First of all, I have to thank everyone for their support and their encouragement. I'm done with the fever and most likely with Covid. I'm still coughing a lot but according to the test I took, I'm now covid free. And I, indeed feel way better.
Now onto the dev Update!
The new sets and characters I'll need for the new content coming with v0.6.3 are finished. I could spend more time on these but they're good enough for what I'll use them for.
However. That new content will have to wait for a bit as I finally decided to first rework Day One. Let's talk about that for a bit.
I made no mystery that I'm planning on reworking the first five days of the story.
Essentially, I want to rework the renders.
My style evolved and the quality of the images I produce has improved a lot since I started working on Summer Scent. I think I reached a stable point that I can use as a standard for future work. For Summer Scent to be a decent and viable product, I have to bring the early chapters up to that level of quality.
There are also a lot of technical problems to rectify, like shaders misbehaving, or lights going haywire. Cassie's eyes in the early chapters are a good example of that.
And finally, I changed sets on Day Six. It was a weird decision, but I still think that was for the better. Even if I have to unify everything now.
For all these reasons, I'll have to repose and rerender every image of the first five days of the story.
That's about 2200 renders and that will take a lot of time even if I don't have to completely restart from scratch but rather transpose to a new standard. As I don't want to pause the development of new content for too long, I will mix the rework with the new content, a few scenes at a time.
For most of the scenes, the rework will only be about reworking the renders.
But there are obviously a few exceptions.
There is THAT scene that needs a heavy rewrite. Everyone knows which one I'm talking about: the first scene of Day Two, in the kitchen. It's an essential scene and it's also a total mess. I have to rework that.
And there's Day One.
Day One is very short. About 5500 words, for 64 renders. I am very ashamed of it as it fails in about every way. It needs the global rerendering and it needs a bit of rewrite. I need to better the presentation of the characters, make Jack's egocentrism a little bit more obvious, and add a few renders to improve the render per word ratio... And that dream sequence has to disappear. I'm going to change it for something more interesting than the ugly mistake it is now.
It won't change anything to the story but will be a better starting point to the story and make a few things more understandable.
So here I am, reworking Day One.
I reviewed and rewrote about 70% of it already. I feel like the things I'm adding or rephrasing are already making a big difference in the way you perceive the characters and I'm pretty happy about it. So far the script has grown by about 20 %.
I think I'll be done with the rewrite by next Wednesday. I'll then decide what I'll do for the renders. I have 60 of those to rerender but I will definitely add some more. I'm not going to reach for a 1/30 render per word ratio like in Day Six, but a hundred more renders can't hurt. I'll see when I'll be done with the script.
I should be done with the rework of Day One by the end of August. I will, of course, keep you updated about my progress.
The symptoms started last weekend and by Monday it was in full effect. The fever did quite a number on me, with difficult days and even worse nights, all of that in the middle of a heatwave. I'm still not done with it but today was notably better. I've been told that I'm right in the middle of it. I really hope I'll get rid of it quicker than that.
Because of the virus, productivity hasn't been great. And I'm not sure that what I've done won't have to change once I'll be definitely free from the fever.
I finished the story map for v0.6.3.
It will have the same structure as v0.6.2, with 3 scenes for the main branch, 2 for the Moronic Hero path, 2 for the Psychotic Knight path and 1 for the Evil Asshole Path.
I can also tell you that there will be a v0.6.4 and a v0.6.5.
V0.6.4 will be special.
I'll need a couple of new characters and 4 new sets: the reworked set of the pool and three really new ones. I spent most of the week working on these environments.
The pool is almost finished. I have to review the light and make some adjustments but it's almost done. It's a big set I've been actually working on for months in the background. You'll understand when you see it. I hope you'll like it because it took a lot of work to put it together.
Of the other three "really new" sets, 2 are more or less ready. Like with everything I've done this week, I'll have to review them once I'll be done with the fever as I don't completely trust my "altered judgment".
I'm going to keep focusing on creating sets and characters for the future chapter. Once I'm done with it... I don't know.
Maybe I could focus on reworking chapter 1. I think that it should be a two weeks long work if I don't get carried away.
I could then focus on adding a proper soundtrack to the game and once done with it, release a "v0.6.2+" with all the new features, the reworked chapter one and the soundtrack.
Or I could directly start writing scene 19, which my brain has already started working on during these delicious nocturnal fever delirium I've been blessed with this past week.
One of my problems is that it's still hellishly hot in there and I'm not sure when I'll be able to seriously render anything. I can pose and render a shot from time to time, but the 10 hours long rendering sessions while it's still 30c+ inside this room are just not an option. So if I have even a couple of hundreds of renders to run... I don't know when I'll be able to process them.
I hope it gets cooler soon. I hate this heat.
If you have any opinion about that, I'll be glad to hear it.
