2016 review & 2017 plans

Happy holidays to all of our fans! As in previous years, I’m looking back to all of our activities in order to close a new chapter and move forward.

2016, play with the big boys…

banner_storenvy2016 is a special year for us because it’s our first year as a full-fledged visual novel creating company, which implies some changes. Overall, we had to integrate quite a few formalities (the joy of doing paperwork) and it wasn’t always that easy!
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Announcement: Khzi and the Cursed Stone

I stayed silent since the last article and I’m sorry for that. It has to be said that Chronotopia got funded on Kickstarter shortly before the deadline and the team really needed some rest after so many emotions! And let’s not forget making a battle plan.

But today, we’re going to talk about something completely different. Indeed, it’s been about a year since the release of Milk Episode 5 and also about a year since we announced we would make a remake of this old episodic series to adapt it to our current standards (professional). So it’s high time we review the situation!


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The online store opens its doors

As you can notice, the devblog received a new design in order to be in the colours of Chronotopia! Needless to say I’m rather satisfied: I’ve been secretely hoping to get rid of the orange and old Milk banner for ages. If you haven’t read the presentation about Chronotopia, you can still fix that mistake. Anyway!

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2015 review & 2016 plans

Happy holidays to all of our readers! To end 2015 on a high note, here’s a review of everything that happened this year, as well as our plans for the upcoming year.


One of the drawings Orties made for our artbook :3

If you remember correctly, 2014 was a crazy year: we released no less than four games, made goodies, including remakes of our oldest games, ran a booth at Japan Expo and completely renewed the devblog (by adding a website). I promised myself to slow down a bit to avoid exploding. Was 2015 calmer?

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The future of Milk~La légende des étoiles

As I promised last time, here’s a more detailed article to explain what will happen to Milk. In fact, Milk~La légende des étoiles is quite a special case: since we’re talking about an incomplete episodic game, it’s inevitably stuck between our hobbyist period and the upcoming commercial period.

We could have carried on without change but, as I explained in the last post, it’s precisely because it’s now impossible that the Träumendes Mädchen team decided to become pro. Following that logic, the only way for us to keep making Milk would be to make it commercial. Which is problematic insofar as, considering we gained experience since our first steps, the quality gap between Episodes is huge, especially with visuals. We cannot sell a visual novel with mixed assets like that. Especially because ties have been severed with several former teammembers and it’d be tasteless to sell their work without their permission.

There’s no two ways about it: we’re going to remake Milk in order to adapt the game to our current standards. So the graphics will be harmonized and I will take that chance to rewrite some parts of the script. Up until now, I hadn’t touch anything, even though the story had been finished back in 2011, which is quite extraordinary, but I’m not satisfied with the way I did Episode 1 and what should have been Episode 6. The timing is perfect to review my work based on your feedbacks (I’m still looking for those BTW). I also want to offer additional scenes inside Khzi’s story (that I’m only slightly going to change) to develop the mercenaries, especially those have less “screen time”. Presentation will stay rather linear but the result should look a bit more dynamic. Most of the teammembers who worked on the first version will come back for the remake and Laniessa will become the main artist!

Milk Remake Teaser

Here’s what the new sprites should like. Looks better, right?

However, the workload being astronomical, the development of Milk’s remake would have to get unfolded across several year, in the “background” of Chronotopia, our commercial project. Unfortunately, there won’t be another Episode until a while, that’s why I really wanted to reduce the waiting time by finishing Khzi’s story. For the same reason, news about our progress are going to become scarce. And, commercial game oblige, the new version will only be available to a limited sample of testers for as long as the common route isn’t complete. If you wish to be part of that sample, it’s simple: you’ll either have to become one of my patrons (insofar as I give early access to my games to them starting from a certain amount), or to send me a mail through the team’s address asking me to be added. In that case, I’d simply ask you to give me your opinion on the game (since I’m looking for feedbacks) so that I can improve Milk as much as possible. The first version will stay online for a while and I’ll publicly announce its removal once the remake would have reached a satisfying state. So you still have the time to make the most of it!

