Monday, April 13, 2015

6. You will Never have Enough.

10 Things You Should Know About:
Writing Interactive Fiction

6. You will Never have Enough.
Time, Money, Images, Music, or Sound Effects...
You will always run Short of Something.

When building your Interactive Fiction, no matter how many assets you get your grubby little mitts on, there will always be that certain something you don't even know you need -- until it comes time to code that one particular scene.

Whether it's a certain angle, pose, or expression for a character image, a specialized string of code, a particular sound effect, or a specific background image, there will always be something that you didn't know you'd need -- until you do.

To make matters worse... No matter how many character sprites and backdrops you do have, there will always be scenes you simply can't illustrate the way you want to. There will always be a particular sound effect you can't find. There will always be a piece of music you just can't get your hands on.

So, what do you do when that happens? 

Well, you can pay a hefty chunk of change to get a professional to make exactly what you want, or go back to the professional you already hired and pay them a hefty chunk of change to adjust what you already have -- IF they still have the original files to work from.

Or find a way to work around the problem.  In other words... 

Get Creative
--and find a way to use what you already have.

My biggest problem, for example, are my less than proficient drawing skills. I can write a damned good story, but when it comes to making Visual Novels, creating backgrounds and character art is a serious hurdle. 

So I got Creative with the skills I did have, namely; PhotoShop.

From: Faery Tale
To make Background Art, I found photos that fit the backgrounds I wanted then used PhotoShop to run those photos through a combination of custom filters to make them look like paintings. 

There are programs that do this, but they tend to cost serious money. Something many creators simply don't have.

As for Character Art, I originally did the same thing. I looked for photos that I could use. (Thank you!) I then used PhotoShop to cut them out of their backgrounds, manipulated them into what I needed, then ran them through the same filters I used for the backgrounds. This way the characters and the backgrounds matched in style.
The Adventures of Prince Ivan

Eventually, I did learn to draw my own Characters -- using hundreds of separate layers, so I could fully animate their limbs in addition to their expressions.

However, I still had scenes in my Visual Novels that I simply didn't have the skill to illustrate.
  • Kissing scenes
  • Love scenes
  • Fight scenes
I just didn't have the skill to redraw all my characters, and their wardrobe changes, into the positions I needed.

Typically one would rely on a static image commonly called a CG (Computer Graphic,) and  write the whole scene with enough detail that the player can see what's happening from the words alone.

Another option is to cut the scene out completely. However, cutting scenes isn't really an option in my stories. Each and every scene is needed to complete the story without leaving plot-holes.

from: Faery Tale

Anyway... Using static images and novel-mode text boxes with the scenes written out in detail solved most of my artistic problems. 

However, that technique would not work for my game "The Adventures of Prince Ivan." Using a screen full of text to replace the fight scenes I needed --but couldn't illustrate-- simply wouldn't fit with the style used in the rest of the game, not when I’d fully illustrated and animated all the other scenes.

So, what did I do? I put the whole scene Off-Screen. 

I had the fighting characters move off-screen and used Sound Effects and Dialog between the characters that were still on-screen to detail what was happening where the Player couldn't see it, off-screen.

It wasn't elegant by any means, but it didn't disrupt the flow of the story, or jar the Player with a sudden change of style. I'm sure there are yet more options I could have tried, but that's all I could come up with at the time.

is Your Friend

Truthfully, the best way to keep from running out of things is to Plan Ahead by Plotting out the entire game and creating lists of everything you might need, plus a few extras.

Even so, there will always be things you miss. When that happens, you can either cough up some cash and get a professional --and hope they can match the style you already have-- or you can just get Creative.

Ookami Kasumi

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