The Development of an Interactive Visual Novel – Overview

Overview of the Developmental Trajectory

Audience Analysis

The audience response to the development of this Digital Artefact over the past few months has been extremely positive, with pretty consistent high view counts and positive interactions via TikToks comment section. Viewers often commented on their excitement of our own Interactive Visual Novel ‘Olive in Love’, that was used as the continuous example, or interest in the behind-the-scenes development and how that influenced their own works.

Interest in our Interactive Visual Novel
Engagement with the educational aspect

Social Utility

“My project will be relevant to my intended audience because it provides a not often seen side of video game development that might encourage others to pursue any interest of their own.”

The above statement is the original Utility taken from this project’s Pitch. Throughout the development of this Digital Artefact, this statement has remained the core goal behind any and all created content. The majority of the TikToks created provided transparency and intrigue into the behind the scenes creation of our Interactive Visual Novel. This was done in the hopes that the audience would find this motivating for their own projects, or at the least educational.

Learning Moments

Throughout this development I not only learnt how to create an Interactive Visual Novel as part of a professional team, but also how to manage a promotional social media and engage with potential online audiences. I also learnt that maintaining a project for a long period of time required constant commitment in order to keep up with audience engagement.

Project Iteration

This project has grown a lot since its beginning. It has managed to garner a relatively strong audience, and has room for continued growth in the future. The core idea for the project didn’t change much throughout its creation, however over time we gained an idea of what accumulated a higher response from the audience and adjusted accordingly.

The Medium is the Message & Framing

The medium of creating TikToks shows that the Digital Artefact is primarily focused on audience engagement, particularly with its younger majority of users. TikTok is home to a lot of up-and-coming artists and projects, which makes it the prime platform to encourage engagement with like-minded people. Viewing this through an industrial frame however, shows that there is also a desire to promote a product alongside its educational intention. By using the focused ‘Olive in Love’ as the example in the TikToks on how to create an Interactive Visual Novel, it creates interest from the audience in our project as well as their own.

Conclusion

This TikTok account will continue to be updated in the future as it has proven to be a success in both our original intended goal, as well as a tool to help us in the creation of our own projects.

To keep updated, follow @chromacatstudios on TikTok

Algorithmic Control and You

“The algorithm used to control, coordinate, and optimize urban traffic.”

Shen, 2012

Through the studying of this module on Algorithmic Control, it has become clear just how readily available our data is. In this blog post I will be discussing how companies use this data in order to target users and curate their feed to their interests, and the dangers this creates with future online security in concepts such as Web 3.0.

Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics is utilised by the collection of data across user based platforms in order to optimise your personal feed in order to promote and regulate the data that is most suited to you. This often includes marketing and sponsoring by third-party companies that have been statistically linked to your interests based on your online interactions.

Web 3.0

“Web 3.0 is the third generation of internet services for websites and applications that will focus on using a machine-based understanding of data to provide a data-driven and Semantic Web. The ultimate goal of Web 3.0 is to create more intelligent, connected and open websites.”

Gillis, 2019

While Web 3.0 is promoted as having increased data security, scalability and privacy, there have been concerns around the opportunity for large amounts of data collection. There are also larger environmental implications involved with the potential production of this iteration, as the idea is largely centred around the use of blockchain technology as well as cryptocurrency.

References

Gillis, Alexander S. “What is Web 3.0? A definition by WhatIs.com.” TechTarget, 2019, https://www.techtarget.com/whatis/definition/Web-30. Accessed 29 May 2022.Shen, Dong, and

Songhang Chen. “Control Algorithm.” ScienceDirect, 2012, https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/computer-science/control-algorithm.

The Internet Paradigm and Collective Intelligence

I have been studying the Internet Paradigm which has been useful for studying our role in the online environment and how it affects our relationships. In this post I will be looking at the idea of Collective Intelligence and how it allows us as a community to further connect with one another, and Memetic Warfare in which the connection of a community can dangerously radicalise them. I will then discuss an idea for a project in which I further analyse how these collective intelligences are formed and how much power we have in the media we are submerged in online.

Collective Intelligence

“At its extreme, [Collective Intelligence] encompasses the whole of human civilization and culture, which constitutes the collective intelligence of our species, passed down imperfectly through books and schools, lectures and demonstrations, or by parents showing children how to sit still, eat, or get dressed in the morning.”

