It's still May! Barely! Told you I'd get a post out before the end of the month. Here's what NoGooD's been up to.
Our auditions were a great success! We had just over 70 candidates put their names in, and picked a great voice actress from our shortlist! I'm at work putting together a trailer currently which will be the debut showing of Machiko's CV. They recorded about 175 lines in the end for the game's demo, which is perhaps about 15% of the full game's voice acting.
I'm also hard at work getting the demo complete. It's been a grind and thus I've been quieter on social media, but it's coming together slowly and surely and despite delays I expect to have it ready for people to try in June. I recently sat down for an interview with (my friend) Far2Close, who asked me a few questions about Nekodeito and myself, so if you'd like a kind of a sneak preview of the game please check it out!
We've also been making preparations for our crowdfunding campaign, designing goals and rewards. Already I've sent designs off to the printers for keychains (illustrated by critterpunk) and stickers illustrated (by Cheshorv) and we'll get the proofs back next month! There should be a couple of extra physical AND digital rewards available, and some in-game ones too where you'll get to help co-design a scene!
I was able to debut some of our original soundtrack too earlier this month. Our composer Igneus did a great job and there are more tracks to show off in the coming weeks! Please have a listen! That's about all I've got in my pocket for you right now, but please look forward to some new screenshots, the CV trailer and the public game demo before the end of June!
Hey! Just a small update for some big news! Nekodeito has gone through the approval process and now has a page on Steam! You can add the game to your wishlist and shitpost on the community hub all you want!
Don't like Steam? That's cool too! The game will be available 100% DRM-free through on our itch.io as well!
Uh oh! I didn't update the devlog for a while, but there's plenty to talk about! Lots of cool developments I haven't put the time aside to write about in detail here. As always though, you can get smaller updates as they happen via the NoGooD twitter.
The biggest news is we're going to get some voiceover work done for Nekodeito! Public auditions are wrapping up today to find a voice for Machiko. Additionally, we've contracted an experienced casting and voice director in Sandra Molina to help us assess all the submissions and give live direction to the successful candidate! We've already received close to fifty auditions for the role, which is just phenomenal. Thank you to everyone who has submitted (or is submitting in these final hours!) a read of the audition material. I've been very humbled by the number of people that believe in my game so much, and want to be a part of it.
Additionally, we've gotten some visual upgrades! The first few components of our user interface kit by ds-sans have been delivered and slotted into place. These are a h-u-g-e upgrade from the placeholder UI we've been using until now. Beautiful gradients, motifs and patterns have combined into a cohesive look and feel that's unique to the game. ds-sans did our fantastic logo too! It all fits together so beautifully, doesn't it?
Code work is completed on the config menu, including options for different fonts, message window transparency, message speed and auto speed that can all be previewed in menu. No need to shuffle between the menu and the game three or four times until you've got everything right (a problem I'm sure no one except me has).
Lastly, all our backgrounds are done! Rialyn K.V. did incredible work as our background artist, illustrating the game's environments to exacting specifications. It's been wonderful to work with her from start to finish, and watching these pieces come together! I want to do a post all on it's own about everything that went into our background art!! But for now, please look at these samples!
That's not everything that's been going on, but it is the big stuff. I know two months is a long time between updates, but we've got even more coming down the pipeline and fast, so let's try and do an update again next month at least! April and May will be super busy getting voiceover recordings organised, more work on the UI and core functionality, and of course putting together all the scenes for the game demo (!!!) so please look forward to news on all of that!
Hey. Welcome back to the development diary. This will be the third and probably final entry about Machiko's visual design, and I'll be writing specifically about her facial expressions. That might seem like a limited topic at first but it was an aspect of her design that needed a lot of care and attention.
For a start, in Nekodeito the player will spend a lot of their time looking at Machiko. She's the sole love interest of the game, and so it would become a bit stale after a few hours if the character sprite wasn't very active. A visual novel is a hybrid medium that relies upon on-screen stimulation to augment what the player reads in the message box and hears through their speakers. Access to a wide range of facial expression lets us change that expression often, making the experience feel a lot closer to having a real face-to-face conversation. It's worth remembering too, much of our communication as humans is nonverbal. Our expression and our body language factor into our meaning when we talk as much as the words we actually speak.
