Into the Fold

May 31st

Hellllllo everyone!

It’s been a fairly large amount of time since our last real update. As we expect another long period of time before our next large post, we want to give you a sort of stop-gap until the end of the year or so. Of course, Paper Trail will still have smaller updates and the like, so please keep visiting if you enjoy those!

To start with, writing is probably one of the things we’ve kept under wraps most for the past year: it’s been a mixed bag with a lot of ups and downs in terms of progress and the approaches we’ve taken to it. A large focus for us right now is eliminating a lot of the fat that’s sort of built itself up, so we’ve been working on trimming the size of the script down quite a bit. Along the way things got a little muddy in terms of story direction, so we’re hoping that cleaning everything up will help us get the writing out faster and better. In general, writing progress has been the largest struggle we’ve had to face, but things recently have been lookin’ up and going in the right direction.

After the demo released we said we planned to move to a new engine. It’s still being worked on, but there’s not much to report on publicly for now. Shiz has shown interest in writing some Paper Trail posts about its design though, so if that’s your kinda thing, keep an eye on that front! Alongside its development we’re still internally using Ren’Py for builds and tryouts for the time being, so we’re able to stay productive on all other fronts and don’t stall.

As a side-note, our team has grown a tiny bit over the past year, and new people are doing some really cool stuff. Secret stuff. Can’t talk much about that either yet, but it’s neat.

All in all, the past few months have been sort of large for us, but nothing exciting to talk about publicly… yet. We hope to have something cool to show you around the end of the year but until then, we’ll end this post with some asset work to digest.

First off, since some of you have been asking, here’s a sample from the post-demo OST! We’ve been putting our new addition to work and after some initial adjustment and tuning, we think it matches our style really well.

And secondly, a background for the second half of the VN, which will take place in winter time! We hope to provide a nice comfy atmosphere during key parts of it.

Winter BG

Soo, that’s about it for today. ‘Til next time!

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The Disappearance of Ren'Py

April 1st

Hiya, this is Shiz and I’m here to give an update on the engineering side of things.

Shortly after releasing our demo, we expressed sentiments about wanting to move away from Ren’Py to a custom engine for Twofold. Today I’m happy to announce we’re ready to release it into the open! We’ve decided to port the old demo to the new engine, since we figured it’d be a good test for the engine’s capabilities and performance.

The engine is still under development, so it’s missing some bits of graphical shininess here and there, but thanks to trimming content now made redundant we managed to cut the demo size down by about 200MB! In addition, it allows us to distribute a single release for the game that can run on any platform the engine supports, now or in the future, thanks to an auto-detected pluggable rendering system.

So far, we’ve been very happy about how the engine is progressing, and it has allowed us ease of development we’d never seen using Ren’Py. Porting the demo over was, aside from a few quirks, relatively smooth and saved us from numerous bugs we had encountered previously.

If you’re as excited as we are and wanna give it a whirl, you can download the ported demo here! We’re obviously very curious on how it will perform in the wild, so please feel free to report any bugs or other issues in the comments down below.

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Identity Politics

January 1st

Happy New Year! As promised back on Christmas, today we have a relatively large announcement for you sink your teeth into.

Okay, first off: Work in Progress is now officially called Twofold! Changing the project’s name twice was something we definitely had some concerns with, but in the end decided it was necessary. The last name was never super popular and was hard to search for (“Work in Progress VN” shockingly returned a lot of things completely unrelated to us!). Twofold, we think, is a lot more pleasant and overall represents the story and themes of the VN more than WiP did. We hope you agree!

Secondly: Our website was hella old. Hella hella old. Skinny Mekkis, light tan textboxes in screenshots, outdated pieces of story content and tons of other nightmares. That, thankfully, has been rectified – check out our new site here! The entire thing’s been given a facelift, from the images to the bios and story summary! We’ve also updated all the old screenshots and even threw some new ones in there, so please check out everything!

Applying a fresh coat of paint is always an exciting thing, so we hope you enjoy poking around the new site as much as we enjoyed getting everything ready (well, excluding our crunch-time terror I guess).

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A Fashionably Late Christmas

December 25th

Merry Christmas everyone! Typically we have pretty large updates this time of year, and this time was meant to be no exception.

However, due to some inconvenient planning during the holidays we weren’t quite able to eke out our large update. Instead, we’ll be pushing it out on New Year’s Day instead, and we think it might work better thematically that way regardless. We know that “updates hinting about another update” are typically lame, but we didn’t want to leave you waiting out in the cold today. Here are two quick pictures to tide you over, see you next week!

