A Week of Memories part 5: Lessons Learned

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A Week of Memories part 5: Lessons Learned

Postby Aura » Fri Jan 13, 2012 7:17 pm

http://katawashoujo.blogspot.com/2012/0 ... s-all.html

This is why our first VN wasn't a catastrophical pile of suck: A significant part of our ridiculously long development cycle went into learning, experimenting and redoing work on KS over and over until it didn't suck (it still sucks, but within acceptable limits)
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<Suriko> I would do it if it wouldn't be so hard to explain to my parents
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Re: A Week of Memories part 5: Lessons Learned

Postby Aerius » Fri Jan 13, 2012 7:40 pm

Having no strong leadership was a part of the "failsafe" line of thought, plus we worked more comfortably without the necessary bureaucracy that comes along with it.


This is something I find extremely interesting, as my personal experience shows that lack of something like a 'strong leadership' is often a key problem when it comes to organizing people, especially on a project as big and long as KS. So I'm extremely surprised by this statement. Somehow I got the impression that you, Aura, would be the one mainly organizing stuff internally (you never said that literally, it's just that you seem the most... open and communicating member of the team). Reading that it isn't like that leaves me surprised in a way.
That beeing said, giving the writers lots of autonomy and most of the other mentioned stuff is totally understandable to me. Also, I can see how that failsafe way of working actually had to be set for you in this kind of environment (without 'forced' commitment).
Still, it surprises me that a team as big as 4LS worked without a central organisation unit. Leaves me astonished (although obviously there were problems following that. But well, problems occur either way!).
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Re: A Week of Memories part 5: Lessons Learned

Postby Aura » Fri Jan 13, 2012 7:53 pm

The effect of leadership depends heavily on the nature of the project and its members. I'm sure a strong hierarchy suits many projects better, it's just how we ended up doing things because it suited us.

And sure, I did plenty of bossing around and organizing, but so did delta, crud, suriko and moekki. We weren't a complete anarchy or anything, the way things worked in 4LS were ultimately really complex and organic, something that we grew into rather than decided to do.
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Re: A Week of Memories part 5: Lessons Learned

Postby Aerius » Fri Jan 13, 2012 8:01 pm

I think you must be very lucky to have found each other to be able to run smooth and with a - more or less - coherent team over such a long time like this and providing a very high quality result in the end. Admireable, really. And nice to read that it seems to be possible. :)
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Re: A Week of Memories part 5: Lessons Learned

Postby Darkish-One » Fri Jan 13, 2012 8:21 pm

Who didn't learn a lesson from this, from those who been with you guys from the beggining to those who only discovered KS a couple months ago and even the people the just founds out recently. (hopefully they put in time to read some of the history in the blog.) Sure the staff learned the most since you all are the core of the project but we all learned lessons from this experience. Now please let go of my heart strings your tugging a little to hard. D:
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Re: A Week of Memories part 5: Lessons Learned

Postby Synoptic » Fri Jan 13, 2012 8:44 pm

Regarding that leadership thing: I think it would have been really weird(?) to have a hierarchy/leadership over the internet, and for it to work out.
"Leadership over the internet"... that sounds kind of weird/wrong, I don't know. Is that even possible? Sounds like it's prone to failure or something. If not, at least less stable than no hierarchy at all for sure. :D
Anyway...
Aura wrote:The diversity increases the likelihood of any given reader liking at least some part of KS. [...] Of course, the diversity also increases the probability that any given reader won't like all of KS, but there's nothing wrong with that.


How come the only route I like the least is that of my favorite girl? How does that even work? I do not understand! I think I'll start believing in the paranormal and assume I was cursed or something along those lines. Yeah. ;_;
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Re: A Week of Memories part 5: Lessons Learned

Postby imperial.standard » Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:33 pm

One thing that always puzzles and amazes me out of the 4LS team is... how do you guys even ENFORCE the workload to be done? To be honest as someone who had once worked in an internet chain project, what your team has achieved is nothing sort but a near miracle, considering you guys are scattered halfway all around the world. I bet probably most of you did not meet in real life as well!

Of course the dedication of the core team is especially admirable IMO - some of the stress output can be seen in your "other products" such as that "ANSWER" game - I can only imagine what sort of mindset that made you guys even do such a whimsically strange game like that.
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Re: A Week of Memories part 5: Lessons Learned

Postby coldacid » Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:39 pm

With (true, not coerced) volunteer work, nothing is more important that buy-in from the volunteers. They have to believe that what they're doing is the right thing. So it's not a matter of enforcing the workload so much as convincing everyone that it's something they want to do.
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Re: A Week of Memories part 5: Lessons Learned

Postby Ryukrieger » Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:44 pm

imperial.standard wrote:One thing that always puzzles and amazes me out of the 4LS team is... how do you guys even ENFORCE the workload to be done? To be honest as someone who had once worked in an internet chain project, what your team has achieved is nothing sort but a near miracle, considering you guys are scattered halfway all around the world. I bet probably most of you did not meet in real life as well!

