What's in the Box?

Mar 29

Hello again! As promised, this is The Big Textbox Post. The skeleton of this overhaul has been done for quite a long time and I’ve been really itching to talk about it, so I hope everyone is fine with me rambling a bit! As should always be the case when we present anything, keep in mind that things are subject to change as development goes on, but otherwise…

So, the textbox has been completely redone, and now looks like this:

Autumn textbox

The goal was to drive the paper-y aesthetic even further forward with the presentation, while also allowing more versatility with direction. Like with First Snow, you’ll be able to swap between Fall and Winter themes if you have a preference. Each theme has its own unique background pattern during narration on top of the usual color changes!

Autumn AND winter textbox

The big change, however, comes when a character speaks. Rather than a simple colored name, we’ve given each character a tailor-made pattern that runs alongside the edges of the textbox. These patterns should make recognizing the speaker even easier, and this also solves a problem with First Snow’s textbox, in that some character nametags got sorta lost in some backgrounds.

Olive textbox

Due to the layering of the UI, the speech tail is also adaptive rather than baked into the images. This means it’ll be able to 1:1 follow characters in real-time rather than just guestimating their positions. This last part’s a big deal: First Snow had a variety of customization options to account for accessibility and personal preference. This textbox is relatively static and doesn’t offer the flexibility of First Snow’s. So naturally our solution was to make a second textbox.

WE NEED TO GO WIDER

We’re calling this the “simple” option. While the base textbox is designed for aesthetics, we also wanted the simple textbox to also look visually appealing while also being streamlined enough to allow for customization. On top of the options present in First Snow, we plan to add an opacity slider for the simple textbox, and naturally the Fall/Winter variants will be available for it as well.

With all of these options available, we believe you’ll be able to fully customize the UI In Twofold to fit your exact tastes and needs. See you next time!

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Re-revealing Twofold

Mar 27

Hi everyone! It’s been a long time coming, but today’s the day we finally “re-reveal” Twofold to the world. Some of this information has been shown on our Twitter already, but please let us throw everything here again so we can talk things through thoroughly!

A New Protagonist

First Snow was the story of Allison Merlo and her budding relationship with Eileen Turner. In Twofold, you’ll be reading through the perspective of a brand new character not seen in First Snow: Olive Penn.

Introducing Olive, our new protagonist

Olive is a student struggling to keep their grades afloat as they attempt to juggle both their school and work lives. In an attempt to salvage their GPA, Olive seeks aid from either an on-campus writing or art club. For those who have followed Twofold prior to First Snow’s announcement, you’ll recognize that the character is different to the protagonist we had established previously. We hope you’ll react warmly to Olive!

New and Returning Characters

In Twofold, Caprice and Millie will serve larger roles than they had in First Snow, acting as the primary foils for Olive. Hayley will serve a substantial role in the story as well, acting as a bridge between Olive and Caprice/Millie. Other familiar faces will be present, including the entirety of the art club.

On top of that, you can be expected to be introduced to the writing club proper, who have a very different dynamic than the art club and we hope people find interesting. More characters will be featured in the story, but our focus for now is on the clubs.

Choices

While First Snow was entirely a linear experience, we’ll be adding choices In Twofold. We don’t plan to have multiple endings—both Caprice and Millie have only one beginning and end each—but our choices will rather put an emphasis on building friendships with the various club members. Hanging out with certain club members will allow you to advance their own personal storylines and get insight on their perspectives about their respective club leaders and the conflict the two have found themselves in. Whether you’re interested in a new writing club member or just want to catch up with Allison, there should be a few reasons to go back and re-read Twofold.

A Step Forward

When First Snow was originally pitched, it was more or less designed to be an expansion pack for Twofold, using assets that would then be directly ported into Twofold. After First Snow wrapped however, a common sentiment the team felt is that we wanted Twofold to feel more like a sequel than a direct continuation, so we’re making a few upgrades to hopefully help Twofold feel like a fresh experience.

First, the VN will now be displayed in 2560x1440 with varying options to scale! First Snow was built on a very old foundation and bumping the resolution up was an immediate priority. Our sprites were already drawn larger than what you saw in First Snow, so porting those over isn’t proving to be difficult. We also have systems in place for the backgrounds, so we’re confident we’ll be able to handle this successfully.

Another large visual change we’ll be making is with the textbox. There’s actually a LOT to say about the new Twofold iteration, enough to fill up a second blog post. So… expect a second blog post in a couple days. For now though, here’s a baseline screenshot.

