My uncle once owned a boat called “Next Fiasco.” I liked the idea of it, that you dive in to some crazy project or inadvisable expensive adventure knowing full well it’s gonna be a fiasco… and you don’t care. It’s fun. It drives you. You gotta do it. So, every time I start a new project, I always call it the Next Fiasco.
With Floating Point out of the way, it’s time for the next Next Fiasco. And it’s time to formally announce it to you guys.
I’m developing a visual novel, coded in Renpy. (You may know it by the more colloqiual name of “date sim,” as often these games involve romance themes, although it’s rarely literally a “simulated dating game.”) I’ve always liked this format of game, the flexibility and versatility of it… from the hybrid of tactical RPG Sakura Taisen to the mystery and investigative storytelling of Pheonix Wright. It relies on strong characters, good worldbuilding, and excellent dialogue to carry through the experience. Y’know, the kind of stuff I’m already doing in my linear novels; a perfect fit.
The tentative idea for the game is to marry my passions — telling a story about arcade game culture, through the eyes of gamers and arcade owners alike, in an exaggerated near-future world that never suffered the video game crash of 1983. It’s the Distant Future Year 20XX, and your protagonist is going to get tangled up in a series of chapters that have the feel of a really good workplace sitcom mixed with a romantic comedy anime.
There’s plenty of roleplaying involved — you decide the type of emotional reaction you have to things happening around you, you make decisions, you guide the future of your arcade. All throughout you’ll be learning the stories of these characters… their hopes, their dreams, their passions. No video game skill required; it’s all a matter of your story decisions! Whether you’re a retro gamer or just enjoy a good tale, if you love my character-focused writing in my novels, you’ll love playing through this game.
As for the title… well, it’s a secret. …from me, even. As in, not sure yet what it’s called. I’ll let you know when I think of something.
My partner in crime for this venture is Aenne Schumann, a veteran of numerous indie game jams, and fellow writer. She knows the business side and brings perspectives on writing that I lack; like a two-part Voltron we’re hoping to make the best possible story by our strengths combined. For art…well, we’re still in preproduction here, so we have no artists lined up yet. Likely we’ll be doing commission work with folks we know to bring you the best character art we can get.
And… that’s all I have for you, now. We’re making a visual novel, it’s going to be retro arcade-flavored, it’ll be super fun to write, and I’m looking forward to bringing it to you. Why bring it up when we’re this early into the process? Well, because I want to talk about the Patreon that will be funding this project.
Before, my Patreon had (typically) weekly paid updates, with access to early story drafts. For this project, as it’s a game that we’ll be selling in the end, things are going to be different. Instead, the Patreon will now use monthly paid updates, and in return will provide patrons with an early insider’s look at the development process of the game. Some of that may make it to the public blog, but patrons will always get early access and more direct involvement. Development and demo builds may also be on offer! And, notably… anyone who contributes a total at least of $25, be across multiple months or all at once or whatever works for them, will get a complete copy of the game for Windows after we’re finished.
All Patreon funds will be going towards art and music contracts, paying writers and editors, and other expenses. We might turn to Kickstarter for finishing funds near the end of development as well, but any amount needed would be drastically reduced if the Patreon is a success in funding the ongoing development costs. (Games ain’t cheap, yo. Writing novels is cheap but games have vastly different resource needs.)
Now, we won’t be starting the paid monthly Patreon updates until May 1st — we’re still getting our ducks in a row, here. You’ve got time to decide if you want in on this crazy train. If you prefer to just follow the public blog and buy the finished game rather than fund in-progress development… that’s cool, too! We welcome your involvement, no matter how deep you want to go on this. But if you’re ready to jump in… we’re ready for you to jump in.
So, there’s your initial sketchy overview. Sound good? Got any questions? Any comments? Post below and I’ll let you know what’s what. Thanks so much and looking forward to starting this fiasco with you all.