[Ciel Devlog #16] Playtesting And Improvement

Hi, this is num, back again with me in Ciel Fledge devlog #16.

During this last few weeks, we have been playtesting the game intensively although the game itself is just around 40% done. I want to make sure that the gameplay element of the game is perfected by getting feedbacks first from many testers, then adapting the gameplay based on those feedbacks. Other element such as story can wait for later.

There are so many tidbits of improvement we have done to improve the game thanks to the playtesters. I can’t detail them all here because most are a minor and quality of live improvement to make player more comfortable playing the game.

This is probably the shortest devlog ever for Ciel Fledge, but before i end this devlog, here’s the newest Ciel Fledge gameplay video, in 90 seconds with all the improvement applied:

Also, for all of you readers who are interested to become playtester for Ciel Fledge, feel free to contact us at our discord server at: https://discord.gg/yvecEAn

[Ciel Devlog #15] Music of Ciel Part 3

(Disclaimer: All of the themes showcased are works in progress)
Hello, Fledglings! Jasmine here with another music update for Ciel.

 

State of the OST

Right now, I am working on finalizing music for our demo. All of the final pieces have been sketched, and minus a few edits, are going through their final comb-over. This includes the battle themes, which this post is about!


Ciel Fledge – Battle Themes

The cool thing about Ciel is the fact that you get to accompany her from her adolescent years to her adult years, including watching her grow academically, physically, and characteristically. These traits tie into the game as different types of battles: Quiz, Score, and Fight.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that each type of fight needed it’s own score – each battle contains a different focus for battle success. Fight battles would obviously be more unruly while quiz battles would most certainly contain a more focused tint. Score battles are heavily timed, so the sense of urgency was a must. Want to stay true to the use of leitmotif’s, I decided to use what I’ll coin the Week Theme (music played when the player and Ciel are going to classes/events on the Ark) as the thematic material for battle themes.

Fight Battle

Early in development, I had decided to take Alfi’s love for Futurepop and incorporate it into the soundtrack somehow. Low and behold, a catalyst, or muse, for the Fight Battle theme:

It’s cute, bouncy and upbeat. It sounds like a 10 year old Ciel, right? I went further, wanting to take the art of sampling and use it for this purpose. I decided to repurpose the week theme and Futurepop-ify it:

Quiz Battle

For quiz battles, I wanted to focus on test taking. Working diligently through a mental obstacle to achieve a goal since, essentially, quiz battles require the player to meet or achieve special requirements.
My first reference came from none other than Akiko Yano:

This studious theme instantly struck me as the perfect reference for the quiz theme. It was bouncy, quick, but held enough empty space, in my opinion, to let thoughts pass through. Imagining music as a picture is a thing I do, haha.
I was able to hit a useable idea on the first try, surprisingly!

Score Battle

Lastly we have the score battle! My thoughts were fast, racing time. The first thought, oddly enough, was:

Weird idea, but I wanted something with a driving motion. Take on me had the right feel, but felt a tad slow. It wasn’t urgent enough. So, I decided to incorporate the intensity of racing time with a slight pep in its step.

That’s all for now! Keep an eye out for the demo release and I hope you look forward to hearing from me again.

[Ciel Devlog #14] Ciel Fledge at Game Prime 2017

The main stage.

 

Last week at 29 – 30 July, we have the opportunity to attend and having a booth to showcase our game in development, Ciel Fledge at a local, long-running gamedev event which now included e-sports tournament for the sake of more visitors and appeals to more mainstream audience.  Nevertheless, we still had a lot of fun there. It was a great event and we were meeting with lots of great people too.

Our booth initial setup

 

Initially I was hesitant to actually attend and set up a booth there considering the type of our game in development and the reality of the local market (Indonesia) here. In the place where f2p mobile games are king and your average “gamers” usually only have an attention span of a fly and want instant gratification the moment they play the game. We are developing a game with somewhat unique genre approach, a visual novel combined with simulation and puzzle element, which obviously will take time to play before it get “fun”. Somewhat a contrast with the mindset of majority of the audience who want instant and quick fun.