Our refreshed UI

An Expanded OST

This seems obvious, but naturally Twofold will include new songs. It’ll also be re-using a lot of tracks from First Snow though, and as such we’ve done a tiny bit of rebranding: the First Snow OST is now labeled “Sounds of Winter” whereas the new tracklist from Twofold will be called “Sounds of Autumn” and together they’ll form one unified OST for both games.

Voice Acting

Following in the footsteps of the post-credits scene in First Snow, we’ve been working with Studio Coattails to prepare voice acting for Twofold. Like the planned VA patch for First Snow, Twofold will be using partial voice acting for moments that are directed using sprites (re-usable phrases and the like) while CGs are aimed to be fully voiced. Plans are always subject to change, but this is our current goal right now!

Week One

Our current development priority is the creation of a demo, which features the first seven days of Twofold as Olive gets acquainted with the two clubs. To set expectations, this should be about as long as an act from First Snow.

The Website Is Live!

After a bit of a wait, the website is now live. You’ll find some new art, character bios, and even a new music track!

On top of that, we’ve thrown in a few desktop wallpapers featuring the character patterns from the new UI. We’ll be periodically updating the website with screenshots and the like, so keep an eye out!

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First Snow released

Aug 19

A cold wind blows. First Snow is now available for download.

Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1259430/First_Snow/
Itch.io: https://salty-salty-studios.itch.io/first-snow
Direct DL: https://firstsnow.salty-salty-studios.com

There’s a lot to say, but it’s difficult to find the words.
Thank you to everyone who helped make this happen, whether you were here at the starting line all those years ago,
or jumped in near the very end to help give it the final push it needed.
Thank you to the blog and Twitter lurkers who continued to believe in us for all this time even when we may not have deserved it.
Thank you to all those who offered kind words and encouragement as the release crept closer and closer.

Please enjoy First Snow!

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Counting Days

Jul 27

Hi there, long time no see! While our Twitter has been active lately (and we highly suggest following it!), our blog has been relatively quiet while we’ve been working on First Snow. We figured now’s as good a time as any to give you an update though, so here it goes!

After a long road, we are thrilled to finally be able to say that First Snow will be available on Steam, Itch.io and direct download for free on August 19th, 2020! We’d greatly appreciate it if you could add it to your wishlist from the First Snow store page! This is so exciting for us, and it’s been a long time coming, too. We hope that you’re looking forward to experiencing Allison and Eileen’s story soon.

Bundle up, Winter’s coming early this year. Only a few weeks to go.

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Unfolding Big News

Feb 29

Hi everyone! Sorry it’s been so long, both here as well as on Twitter. Things have just been extraordinarily busy and we’ve been working away until we could finalize some exciting developments with you all! While things are still definitely busy though, we do have something to say finally, and we hope it’ll make up for the silence:

Beta Testing Begins

We’re finally here in the home stretch! We’ve started an internal beta (taking note of what we have yet to implement, throwing in a couple mandatory things that are on the cusp of completion, documenting known issues, etc) and will be sending downloads out to some external people in the coming days.

We still have a few things that need doing (coloring cgs for example, in the beta a lot of them are just the lineart) and filling in some placeholders, but the VN as a whole is fully directed and readable from front to back. We’ll be taking the beta period to wrap up those loose ends as well as implement feedback we get. We’re almost there, please just wait warmly a little longer!

Believe it or not, that’s not all! We are VERY EXCITED to announce that First Snow will be published by Studio Élan’s new Bellhouse publishing wing! Their work on projects like Highway Blossoms and Heart of the Woods is some next level stuff and the Élan devs have been great friends for a long time, so we’re extremely happy to have some help from them to push FS out the door.

Don’t worry though, First Snow still is and will be a free visual novel. This includes the (drumroll) Steam release! More details (including the actual Steam page) will be doled out as we get closer to release, so please keep checking up on our Twitter so you can stay in the know on stuff like that.

Bellhouse logo

Oh yeah, one more thing: we’ve been pretty careful about announcing characters, and up til today hadn’t even confirmed Caprice was going to show up. Well, act surprised, cuz here she is! On top of the preview in the above image, here’s a sprite sample. Like Allison, her hair is a little different from her Twofold design.

Caprice sprite 1 Caprice sprite 2

Okay, THAT’S everything we have for you for now. See you again real soon.

UPDATE: The Steam page is now live, CLICK HERE to check it out!

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