Japan Expo is getting closer

Japan Expo is coming soon, so let’s give some news about what we’re preparing for this event ! Spoil : a lot of things (as usual).

Goodies

Items have been successfully send to be printed. Among the various stuffs we already showed you, there is one we hadn’t finish at that time. Indeed Morsy couldn’t find the time to do the last bookmark so Orties had to take care of it in her place. Here’s the result, I hope you’ll like it !

Miruku_Marque_Page-typoThe other thing is about the music album. It was intended to allow you to fully appreciate Roganis’ work but we also thought about making it a Milk OST, which wasn’t a good idea given that we haven’t finished the game’s music yet. So, all things considered, Roganis finally made up his mind and produced the following tracklist for The Milky Way of Music !

Album

1 – Shadow of the Moon, Sea of Shadow
2 – Un Matin Rayonnant
3 – Clepsydra
4 – The Dream of a Little Planet
5 – Les Cloches du Couchant
6 – Wind in the Hair
7 – Song of Storm ~Roganis Remix
8 – Crépuscule du soir mystique
9 – Endless Road
10 – Lost Woods ~Roganis Remix
11 – Le carrousel des Rêves
12 – Pluie de Cendres ~Gymnopédie
13 – Nevermore

The music album will have 13 tracks including a good amount from Milk (all episodes mixed up, even those that haven’t been released yet) or Träumendes Mädchen’s games, but also some covers and an original one. The first edition will be printed in very limited numbers and a lot of people already reserved their copies during the crowdfunding campaign, so there won’t be much left. If you’re interested in having one, please do tell, so that we know in case we’ll have to produce some more copies !

Milk Episode 3

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Good news : the game is almost finished. We only have some programming to do and Episode 3 will be available for the convention. We took that chance to completely remake the textbox (from the old GUI) and enhance Episode 1 translation that wasn’t on a par with the rest anymore. Yet, having to deal with some withdrawals, we find ourselves very short to finish Episode 3 English translation. We’ll do everything we can in the remaining time but we might not be able to finish it on time for those attending the convention. We’re crossing our fingers !

Short VNs collection

Since we met the first strechgoal of our Indiegogo campaign, we’re working on a compilation that will include all of our little projects.

Being Beauteous is currently receiving quite the makeover ! Roganis remade his old tracks and some new ones to enhance the sound experience while we’re doing a brand new GUI inspired by Melow’s poster. We’re also redoing all of the CGs to stick to the new size (1280×720 instead of the old 1024×768) and ofer a more polished experience. Since Morsy didn’t have the time, Orties once again took care of the art and her style is of course very different. We tried to stick to the original spirit and we hope you’ll like the new graphics.

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As for Ambre, as promised we’re redoing the translation. We’re trying to enhance some backgrounds as well, as you can see on Melow’s sketch.

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However we’re experiencing issued with How visual novel changed my life. We wanted to add some extra scenes but we’re finding ourselves overwhelmed by the workload. Since it’s our more recent game, we’d rather focus on improving the old ones and won’t be able to deliver the extra scenes. We’re deeply sorry for the inconvenience.

Our schedule before Japan Expo is tough but we have a lot of energy to burn and we really want to please all of our fans =).

On a very different subject, the Träumendes Mädchen team is finally getting a real website. The devblog has become inadequate and we want browsing to be easy. Modifications are to be expected soon, we’re keeping you informed !

Träumendes Mädchen at Japan Expo 2014

The whole Träumendes Mädchen team is very proud to announce that we’ll be at Japan Expo 2014 from 2nd to 6th July !

For a long time we were hoping to come at a convention in an official way and that’s now a reality. You’ll be able to find us at our booth to discuss our various projects, chat or enjoy our fabulous artists : our composer will improvise some music and many designers will do little illustrations on request. If you’re passing by, go visit us, we’ll be very happy! Chibi_1Those who read How visual novels changed my life, our recent Nanoreno project, must have understood by now but we’re planning to come to japan Expo with something for you. Indeed, as exhibitors, nothing would please us more than to offer our fans some goodies. The thing is, we’re too poor to afford it by ourselves, that’s why we teamed up with Atelier Dreamnoid and Enless Seasons, two others visual novel creators, to gather our ressources. With the help of Projet Saya who kindly proposed to take care of logistics. We just launched an Indiegogo campaign to collect the funds we need to go to our first convention together.

