Katawa Shoujo, Starswirl Academy, Visual Novels, Bronies, and Facepalms
So a year or so ago I saw there was going to be a visual novel with humanized MLP characters. I didn’t know wtf that was. I saw people comparing it to Katawa Shoujo, so I looked that up. I researched what a visual novel was. I was intrigued, and downloaded KS.
It’s about a guy who discovers he has a life-threatening heart arrythmia, and has to go to a high school for disabled people. He’s bitter and resentful at first, but grows to understand more about it. There’s some adult content, but it’s for the purpose of storytelling, not porn.
It has amazing music, good art (some of the CGs were a bit wonky), great writing, and it’s all done anonymously and free, is about 35 hours (give or take how fast you read), is only about a Gigabyte big, and it runs smoothly on my super-slow laptop. If you haven’t played it, go do it now.
My first route was Hanako- for those who don’t know, she has PTSD from a fire she was in as a child that burned about 40% of skin on her body. The storyline was about not coddling someone out of pity if they didn’t want it. It was really emotional.
My second route was Shizune. She’s deaf & mute, and her father refuses to accept this, believing that she doesn’t respect him enough to speak to him. The storyline was about the future. I think. I didn’t quite get that one. However, it was very well-written.
My third route was Emi. She’s a track star… with prosthetic legs. Which she got after a car crash when she was young. Which killed her father. Which has caused her to not want to get too close to anybody for fear of losing them and suffering more grief. The storyline was about what do do for someone you love if they won’t let you help them. It was sad, but had a bittersweet ending.
My fourth route was Lily. She’s blind, half Scottish half Japanese, and her parents live across the world. Eventually, her parents make her move back home. The main character (and Hanako, who is Lily’s bff) was using her for support because she offered it. But he realizes that he didn’t think about her feelings, so he takes a taxi to the airport, and sprints after her trying to get her to stay. Resulting in him having a heart attack and almost dying. But there was a happy ending. It wasn’t my favorite route.
There’s one more route that I’ve been waiting for. Rin, an artist. Who has no arms due to a birth defect, and paints with her feet. Almost every thread I’ve been on has said that it was the best route. And also the hardest. I wanted to wait to do this one so I could get back into visual novels for when Starswirl Academy eventually came out.
Good news for me, the Starswirl Academy demo came out! It’s almost done! Yeah, exciting!
Bad news for me… I give the SA demo a B-
I like the art, but… Twilight’s character model looks weird (uncanny valley type stuff). Rainbow Dash’s face and writing were too flat. Fluttershy’s bust is too large, which is a trope I’m sick of, and we didn’t even get a line of dialogue from her. Rarity’s crush on the main character is too obvious, and her hair is ridiculous in-game. Applejack got zero interaction with the main character. Derpy’s cameo was too heavily done. Pinkie Pie was speaking in vocabulary too far expanded from her canon persona on the show: however, she has an eidetic memory, so that’s forgiven. And the main character Tom is just a foil to / childhood friend of Twilight. Some of the music was rough and in wonky key signatures (using minor keys and time signatures incorrectly), and obviously done on MIDI controllers. The artwork is obviously incomplete because I only saw one static character model per character, excluding Dash and Pinkie who had two and three respectively, and the backgrounds were sparse.
However. It’s just a demo. I won’t be too harsh.
So, I’m going to play through Rin’s arc over the next few days, and it should be triply more enjoyable since the SA demo was so meh. And that should tide me over until the point where the finished product is available for download.
Now for the second half of this post’s title.
No, it is not a dating simulator. KS and SA are storytelling mediums that just so happen to feature stories about relationships. Dating simulators only have enough plot to provide a setting for two people to have sex. And while there may be sex scenes in KS, they are for the story, and you can disable them (though pieces of plot will be gone).
There will be two versions of SA. A teen version, and a mature version. Some people have incorrectly referred to them as the “SFW and NSFW versions”. The mature version will have adult scenes in it, but that doesn’t net it an NSFW label. It’s not porn. In fact, both versions would have to be NSFW because if your boss catches you playing video games when you’re supposed to be working, well, you’re fired.
Just because SA takes place at a high school, it does not mean it’s a ripoff of KS. In fact, using that logic, KS would be a ripoff of Clannad.
These misunderstandings were on the comments page on Equestria Daily, a brony website.
I want to say a little about that. I know that it seems like all bronies are annoying the life out of everybody across the internet. You know who else are annoying? Homestuckers, Whovians, Pokemon fans, Metalheads, Otakus (Anime fans), and Pewdiepie fans. The annoying ones are by no means the majority in any of these fandoms, however, there are a lot of them. Almost as much as to make someone ignorant of the fandom in general to believe that they are the entire fandom. There are quiet lurkers in every fandom, and they make up a sizable chunk. I consider myself a part of all of these things, even though I haven’t read much Homestuck, watched much Doctor Who, played a Pokemon game since Ruby/Sapphire, I don’t like 75% of metal music, haven’t seen a single episode of Fullmetal Alchemist, Bleach, Code Geass, One Piece, Shingeki no Kyojin, or even Dragon Ball (I HATE Dragon Ball), and I think Pewdiepie has definitely changed his material (most for the worse) to appeal to the lower common denominator of people subscribed to him. So I think I can speak on at least some small behalf of them/us all.
So if you’re seeing this, and you hate any of the fandoms I mentioned, please don’t hate the fandom, just hate the loud obnoxious fans in each fandom.
If you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go fire up Tezuka Rin’s story arc now.
Every time someone mentions that MLP dating game, “Starswirl Academy” or whatever, this is exactly what I want it to be. I want the main character to be dragged off school grounds after their first interaction with any of the characters and you get a sprite of a security guard and the message “STAY OUT OF OUR SCHOOL AND STOP TRYING TO CHAT UP THE LITTLE GIRLS YOU FUCKING CREEP”
We finished doing a reprint of Secret Shipfic Folder just in time for BronyCon! It’ll be available along with the Slice of Starswirl Academy expansion pack at the Lunar Shine booth!
We’ve partnered with a few other vendors as well! When you buy a core deck from any of the following vendors, you’ll get a voucher for a free card* from each of them. That’s six free cards! Lunar Shine will be giving away the Fanfic Author Laura Hartley Start card (or you can instead get a dollar off the Starswirl Expansion, which includes Laura).
Laura and Bonnie’s designs were done a while back by @melodenesa, a fan with some crazy talent. We liked them so much that we asked if we could use them in the main game, but we never got around to doing a sprite for Bonnie. @jonfawkes-art is doing the character sprites for NaNoRenO this year, and he now has to try and merge Melodenesa’s design with @derpiihooves‘s art style. I do not envy him.
My my. Time flies. I’m going to try to post these as often as I can, baring in mind that I’ll have to write these up and work on Starswirl in my free time, and my free time is limited lately.
Since this is a new year, I’ve decided to go work through everything we have and get some sort of concrete grasp of how much more work we have to do. It’s going to be a rather painful process as I’ll have to finally mark some writing as not-relevant anymore. I’ve kinda kept an internal headcount of what’s done and what isn’t, but that doesn’t take into consideration the stuff that we’re no longer using, if that made any sense. (”Oh, Rainbow Dash does X in this story chunk, but that doesn’t line up with the current timeline at all.” Blah blah blah. Story chunk trashed or put aside for recycling elsewhere.)
I’m fairly certain that this will end up giving me a heart attack.