Snowman

Wrappings

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Work in Progress

Sep 19

Hi hello, it’s been a long while since any kind of significant post so I wanted to get a relatively large status update out of the way. Let’s just go down the list of the usual things as well as popular issues that we’ve seen brought up a few times:

On Radio Silence

As we progress further and further into developing WiP, it becomes increasingly harder to show our actual progress since we want to avoid spoiling events, characters, et cetera. For now, there’s a hard cut-off for things we’re able to show, assigned at scene 30. Since the original demo was already 20 scenes in, there isn’t a lot left we feel comfortable showing, which is why there’s been a minimum amount of new content coming out. It sounds silly and arbitrary but THEMS THE BREAKS.

Second demo?

There are currently no plans to release a second public demo. We got a ton of useful feedback from our first release and we think it gave us a good idea of what people were liking and what we needed to improve on. A second demo feels sort of redundant in that regard since we expect we’d just be getting confirmation about things we already know.

On top of that, we’d end up spending more time going over the beginning scenes, tweaking everything again and while it’s definitely always good to build on and improve your work, if we keep going back to it we’re afraid it may cause some kind of burn out (working on the same 20 scenes over and over can make anything feel like a slog). However, like before the first demo we’ll be releasing private builds to select people so we can get feedback on new things after we get further into development.

Why are you taking so long?

On top of the usual go-tos it’s easy to underestimate the amount of work/quality we’ve committed to filling the VN with.

Using the sprites as an example, we have several expressions, poses, and then pile those on with multiple outfits (some are even planned to have indoor/outdoor variants to remove things like coats, accessories, etc…yikes!) and you have a verrrrrrrrrry long list of things to make. There are also characters like Mekki who has an asymmetrical design which effectively means her sprite count has to more or less double. As a matter of fact, in the demo Mekki had over 130 sprites, and I expect that number to easily triple before we finish.

This kind of work ethic applies to other areas as well, obviously: the way we handle choices in the writing results in scenes that are GIANT due to the number of alternative paths they have. We realize going this route makes the odds of success seem low but we’re fully invested in paying attention to as many small details as possible and that means we have a lot of additional things to make that another VN of a similar size may exclude.

Please be (as) patient (as possible)!

Art Progress

Sprites

Sprites are going on at a mostly consistent pace. While new sprites are coming out, we’ve also taken the opportunity to redraw all of the extremely old sprites present in the demo (the art club sprites were over a year older than all of the writing club sprites, for example) so roughly half of the sprites you’ve seen before have gotten some nice redraws. We’ve also attempted to future-proof new sprites by creating the base sprites for the entire cast now, making future poses, clothes, etc appear more consistent than those seen in the demo.

Likewise, we’ve brought on Skrats as a dedicated redliner since the demo, and he’s been quality checking all of the art assets (sprites as well as CGs) for things like anatomy and the like.

Eileen sprite comparison Allison sprite comparison

CGs

Amazing, great, super. CGs are pretty much completely caught up and the grand majority of the CGs from the demo have been redrawn. We’re well aware that the CGs got the most amount of criticism from before and we’ve worked hard to rectify that. Here’s some before and after comparisons (it’s honestly a little embarrassing to post these…):

Old phone CG New phone CG

Old Allison crash CG New Allison crash CG

Backgrounds

Curchack, our background artist, also colors all of the CGs and sprites to maintain consistency. Since there’s a LOT of sprites and CGs being developed and only a few new backgrounds they’re taking lower priority on the to-do list. They’re still being done, but we’re putting emphasis on other assets for the time being.

Music Progress

We mostly haven’t had the need for new music, so there’s been no new music lately. That being said we’re still looking for more musicians for when we, you know, DO need music. So that was pretty simple. Hit us up if you’re interested!

Writing Progress

Scene Writing

We have one writer who has been dealing with personal issues so it’s admittedly been sluggish. Things are still being produced, just at a slower-than-we’d-like pace due to problems outside our control. However, this is being worked on and up until recently we’ve been fine!

Characters

We’re aware people want to see more of the side characters. Things like bios or short stories are currently low-priority while we work on the actual VN but we’re at least aware of the desire and we’ll see what happens later on when workload lessens. As for character count you can expect to see five-seven (there’s a solid number, just want to leave you some guessing room!) more important characters in the VN that you didn’t see in the demo (this includes the parents you’ve seen thus far however, so the amount of “new” characters is less than that). Outside of the club members we wanted to keep the cast fairly small and have the characters relate to each other in more ways.

Programming Progress

The new engine is continuing to be slowly worked on, with little to actually talk about. In the meantime, scenes 21+ will still be temporarily directed in Ren’Py, the engine used in the demo, to get a basic idea of how they should look as well as be used in the previously mentioned private builds.

There! Hopefully that long list of stuff can help assure you that we’re still workin’ to the best of our ability. If you ever have any questions or concerns please please please join our IRC and hit us up, there’s almost always at least one of us active.

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