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Here, at Träumendes Mädchen, we’ll be offering some goodies : three designs for posters, three design for pin-badges and three designs for bookmarks (the last one isn’t finished yet) for our different games (Being Beauteous, Ambre and Milk). There will also be a music album composed by Roganis (we’ll be showing the tracklist sometime soon) as well as physical copies of the first three episodes of our visual novel Milk. This edition will feature technical improvements over the online version, a new illustration for the main menu and the exclusive episode 3! Indeed, the lucky owners of the physical version will have access to the story as soon as early July while the others will have to wait until the end of summer.

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If the initial goal is met before the end of the campaign, we’ll be offering even more choice! With the first stretch goal, we’re going to produce a re-mastered compilation of our short projects with improvements here and there : How visual novels changed my life will include additional scene with new extra illustrations, the translation of Ambre will be enhanced and we’ll redo some of the backgrounds, where Being Beauteous will receive a new GUI (with some graphical enhancement if we still have the time). And with the second stretch goal, we’ll have twice as much goodies to offer!

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So, if you liked our work or if you want to support the western visual novel creation, don’t hesitate to pre-order on our Indiegogo campaign, even if you’re not coming to Japan Expo : we’re shipping products, with additional fee sadly. Even the simplest donation will be helpful. The whole team is counting on you ;).

2013 report & 2014 plans

Happy new year everyone ! As I said previously, I’m trying to write on the devblog, which has been a bit disregarded lately (and woken up with a huge post) by telling you more about our projects than “We’re working on it”. So, I’m taking advantage of this changing in year to make a report of everything happened during 2013 and what we are planning to do in 2014.

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2013 : hill start

After 2012, which was mostly occupied by the formation of the team and its difficulties to get to work, with most of the time dedicated to Milk’s production, it became urgent to produce something concrete (and I’m not even taking into account our entry in the No-Xice visual novel contest which was more of a warm-up). So we managed to release the first episode of Milk last February with great relief.

Old GUI

The old GUI

The visual novel I had in mind was a suicidal project : huge scenario, huge amount of artwork, managing people blindly, recruiting too early, many begginer mistakes and all. With a project like that, we should have crashed at some time or another, but nope. We managed to release a first part. That can seem ridiculously little to most people, but to us it means a lot, we felt like we’ve survived the hardest.

Obviously, my writing style being what it is, some people were a bit bothered by it, and that doesn’t surprise me. I’m well aware that what I write isn’t made to appeal to everyone and that just a handful of crazy people will like it, but that won’t stop me. After all, I’m here because I’m passionate XD What saved Milk’s release was the switch to an episodic format (the first episode being only 10% of the game, I’ll let you think about what would’ve happened if I aimed for a single release : the team would be dead) and it also allowed us to improve ourselves between releases. Yeah, we’re trying to improve more and more! Rome wasn’t built in a day, after all…

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We’re even on one of the EVN Thread banner, wow =’)

In March, we decided to take part in the Nanoreno, an international visual novel contest with a limited deadline, which was super intimidating (I mean look at the other participants). Despite that we managed to finish the game on time and Ambre was released the first day of April. I though the little story I had in mind lend itself well to something like Nanoreno and the feedback from the Lemmasoft community have been really heart-warming so far (don’t know if many French people enter the contest usually). So, the whole experience seems a little success. I might do a new version a Ambre one day to correct all the little things we couldn’t improve back then (who said translation ?).