(Mulgan, 2018 p. 1-2)

Collective Intelligence allows the making of media to now be interactive within the online community, with the ability for media creators to communicate with and receive direct feedback from anyone at any time. It has also thrived in the production of trends and increased collective interests, which in turn has increased the marketability of media creation.

While it sounds scary, collective intelligence therefore isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As a society, we thrive in made communities and shared interests, and by having this information readily available we have the enhanced ability to problem solve and empathise with each other.

Memetic Warfare

“Meme warfare now more often refers to using memes as individual weapons of information warfare. It’s a form of disinformation that can be used to secure strategic goals.”

(Ascott, 2022)

Collective intelligence can however present itself dangerously when utilised by a group or community set to do harm. This has most predominantly been shown through the rise of ‘Memetic Warfare’ by the far-right in recent years, who utilise the collective understanding of memes to perpetrate propaganda, hate-speech or misinformation.

Digital Artefact project

For my digital artefact pitch for this module, I decided to take a deep-dive into the algorithmic creation of collective intelligence online. 

To do this I would create new profiles with different characteristics in mind (politics, gender, age, race etc.) and interact with posts relating to these attributes to see how the algorithm categorises me and what content I get pushed towards and exposed to. 

I would thus be documenting this experiment on a weekly blog or vlog format to analyse how much control we really have in what collective intelligence we are aligned towards.

References

Ascott, Tom, and Suzanne Cordeiro. “How memes are becoming the new frontier of information warfare | The Strategist.” ASPI Strategist, 19 February 2020, https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/how-memes-are-becoming-the-new-frontier-of-information-warfare/.

Mulgan, Geoff. Big Mind: How Collective Intelligence Can Change Our World. Princeton University Press, 2018.

The Development of an Interactive Visual Novel – Beta

My project to document the process of creating a choice-based, interactive visual novel has gained a bit of traction since the Pitch. It has since tripled in followers and overall likes, and gained a bit of interest in regards to audience communication in the form of comments.

The project has thus far covered the ideation process, character creation and a bit of art development for the visual novel and will next be covering script writing and the technical aspects such as the involvement of Twine and Ren’Py.

As the project has gained a bit of interest, we will be continuing on the path we are currently on by hopefully posting video content more frequently to keep its current traction.

The project can be found on TikTok under the username @chromacatstudios

What is ‘The Medium is the Message’ and how does it affect how we view one another?

Through the studying of McLuhan’s ‘The Medium is the Message’, I have been able to utilise this tool in the analysis of how the medium of the Internet and Social Media allows us as an audience to critically analyse and assess one’s subconscious values behind the content they promote and produce. I have used the examples of NFTs to illustrate this point, and have then ideated a Digital Artefact which would encourage others to also apply critical thinking when consuming online content.

Relevance to current internet developments

“The personal and social consequences of any medium—that is, of any extension of ourselves—result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology”

(McLuhan, 1964 p. 1)

In other words; with the introduction of new technologies, comes change in the meaning of our personal and social presence within that space, and as such becomes an extension of ourselves.

For example, in regards to the current topic of NFTs, besides their environmental, economic and social harms, the inclusion of them in our online space also provides valuable insight into the psychology of a person’s beliefs and values.

By observing these social changes through the online space, we see that only through the development of the Internet can we more publicly view and announce our own and each others core values; in regards to NFTs, whether one values a public appearance of status and technological investment over the alarming environmental and societal impacts of such participation.

Digital Artefact project

To further analyse this idea of ‘The Medium is the Message’ and how online presence allows us to promote and share our values subconsciously, I have come up with a research project in which one could use to enhance their critical thinking skills in regards to the content they consume on social media.

Ex. Celebrities such as Brie Larson being involved with and promoting NFTs and the Metaverse, and Taylor Swift with the production of a movie based on a book with an incredibly racist author.

What I hope my project accomplishes, is to encourage ones analysis of the content they consume online and recognise through the use of McLuhan’s ideas that with the ease of promotion within the Internet landscape, one is able to more easily dissect a person’s true intentions and values from the seemingly harmless things they promote.

This research project would be best suited to a series of TikToks or video essays as new material reveals itself.

References

McLuhan, M., 1964. Understanding media. New York, Toronto: McGraw-Hill.

