Main Menu & Intro

I’ve made some changes to the main menu screen already. The background colour that I had chosen was supposed to represent an old paper colour, but after placing the screen in the game I felt that it definitely had to be the same as the menu colours I’ve been using throughout. I’ve also added a flashing “press start” icon which prompts the player to bring up the actual menu, which is something that no game is complete without!


When “start” or “enter” on the keyboard is pressed, the menu box appears. I’ve actually used almost an exact clone of the pause menu for this, with a little added transparency to take away the harsh contrast in colour. Obviously, I’ve changed the options to New Game, Load Game or Quit.


I’m not currently sure about the placement of the menu, however at the moment it rests in the dead centre of the screen, and moving it around makes it seem really oddly positioned! If anything, I’ll move it slightly to the right.

If the player selects “quit”, the game will shut itself down. If the player selects “load game”, the most recent save will automatically be loaded . I didn’t really see any reason to give the player the option to load previous saves or from a list of multiple saves, as the game only really takes between 10 and 20 minutes to play. If the player has not yet started the game but selects to load, a default save will be loaded which takes the player to the beginning of the game. If the player selects “new game”, instead of being taken straight into the game like previously, the player will be shown a slideshow of still images which act as the introduction to the game. These have taken me a few days to draw, as they involve higher resolution characters instead of the smaller sprites and tiles. The point of the images is to tell a brief account of the events that occur just before the game begins, hopefully these are fairly self explanatory:

1. Hana leaves the Hanami celebrations


2. Hana goes to the Ryokan


3. Hana goes to bed


I’m not sure how finished these are, but if I change anything much it will be the last slide. The story was originally that the Ryokan’s lucky cat comes to life to tell Hana about the “Hanami crisis” (in cat noises, as cats do…) I wanted to show a cat’s shadow on the floor as the cat approaches the sleeping Hana, but didn’t manage to draw anything that accurately represented this. My other option is to draw another slide where the cat wakes Hana up, but there’s something nicely concise about having three slides! I’ll get some feedback on these and work out how much more information is needed. A lot of the game is open to interpretation as it is!

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にほんごができます


Again, apologies for the offensive way that I try to represent a similarity to kanji… Here I’ve tried to write “Week 15: Nihongo ga dekimasu”, which roughly translates as “I speak Japanese”, which above all else is a lie, although the little bits that I do know have been pretty useful today!

One of the things I realised probably should have been given more attention in the new time plan is a main menu for the game. I realised that before I could really go on to start preparing for physical designs, I had to give the game a real identity, and this is normally seen for the first time in the game’s opening screen/main menu (where there isn’t a physical casing involved!). A while ago I started out planning ideas for the game’s logo, mainly working out typographical layout solutions to combine a simple title with a small hiragana subtitle. So far I’ve been using the typeface Dejavu Sans for pretty much EVERYTHING, from use on this blog and in my devlog videos to in-game typography (although this becomes very distorted with the anti-aliasing off). I picked the font out a while ago for the Pecha Kucha because it was clear and clean, which made it great for the presentation. I felt that it set a neat tone for the game, as I was hoping to avoid creating messy graphics, and it suits contemporary Japanese “Zen minimalism”. So I’ve rolled with the font until now, and I was also planning to use it for the game’s logo, although I did stray a little into wandering what other typefaces would look and feel like…


The one that I felt worked best was probably the first design I made where the hiragana sits on top of the title, although I wasn’t really sure about the placement of any sort of logo or icon like the sakura blossom in the dot of the i.




The other typographical ideas I had were based more on traditional Japanese writing styles. The logo for the Wii game Okami does this very well using traditional black, white and red, where the red is also a representation of the Japanese flag (if only I’d got there first…)


You’ll also notice the little red mark at the end of the text. As far as I’m aware, this is a Japanese Hanko, which is like an official stamp used as a signature in Japan. Where there is handwriting in traditional Japanese texts, you will often see a little red stamp below it to mark who wrote it. The ink used to write was traditionally black, which is why the colour scheme seems so Japanese! I felt as though I should change the Hiragana in my logo to red, and started to experiment with brush-written typefaces to compare the effectiveness in context.


The problem with introducing this style here however is that the rest of the game would be very inconsistent, and I don’t like to use more typefaces than necessary in any one project. I started to like the hand-written look of the title, but decided that I couldn’t really use the same font for the menu’s options without changing fonts throughout the rest of the game. I feel like the hand-painted style typography is more appropriate to the game than the contemporary Dejavu sans, but should be restricted to the main title and not body copy. I found another typeface called Paul’s Kanji which I felt suited the game and had a very hand-written look, so I started to experiment with some new layouts using this font. Without adapting the typeface, the logo started looking more like this:


However, I’ve adapted it slightly for legibility and to keep it simple:


I also tried this font out written vertically, as traditionally Japanese test was often written in columns:


I haven’t managed to find a similar style font for the Japanese Hiragana subtitle here yet, but I may work on drawing over this myself to keep the style going. I will either make it appear in brush strokes or in the style of a Hanko. For in game uses, I’ve created a pixel version of this logo to keep the retro themes running throughout. For the main menu screen, I’ve used a silhouette of one of my Sakura tree designs to emulate a Japanese inked painting and used the vertical style logo at one side. The image below isn’t the finished title screen, but starts to set the basis for the game’s identity which can be applied elsewhere. The spotlight-style circle shape is taken from the still images I have been drawing for the game’s introduction, and I’m planning to use a similar effect where large still images are concerned throughout the game.


When placed in the game, the “main menu” will appear in front of the tree beside the logo, giving the player the options to start, load or quit the game. For the rest of this week I want to finish this and the rest of the game’s introduction slideshow, and from here continue to use the game’s emerging identity for other game elements and physical designs. As the Font River site suggests, I would like to thank Paul for his great work.