Crème de la Crème - Developer Diary

nonbinary-inclusive
gender-choice

#102

I going to assume that boys and girls in mixed dorms don’t clean themselves in the same place… :smirk:


#103

Is Poise meant to be a fluctuating stat? I noticed some instances where an option would raise a stat but lower Poise.


#104

Yes, both the Demeanor and Skills stats can be increased and decreased, and some choices will change more than one stat.


#105

I think the NB option for Delacroix has some bugs.

Some Screenshots


#106

Thank you for spotting that! I’ll get those corrected tomorrow.


#107

This was posted for three whole days and I hadn’t read it yet!!

As usual I have nothing constructive to add only praise to heap. The most important thing for me in an interactive story is feeling like I connect with the main character. Who I get to be is waaaay more important than what I get to do in the story.

I fell right into this character. When I got to the bit where we choose our character’s gender I was astonished. I already had such a clear image of who I was in this world that I seriously couldn’t believe I hadn’t already made that choice.


#108

As it turned out, nonbinary Max had the same problem, where the nonbinary code for verb agreements was missing. Fixed now!

I’m so glad you enjoyed the teaser and felt connected to your character. Thank you for the kind comments!

Edit: have also updated the stats page to clarify Clique Association.


#109

Looking forward to how this proceeds! I love your writing style and I’m certainly up to beta-test for you again! :slight_smile:


#110

Since I’m new here I have never tried beta testing, and since I’m not very good at English yet I don’t think I will be of much help pointing typos, but continuity issues, bugs, and feedback about the history are things I can give


#111

Anyone who wants to will be able to request access when the official beta testing thread goes up - although fair warning, unless I invent a time machine in the next few months, it’ll be in 2019!


#112

I love the setting, it’s so easily immersive. The beginning does a really good job at establishing our character while keeping things moving - I don’t feel jarred out of the story like with other character customizations. I love that it seems to be character driven full of drama and ~political intrigue~. I think Blaise is the obvious favored choice because they’re a fun challenge and they have the most curious story to unfold. (Also who doesn’t love romancing the “villain”??) Everyone else just seems like your average student, although of course we don’t know what secrets they could be hiding. I think Karson would be my first choice though. Just imagine the scandal…

I’m hoping there are places we can discover outside of the school grounds. Because I want my character to be a total troublemaker. Getting all the punishments and whatnot. Maybe making frequent visits to the nearby town…or graveyard, depending on how dark the secrets get.

I’m excited to see what extra–curriculars there are, I just want to be in the one with all the gossip. And I’m totally expecting there to be a school dance (or whatever boarding schools have) at some point, because it calls for it! Ok I’m just really excited for this one and will be following for updates!


#113

Do you make outlines? If you do, are there any thoughts on what to focus on with regards to each individual plot lines and figuring out how they intersect and interact with other plot lines?


#114

I made a detailed outline as part of the pitch process, which is 17 pages long and ended up going through two revisions before the project was greenlit. Something that was developed during the revisions was making sure that the main plotline leading to the climax crisis was seeded throughout the game, so on a playthrough it feels foreshadowed rather than coming out of nowhere. In one of the chapters, I had planned an extremely branchy section, and it was pointed out that if I continued down that path I could end up with a work overload. That was very useful, as it happens, as there are so many characters that it’s already pretty big!

When I’m planning a chapter, I make a code skeleton based on the plot/character notes from the written outline (that’s what I’ve been doing for most of last week and the beginning of this week). For individual plotlines, I consider when something was last mentioned and how urgent it was/whether it’s time to ramp up tension or stakes. Of course, with interactive work that can change based on player action, so it’s important to track how much the main character knows at any given time.

For this project, there’s a lot of interpersonal content so I think a lot about how much screentime characters have had, and how much of that time is fixed or chosen by the player. So in the teaser, after the intros, there’s some Delacroix screentime that always happens, because towards the end of the chapter, a plot thing happens with Delacroix and I wanted to make sure they had been established for the PC prior to that point. In Chapter 2, there’s a plot point that always happens that particularly involves Max and Hartmann (which can be interacted with in a variety of ways), because they don’t have as much mandatory screentime in Chapter 1.

Some plotlines intersect quite easily - rivalries are a good way of bringing more than one character together to build conflict and set up tricky decisions. Others are more separate from each other more; in this project, each of the dorrmmates has a personal journey, and an opposed stat that tracks where they’re at on it (eg: Hartmann rebelling against convention or doubling down on tradition). Those are quite insular, but I think that works for a fairly internal arc.

