Keeping Pace

Feb 20

Hello again! Last time around, there was mention of wanting to do more frequent blog posts leading up to the release of First Snow so here’s our monthly(-ish) wrap-up, with another hopefully coming near the end of March.

So, first off are the updates on our FS progress: The initial directing pass of Act 1 has been completed. There are some placeholders being used and some general jank to iron out, but you can read the first third of the VN with some sort of audio+visual backdrop all the way through. We’re a few scenes into Act 2 at the time of writing.

On the art side of things, we mentioned last time that we wanted a few more poses for Eileen given her prominent screen time in FS, so work has begun there as well. A large handful of CGs have had their lineart finalized, with even more (~2-3) planned to be ready before the end of February. BG production has ramped up as well, with an average of 1 being done a week at our current pace.

A small thing about sprites that we’ll be addressing is their temperature relative to their environment. Our initial plan was to use our standard color scheme for our sprites across the board when outdoors (like this from our preview site) but that ended up creating a noticeable contrast between the characters and their backdrop. We’ve been trying to find an easy way to adjust this en masse and found a pleasant solution, so now our sprites will blend in with their environments better:

Keep in mind that we currently only intend to do this in outdoors winter areas or cases where specific indoor bgs warrant it; we’ll be using our traditional color scheme otherwise, due to their relatively neutral lighting.

Okay, now for the big one: due to Mehkanik’s hectic schedule, he’s had to step down from writing Twofold. While this is obviously giant and scary and grim-sounding all around, we managed to establish a plan pretty quickly. Mehkanik will still be helping edit the TF scripts, but All-Maker will now be writing the actual VN. We didn’t want to rely on outside help for this, as we love our core story but didn’t think it would be fair to ask around for help and then ask that they stick to our story.

Thankfully, All-Maker felt the same and offered to step up and work on the writing. An obvious problem in regards to this idea is that he’d be juggling CG duties as well as writing an entire VN, so we’ve established a system where our other artists (Skrats, Twr, Curchack) will be drawing up the base of the CGs, with All-Maker doing the final lining to maintain consistency. So far this has gone great, with CGs going at the same, if not better, pace as before.

As for writing progress, All-Maker has established where he wants to take things and how he plans on doing that, so making some proper outlines is next on the to-do. We’re prioritizing getting the FS CGs out of the way ASAP so All-Maker can fully focus on writing after the fact.

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In the Cold

Jan 31

Hi everyone! We hope the First Snow reveal has gotten people interested and/or excited after our long absence. We want to keep the momentum going this time: while we absolutely can’t make promises, our new goal is to have some sort of status update on either a monthly or bi-monthly basis. Conveniently, it’s been just over a month since the FS reveal, so now seems like an appropriate time to talk about stuff!

The largest thing that needs some discussion is the state of First Snow. When we announced it, FS was given a fairly typical reveal. Mini-site, some basic info and so on. What wasn’t made clear was how much work had actually gone into FS prior to the reveal and how far along it currently is in production, so we wanted to go through that now.

As of a couple of days ago, the script for First Snow has been largely finalized, barring the usual fine tuning. The final draft was well underway by the time of the actual reveal, so it didn’t take too long to tie everything together. As a result of this, the required asset list for the visual novel as a whole is complete.

Base sprites for the entire cast are also entirely done. The bulk of the sprites will also be usable in Twofold, so this is a big deal on that front as well. Some alternative poses are still required, which are currently being worked on. For example, Eileen still only has her default two from Twofold’s demo, so she in particular needs some fleshing out given you’ll be seeing a lot more of her. Past that, good progress all around on the sprite front.

Roughly half of the planned CGs have finished their first lining and waiting on redlines, and a small handful are complete (ie fully colored, ready to ship). Twr and Skrats have been helping with CG composition recently, which should help speed things along. All-Maker will still be doing the final lining on all of them for the sake of consistency.

Backgrounds are a bit tricky - We have a decent number of them done, but we have a lot of them to cover yet. On top of this, we also need to take some pre-existing locations and set them in winter. While not as time consuming, they still require a bit of effort. On top of this, Curchack is still in charge of coloring every asset in the VN so he has lots to do concurrently. It’s difficult to pin down exact numbers to give an overall completion percentage, given the amount of planned variances and so on, but it’s going relatively smoothly. This is one aspect that would be nice to go into more detail about in another post.

Unlike Twofold, we wanted to get a good amount of work done before making our new VN known to the world, and hopefully this post clarifies just how much was done prior to said reveal. We still have a ways to go yet, but hopefully we’ll be getting there sooner rather than later.

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Announcing First Snow

Dec 5th

Every year for Christmas we try to do a blog post with a fairly large amount of content to celebrate the season, and this year isn’t any different in that regard. We’re a bit early this time around (for once!) but today I’m super excited to announce First Snow.

First Snow

First Snow is a new, full-length visual novel we’ve been quietly working on for quite a while now, and its focus is on Eileen and Allison’s relationship and takes place roughly a year before Twofold begins. We wanted to create something without detracting from Twofold’s own development too much, so a side story where we could re-use a lot of the created assets seemed like a perfect fit. To minimize the impact on Twofold, Mehkanik is still working on that script while First Snow was worked on by a second writer, Suriko.

It’s really great to be able to talk about this openly now! We’ve opened a mini site for First Snow, so please check that out here! It includes a better summary of the VN, a small handful of screenshots and a music preview from our new composer, GIJames. Happy early holidays, everyone, and thanks for being so patient with us this past year!

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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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