Little Khzi In-game

Random screenshot to show the different sizes that can be used.

There we go, good and less god news: on one hand, you’ll have to be patient, but on the other hand Milk will come back all clean and beautiful! It might sound a bit masochistic to sign for another long period of development but, at the same time, we already proved we could handle that kind of things and I think it’s worth it. In any case, I hope you’ll like the change =).

Milk Episode 5 Release!

EP5Roundly six months after the release of Episode 4, we’re back with the next part of Milk~La légende des étoiles. I have to say I’m pleased by the fact that we managed to be ponctual (two episodes per year). After all, we don’t want you to wait too much ;). As usual, the download link is available on the game’s page and the new version includes, of course, plenty of improvements !

It’s the end of Khzi’s journey. The albino and her companions have to defeat the High Priest once and for all, but an ominous feeling is telling them that things won’t end as nicely as they want.

Combat finalAs the synopsis is giving away, this Episode will be the end of Khzi’s adventures. If you’ve stopped at some point, it’s the perfect moment to start up reading again (plus you’re served right with that amount of reading)! Anyway, enjoy the story, because Episode 6 won’t be available before a while.

Indeed, the team is now going to take a new form and it’s necessarily going to have consequences on Milk developement. More details to come in the big announcement I’m planning on the subject. I’m counting on you to read it when it’ll be available because it’s something important to me.

This is Halloween, this is Halloween

Hello everybody. It’s been strangely cold here since the end of summer, so much that I ended up sick, hence the interval between the Android release of HVNCML and the Android release of Garden of Oblivion. As announced last time, the latter is now available in English AND French for free, valid for all types of OS!

As for Milk, the release is just around the corner! We only have 2 CGs missing, the last bit of the translation and some tweaks for Episode 5 to be complete. So I’m pretty confident when counting on publishing the game by the end of the month. It should be noted that this would be the last until a very long time. I’ll explain everything in details later but there are big change lying ahead…

Other than that, I have good news. Along with Roganis, we expect to release the OST from Between Heaven and Hell (so Garden of Oblivion + Wounded by Words) around Halloween and I’m also thinking about possibly making another giveaway soon ~

So, as always, follow us on social networks to be the first one informed o/

Summer is over

There we are, start of the school year again! It’s time to review the situation. Concerning developement of Milk Episode 5, I’m rather satisfied insofar as I usually have troubles progressing during the summer time. Yet, this time, we managed to finish all the backgrounds, thanks to Kinect and Orties speed, and we started the rest, which isn’t half bad. I hope I’ll be able to release this Episode in the following weeks, let’s cross fingers!

Fog animation, Milk Episode 5

Having given it much thought, I decided to swap distribution service by putting all the projects of the Short Story Compilation on itchio, that turned out to be way more practical than Gumroad, hence the big move this weekend. Concretely, it doesn’t make much of a change for you but I think the reslt will be more pleasant  (no more confusion with Pay what you want).

Torture chamber background, Milk Episode 5

Speaking of our short projects, I also have a good news : every week starting from now, we’ll be releasing Android versions of our games and they wil be available on Google Play. That way, wherever you are, you will be able to read a visual novel on your phone or tablet in no time! We’ll be starting with the latest version of Being Beauteous, that includes a Spanish and Japanese translation (this version is already available on itchio BTW), and finish with Garden of Oblivion in English and French.Nothing has been decided for Wounded by Words yet insofar as it’s our most recent project: indeed, I’d like to keep some exclusive content for the physical version owners. So, we’ll see later…

Language selection menu: there’s gonna be no shortage of choices!

Meanwhile, I wish a great start of the school year to you all!

My experience as a marginalized dev: trying not to self-censor

Recently, Heiden, another game developper, asked me on Twitter if I could write about where I’m taking my inspiration from and what my motivations are. It’s a bit complicated in my case but the question is interesting enough for me to try to answer!

