So, since this post is going to be longer than usual, I'm gonna split it into 3 different updates.
- Fallen Snow Studios. How much snow has fallen already? (Basically some history about how FSS evolved since it's formation)
- Some info about the engine we'll be using. We've kept this "secret" for quite awhile, but now that the demo release is approaching, it seems a good time to present it!
- And finally, the latest news about the demo release. (yes, I know that's what you're REALLY interested in!)
So, 6 months?
Everything started with one little post on the Fan-translation section of Fuwanovel, and I just told myself, "Hey, why not? We'll see how it goes, I guess!". Seeing that I wasn't exactly suited to write the content of the novel without any form of help, I quickly proposed myself to help with the organization and plot.
We started out with a meeting on irc with the people that showed interest in creating a VN. The goal here was to decide the base of the entire project. So basically, we each took turns discussing what we wanted to see in the VN. We were trying to decide the content in the most democratic way possible. Ironically, most of the people that participated in those irc sessions, and helped in deciding the genre and plot of what would soon be called Lucid9, are not part of this team anymore. Only 3 people remained active since the very beginning, (That would be me, Dan, Hooves) and as well Rains and Sean remained on the team without being core members.
We faced a lot of issues very early in the project :
- The writing wasn't bad, but not up to par with what I had envisioned. So I wasn't completely satisfied with the writing quality at the time.
- We didn't have a composer for most of the tracks. Dan could handle all the ambiance OST that had a creepy / suspenseful vibe, but not the rest.
- It was really hard to create a coherent and meaningful plot without everyone wanting to go into a different direction. (Would you believe me if I told you that at some point there were talks about having a loli, yuri heroine? ^^').
- The team was really unstable. We had a lot of people proposing themselves only to disappear soon after. One guy that proposed to become our lead writer went MIA only two weeks after the project started, so we had to go through the long process of replacing him.
- We were lacking people to draw backgrounds.
Even though I knew there were issues, I didn't let them discourage me since I kinda felt it would work out in the end, because if there's one thing that made me fired up about this whole project, it's definitely the female art (handled by the awesome Dizzy!). It was the one thing that definitely made us stand out, and I feel it's probably one of the main reasons why we managed to gather so many talented people; but I'll come to this later. You could say that this train of thought might have been a bit naive (and it probably was), but in the end it did work out. There were a lot of times I had doubts, but Dan was always telling me to believe in our luck, and I never had the chance to prove him wrong so far. (thankfully ^^).
What gave me (and still gives me!) a lot of headache was the management of the writers. As I said earlier, our first lead writer left us very suddenly (actually, only one of the ideas he suggested is remaining in the current story), so I had to find a replacement. I tried to ask the other writers available, but in the end they were either way too busy, didn't have the necessary skills to write, or were too lazy (sometimes being all three at the same time). Anyway, I was really far from finding a good lead writer.
A month and a half after the project started, we decided to recruit another writer, and that's how we came to recruit Mac, who is still one of our writers and is working hard to improve his writing skills!
However, two weeks after Mac's recruitment, I started to feel really doubtful about the motivation of the whole team. Dan and I were the only people trying to drive this project on, and no one else seemed to want work on their own volition. We constantly had to remind them and ask them to do so. (The writers especially. I had a very hard time making each of them write a 5000 word draft for their heroine. I think it even took more than a month for some of them to finish). It was not a good sign for the future, and as you can guess, we cut ties from those people when the workload only began to increase over time. That's when we tried to recruit several people that would act as new "drives" for the project. But among the many people that I contacted and that offered their services to us, a lot of them only joined to disappear without a trace.
Thankfully, with the awesome art, the plot Dan and I worked on, and more generally, the effort we were putting into this project showing we were serious about it, ended up interesting people that became core members of the team.
- The first I have to mention would be David, which we recruited in May. He arrived around the time I began to grow desperate about the overall motivation of the team. His interest and willingness to involve himself in every aspect of the project was a fresh breath of air, and I truth be told, I would have probably have given up on the entire project soon after if he hadn't shown up. He is a skilled writer, and at first, was to be our lead writer, but he took a bit of time to think about the content before actually writing and was more suited in becoming a route writer (which he eventually became after one of the original writers left). He is also one of the few members that knows the majority of the plot and took part in every discussion involving the development of the story.
- All of this led us to recruiting Megan as our lead writer in June. If I had to list the major turning points in FSS history, then Megan's arrival would definitely be one of the most important on the list. Her incredible drive and her endless motivation, coupled with her countless skills (it's simple, there's nothing Megan can't do. N-O-T-H-I-N-G) really made her become one of the most, or probably THE most valuable member on our team. I wouldn't be lying if I said that Megan is probably a perfect writer : speed, quality of writing, productivity when brainstorming... However, I feel that classifying her role solely as a writer really doesn't do justice to everything else she did aside from writing : she helped me a lot with everything Trello related, the new site/blog/forum, and more generally, her involvement and suggestions for anything that might be related to the project. It's simple, with Meg's arrival, the project simply started to evolve on completely different scale.
- I cannot continue without mentioning Greg, who was the first "full-time" composer that decided to join us around the end of July. He's a very skillful pianist, programmer, and a very devoted person. He is also an extremely friendly guy, and I'm happy to be able to work with him! With the music he composed for us, and his interest for the entire project, was a boost of motivation for us all. Eventually, he switched to becoming more of our programmer since Lucid9 will be made on an engine of his own creation (more details about that in Part 2!). He also helped us recruit several other members by word of mouth (mostly artists)!
- I have to give some honorable mentions as well to Wolfie and Sarah that we recruited in August. Wolfie was a composer we decided to recruit to assist in the long list of OSTs, especially with the tracks that Greg had a hard time composing. He probably is one of the most efficient members since he managed to complete an impressive number of OST in a very limited time span, and what's more, with incredible quality! We also recruited Sarah (or Sarah-nee as I like to call her) as our "beta", meaning that she takes care of checking the plot development, character development, and making spot on analyses coupled with interesting advice on how they can be improved; which are always interesting to hear. (She also helps with brainstorming from time to time and is a co-writer as well). What's amazing is that she managed to memorize the enormous amount of info of the characters and plot of Lucid9 in a very short time, even though she has such a tight schedule!
There were a lot of other people that also joined and helped us that I didn't mention, but this post would probably get too lengthy if I had to talk about everyone! Basically, the pace of work of the project accelerated again in August when we finally found all our composers and most of our artists!
And that's how we came to the decision of releasing a day 1 demo in order to set a goal for ourselves, but also to offer you some content to play, six months after it all started! ^^
There are countless anecdotes I've still yet to share, but I don't want this post to drag on further, so maybe I'll keep save those for the one year anniversary of the studio? ^^
Don't worry, Part 2 of the post is in the blocks and will arrive soon!
(And here is a little gift for those who had the courage to read until the end : a Chibi Rui!)