FP cover

Two releases in one yeat, that’s not bad for a small team of beginners, I think we can be satisfied. Well, two and a half since I had to lend all my team members between april and june to help making Faith/Puella, a shot kinetic made to pay tribute to Urobuchi (he was coming in France at a convention). I offered some advices and did what I could to help and the result, without being a masterpiece, seemed nice enough to me. Especially for a large temporary team who lacks cohesion. Sadly, the difficulties they run into while trying to sell physical copies at Japan Expo disheartened the various project leaders. At least, their misfortune showed us that selling visual novel, even with the best of intentions, isn’t an easy task. It’s a pity the game faded from memory since then. Especially because a V2 (with improved GUI and some corrections) is waiting in a closet for a while. It might be released soon, who knows ?

Well, after that break, we went back to working again in june and I made fewer and fewer news. Why ? Well, first reason being summer is THE season for procrastination : everybody having vacation at a different time, the team is almost paralysed and it’s easier to go with the flow instead of working… Second reason being we’re still making progress but very slowly. Doesn’t really motivate to make news.We’ve almost finished episode 2 : sprite are ready, chibis are ready, Gui have been nearly totally remade…but we’re stilling missing somme backgrounds and the CGs.

 

2014 will be challenging

So, what do we have in plan for 2014 ? It goes without saying but our priority is to finish the already under way Milk episode 2. We didn’t make it in time for 2013 and passed the deadline (I was too optimistic…again…ahahahah) but I think we can do it early 2014. The when is a whole different story.

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What the new GUI will look like. Way better, right ?

We’re also thinking about trying Nanoreno again this year. If we do it, the project will be very different compared to last time. I might say it will be just the opposite in terms of atmosphere…

If possible, well most certinaly, we will try releasing episode 3 faster than the previous one. Since it’s lighter in terms of ressources, it should be a little less time consuming to make.

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Teaser of a chibi I intend to show for episode 2 release ~

At this point, doing all that would already be quite satisfactory, because not every indie team can afford to release two or three thing per year. But wait, there’s more ! In fact we have a new super special awesome secret project (because all secret projet are obviously super special awesome). Something a bit different than what we usually do. I can’t say too much for the time being but it will witout doubt represent a shit load of work so 2014’s gonna be a challenging year. Anyway, if we’re doing well, you’re gonna get news really soon ~

Ambre “Making Of”

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One of the first drafts for the main menu

Since the game has been released, two months ago, it’s a good time to talk about how this project was made before moving on to Milk Episode 2 (we’re working on it and it will be a hell of a ride, I’m telling you !). Spoilers ahead so don’t read my post if you didn’t finish Ambre.

Romantic comedy versus zombies

The rough idea came when my roommate and I were talking about books he has been reading lately. The one he described was a zombie one (I forgot the name) : in a chapter, the narrator interviews a little girl who survived a invasion and lost her parents. Her testimony is really touching but then, the author reveals that the one talking is a very old woman trapped in her past. She believes she’s still a child going through the tragedy over and over again. I found that twist really interesting and I wanted to use it in one of my stories sometime.

sprite_concept_art

Heroine’s sketchs

During that summer, I had to take the train to go to Paris for the Epitanime event and I saw the same film poster in every station I was. It was an ad for a new romantic comedy about a happy couple flickering when the woman suddenly lose her memory in an accident. Unable to remember the one she loved, he had to seduce her once again to regain their lost happiness. Wikipedia told me it wasn’t a good entertainment because it was too convenient (happy end, yada yada). No matter. The fact remains that I asked myself what would become of my partner if I woke up, one day, not knowing who he is, and how I would act. Since I really changed since I was young, the result is always surprising.

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First draft of the “swing” CG

Combining this two elements, I had a premise of what Ambre could be, but I was missing a lot of pieces. I know what kind of twist I will use and a rough idea of the plot, but I had to fill it and to find a reason for the heroine to go out of her mind. The story could have died inside my head if I hadn’t come across a surprising source of inspiration.

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First draft of the GUI chibi

Cinderella ate my daughter

I sometime watch That Guy With The Glasses’ podcasters, at random, and I stumbled upon a review of  Nicki Minaj’s Moment 4 Life. I really don’t know a thing about celebrities, I’m not interested in this subject, and the only thing I heard about her was my friend rambling about how her music is “shit”. But this song marked me because it’s a display of the modern Cinderella syndrome, a subject that fascinates me.