With that in mind, the team decided to go for it anyway. We can’t appeal to everyone but for sure, there must be part of the audience who enjoy our kind of game. And we were right.

The booth get swarmed non-stop in 2 days of the event.

 

ciel fledge at game prime 2017
Curious player trying Ciel Fledge.

 

Almost immediately when the event started, people swarmed our booth. Curious on what kind of game Ciel Fledge is. Something we had not anticipated. We thought our booth will be a bit more on the quiet side compared to the others, with people coming just to wind down and play some unknown game just to “sit down” for a while. How wrong we are.

We brought Ciel Fledge alpha build. It will take around 20 minutes minimum to an hour top to play the game. With such long play time expectation, we brought 2 laptops to anticipate it and even added gamepad support to the game so people can play it more comfortably while sitting down. We also kind of “perfected” the in-game tutorial system so we don’t have to explain directly about the game features, system, and whatnots to people when they are playing. You can imagine the queue with such long playtime, some eventually give up and walk away to other booth, but those who waited long to get their turn, did take their time to play the game fully.

 

The time where it got quiet on our booth is a bliss. A chance for us to take a breather before the next swarm of player come to our booth.

 

Cute fan art we received at the event by one of the player.

 

It was a tiring, but fun and interesting 2 days event. We got a lot of feedbacks from the game (but I suspect some are just leaving feedbacks just for the sake to get free keys of our other game, Nusakana). If anything, this event shows that despite the circumstances and reality of game market in Indonesia which lean strongly to f2p mobile games, there are a lot of silent voice that do enjoy “traditional video game” a.k.a the niche market.

Well, I guess that’s about it. Thank you for reading, also special thanks to the people who have came to the event and visited our booth!

If you want to follow development of Ciel Fledge, you can follow us on various social media:

https://www.facebook.com/cielfledge/
https://www.facebook.com/studionamaapa/
https://twitter.com/studionamaapa
https://www.reddit.com/r/cielfledge/

[Ciel Devlog #13] Adding More Conveniences and Gamepad Support

Hi again, wltr3565 here, writing a development blog again for you guys! Regarding our current focus, we’re currently preparing for Ciel Fledge’s another demo. We will showcase it in Game Prime 2017 and you guys can play it there. The event will be held at 29th-30th July 2017, which means it’s 2 weeks to go. Thankfully the progress is coming along and the main system is complete and stable. All we need to focus now is the game’s content! As usual, this devlog will elaborate many things that has been implemented so far.

What do you guys think? Do you guys prefer an energetic Ciel? Or do you guys prefer her cutesy and docile? How about a cold, absent-minded Ciel? We’re currently deciding about how we initially portray Ciel in the story. This one is difficult to pull off.

Companion Select screen to choose Companions for Exploration.

Firstly, let’s see what has been added. We’ve cleaned up the Exploration complete with the Companion Select screen. Yep, you can bring some company with you to Support your Exploration. They have their own schedule, however, so they will need a break after they help you.

Ciel and her cohort trotting along the Grassland.

The companions will help you in many ways. You can ask them to give Active Support by directly attacking your foe, or have them give their Passive Support like decreasing Shuffle recharge time.

Marco’s Support in action.

On the convenience side of things, we’ve added several button helps for some buttons on the screen, like what to press to ask Ciel what to do next. With this, playing the game with a Gamepad will be a breeze.

Buttons and their Gamepad counterparts.

With the button helps implemented, the buttons are now indicated by pictures. It especially applies in the Options. In addition, the Gamepad buttons follow Xbox 360’s buttons, considering this is a PC game.

Using actual button pictures instead of text.

And by request of several people that has played the earlier build of the game, we’ve added some familiar functions for Visual Novel players: Skip and Auto. Skip will fast-forward the cutscenes, while Auto will have the game continue the messages on its own. Therefore, hopefully these will add more to your reading convenience.

Auto mode working in the cutscene.

Several titles has been added for you to choose to be called with. Of course, it will be expandable and even have more after you enter a New Game+! That’s the idea, at least.

Titles currently available.