The Development of an Interactive Visual Novel

My project is to document the process of creating a choice-based, interactive visual novel with the aim of both encouraging an audience of young people with similar interests in visual novels and/or game development to both play our created visual novel or even be inspired to create their own. The project will be documented on TikTok where I will be monitoring its engagement and taking in feedback to hopefully create a piece of creative work that represents today’s young people. 

The project can be found on TikTok under the username @chromacatstudios

The Emotional Impact of Indie Narrative Games

Contextual Essay

Ideation and Context

For this Digital Artefact, I originally came up with the idea to study the emotional impact of lesser-known indie narrative games on the player. I decided to focus on three of my favourite games (Life is Strange, Gone Home, and Journey) and split the video essays into three topics, one per game. These topics were to be ‘Character’, ‘Story’, and ‘Music’, as I felt that these were the major attributes that contributed to a games narrative.

Methodology

The approach I took to studying these games was decided later in the projects timeline, however I ended up structuring it by studying each games ‘Modality’, ‘Technical Strata’, and ‘Technological Context’.

Analytical Framework

Background Research

“We should just start making games that are about narrative ideas instead of games that are about, say, shooting or jumping or flying or driving.”

Writing Video Games: Can Narrative be as Important as Gameplay

I did a lot of research when writing the scripts for the video essays. I looked into articles about narrative in video games such as the one above, as well took a deep look into developers explanations of their games and why they chose to implement what they did.

Life is Strange Developer Diary
Gone Home Developers Commentary

Response to Feedback

Overall the feedback I got was enormously positive. My biggest criticism however throughout the project was the lack of depth in research, as well as the use of class lecture material. I attempted to rectify this in the Beta post as well as incorporated further class material into my analytical framework with the final DA.

Overall Trajectory

The above is the proposed timeline that was shared with the Beta post. As you can see I successfully followed it through to Week 9, however failed to continue as such due to other responsibilities.

Success and Limitations

The scripts for the video essays took longer than expected to research and write, which resulted in this DA being completed a few days overdue. I also found it challenging to research on a topic I had never researched before but due to the feedback from other classmates, I managed to get ideas and tips and that thoroughly helped in the long run. However, overall I am very proud of the final product.

Resources

Howitt, G. (2014). Writing video games: can narrative be as important as gameplay?. The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/australia-culture-blog/2014/feb/21/writing-video-games-can-narrative-be-as-important-as-gameplay.

IAmSp00n (2012). Journey – Gameplay / Playthrough. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkL94nKSd2M.

Kabraxis (2013). Journey – Meeting A Stranger. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-MTC7p3qRw.

Life is Strange (2015). Life Is Strange Developer Diary – Creating Arcadia Bay. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVkLdxAPPJ0.

lolRenee (2013). Gone Home (Full Playthrough, No Commentary). Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SS5eQmRgBlY.

Marcelus Castle Rain (2014). Gone Home With Developers Commentaries #01. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyhIGSSt31I.

Remo, C. (2013). See You Soon.

Wintory, A. (2012). Nascence.

How Our Understanding of Morality and Ethics can be Challenged through Video Games

What do video games teach us about morality? And how does this affect us in real life?

Thanks to the other half of this assessment Sarah’s Blog.

References for video

Dishonored Sound track: Honor for all

Undertale (Genocide Run, No Commentary) Full Run – Killing Everyone!

Undertale – Full Pacifist Playthrough – No Commentary

Undertale OST: 001 – Once Upon A Time

Undertale: Why Sans might not remember Resets

Can I Get a Comment. Can I Please Get a Comment.

Accompanying my Beta post I was also required to once again comment on three other Beta posts and self-reflect on the effectiveness of these comments.

Beta 1 – Why People Cosplay and What it Costs by paige smith

Summary – This Beta post discusses the culture of cosplay and the reasons behind the spending of so much time and money on them.

Video
Firstly, I want to say I really love the topic for your DA. As someone interested in cosplay I’m keen to keep up with this!
I think you did a very good job in meeting the criteria for the video. You described the changes that you plan to make to the project and took in feedback from your pitch well. You also thoroughly demonstrated how you’ve already engaged with your potential audience on Instagram, and how that engagement relates back to your DA. I also appreciated how you mentioned a video tutorial you’ve already made however I think it would have benefited to have linked that video or shown clips. I also would have liked to have seen examples of the research you mentioned to further clarify the analysis you have already started. But overall the video was of a very high quality and very informative!

