💌 Machine faces, Ren'Py updates, and brewing romance in Mr. Hands' Naughty List #20
It must be the onset of Spring, but I’m in the mood for romance! 🥰 That’s why today’s newsletter is heavily slanted towards that topic. Do you feel the same? Let me know in the comments!
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Now let’s get into it!
AI generated wizardry 🧙♀️
Liz England is not content with “just” procedurally generating a city of people in Watch Dogs: Legion. She has now turned her attention to creating AI-generated facial animations as well.
What’s really remarkable about this technique is that you can use it for commercial purposes! Liz notes that the face generated by Artbreeder does not have any copyright, while the video from MyHeritage transfers the copyright to you.
A few days later, she has also figured out a way to use an open-source tool to animate characters using input from her webcam:
Suffice to say that this opens up very interesting opportunities for visual novels! ✨
This could be a great way to animate the characters in your game in a cost-effective way. I’m excited to learn how far other people are able to take this!
New Ren’Py just dropped 📦
A new version of Ren’Py was released this week:
The latest improvements include:
Windows improvements should increase compatibility and reduce the chance of false positives from some antivirus software.
Improved compatibility with Android devices.
A number of focus improvements, including marking frames modal, and focusing the mask part of an AlphaMask.
The ability to render Emoji found in fonts.
If you haven’t upgraded to 7.4 yet, you should really give it a try. The new model-based renderer allows you to recolor displayables, blur the screen, and use Live2D to animate sprites.
If you’re looking to get started with Ren’Py development, LewdPixels has a nice introductory article up on their website:
One of the most daunting things about learning a new framework is knowing where to put everything so that you won’t get completely overwhelmed by the chaos of your own creation in the near future. [...] After over three years developing games in Ren’Py I thought I’d share some of the things I found out that might be helpful to those starting out with the framework.
Brew a do-over with EDDA Café ☕
EDDA Café is a lovely little game by the wonderfully talented @morinoiratelier and @mad_scientist92. A hidden café is rumored to brew a special coffee that is able to turn back time. For most, this is just a fun urban legend, but not for Mina. Two years after a deadly accident, she is still wracked with guilt over what happened. When she receives a flyer for this mysterious café, she wonders if she can correct the mistakes of her past.
The team made EDDA Café for the Valentines VN Jam 2021, which explains the short run time. But if you’re looking for a short romantic experience, I don’t think you can go wrong with checking out this game on Itch.
But don’t take my word for it! Here’s what Blerdy Otome had to say:
[…] EDDA Café is a gorgeous game! I love the soft backgrounds and the stationary design of the UI is super cute. The character designs are adorable and remind me a bit of a picture book which fits with the urban fantasy story.
How to get your game noticed
Over on the blog, I’ve written about my journey to become better at marketing.
In the article, I outline how I got started with writing this newsletter and what you can do to make your game stand out of the crowd:
A common mistake that developers make on their store pages is that they don’t consider the story they’re trying to tell. They give a description of the game and maybe some facts about it, but they don’t wrap it in a compelling narrative. If a journalist wants to cover your game, you are forcing them to dig a lot deeper to extract a story.
Writing Wrap-Up 📖
GamesIndustry.biz wrote about how you can get a job as a games writer:
With each year passing, the games industry becomes more interested in story. While the big blockbusters are still typically gameplay-focused -- as shown by the best-selling games in the US in 2020 -- there's a growing trend towards trying to push the boundaries of narrative in AAA games.
Neo Tegoel Games was interviewed by Yahoo! News about his visual novel:
For 41-year-old father of two Drew Pan, creating games has always been a dream. But the plucky game developer and freelance writer took a leap of faith during the COVID-19 pandemic, and spent his time in lockdown working on his dream.
Visual novel aficionado ds-sans has written about the business of VN development:
Today, I'd like to focus on the 'business' side of developing a VN. [H]opefully I can explain the process of hiring freelancers, budgeting, crowdfunding, and releasing a VN commercially.
I’m in love with this article from Ze about following your dreams:
Until 2020, my partner Nim […] and I had been making our livelihood doing work for hire. [I]t made us luckier than many, but it also left Nim feeling slightly unfulfilled, like having a thirst but with no water to quench it.
Otome Kitten asked their audience which otome games should be localized next:
Last November 2020 to February 2021, I’ve conducted an Otome Localization Survey, where we (otome players across the world) all vote for the (Japanese) otome games we want to see localized.
Cheeky chuckle 🤭
Artist spotlight 💡
Thanks for reading this far!
If you want to help me compile the newsletter, feel free to poke me on Twitter.
Until next time!