneself into her. Well, I sat down and started chapter 1, and after less than 200 words, I already have a pretty good idea of her personality. She’s curious and interested in things/people, she’s a little too comfortable in her station, and she’s light-hearted and clever. It will be interesting seeing how she (ie you) reacts to the situations she’s going to encounter, and how she’ll grow and come to appreciate things she hasn’t had to think about before. But that’s what stories are about, isn’t it?
One more thing I’ve been thinking about – back to the princess again. The otome games I’ve played have occasional CGs (full still illustrations) at high points in the story, usually romantic moments or during fight scenes, etc. Often these depict the player character, with a specific character design (like in Destiny Ninja 2+ and Scarlet Fate) or sometimes as a nondescript-looking girl with brownish hair and NO EYES. Like, seriously, her eyes are either completely covered with her hair, or she literally has no eyes. So usually the protagonist is a generic design, or a very specific one, and neither of those is very personal for the player.
In thinking about what sort of CGs I would put in my VN, I understand it’s important in a lot of situations to include the PC in the image, but I don’t love the way I’ve seen it done. I’m hoping to experiment with the software to see if there’s a way I can let the player choose her hair, eye, and skin color, particularly for the CGs. Hopefully there’s a way to make one base image and the color assets and only change out those variables, instead of having to produce 36 versions of each CG to accommodate the combinations. That would take up a ridiculous amount of disk space.
Anyway, I’ll have to dig into RenPy and the forums and find out whether that seems possible. In the meantime, I’m going to keep writing a bit (the rest of chapter 1, probably), and then go back and break down the story into chapter chunks. It’ll help me make sure that the exciting stuff gets distributed throughout, and keep track of the pacing.