Devlog #16: Answers and Questions

Hello everyone! Welcome to this month’s devlog!

If you just stumbled upon this, I am Adrienne, also known as insertdisc5! I’m the developer, writer, artist, main programmer, etc of the game. The game being In Stars and Time, a timeloop RPG, which is also the next and final game in the START AGAIN series, following START AGAIN: a prologue (available here!).  You can find out more about In Stars and Time here!!! 

LET’S GET TO IT. This month is Q&A: Cohost edition!

“A Q&A again?” Heheh well I don’t have anything to talk about this month ✨ We’re working hard on finalizing the localization! And on porting to consoles! And on secret stuff! You know, the usual!!! Get excited!!! So, Q&A again 💖 And see, I asked questions for Q&As on Twitter. On Tumblr. On Discord. But some new social media platforms have entered the fray. SO.

Welcome to Q&A: Cohost edition. (Follow me on cohost and/or read this post I wrote about why I think cohost is neat teehee) (and follow me on bluesky if you want. I like it way less though. Sorry bluesky)

@ItsMeLilyV asks:

One of the bits of advice that gets tossed around by indie devs is to avoid making RPGs, especially for your first few games, because they tend to be large in scope, difficult to prototype, and easy to underestimate.

Was this ever a fear for you in making START AGAIN, or In Stars and Time? Did you take any special precaution to keep these games within a scope you could handle, and did you learn tricks from START AGAIN that carried over to ISAT when in came to keeping things manageable? Thank you!! ✨

I had no idea that was a piece of advice given, but yep, that makes a lot of sense! Since I didn’t know, I went in blissfully aware, teehee.

I will say that I am familiar with working on big projects from working on comics, and with seeing big webcomic artists always mention to never start with your magnum opus… And I could tell ISAT had the potential to be way bigger than I imagined, which is why I decided to start with creating the prologue to get used to RPGMaker as well as making games. Kind of a pilot of sorts!

Again, thanks to comics, I know to keep my scope pretty small, because even if you keep it small it WILL balloon into something way bigger than you thought. Just for the prologue, I imagined it’d be a 20mn game, and it’s easily a 2-3h one! Keep your scope small!!!

As for tricks, when I catch myself thinking “wow what if I added this cool thing”, I try to always keep in mind those two things: 1. How long will it take to implement (including bug testing), and 2. Does it add something important to the game. I know we always want to add a fishing game, or a fun minigame, but do you Need It. Does it add something substantial to the story, to the Themes. Or are you just adding it because you like fishing games. Which is a valid reason, but also, maybe just make a fishing game instead. You are not the Yakuza series!!!! You are a small indie gamedev!!!! Think about you in 4 months who has to fix all the fishing game bugs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

@stem asks:

how is it to have a piece of art that's basically done (as far as i understand) that you can't share yet? like how do you personally bide the time until it's finally ready to release, or is it not really a challenge to wait? :0c

It’s so weird!!! The game has been done for so long!!! I’m very glad I asked some friends to playtest the game, so I could at least get some feedback before the game is out… In some ways it feels like the game will be done twice: once back when I finished making the game, and once when the game actually comes out. It’s just a very strange experience. Sometimes people tell me they’re excited to find out more about this story beat, or about this character, and a part of me is like… Wait, haven't you played the game? Oh, yeah, it’s not actually out. Guess you’ll find out later.

EDIT: My god. I just checked on my private devlog for when I completed the Alpha of ISAT. It was in August of last year (I lay down on the floor and look at the ceiling) (I still had to finish all the illustrations so really the game was Done Donezo in October but still…)

anon asked:

What role did Armor Games play in creating the final product?

SO MANY THINGS. Here are some of them: support when it comes to porting/marketing/social media/localization, feedback on the game and how to make it better, community guidance, testing support, QA/internal testing… The game couldn’t be the way it is without them.

For more small details, I have a weekly meeting with my producer, Dora! We talk about the game and how everything is going. A couple months back, I also was checking in with the internal QA team fairly often to fix any remaining bugs. They also helped me find ISAT’s additional programmer, Isabella, and she is a godsend because coding is hard. They also take care of communicating with press, finding more opportunities to showcase the game in conventions, talking with the localization/porting teams… I am probably forgetting a thousand little things they did to help out!!! THEY’RE SO GOOD OK

Anon asked:

So obviously the skills/spells/what have you are based off of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Did you design each "type" to be like a certain style? Rock being heavy damage and defense buffs, scissors being speed and quick attacks, like that?

Absolutely! I just went with the obvious. Rock is physical damage, defense focused, Scissors is swords, attack focused, and Paper is magic, mind focused. It was fun to develop a spell system around those! I’m excited for people to find out more about Craft…

@nickshutter asks:

I really loved START AGAIN (streamed it for a small handful of friends) and was super happy to hear about a follow-up! The cast is so much fun and their personalities are really well-balanced—did any of the characters change pretty drastically from their initial conception during development of the game?

