Game Development Day 3

Make a visual novel in 5 days challenge

Game Development Log

Today my goals are to finish plotting the story from beginning to end, to take note on what resources I may need for the visual novel, and to get started on writing it!
Upon reflection, I realise that the story I've planned so far may be too long to fully write in 5 days, so I feel I really need to make sure I condense it down so that only important scenes are held.
I know that the parents' house is the starting base of each day. I could ensure that I write only 10 days worth of in story scenes.
After planning 10 days of in game story, I will look to see if I condense the story. In the back of mind, I think it would be fun to have the story finish in 5 days, just like this challenge.
Today I will also be attending an event and meeting with friends, which means real life will make the challenge a little more difficult! I still feel confident I can make good progress today.

Deciding key story points

The Mother's Fate
Show Spoiler
Lisa ends up being 'absorbed' as food by the out of control plants, but is also kept alive by them, as the plants bind her wounds. She is probably brain dead when Andrew finds her. I need to think about...
- How does he know where to find her?
What about through a voice mail... But it was actually the plants speaking through? So the voice mail will sound very much not like her, with some voice effect in it? To give you a hint? The voice mail will tell him where to go, that Mother wants to see you... Or something like that.
- What is the conclusion for her story?
I think it would be scariest for him to end up having to communicate with the plants. The plants are... Dying perhaps? Or in need of new food. They can no longer process light so easily, and depend on the Mother for feeding. But now the son has arrived... Ahh... New food. Very good. Perhaps the plants then try to attack him?
So it could be a game of escaping from the plants.
- Should I make it so that Andrew could potentially die if you don't choose the right choice? And then you have to go back to beginning? I think that could be fun, as there will be no other life or death scenes... And if its only back to the beginning of that scene, it hopefully won't be too frustrating. It could also be very shocking for the player when they die... I can have a short video clip of vines underneath a game over screen, perhaps?

Clues from the mother
The mother will leave a voice mail each day.
Day 0 - Voice mail 1 - The mother has left the father. She is angry but she gives the address to her hotel.
Day 2 - Voice mail 2 - The mother apologies for leaving so abrupt. She admits she never 'made it to the hotel', they followed me. She says that too many people have become involved in this, needs to find a place away from people. But asks if he can call her, maybe we can ask him to help us? - Its unclear who him is, but will be suggested as a son.
Day 3 - Voice mail 3 - The mother says they found a place that should be suitable, but won't be suitable for your son. Its too dark, no plants will be able to grow. Texted you the location, can you come?
Day 4 - Voice mail 4 - The mother is a little giddy, laughing a little. She explains that she got her foot stuck by a small vine. She left her tools in the car. Can the father come and get her? She knows that he is angry at her, but surely he can forgive her?
Day 5 - Voice mail 5 - "I am... Really... Really stuck now. I'm... Trapped." The mother tries to tell the father that she is sorry, she realises it now, there's nothing that she can do to control it, but she needs his help.
Day 6 - Voice mail 6 - The mother seems defeated. She said she tried to text Andrew a warning, but she can no longer move her hands. She is very tired...
Day 7 - Voice mail 7 - The spooky message.

Other clues that aren't voice messages...
- Andrew goes to the hotel and realises she was never there.
- Andrew could talk to the colleagues at the garden centre, and realise that she stopped showing to work weeks ago. Perhaps they can hint on her concerns... She was going to be fired anyway, because she was throwing some of the plants away.
- The Mum also was not the only one to be recently fired or stop working. Many other staff members have left. Others are complaining about looking after the Moreton Bay Chestnut downstairs.
- Could police say that they found the mother's car somewhere?
Misleading clues...
- The police will suspect the Dad is involved... And asks Andrew if they ever had violent arguments, which they did not.