Blog
I was expecting to see further elaboration of your analysis in the blog post as it seemed to just reiterate what was already said in the video. I also would suggest maybe adding a timeline trajectory to just cement exactly what you plan on doing with this project and when. I did however find the use of screenshots of responses from your Instagram very effective in portraying audience engagement and research within the community.

http://www.drrobinrosenberg.com/resources/Cosplay-Expressions%20of%20Fandom.pdf
I’ve linked the above resource as it discusses a study on the cost of cosplay as well as the psychological reasons of participating in cosplay which I think could be very useful to your research.

http://ecite.utas.edu.au/85941
I also have linked this source which discusses more the identity aspect of cosplay culture which I believe could be an interesting path in your research.

For this comment I suggested that the author include further depiction and discussion of their prototype as that was a large part of this assessment. I also suggested that they clarified the research they had done as well as display a projected timeline for their future project as this would help the audience be able to clearly engage with the project.

I also linked two articles that discuss more post-structuralist studies on cosplay and its surrounding culture which I believe will be useful in the future analysis of this topic.

Beta 2 – Moral Panics & Violent Video Games by serenasbasicblog

Summary – This Beta post discusses the history and potential future of moral panics caused by the belief of video games causing violence.

Video
I really appreciated the short summary reminder at the start of this video that outlined your DA’s approach. The layout of your video as a PowerPoint was very effective and made the whole video very easy to follow. You also were very thorough in creating and sharing prototypes of your DA through blog posts and you’re one of the first people I’ve seen to do so in such depth so well done! You also engaged quite a lot with your potential audience through Twitter, which was great to see, and I myself saw a lot of these posts throughout the past few weeks. Finally, I want to commend your incorporation of feedback from your pitch and how you plan on incorporating this into the DA before submission. It was very obvious that you took into account the criticism and advice that you have gotten and that you are keen to put it to use! I have very little to fault on this video as it was incredibly clear and to the point, and while you did go a bit over the recommended length, it didn’t seem to drag on or discuss anything I found to be irrelevant.

Blog
Your blog post was also very informative and discussed your previous blog posts in more depth, which I was hoping to see. The explanation of how you found more research for your topic was also great to see as it further showed your process in the creation of this DA. The links to the articles and your previous blog posts also made it very easy to navigate and is incredibly helpful in allowing the audience to find their way to other aspects of your DA that was previously mentioned in your video. One thing I would have liked to have seen however is more of a trajectory in when and where you will be posting future content, as while you did say you would be posting further on social media I think a stricter timeline would help further.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140197103000939
I’ve linked this article which discusses the desensitisation to violence through over-exposure in video games which affects peoples relationship to violence in real life which I believe could be a useful resource in your future research.

Once again for this Beta, I commented on how a projected timeline for their project would have been beneficial to further engage their audience. I also suggested they clarify they future use of social media to clear up any misconceptions.

The resource that I provided will also hopefully help in further analysing the effects of video games regarding violence, yet discusses the role of desensitisation within this topic which is an avenue the author hadn’t seemed to yet consider.

Beta 3 – Project Beta: Where We Are Now by antslife

Summary – This Beta post discusses the role of video games in education, specifically focusing on Minecraft.

Video
The overall quality of your video was very well done. It was interesting to watch and the visuals kept me engaged throughout its entirety. You were also very thorough in describing how you took in previous feedback, especially how you are going to focus on Minecraft in particular as well include analysis from other subjects you are taking which I believe will be very beneficial to your DA. You also discussed how you attempted to engage an audience on Reddit, which while you didn’t gain any feedback from, is a good platform to use and shows your effort. I would have however further attempted to engage an audience on other platforms such as Twitter once you saw that there wasn’t a large amount of participation happening. I also would have liked to have seen potentially more discussion about your blog post prototype in this video as I found myself unsure if you had actually created a prototype until I read your accompanying post.

Blog
Your blog post mainly reiterated what was already covered in the video and so I would have liked to have seen further discussion on research and how you plan to take your analytical approach to the DA. I would have also liked to have seen more about your prototype blog post as mentioned before, however I do appreciate it being linked in this post as it is a very important part of this Beta assessment.

http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/15272/1/187769_5405%20Griffiths%20Publisher.pdf
I have linked the above article which I believe will benefit your research as it discusses the educational value in video games alongside their entertainment value for children.