I’m so glad you streamed it with friends… I hope you had a good fun time…

And for sure! Isabeau and Mirabelle were pretty set from the get go (himbo and shy wallflower), but Odile started as more of a gentle teacher type, even if I very quickly went the snarky old lady route. Siffrin and Bonnie were harder to pin down– I wasn’t sure how to portray Siffrin’s despair in the prologue, and started showing them more overtly depressed, but I thought it’d be Very Yummy to have them show a happy facade to their friends. And then, for ISAT, I had to figure out what a non-depressed Siffrin would be like, for the first couple acts of the game before the despair sets in. As for Bonnie, I had a lot of trouble figuring out what they’d be like, what kind of kid they were, what their relationship with everyone else would be like, and then I thought about what their past would be like and then their characterization was set in stone. Sometimes you need to figure out One Thing to unlock a character’s brain. I’m very excited for everyone to find out more about each character in ISAT!

@SuperBiasedGary asks:

What games (or other media) lit a fire under you to create your own?

It could be stuff you liked so much it inspired, something you found frustrating because you felt an itch to do it differently, or something that made you realise humans make things and you could be one of them.

I found a lot of indie games inspiring, but I think Umineko might’ve been the one that made me go… Oh, anyone can just make a massive video game narrative. And you can make it very simple, with kinda goofy sprites, and still manage to make an incredibly touching story!

As for frustrating games that lit a fire under me, I think I’d say in general, I found issue with the classic trope of the “main character helps people and doesn’t get anything back”. What often happens in some games is that you help NPCs with their problems, sometimes helping them with very intense, complicated problems! For a very long time! And, in exchange, you get… A cool item? A nice new skill? And that’s it?

I know this might be complicated to implement on a narrative perspective, but I remember playing Persona 5, and your character just went through a very harrowing experience (like, oh, being INTERROGATED AND TORTURED BY THE POLICE) and you help your friends during social links, and they go “thanks for your help! Bye~” like WHAT ABOUT ME. WHAT ABOUT MY PROBLEMS. CAN YOU GIVE ME A HUG

So on a certain level, I wanted a game where instead of the characters around you having problems, the main character also has problems. And is subconsciously screaming “CAN YOU PLEASE NOTICE I HAVE PROBLEMS AND GIVE ME A HUG.” And hopefully, the characters notice. Winks

Hm. I do want to say I wrote most of the prologue/ISAT during the pandemic, and I felt very lonely and not supported. But then guess what. I told my friends about how I felt. And most of them told me they had no idea, and vowed to support me more. And now I’m closer to them. So the moral of this answer is, yeah, it’d be nice if people noticed, but also, you need to tell people when you’re feeling bad. LOOKS AT SIFFRIN

Anon asked:

Is there a song you listen to in order to put yourself in the sasasa/ISAT mindset?

I have a whole playlist baybee. Before you ask: there aren’t any hidden meanings behind those song choices. It’s about the Mood, and also my personal tastes in music I listen to when I need to concentrate. I like songs that go WUB WUB

 In no particular order, here are five random songs I played on repeat when making the prologue:

  • Future Club (Arcade Version) by Perturbator (in bold because this was THE song I listened to on repeat. I believe I gave it to Lindar for inspiration lol)
  • Arcades by C2C
  • Wake Me Up by Para One
  • The First Wish by DROELOE
  • Les Enfants du Paradis by World’s End Girlfriend

And here are five random songs I played on repeat for In Stars and Time:

  • Down by Chloe x Halle
  • Nonsense Bungaku by Eve
  • Non-Breathe Oblige by PinocchioP
  • Gentle Heart by Jamie Paige
  • Ready For The Floor by Hot Chip

It’s interesting, the songs I listened to for the prologue are generally more heavy and frenetic, while the ones for ISAT are more hopeful… I made sure to listen to more lively songs for ISAT, since that’s the feeling I wanted to give off…

That’s all the questions I have! Thank you to everyone that sent in a question!!!

In other, non related ISAT news, I have started a new project and having a lot of fun. It’s a visual novel this time. I’m hoping to get some screenshots ready in the next few months, but also I’m taking it easy on this one. If it takes years with many breaks in between to get it done, it’s fine. What matters to me right now is the process!

That’s all I have to say for today! Let me know if you have any questions, or if there’s any aspect of the game development struggle you’d like me to talk about! See you next time!!!


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it's amazing that you're starting a new project before ISAT is even released! my creative energy has been so sapped for years, and I really admire folks just creating at their own pace for the fun of it - I'll get back into that someday, I hope! so excited for the ISAT release, and I love reading these devlogs :)