Inspiration: a joyful patchwork

First of all, depending of the projects, I can tap into extremely diverse source, often seemingly incompatible: classic literature classique, fairy tales, cartoons, comics, movies, videogames, anime, visual novel, mythology, etc. I’ve already mentionned some of them but here’s a more exhaustive list.

For Being Beauteous, I based the story on Disney version, especially the love song part, thinking up how the romance between the protagonists coul work without its main catalyst. Also, what’s after the usual “happy end”, how their relation can grow, what happens when they’re becoming old. I mostly applied my way of thinking to a version I didn’t particularly like. To be honest, BB is at least my 2nd or 3rd Cinderella rewriting. The other big idea I have in mind for years now implies a narcoleptic Cinderella. Also, BB is mainly born at  a time where I was discovering those kind of feelings: you can hardly pull more romantic from me and the result is still bittersweet =’).

Jaquette AmbreAmbre is my short project with the most diverse influences: as mentionned in my post-mortem, I drew a bit on World War Z by Max Brooks (the little girl who survived the zombie apocalypse chapter), the song Moment 4 Life by Nicki Minaj that illustrated the Cinderella symdrom perfectly, but also in a  news item novelized by a french lawyer.

Strangely enough, I took inspiration from a romantic comedy film I only knew because of posters on the walls of stations back when I had to take the train in 2012. It tells the story of a happy couple wrecked when the woman suddenly lose her memory in an accident, only knowing what happened before meeting her husband. And I simply asked myself what would happen if my partner had to face the same problem. Since I’ve seen a lot in my life, the answer varied depending of the memory loss and my attitude was radically different. For examle, at some point in my life, I was obsessed by being normal and I tried to kill who I was to fulfill the expectations people had for me. I suffered a lot because of those attempts and it left a mark on who I became. During that dark phase, I especially tried to find bearings and ended up copying popular media (TV, cinema, radio, magazine for women) in order to know how to behave. Looking back, the result was totally ridiculous and clumsy but I was really, genuinely, trying to match what people wanted me to be. I don’t wish anybody to experience that… Hence, Ambre can be considered a fiction of what I could have become if I didn’t cracked under the pressure and decided to follow my own path.

Inspired by real facts :p

As for How visual novel changed my life, there’s not inspiration insofar as it’s a revised collage of real IRC discussions ;). One could consider the whole team wrote this one!


Concept art depicting The Metamorphosis by Kafka (@Eolyus)

The original idea behind Garden of Oblivion was to create some kind of written Yume Nikki (a great experimental game) with some point & click elements. Sadly, the concept never went past that. Besides, you could consider the story-related parts are also based on my personal experience: wanting to withdraw in an imaginary world, feeling like you’re not fitting in, being unable to take decisions, etc. Incidentally, the talking animals many people said were reminiscent of Dreaming Mary are nearly all stuffed animals I own and that embody my childhood.


Concept art of Hassan (@Kinect)

Wounded by Words is more complicated because everything is “real”. I did base some parts on testimonies to depict Gabriel and Hassan (as I don’t master viewpoints like those) but overall, every character has the same problem, and that’s something I recently faced: the difficulty to keep going forward when you don’t belong to the dominant viewpoint. As a young woman dealing with a disability, I often struggle to do the same things as others and I’m still poorly perceived in my own family. It’s a very complicated and disheartening feeling I wanted to share. Incidentally, Dave is only here to embody the external and hurtful view the other character have to deal with daily. He’s based on my previous internship tutor and several members of my family. Mostly my father. Sorry if you’re reading me, dad, but you’re really like that and it’s insufferable…