The Father's Fate
Show Spoiler
So I know that the father will die accidentally by a spriggen.
The father created the spriggen on purpose to create a new child... A replacement for Andrew.
- How did he know how to make a spriggen?
So far I am thinking a trance like state of instinct... Perhaps first playing with the plants... Wondering if it could improve his magic performances.. (Dad is a magician performer) He realises that the plants have various personalities, and also function in different ways... He finds the 'heart', makes a cutting... finds other plants with similar human functions... Perhaps the liver or kidneys could be quite creepy to stumble upon... Finding a plant that specialises in flushing out the bad stuff! He takes a cutting from these things, weaves them together... And behold a spriggen is born!
- Where is the father found?
Somewhere abandoned? Abandoned amusement park? Or perhaps a zoo? Could the father return to the parent's house perhaps?
I like the idea of the father returning to the parents home and having an argument in the study, which is one of the scenes we will come across in the beginning of the story. Could Andrew receive a text saying 'Do you want to meet your brother?'
- How did the father accidentally die?
I know that there is some kind of argument. The spriggen desperately wants to learn. (Maybe I can think about making a note on the spriggen's brain... Some kind of plant that grew rapidly...) The spriggen doesn't want to perform with the father. The father is angry - overheard saying that the spriggen absolutely cannot go to school. No one will understand it, to others, people will think its a monster. The spriggen will never be able to adjust to society, it will always be an outcast. It was simply made to serve the father. You will do as I say.
At the end of argument, perhaps the spriggen will end up accidentally killing the father, but how.
Perhaps accidentally pushed out of the window? Reusing that same window again... Maybe the father grabbed onto the spriggen, but the spriggen pushed him back, and he fell?
I thought of a better idea. The father is stressed, takes out a lighter to light his cigarette. The spriggen panics, and uses its super vine strength (like a Bulbasaur) and accidentally forces the father through the glass window.
The spriggen is very shocked and surprised, they were unaware of their own strength and abilities. (Inspired by TaraFaeBelle)

Clues from the father

This one is a little difficult. What kind of clues can I get to lead up to the father? Especially if he didn't ever need to be found - He turns up back at the study.
I like that Andrew receives a text from the father at the end 'Do you want to see your brother', as that will be very creepy. The player will know that Andrew once had an older brother.
Perhaps the different plants can be the clues...
Heart = Pulsating rose bush
Mutated kidney beans?? People captured in peapods? (AuthorGoddess' idea!)
Moreton Bay Chestnut - Castanospermum as the kidneys? (DragonessNia's idea!) (The pods work by capturing the 'bad stuff' and digesting it)
CCTV footage, plants moving on their own, accessed by the computer.

The Girlfriend's Plot Twist
Show Spoiler
The girlfriend was paid by Andrew's parents to become his girlfriend. It ended up being convenient for her anyway, as she always 'picks the wrong guys', and she likes Andrew. He's cute.
The girlfriend picked up the plant disease in the plant pathology department she worked at, and gave the disease to Andrew's parents. I am not sure if it will be explained directly, I would prefer if this would just be hinted at in the story.

So now I need to work out exactly how Andrew will come across this information!
I know that the player will communicate with the girlfriend mostly through text messages. This will help me on a practical level, because it would mean I wouldn't need to find a voice actor if they were to call instead.
Should I have the girlfriend confess via text messages... Or have Andrew find some kind of documents in the parents house?
What if the plants themselves reveal those documents? Oh goodness.. What if... Andrew goes to the different plants that Robert took cuttings off... When he finds the 'heart' plant, which pulsates and -shiver-, Andrew finds photos of young women hooked on the various vines... Could the heart be some kind of mutated rose? Show Spoiler
And yeah, he sees all of these faces, and thinks, why are there faces of various women here, and then he sees a picture of his girlfriend? He takes the picture, and there is a second page... A resume... And then a third page... The price...

Wrapping up the story

I used an excel spreadsheet to plan the story from beginning to end. What I like to do, is to write very simple sentences. They don't have to be pretty sentences, but I do try to make them as clear as I can, so I can definitely still understand and follow them the next day! I begin with writing the key points, and slowly creating new cells in-between these key points.
Show Spoiler
by Sailing Ocelot

For example, in the spoiler above, you can see the very first notes I made on the story using my excel planning method. Slowly slowly, through the day 3 stream, I expanded on this and created a much more detailed plan. This method was very helpful on reflecting on the story as a whole, and also condensing the story down to 5 in game days. I estimated that it will take me about 11 hours to write. So err... I better start writing now! I also noted down some of the locations and images that will be used in the visual novel, so I can begin to think about what resources I might need.
  Show Spoiler
by Sailing Ocelot

Writing with efficiency

As I began writing, I realised I was making notes on what backgrounds I would need, and what sound effects I would like.
I felt it would be effective to make a list of these resources.
I continued to use 4thewordswhich I personally find to be a great motivational tool for writing, and I made a separate file for resources. I have made the entire visual novel and resource list available to the public. I hope it is helpful to observe for your own game design research!
As I made the resource list, I also realised I wanted to make small title images to name each location such as 'The King's Hotel'. I also would like to ideally make chapter cards for each chapter, such as 'Day 1', 'Day 2', etc.


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