Of course the dedication of the core team is especially admirable IMO - some of the stress output can be seen in your "other products" such as that "ANSWER" game - I can only imagine what sort of mindset that made you guys even do such a whimsically strange game like that.

Though I'm not sure if I am right, but I believe not only dedication do they have, they also have passion and the mind for the project, they may not meet in real life, they're scattered all over the world but I think is, they love the projects, they may lost some members, but all who remains do this project with their hearts, they weren't really forced into doing it, because they want to do it.
And like coldacid said, they believe they're doing the right thing.
Although common thinking, I believe that love for the project is stronger than the workload being enforced, I think that's what keep them going. Dedication, love, passion.
But it is just in my mind, if we want answers for that, we'd have to wait until one of the developers tell us why.
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Re: A Week of Memories part 5: Lessons Learned

Postby gekiganwing » Sat Jan 14, 2012 12:51 am

I have seen any number of promising fan projects fall apart. It's kind of amazing that more than a handful of things which fans do together actually reach completion. Especially when people can't or won't charge money for the final product. I'm still surprised that Katawa Shoujo did not become a pay-to-download indie game.

Problems which other groups have encountered include:
* Anger over negative comments
* Anger over the audience's demands and questions
* A hard drive crashed
* A person stopped contributing after being paid
* The main person behind the project became very busy, or had health problems, or had money problems
* The translator decided to only work on projects with the full permission of the original creators
* The translator lost interest in games which fans wanted to be translated

...yes, I've seen specific examples of all of these things. When you're working with fellow fans, Murphy's Law is definitely in full effect.
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Re: A Week of Memories part 5: Lessons Learned

Postby kourousx » Sat Jan 14, 2012 3:21 am

Aura: Every path in KS is primarily planned and written by a different writer. We of course collaborated heavily and helped each other, but that is the basic setup. Doing this gave us a couple of advantages, at a significant cost for overall consistency.
Something we probably should've done was improve our scenario planning before actually writing anything, to bring the stories a little bit closer together than what they ended up being.


I understand what you're saying, but I did not mind this at all. Slick professional vns may have tightly consistent timelines across all paths, but it can seem too contrived. I also enjoyed the fact that choosing Rin had no apparent negative effect on Emi and vice versa. Fate/Stay Night and Yume Miru Kusuri had one writer and consistent timelines across their paths, but I hated the fact that choosing one heroine could damn the others. Salvation or redemption should not be zero-sum games.

If you look at the art in KS, you can fairly easily see it's done by multiple people. The artists were distributed similarly to writers, one per each girl, but they all also collaborated across paths and on single images, and every path has art from each of the artists which sometimes can make the reader do a double take at the style shifts. Production-wise, a more optimal distribution would've been to have one artist do all the design and lineart, one the digital inking and the rest be colourists, with maybe one doing the final effects.


http://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=4896&start=465#p68465
http://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=4896&start=510#p68831

This is what I was really trying to get at with my poorly phrased question.*** Now I understand the process and why it was done this way. You guys did what you had to do. If it's a choice between slickness/consistency and beauty, I'll take the beauty. (Rin's good end managed to be both I think)

*** Thank you for answering this and my other questions in the ask thread. I hope all you and all the devs are getting some enjoyment and value from all the questions and feedback. I'd buy you all a drink, if you lived around NYC.
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Re: A Week of Memories part 5: Lessons Learned

Postby Quitch » Sat Jan 14, 2012 8:27 am

Will there be a blog post on the future? Not of 4LS but rather of each individual within the team. Just a short paragraph from them on what they're going to do with all that free time.
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Re: A Week of Memories part 5: Lessons Learned

Postby Guest » Sat Jan 14, 2012 12:32 pm

Quitch wrote:Will there be a blog post on the future? Not of 4LS but rather of each individual within the team. Just a short paragraph from them on what they're going to do with all that free time.


I second this.
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Re: A Week of Memories part 5: Lessons Learned

Postby Xybaro » Sat Jan 14, 2012 5:27 pm

Quitch wrote:Will there be a blog post on the future? Not of 4LS but rather of each individual within the team. Just a short paragraph from them on what they're going to do with all that free time.


TBH, that kind of thing sounds like it would only give stalkers more fuel for their fire.

But you know, that's just like, my opinion, man.
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Re: A Week of Memories part 5: Lessons Learned

Postby ninjew42 » Mon Feb 20, 2012 2:05 pm

I have a question about how you managed to get cutscenes into the game to fuction properly.
Did you use any particular settings? After playing your game I was eager to give my own hand at making one and nothing I try seems to work short of using an episode of FLCL.
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