The walkthrough mode, or "Lighthouse mode" as I named it, is complete. It works pretty well so far. I tried to design something as non-intrusive as possible. You will be able to display different pieces of information independently, depending on how much help you think you may need. I think it'll be enough for most players and I'm curious to see if there will really be a need for some more complete walkthrough in the future.
I'm currently working on a new introduction for the game. It's a short sequence of screens aiming to describe the content of the game and the bases of Jack's personality (and renaming him as this introduction will now host the prompt that will allow doing so). Along with, maybe some warning about the content. I'm trying to put together something more pleasant to the eye than what is in-game at the moment. It's still a work in progress but I'm fairly happy with what I've done so far. Even if I have several variables to tweak before I'm done, I should be able to complete that task this weekend.
I've reworked the way I package the game to have a more flexible structure that will allow me to soon publish updates only as well as full builds. I'm not completely satisfied and there are things I'm thinking of doing differently. But it works. I just want to find a more elegant way to do it.
Finally, I reworked the code of the achievement system. It should now be 100% Steam compliant. I'm not there yet but at least that's one step forward in that direction.
Once done with the introduction sequence I'll focus on finalizing the story map and gathering the assets I'll need. I think I already have everything necessary, but I could be wrong. I'll have to build at least three sets for the next update. Two of these should be fairly easy.
I've been working on a "light" in-game walkthrough mode for the most part of the week. It still needs some refinement but I came up with something that works. It's pretty much an implementation of the trigger lists that were available to Tide Riders supporters until now. It will show what triggers the player needs to select for a chosen path and will give some information about the points required to unlock options. I don't want it to be absolutely exhaustive as, without choices, the game wouldn't really be a game anymore. I still want the player to search for missing achievements and that kind of stuff.
So far, all the "solo paths" have been implemented. I should be able to finish it next week with some time to spare for other tasks.
I'll probably be working on code and features for at least a week before I go back to content.
Meanwhile, I also progressed on the story map for the next update. It's not 100% complete but I have a precise idea of what the content will look like. I'm always tempted to plan lots of content and different scenes and keeping myself in check in that regard isn't easy as I easily get carried away. But I'm trying to stay reasonable.
So here it is. Summer scent v0.6 is finally released for the Sailing Master tier and up. It will be available for the Gunner tier next Friday, and on Itch.io, on the 15th of August.
It has been a rough and painful ride. Just like with the previous releases, I guess.
I tried to improve the render per words ratio again and it has been a real struggle. However, I think I found the "sweet spot" at around 30 words per image and I'll try to keep it that way from now on.
About the next update :
I've already started working on the story map. I'm still recycling the original pre-split plan, removing, adding and modifying stuff. I still need to spend some time on it but the story map is 80 % ready.
I've also finished working on an essential set, the last one missing to start reworking the early chapters of the game.
Day one is actually very short with about 60 renders for 6k words. I want to rework it a bit. Maybe adding a couple thousand words and a hundred renders. I'm not sure exactly how I'm going to rework it but the content should essentially stay the same, with better renders and some added lines, there and there to better flesh out the characters and their background. The dream sequence however needs a full rework.
I don't know how deep I'll go nor how much time it will take. That largely depends on how difficult transposing the old scenes into the new sets will be. Fingers crossed I won't have to spend hours on each shot.
I'm thinking about adding an "easy mode" with an in-game walkthrough and warnings. I'm not 100% sure how I'm going to do that but the idea is seriously growing on me. I need to think about it and we'll probably talk about it more in my next dev update.
I'm not sure I'll be able to seriously render anything for a while, with my area being apparently locked in a heat wave until August at the very least, and the local summer being simply hellishly hot. I can write, pose and code without a problem though, so I'll just do that and render in a batch as soon as the temperature gets low enough. I missed the spot for investing in AC again.
The credit screen.
With v0.6.2 comes a proper credit screen at the end of the game. For now, I've included every supporter with lifetime support of 10$ or more. I anonymized all pseudonyms resembling real names by using initials and monograms. However, if you want your name to be removed from the credit screen, don't hesitate to message me.
Anyway, I hope you'll enjoy the release and I'm eager to receive your feedback.
So far we didn't find any game-breaking bugs. Fingers crossed it stays that way. We'll keep it on the test until next Thursday, just to be safe but I'm confident we'll have cleaned most of the update by Monday.
I'm also testing a few things on the side, to see if I can add some last-minute features.
Producing an Android build is also on my task list. The size of the game is now widely beyond the 2Gb limit that is recommended for android apps. It's a bit worrying and there's nothing I can do about it, except compress images further. Which means losing quality. Which is obviously something I don't like.
The quick sum up :
Day 6 Part 2 will contain 8 scenes (Scenes 11 to 18).
Scenes 11 to 18 are written.
Scenes 11 to 18 are posed and rendered.
Scenes 11 and 18 are fully coded.
28 725 words, 9158 lines of code. 893 shots are posed, rendered, post-processed and exported.