So with that in mind, suppose we say to ourselves, "okay, four expressions should cover the range of emotion our character will have in the game." And we go to our artist and order those four expressions. Kind of like this:
Great. We have four sprites. But we're still a bit limited in what we can do. We won't realistically go through these specific these emotions in every scene, unless it's a real emotional rollercoaster. If we consider however what is the same and what is different in these four examples. The shape of her head and the general position of all her features don't change a lot, yet each individual part of the face changes, and distinctly at that. We have four sets of eyes here, four mouths, three kinds of eyebrows and two kinds of ears. Multiply those together and we could get 96 possible combinations of features. If I ask an artist to draw me 96 sprites they will probably tell me to go away.
Instead, Machiko's sprite artist chlorophill created an extensive kit of face parts that can be combined together, complete with colour correction layers to account for their different shapes and ensure smooth blending with a miniscule amount of photoshop needed. We can do a lot more than 96 unique sprites with this. We can create hundreds of expressions before we even get into outfit and pose changes.
The flexibility of this method of compositing sprites really shines when it lets us just make subtle changes in expression. Below, between the first and second, all that changes are the eyes. Then between the second and third, we just change the eyebrows and the mouth. Just these three small changes do a great job of demonstrating an emotional progression from one feeling to the next. It's easy to see how a chains of small (and large!) changes in expression can really convey feeling in a scene.
Drawbacks of the system? Well, hundreds of combinations doesn't mean hundreds of good combinations. A lot will look quite silly, but I've been surprised so far just how wide a range of emotion can be conveyed with a well selected kit of parts. Hundreds of combinations also means there's a lot of sprites to be exported from photoshop, multiplied by her outfits and pose modifiers. I don't mind this exactly, and coming updates to our game engine lets us save a lot of duplicates we used to need and thus a lot of file space but it still remains a lot of .png files to organise in the engine.
But we'll talk more about that in the weeks to come when I'll write some articles on programming. Nekodeito has detailed catgirl petting mechanics that deserve their own article, as do some other things like UI design, background art and text delivery. I'm enjoying writing these short articles just as a personal exercise to get my thoughts in order and reflect on progress so far. They're a bit messy, but I hope they're interesting for you too. See you next time.
Welcome back to the devlog. Today I want to talk a bit about a few of Machiko's clothing designs as a continuation of the character design series I started last week. Outfit for Nekodeito were one of the things I had the most fun planning and designing in conjunction with the concept illustrator critterpunk, I think mainly because I got to indulge a lot of my own preferences and tastes in the process.
Last post, I showed off Machiko's "default" outfit, her T-Shirt and Boxers. In reality, these aren't hers at all; they're borrowed from the player character the day she moves in. On the original character sheet she wore a cute pair of panties, but these got paired up with a different outfit in the end. The boxers were better for the story, and were more in line with her personality. When choosing something to wear, she'd like something comfortable and loose above all else, even if it isn't exactly a perfect fit.
The shirt hangs over her shoulder for two reasons. One, because it's sized for a man a foot taller than her, and two, because I had been reading Jahy-Sama at the time. My specification for boring grey boxers turned into much better contrasting red chequered pattern, and what was a graphic of a fishbone on her shirt turned into a parody logo, which I'm kind of a sucker for. Machiko's the kind of girl that unless she had to go out, would probably wear this to bed and not bother changing when she got up the next morning. Plus no one ever dresses up just to be around the house, so something with a carefree feeling like this felt realistic.
However, I still needed something to put her in for outdoor scenes. I couldn't have her going out with the player character just wearing underwear (or could I?) I started thinking of putting her in something like overalls and a T-shirt that fit properly, but those turned into a plain longsleeve sweater, then turned into a ribbed one with the sleeves cut off. It'd probably have to be quite baggy to fit her chest, so I had it tucked in, which in turn tightened it and emphasised her chest. I think the words I sent to my artists to describe to look were "boob tent".
Her shorts originally were speced as some strange, super high waisted K-Pop dancer thing that sat higher than the bellybutton, but became a little more realistic in the outfit designer's interpretation. I had these paired with black thighhighs. Chlorophill sent me an early version of this sprite once it had flat colours for approval. I polled three friends to ask "should the thighhighs have a darker band around them at the top, like 2B fron Nier: Automata?" All three of them said yes, and so I asked and graciously chlorophill granted the request. There is a three to four inch demilitarised zone between the shorts and the top of the thighhighs. I felt this was important for peace, as was just a little bit of the elastic biting into her legs. She has a cute pair of white slip-on shoes you'll never see in the game!