For this Beta I suggested that the author attempt to further engage with their potential audience as well as further discuss their prototype as as mentioned earlier, it is a large part of this assessment. I also asked for more clarity in their post, as well as further research discussed rather than repeating information in both the video and post.

I linked a source that discussed the educational value of video games while also discussing its entertainment value with children, as I believe these points go hand-in-hand and provide an interesting take for future analysis.

Conclusion

What did you do?
For this assessment I commented on three other Beta posts and gave positive feedback and advice on how to improve in the future production of their DA’s.

What did you learn?

I learnt how to further research topics outside of my own analysis, as well as how to analyse and respond to others work through encouragement and constructive feedback.

What did you get out of the experience?

I enjoyed learning about other people’s plans for their Digital Artefacts and it helped me in how I can look at my own DA and construct feedback for myself.

How did you improve over the previous round of comments?

For this round of comments I tried to include feedback that revolved around the criteria for this assessment specifically as this would provide more helpful in the production of my classmates DA’s in the future.

Narrative Checkpoint

We’re at the halfway point for this Digital Artefact so here are a few updates since my pitch.

SUBJECT TO CHANGE

The biggest pieces of feedback from my pitch would have to have been the lack of research elaborated on within the post, as well as a failure to incorporate enough relevant material from the BCM215 lectures themselves. I hope to rectify that with this post.

Technological Context

“the independent video game is a form of free expression – not limited by the constraints of a major game publisher, or by what market research dictates. Thus, according to this narrative, the developer invests in the product his or her own ‘original’ creative input. In this view, his or her unique vision of game design is brought into the video game, making it a direct expression of personal, individual feelings and thoughts.”

(Ruffino 2012, p. 115)

From the quote above as well as my pitch, you can probably guess that I want to take a humanistic approach in the research of this artefact. The connection that is made between a creator and their game and simultaneously the game and player, is something of high interest to me, especially in regards to indie narrative games as they provide a unique opportunity for developers to incorporate something ‘personal’ into the game that can potentially be explored in a larger way within this context.

Structuralism Vs Post-Structuralism

My DA is interesting in the way that it doesn’t neatly fit into either the Structuralist or Post-Structuralist way of analysing these games.

On the surface my pitch and beta portray a structuralist framework for analysis, as my focus it to analyse these three games based on elements of their structure: their characters, story, and music.
However, beneath this analysis lies another layer of post-structuralism in which I am examining the affect these elements have on the player as well as their reception and connection to the developer.

I want to further investigate the psychological aspects of why these narratives and features have such an important role within the structure of the games themselves.

Follow for Updates

Twitter: @lu_suey
Insta: @lu.suey
Tumblr: @lusuey

References

GAME FOOTAGE

YouTube. (2019). Gone Home – Launch Trailer. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5KJzLsyfBI

YouTube. (2019). Journey Launch Trailer I Coming July 21 I PS4 Exclusive. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mU3nNT4rcFg

YouTube. (2019). Life is Strange – Launch Trailer. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpRhaXfvG_0

STOCK FOOTAGE

YouTube. (2019). Sky Clouds Wind Heaven Weather Atmosphere High – Stock free footage. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wB_pv5WUlZU&list=PLx-qGAzjv13c00FYZMLAJm65WjsT3ZmDR&index=7

RESEARCH

Consalvo, Mia 2003. Zelda 64 and Video Game Fans A Walkthrough of Games, Intertextuality, and Narrative. 
Television & New Media. 4(3) 321–334.

Rose, M. (2013). How indies made an impact on a generation of game consoles. [Blog] Indie Games Plus. Available at: https://indiegamesplus.com/2013/11/how_indies_made_an_impact_on_a.

Ruffino, P. (2012). Narratives of independent production in video game culture. Indie, Eh?, 7(11), p.111

IMAGES

Flaticon. (2019). Twitter free vector icons designed by Freepik. [online] Available at: https://www.flaticon.com/free-icon/twitter_124021.

WordPress Swag Store. (2019). WordPress 3″Round Sticker. [online] Available at: https://mercantile.wordpress.org/product/wordpress-3round-sticker/.