You may or may not have picked up on the fact that my amended timeplan jumps from week 15 to week 17. Unfortunately the dates are right, so I haven’t gained any time. It’s all just typos. They told me I would need basic maths to survive in the real world…

Luckily it seems, the deadline for the project is NOT the 9th of May like expected but some time around the 15th, giving me a hugely important extra few days than expected. I won’t write another new timeplan to accommodate for this extra time, instead it will just be an extension of my last week. The plan for this week is to “wrap up any physical designs”. As it happens, the manual is incredibly near completion so I’m going to start work on casing design and potentially some further and more refined character designs that could be classed as “promotional art.” There are just a few minor tweaks that may have to be made before finalising the manual, and I’ll probably wait until the end of the project to make any changes, just in case. Here is the manual as it stands:

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I’ve now started work on a designed version of the original Game Design Document, so I will be revealing this to the world for the first time very soon (like tomorrow.) Other than everything I’ve listed already, I’ve spent a bit of time sitting down and thinking “right, what else does the game need?” I still haven’t finished the ending, so that will be the first and most essential game element to work on. Other than that, here’s a list of some other things I’ve thought of:

1. “Flower Give”
I’ve implemented this flower give system where talking to NPCs places petals in your inventory. So far, I haven’t figured out a way to only place the flower after a “flower give” animation has played, so it actually looks like the character is giving you a petal. This is the least polished part of the game so far, and while it works, it seems to me like a half-assed attempt.

2. “Shadow” NPCs
Hanami is all about a group of people inflicted by a sort of “curse”, however the only other characters in the game at the moment are those who haven’t been affected. I’ve explained this so far as “those who are affected have drifted off to another realm…” or some such excuse, but if I have time I think it would be nice to place semi-transparent silhouette people around the levels, representing the people who have been taken away. They will probably be seen sleeping or standing around saying “help!” or something. If I try this and it makes sense, then I’m putting it in.

3. New Game Plus

I’ve recently finished playing Fez (I went on about this game ALOT at the beginning of the project. It FINALLY came out last weekend) and the game bears some uncanny similarities to Hanami. This was probably my subconscious copying ideas that I thought were good, although I couldn’t have known everything before the game came out! In Fez you must collect a certain amount of cube pieces to complete the game. You can easily finish the game without finding every single collectable item, but once you’ve finished it the first time you can start the game again with all your progress saved from your first playthrough. This is nothing new to the world of gaming. The first “New Game Plus” I encountered was in Chrono Trigger, which came out in 1995. But I thought it would be nice to do something similar at the end of Hanami. You only need 60 blossoms out of a possible 90 to complete the game, so why not let the player go back and try to get the ones they’ve missed? Acquiring all 90 blossoms can result in an alternative ending. I assume Fez does this too, but I wouldn’t know as I haven’t got there yet…

Game Manual Design Development

I’ve started off designing the manual with the front cover, because it seemed like a good place to start. I wanted this to be similar to the opening screen of the game, so I started off by making a higher resolution version of the game’s logo. I tested out various ways that I could make the Hanko stamp in Illustrator, using various line styles and shapes.

Hanko stamps seem to come mainly in either square, circle or oval, although on some sites I’ve found rectangular ones. The problem with using Hiragana instead of the more appropriate Kanji is that it needs some sort of alignment to make sense, otherwise I would rearrange the letters to make a formation that best fit any of these shapes! For this reason, I felt that a rectangle would be best. I tested each shape out with the title, and definitely felt that rectangle suited best.

To accompany the logo, I’ve also been working on a background image for the pages of the manual. This pattern is based on the auspicious cloud patterns I researched earlier for cloud design. I used the pen tool in illustrator to create this outline first:

I’ve then adapted this in Photoshop. I’ve created two variations- one for the cover and a more subtle version to be used on the other pages of the manual. The more subtle variation uses a white version of this outline with a very pale purple background. This is the same colour as the menus and the title screen in the game.

The version I’ve made for the front cover is slightly more elaborate. I’ve used darker colours to closely resemble the game’s title screen, and I’ve merged the line colour with the background colour. I originally planned to place the logo in the first third of the grid, but after a little rearranging and testing I realised it actually had much more impact in the centre. I don’t want to add anything more to the cover now, so it makes sense to sit in the centre of the page.

I’ve started filling in the first few pages of the manual, but haven’t finished any single page yet. The contents page is looking the most finished right now, as there wasn’t much to put in it in the first place! I’m working on little bits like the number tabs on the side of the page which resemble the style of the game’s GUI to keep the document consistent with the game.

One addition I’ve made since I wrote up the original contents is a “travel guide” in the back, which contains a table of Hiragana and a few Japanese phrases that the player can look out for in the game, although not everything will be included. If the player really wanted to, they could use the Hiragana table and run the romaji through a translator to see what comes up. This could turn up some pretty good results. As a test, I ran one of the phrases I’ve used through Google Translate and ended up with this:

I have it under good authority that the phrase I typed, “onaka ga suite imasen”, means “I am not hungry”, although obviously this doesn’t translate well literally!