Milk 2015-08-23 18-14-58-84

This is not a harem…

Milk~La légende des étoiles being a huge project, my influences are even more diverse depending of the segments. The whole “harem” thingy is of course based of charage/moege and I wanted to readapt them completely in my style because I’m displeased with the current state of those games. In my vision, the main character is only a catalyst, the heroines are the ones who get the spotlight, especially their psychological development. Incidentally, each heroine is inspired by a fragment of my own personality, just like the protagonist. Hence I was really inspired by the visual novel Yume Miru Kusuri. What’s ironic is that, when I wrote Milk, it was kind of a fiction about what could happen if I were to fall in love. And I know myself so well, some parts of the story did actually happen to me later…


Extract of the Crossing Horizons artbook (@Orties)

The segment devoted to Khzi was originally a big joke based on the most stereotyped things in adventure novels and fantasy. I tried to make fun of that and took the absurd as far as I could. Khzi herself was supposed to be a super serious and classy killer (because I like the strong independant woman type) but I ended up making her completely unpredictable, a bit like Yumiko in the anime Read or Die. The super serious and classy killer hence became Freyja.

The “Légende des étoiles” part, yet to be released, is inspired by the comic book Thorgal, Ulysses 31, and mythology in general.


Inspiration : another perception of the world

In general, I have a complicated relationship with writing insofar as I don’t have an author I’m a fan of, I really tap into everything I integrated with time. Even stranger, I can sometimes dip into things I don’t know directly: I really like accumulating knowledge about many things, so I can know works indirectly without having read or seen them. I can even get inspired only by what I think the work is about (often to get disapointed when I get to read/see it for real).

Milk preview ep5 name

Current Chapter menu in Milk~La légende des étoiles

I work on the assumption that it’s impossible in the 21st Century to think up of raw material: everything has been done by someone else before. So, for me, writing is a kind of alchemic process: I’m mixing many different influences and add my personal touch to come up with something. And I think creativity resides in that mixing of influences. For example, the Cinderella story has been done many times before, but it’s what I can add that makes a new version possibly interesting. It’s not the idea but the execution and the way you put a bit of yourself in it!

Considering that fact, I’m relying a lot on the meeting between those influences and the way I see the world. Since my way of thinking is kinda unique, I feel like I can write about anything only by taking over the material.


Motivation : message in a bottle

I read a lot when I was younger but I never really found a work that was like me. To begin with, as a woman, it’s not always easy to get properly depicted insofar as most classic and recent books only deals with male preoccupations or show stereotyped female preoccupations (shoes, shopping and prince charming, yay). And as an autist, my way of thinking is never depicted anywhere, making me feel unconcerned by most current cultural productions. Fortunately, there are hidden gems that are really worth discovering but let’s say I’m not as favored as others, who will find what they’re looking for more easily. You have to search very hard to find an autistic protagonist in a story non-related to explaining autism. Let’s be clear, it doesn’t mean interesting neurotypical stories don’t exist, only that my tastes are not the majority. That’s why I’m interested in indies: I hope to find with them more diversity than anywhere else.

Quite frankly, what motivates me to write is to try to make stories that I will like. Since I struggle to find things like me, I decided to make them. If my works manage to satisfy my peculiar expectations, I’m quite happy, and it would make me happier if others could share that vision. It would mean I’m not really the only one to think that way and that I could be useful one way or another. I guess it’s just as if I was sending a message in a bottle: I transmit a part of myself in my games in the hope that maybe, someone, somewhere, will come across it and share my vision, find some interest in it.

Milk 2015-07-18 20-10-29-27

Screenshot of Milk Episode 5, under developement

I don’t know what other developers are trying to do when they start to make games but, for me, everything echoes back to my disability: it’s at the same time my inspiration, what drives me to write, my curse and my gift. I wouldn’t want to fight as much if I didn’t have a different voice to make people hear, but I wouldn’t be struggling so much if I didn’t have a different voice in the first place. I’d like people who have a difference to be able to access as much content they’d likely enjoy as the others do. If child/teenage Helia is able to find what she likes, then I would have accomplished my mission. The road is still long before then ;).