Last but not least, we’re currently building the Help menu. This will act as the game’s manual, so to speak. All of the info will be available regardless of how far you have progressed in the game. So feel free to browse and refresh your memory about the game.

Still barren, but it will be filled quickly.

One extra note. I’m starting to be active on Twitter. I’ll more or less post updates there almost daily, if not about other stuffs. If you want more updates at a more frequent rate, follow me on Twitter!

https://twitter.com/wltr3565

That’s it for now. Adios!

[Ciel Devlog #12] Music of Ciel Part 2

(Disclaimer: All of the themes showcased are early works in progress)

Hello! It’s Jasmine here with another music devlog update. I initially wanted this blog to be about the battle themes, but realized that in doing so, I would be overlooking an important facet in their development. So, instead of talking about the battle themes, I’ll discuss their influences instead – The House and Week Themes!


(Suna’s eager to learn more!)

In my first music devlog, I went into slight detail about my ideas for the music and how it was to accompany Ciel (and you) on her journey to adulthood. Here’s a quick recap from my first blog regarding that:

“With this being a daughter raising sim, ideas have centered around different styles associating with your daughter’s age range. The first [link], more posh and refined, would be for adulthood, Casiopeia, a more renegade style, for the teen years, and boppy, synth pop for your daughter’s younger years! As she grows, so does the music.”

I’ll do this by going over my influences and inspirations for the child versions of the House and Week Theme!

The House Theme 

Influences

Wanting to stay true to the initial idea, I spent time sifting through my backlog of reference tracks in an attempt to cement a congruent style to use for Ciel. The goal is to create something with an 80s feel, that the player can listen to for extended periods of time without growing bored or aurally overwhelmed. As if instantly, my thoughts fluttered to the “Pakka Pets Original Soundtrack” by Calum Bowen (whose extremely versatile form of writing yields a lot of influence from 80s/90s Japanese Pop), and “Les Aventurs de Tintin” by Taeko Ohnuki from her Copine album.

I modeled the house theme off of those particularly open styles and their use of midi- like instrumentation, while also remembering the sound I can achieve from using real instruments:

(SUCH a fantastic album, LAWD)

Execution

I definitely wanted to give off the vibe of youth and innocence, and my first impression was RECORDERS, and WONKY SOUNDS! In the end, I achieved the result below (on the first try, surprisingly!):

You also get a chance to hear Ciel’s theme (which will change and evolve, genrelistically, as she grows).

The Week Theme

Influences/Execution – Part 1

This theme was a pain to write, primarily because I had a taxing time finding the right style and because I kept pushing forward ideas that were either duds or didn’t resonate with me after I gave them time to rest. I knew for a fact that I wanted the theme to be upbeat and bright, which led me to use this track as a reference:

Leading to this idea:

Although an extremely premature work in progress, it felt way too generic. (Honestly, it brought Alfi back to our RPGMaker days). I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I grew to heavily dislike it. Perhaps it was poor execution on my part, but I felt that I could do better. Who knows, I may try it again!

Influence/Execution – Part 2 and 3

Further research led me to find Noriyuki Makihara’s, whose style I *instinctively* gravitated towards.

It was the style I wanted, without a doubt. My first attempt, influenced by the above track, was:

Close, but no cigar. The crew liked the direction I went, but for me it felt too involved, and others thought it much too slow. I still wanted it to contain that open Pakka Pets/Tintin sound I was fond of, but fuse it with Mr. Makihara. Heavy thumps and constant pulsating will quickly wear the ears thin. Looking through more of Makihara’s youtube discography, I found “No. 1”:

Which led to the current and reigning week theme thus far:

(Fun fact: The melody you hear in the piece above also occurs in the battle themes!)

Right now, ideas have been tossed around for multiple house and week themes. While working on a possible Result Theme, I came up with an idea that was able to be re-purposed as a week theme! It came a lot easier and definitely starts with a more instinctive 80s (and American!) feel:

The soundtrack is slowly taking shape, at least from a child-like perspective! The more I dig and immerse myself, the more excited I become! Things only get more interesting from here on out. Anyway, that’s all from me! I hope you enjoyed my musings.

Until next time.

– Jasmine Cooper