Basically, it’s an interesting juggling act - I learned a lot about plotlines doing Blood Money and it’s fun to stretch myself!


#115

Well, I finally got to sit down and properly play the teaser, from beginning to end. I tried very hard not to flash back to my Harry Potter fanfic days – with limited success.

I didn’t go in with much of a plan for what sort of character I was going to build, and ended up with an MC who was not very clever, not very subtle, but with plenty of flair and spirit. The skill and demeanor attributes sometimes meshed nicely, and sometimes worked at cross purposes, which was a bit interesting and a bit frustrating. The urge to minmax is powerful, even if I understand the rationale behind lacrosse being considered a “traditionalist” club activity.

I do wonder if there are any recommended skill/attribute pairings, though… “Intrigue” and “manipulative” seems like a no-brainer, but not one that I’ve tested out just yet.

Most of the characters have caught my attention. The RNG was kind and supplied me with a room full of female and nonbinary pals. I like most of the dormmates and took an immediate interest in Delacroix. The idea that belief in ghosts is progressive is very intriguing! Would love to hear more about that. And of course Miss Dalca captured my imagination, too. There was one other character that I started out largely neutral about, but true to form, eventually started to dislike. Remains to be seen whether I’ll be able to just… aggressively avoid them.

I can see that not all of the characters have romance paths, and that there is at least one strong friendship path with Gonzalez. That’s very promising! I think it could turn out really interesting. I will definitely want to play my first MC as aromantic.


#116

Thank you for playing! Re friendships, although a lot of the characters are romanceable, I’m definitely aiming for a satisfying romantic or aromantic game experience.

I’m intrigued about who you want to avoid! After they’ve been introduced, you can certainly focus your attention on particular characters depending who you feel like interacting with, which should increase replayability as you’ll find out things about other characters that you wouldn’t have before.


#117

Generally speaking, not into characters who are relentlessly nasty to my MC. Not unless I think they can be useful, which does not, for the moment, seem to be the case here.


#118

Highly legit!


#119

The main thing I want is to have lots of options to develop strong friends as much as love interests. Developers spend so much time focusing on including plenty of romance that they might forget to make the characters fun to interact platonically with. Bioware used to be able to do both admirably… used. :roll_eyes:


#120

Having fun friendship content as well as romantic intrigue is definitely something I’m aiming for!


#121

Weekly update: September, Week 1

Week Wordcount: 7385 words
Total Wordcount: 92919 words
Average Playthrough: 20051 words

What I’ve been doing:

-Making a code skeleton for Chapter 4, and testing it. This includes all the stat changes and checks, along with placeholder text that hopefully makes sense to me when I come to write. The skeleton is about 9300 words long.

Skeleton code sample, mild Chapter 4 spoilers
Max is all "are you looking forward to going home?"
*choice
	#Yeah, it'll be great
		*goto trainleave
	#Yeah, it'll be a break from here
		*label trainleave
		*gosub holidaygoodbye
		And here are Mum and Dad!
		*goto homeholiday
	#Actually, I'm staying here, and I'm looking forward to it
		*goto schoolstay
	#Actually, I'm staying here, though it'll be a bit of a bummer
		*label schoolstay
		*set parentshappy %-secondary_hi_change
		What?! But why are you staying?

teaser%20week%20sept%201

-Balancing stats and test difficulty levels coming into Chapter 5. In Blood Money, I did this a bit at the beginning but it fell off and when QA testing happened, I ended up with a lot of extremely difficult or impossible stat checks in the late game. I’m hoping that this front-loaded effort will save work in the long run. There were a few outliers - Wit skewed lower than the other Skills, and Max’s relationship levels skewed higher than any of the other characters, so I adjusted them. At this stage, the Skill stats are starting to get higher generally, so for Chapter 5 I’m going to be adding more bonuses for high stats.

I’ll probably make a thread at some point about how I do this, but in the meantime here’s a sneak peek at what my desktop looked like on numbers day.

PERCENTAGES EVERYWHERE

-Writing Chapter 4.

Mild Chapter 4 spoilers, with excerpt

I’ve made several “emergency” situations that trigger if your Virtue, Grades, or Popularity are low enough. Here’s a snippet from one of them:

teaser%20week%20sept%201d

Finally, I’ve made a start on the bulk of the main chapter plot. And as for that… the chapter’s called The Winter Ball, so make of that what you will!

Edited to add: the September teaser poll has now closed - thank you for voting! The interactive short story will be posted at the end of September, and will be about Blaise Marechal. Watch this space!