Venice 2017.12.24, written by Kuna.
Yesterday night I posted the first Gameplay trailer for Serenade on Youtube. First of all, I must thank the guys who made this possible and provided their quality check and work: NovelistEzhno for the proofreading and Livestraes for the testing. They literally saved the English of the dialogues, the expressiveness of the characters, and logical flow of the scene : D When you develop a game and a story on your own, you kind of need people outside of the process to help you open your eyes over everything you believe it’s “definitive”. Things can be changed and must be changed in order to evolve. ; ) I love when I have these prolific brainstorming and I appreciate when people get interested in Serenade to this point.
Now I’m going to introduce the trailer through a short commentary, focusing on the setting of the story and giving some insights about the choice menus you see in the video. The video is from an advanced part of the demo, very far in time from the beginning of the story because… it’s set three years later! I wasn’t very sure about publishing such a fragmented part, but in the end I liked how the scene look “complete” somehow, even without many explanations. Let’s check its major points then!
Accident and Memory Loss.
As just stated, Serenade has a three-year-time skip. Right after briefly introducing Kairi’s history and amnesia, the player jumps far into the future. This happens for two reasons: first, Kairi has a personality switch. He sort of “grew up”. The Kairi you see in the trailer is indeed this Kairi. The second reason is that the story begins now! Kairi don’t want to run after his lost memories anymore and tries to make some changes in his life. From the trailer you can learn that he kept on visiting the clinic regularly and his medical situation has remained unchanged. He feels frustrated about it and just want to bury everything to build his life anew.
The player learns about the accident at the beginning of the game. Nothing special, just a car accident how you hear many. However, Isahai here is supposing that Kairi was not just a victim but took part in it by doing something “reckless” (he talks about him crossing the street while typing on his phone), and that Kairi’s been feeling uncomfortable with it to the point of hindering his brain from recovering that memory together with the rest. The player can let themselves influenced by Isahai’s theory or discard it.
Da-da-dan! Kairi is officially engaged with Fujisa and hired by her father! This is a news the player learns after the three-year-time skip rather out of the blue. (I’m kind of spoilering…?) However, social position is what definitely pushes Kairi to abandon his therapy. He’s been keeping his “mental disorder” secret and he now fears that it could hinder his career if found out. Fujisa’s family is the most influential one in Kujikawa and Kairi is entering such family. It’s not so strange that he’s nervous about it.
Pollution in Tokyo?
Another hint for the setting of Serenade. Tokyo is not a safe place! D : So, yeah, I took part too in the destruction of some big world capital, I mean, why not! Lol. However, that’s the situation. Sky on Tokyo is no longer visible due to pollution and various countermeasures are been taken for its inhabitants. But Kairi won’t really know much as long as he won’t make up his mind and go back there.
Visual novel players usually identify a differently colored choice option, as a choice they already took during the last playthrough. The game usually uses this method to remind them about their previous choices so that they can change direction or pursue it again depending on where they want to get. Of course it’s a feature I’d like to use, I mean, it’s useful! However, the reason why in Serenade you meet choices with green text is quite different.
To say the truth, there will never be an in-game explanation for those choices. Player will receive some hints at the beginning and then they will make choices accordingly to their deductions. Nothing complicated, I just wanted to implement something a bit “psychological”. Also, there won’t be “wrong deductions”, choices will have different meanings to the player regarding their emotional nature.
Kairi always has two choices and one is green. For example in the first screenshot the options are quite similar, one saying “You’ll go” and the other one “Say that you’ll go.” When the player reach this point, they supposedly know that “You’ll go” will make them encounter Isahai again, while “Say that you’ll go” won’t. Indeed, when choosing “Say that you’ll go”, Kairi change his attitude all of a sudden, complying with Isahai kind of enthusiastically and with a smile.
You can call them “lies”, “manipulation”, etc. I don’t plan to label them. I’d like to have the player figuring their meaning out and use them in a way they think it’s working out the best in their opinion. Do these choices alter points, stats, routes, etc? You’ll know depending on the situation. I’m doing my best to have choices and outcomes very clear and related, so that the player can easily figure out which choice lead to which outcome.
In the case of “You’ll go” and “Say that you’ll go”, you can’t choose “No”. Because “Say that you’ll go” is how Kairi says no. And, hopefully, the player is going to learn about this “vocabulary” without tutorials, ideally before the time skip.
Green choices have a further mechanism and logic, and I plan to talk about them some more in a future blog post : D
And that’s all. I’m already receiving some feedback and I’m so grateful! The hill is still ahead for the most part but I feel very excited to continue this adventure! : D I hope my blah blah made some sense, ahah. So, if you haven’t checked the trailer yet, please do it! And if you have some time, leave some feedback to make me improve Serenade. I feel relieved I was able to publish at least a trailer, because at this point I definitely need some feedback!
Thank you for reading! I wish you serene and heartwarming holidays! : )