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Test placing sprites on the background

Every trope is here, in the lyrics as well in the imagery shown. The young woman is talking about her yearning of social ascension, like it’s something owned, about how she’s not lucky but a “chosen one”, about how her new position makes her some sort of queen/princess. And she repeats that she wants her fleeting dream to last forever. The music video is only emphasizing that obsession with an imagery : there is a fairy godmother who’s taking care of her, the “star” is giving a ball in order to show her money and her idleness (big house almost like a castle, lot of guest, beautiful furniture, the scene with the chocolates which is really revealing of what we think luxury is, reminiscent of Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette). But we also see a prince charming, another starlet just like her. The music video is even showing them getting married with fireworks and all, like the endless happy end in fairy tales.

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First draft of the “photo album” CG

Except that there is a lot of small details to ruin the perfect picture : the couple is totally isolated when celebrating, like if being stars, they had to create a vacuum around them ; they aren’t even faking love, their wedding sound so fake (they could pretend for the music video sake but no; it’s really only symbolic, more like a marriage of convenience/business), and more importantly, we’re never show what happened before the fairytale’s happy end. Don’t tell me Nicki Minaj didn’t had to work her fingers to the bone at one point, and I don’t think it was as “aesthetically pleasing” than the fairy tale part. Speaking of which, her body is totally ruined by surgery ! I saw what she looked like before on the Internet and wow, she was cute, she became some kind of aesthetical monster with a twisted look, it’s such a shame (she doesn’t look like a normal woman anymore, look at her eyes, her lips and her breasts).

From Cinderella to Ambre

When I heard this song, I was fascinated, not by the music or the singer, but by what the character embodied. By the fact that someone sacrified all she had in hope to become a new Cinderella with a dream-like life, as shallow and empty she can be. I couldn’t help but thinking that the song’s wish was both incredibly superficial and incredibly human. I really wanted to use Cinderella syndrome into the incomplete story I imagined so that it’ll become the reason Ambre had sunk into madness.

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First draft of the hospital background and alternative nightmare version

Ambre’s plot was very short, so I wanted to keep it to try the Nanoreno contest, but at that time Milk Episode 1 wasn’t even finished, so we had to rush through that before rushing through the Nanoreno almost in one go. There were a ton of difficulties : Roganis, our usual composer left for Japon, leaving us without music, so we had to find someone else really quickly (we had luck Kimino answered our call) ; besides my computer died at that time, leaving me unable to handle the team as easily as I wanted. Toward the end, both graphic artists were exhausted : Melow had fallen sick and Morsy didn’t know whether she would have the time to finish the CGs because of her internship. Hopefully the game didn’t need that much assets, but hurry prevented us from polishing a bit more (the last background, the dead leaves).

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Old street background and first draft of the new one

In the end, the team managed to complete Ambre just in time. Feedbacks were pretty positives too. I didn’t think I would use Cinderella again but I’m quite satisfied with the result, though I had difficulty in writing it at first. I liked to toy with readers’ expectations and I hope to do that again in the future…sorry for those who really believed the story was about a sweet and innocent little girl X’). Now that it’s done, stay lying in wait, there will be more news about Milk soon !

EDIT : the game’s soundtrack is now available here

Nanoreno project release : Ambre !

Menu principal ciel

After a month of hard work, here is our entry for the Nanoreno 2013 : Ambre. It was our first time doing that kind of thing and we were super excited to try, so we hope that you’ll like the result. Since we had a time restriction, the visual novel will not take more than an hour to read

The story is gonna be really awkward to read in the beginning but please, bear with me until the end, it’s not what you think, I swear *running away* Oh, well, I kinda like to mislead people, won’t be the last time o/

You will find a link for the win/linux/osx version on our download page.

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Credits :

Writing / Project Leader : Helia

Art : Melow, Morsy,

Music : Kimino

Programming : Keul

Editing : Orfaen

English Translators : Kono, Neicha