Well, judging by the date on the calendar, it looks like it’s about time for some more news. So let’s get to it.
Virus still has everyone locked indoors, so work this week was a little slower than I wanted, but things still got done.
Still in content creation mode, though I realized I still have one more coding task I need to complete and that’s an update of the sex menu system to auto detect new scenes, but that’s a minor task that shouldn’t take long to implement when the time comes.
For the time being, it’s been 100% focus on Cassie’s chapter. The writing on her chapter is nearly complete. Well, I should say rewrite. As I noted before, I had a Cassie chapter written, but things started to get so large and out of control, I realized near the end that I had enough Non-Cassie content worked into the chapter it really needed to be it’s own Val/Lita/Lola/Dan/Miles/Nanami Chapter. Once I broke that material free and set it aside for further development, I needed to go back and rework the Cassie chapter. What ended up happening was exponential growth in the Cassie line. Plot that I wanted to touch on later suddenly became viable now and before I knew it, I had lots and lots of Cassie stuff to cram in.
I still don’t have a eta on completion. Those who’ve followed for awhile know that I’m loathe to give out due dates because I consistently overestimate my own ability to get stuff done in a given amount of time. That said, I’ll let you know the minute the last renders are cranking through the queue.
But that does bring up an interesting question, what can you expect in this next release?
Right now Cassie’s next chapter has three full blown sex scenes. One with your wife Emily, and two, yes that’s right, TWO full on sex scenes with Cassie. Let’s just say once the fire is lit, it stays hot for a long while.
Also in the works is a Lupita, Monica and Emily chapter. If by chance any of those get close to completion around the same time as Cassie’s, I’ll loop one or more of those in with the release as well. I just have to see how things go.
So how am I planning to get all this done in a reasonable amount of time? Well, there’s more to the story of efficiency than just the coding spells I’ve been casting lately. Now that I’m working on content again it seems like a good idea to go into some updated design philosophy that I’ve been working on.
New Style Guide
One thing I’ve been working on is simplifying my art style. I receive a hundred praises for my story for everyone one praise I get for the renders. That isn’t to say my renders suck. But it’s made me rethink just where my strengths are in terms of game creation. I need to put story first, renders second. So does this mean I’m going to start shirking on the quality of the renders? Absolutely not!
But take this image from Amanda’s last chapter.
It’s complex, has a dynamic camera angle, involved posing two characters, was a bitch to light given the complexity of the angle and the figures. Those who watched the live stream know that I spent a good deal of time on images like this for that chapter.
I’ve also been in the habit of rendering at a larger resolution, applying degraining and then scaling down to save time. But even after all that, the image still has some grain in it.
This is how I’ve been working. Cinema-graphic style composition with dynamic lighting. Compromised final quality, but passable.
Going forward I intend to simplify and enhance. I want to include less figures in an image, simplified 3 point lighting plus background lights, and a full 95% conversion at the game’s default resolution.
By simplifying the image, I can do a longer render to remove grain and still save myself time overall in the production process. The final images will also be of a much higher quality than before, albiet with slightly less dynamic composition. But in terms of telling my story, I find it to be a reasonable trade off.
If I can make ten images in the time it used to take me to do four, well then we’re on the right path.
As an example, I redid the above image using my new style guide.
(I did not take the time to fix the tears because this was only an example)
The second image, while still perfectly applicable to the scene, took 1/8th the time to set up and light, and rendered out in about half the time at a higher conversion rate. Simpler image, but higher quality and faster to make.
And the story doesn’t suffer from the change at all. In fact, the clarity and lack of grain on the second image I think does a lot to improve immersion.
Now lets be clear, there is one part of the game I can’t and won’t simplify and that’s the sex scenes. Plan on still having dynamic angles, lighting, multiple figures, etc. But if my complexity is limited to those scenes, it’ll still go a long way to quickening the pace of production.
Daz is all the things you don’t want in a bottom bitch. It’s mouthy and likes to talk back. It doesn’t do what you want it to do. And no matter how hard you try, you just can’t pretty it up.
I’m making my peace with it. Blender conversion is for the moment, indefinitely delayed. That isn’t to say my time learning blender, surfaces and rigging wasn’t beneficial. I’ve been able to pull a lot of that skill set developed in Blender back into Daz and use it to pretty-up a lot of the images.
These days I have fewer problems in Daz that I can’t solve. A surface is too shiny, tweak the roughness and reflectivity. Transparency a little fucked up? Adjust the IOR. Shirts are sticking to titties too tightly? Find the sweet spot in the Mesh smoother.
My biggest complaint with Daz has always been the lack of formal information or instruction. It’s all just a smattering of info all over the place. Well, now that I’ve spent the better part of a year studying a real program like Blender, much of what is fucked up in Daz makes sense and I can create acceptable work arounds.
In terms of setting up a scene and getting things lit, nothing is faster than Daz. It may not be the most efficient, it may not offer the best level of control, but I’m learning to work within it’s parameters.
And given that I want to focus more on story than art, it’ll be the best compromise for keeping things moving fast.
I’ll continue to polish those Blender skills and as needed make some custom assets, but for now, a full on transition to Blender will need to wait for the sequel.
Presets, presets, presets
I’ve gotten a lot better lately about leveraging the use of presets in Daz. Character configurations, shape, pose, wearables, etc.
This has actually done much to speed up the development of my most recent Cassie work. It’s also led me to further develop character duality. When I wrote my script converter to process images, I included some additional lines that might later allow me to expand into different outfit designs based on red vs blue choices.
Well in the process of creating Cassie’s chapter, I started to dip into that potential and suddenly found myself neck deep in possibilities. In a round about way this too is working to speed up production.
(Note I’ve also gotten more proficient at managing Daz’s “Shrink Wrapped Titties” problem.)
For example, if the Emily on the left looked at you smiling with a wink in her eye and said, “You’re an asshole.” It feels flirty, cutesy and playful.
But if the Emily on the right looked at you and said “You’re an asshole.” Suddenly the meaning and feel of the scene changes.
Same line of dialogue, same scene and scenario, but whether or not you’re on the red or blue path, that single line completely changes meaning as a result of the body language and outfit.
Over the next few days as I complete the character outfit designs, I’ll start sharing some examples of each character’s possible dualities. It may sound a little convoluted and complex at first, but I think when you see it in action you’ll quickly understand how this not only saves me time, but adds a whole new dimension to the red and blue path by further demonstrating a character’s personality changes as you interact with them.
It’s exciting stuff and I look forward demonstrating it in Cassie’s chapter.
That’s All For Now
My pace may change a little from week to week depending on the real job and the family, but trust that work is always happening and progress is occurring.
I have as much passion for this game as I did when I started and I think some of the best work I’ve ever done is headed your way in this next update. I look forward to sharing it and hearing what you all think.
Talk to you all very soon! Salute!