I'd love to write about some of Machiko's other outfits, but I can't spoil everything either, so sadly that will have to do it this week. Next week I might finish the series talking about some of her expressions and personality, or some of the technical side that powers it. Or maybe both. Probably both.
Today I want to look over some of the influences that went into designing Machiko's look for Nekodeito. Why? Because I have no shame about using the devlog to talk about cute anime girls. To start, here's one of Machiko's finished sprites from the game:
How'd we get here? Well as I talked about in the first devlog post, Nekodeito's genesis was hearing my adjutant welcome me back in a mobile game. Machiko's hair takes cues from Mk23 in Girls' Frontline but not a lot else. I liked the bounciness of it and wanted something similar. It was decided early on that fluffiness and pettableness would be core components of her design, and so emphasised this by asking for soft bangs to frame her face.
I wanted to her hair to use natural colours, and so started looking at real life cats. Particularly I looked at the Birman breed, which has creamy-gold hair that then darkens where it's colder on the ears, tail and face to different latte and black coffee shades; like a Siamese but ten times fluffier. This too was integrated into her design, stretching her hair almost to the knees, flaring it out to a great volume, and giving it a gradient that ran to a dark chocolate colour. Icy blue eyes were a natural pairing.
Supposedly in Burma, this breed of cat has a bit of mythology behind it, but I can't find sources in the native language. Regardless this influenced some explanation of how cat girls exist in the story universe, which I'll try and expand upon another day.
I opted for thick, spiky white ear fluff to contrast the dark colour of the ear, like what Yamashiro from Azur Lane has, but this worked better in the character designer critterpunk's chibi style than in did in sprite artist's chlorophill's semi-painted style. It got toned down appropriately for the sprites. The tail kept the puffed out appearance at the tip, which is meant to be slightly evocative of a lion's.
I sent through some measurements with the original character design brief for her height and proportions and so on. As they sketched, the boobs became a bit larger than what I intended, but ultimately I was happy my original specifications were ignored. When the character design was sent to the sprite artist, the boobs once again grew, and were further emphasised by the outfits, but with this too I was pleased.
That just about covers her physical design. Next time I'll go into some of her outfit and clothing designs, and perhaps after that talk about what went into designing her expressions and personality.
Hey, welcome to the devlog for NoGooD. I'm a one man show right now, and I'm making a dating sim with an original catgirl character. I thought it might be interesting to start by talking about how I came to do all this.
On August 30, 2018, I was stuck on an eleven hour train journey with a chest infection and a fever. I was shivering and sweating at the same time and my phone battery had long gone dead. Sleep was pretty impossible with the carriage rocking around so I started having these fevered thoughts and imaginings the whole journey as my head was braced up against the window. Among them were a whole load of ideas for stories, and turning these stories into games of different kinds, because everyone thinks they have a great idea for a game. I got home and stayed in bed for eight days straight, dying.
On the ninth day I felt a bit better so I started writing. I went through phases of writing a couple of hundred words, and then scrapping the idea and moving onto a new one. I was chasing higher concept ideas that would have involved a lot of characters and scenes ultimately have been too expensive to implement well on a limited budget with no experience and no connections. I had a couple of ideas I thought were good but then I reread them the next day and they were terrible. There was a lot of sitting in front of a blank word document. It was all becoming frustrating. I just couldn't come up with something viable.
I then opened up a mobile game, and a character on the homescreen affectionately greets me, calling me her 'darling'.
It was a very comforting feeling. A very simple feeling, but a very warm one, to have someone who's happy to see you no matter what. I went down a gear and wrote about a simpler premise. I started to quite like my script and found I felt good writing a comfy romance. The working title was Nekodeito – Cat Date – because it was a dating sim where you went on dates with a catgirl.
Now it's January and the name has stuck. Nekodeito is a story about sharing simple moments together, bonding, and falling in love. It's about giving your heart to someone and having that affection returned in spades. And I hope that everyone will fall in love when it comes out.