Seeking Voice Actors for “The Last Sacrament”

****AUDITIONS NOW CLOSED****
Thanks to everyone who auditioned! Here is the resulting cast:
Nikolai – Christopher Vitemb
Katerina – Sara Secora
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About the Echoes of the Fey

Echoes of the Fey is an English-language visual novel series that combines the magic of high fantasy with the mystery of the classic detective novel. You play as Sofya Rykov, a private investigator operating in a town on the contentious border between the Humans and Leshin (Elves). While her job is to uncover secrets, Sofya has a dangerous secret of her own: unlike other Humans, she can use magic. It’s a handy trick for solving cases – in the rare instances she can control it.

About Episode 2: The Last Sacrament

The Last Sacrament will be the next installment of the ongoing series. Sofya’s loyalty grows divided when politics clash over the town’s water system. Her childhood love, who also happens to be the Emperor’s daughter, seeks Sofya’s protection from mysterious threats. But a ruthless politician seeks a fourth drop of Eszther’s Sacrament — the consumption of which is the greatest heresy against the Krovakyn Church — and he will go to any lengths to ensure that Sofya delivers it to him.

Released episodes:

Episode 0: The Immolation
Episode 1: The Fox’s Trail

Payment and Expected Work

– Payment will be $0.50 per line. Lines are categorized as each block of dialogue that appears on the screen at once, and can range from about 1-40 words, typically 1-2 sentences. They can also be “expression lines,” which are even shorter clips of dialogue used for emotional punctuation throughout the game. Payment includes at least two takes of each line, preferably more.

– The amount of recording needed is not yet set in stone. Shortly after choosing the cast, we will request a recording of expression lines (30-60 short lines of expressive dialogue). After that, we will request some scene dialogue over the next few months as our budget allows.

Rating/Maturity

This game will contain some adult language and sexual themes. However, we expect to remain in the Teen / PG-13 rating category.

Audition Process

Please record the included audition lines for the role that interests you and send them in either .wav or .mp3 format to jenny (at) woodsy-studio (dot) com. Multiple takes and styles are highly encouraged so I have a good sense of your range. Auditions will remain open until March 12, 2017.


Katerina Konstantinova Lapidus

  • Female
  • American accent
  • Appears both as an adult (20s) and teenager (about 13 years)

Katerina has a kind and empathetic nature, but she also grew up as the daughter of the Emperor during a time of warfare. Her kind nature is frequently in conflict with her need to firmly represent her father’s interests and crush her opponents. She rejoices in any opportunity she finds to kick back and behave like an ordinary young woman. She hates being called “princess” or any other unnecessary flattery. This is why she enjoys Sofya’s company so much. Sofya has never cared for politics, and always knows how to forget about all problems and have fun.

Katerina will mostly appear as an adult in the story, but there will also be flashbacks to her as a young teenager meeting Sofya for the first time. Therefore there are audition lines for both adult and teenaged Katerina (around 13 years old).

Please send lines for both adult and teenage Katerina, as she will appear as both in different parts of the story. Teenage Katerina should sound younger/higher-pitched.

Adult Katerina Audition Lines
KATERINA (angry): All of this was about a photograph?
SOFYA: I don’t know. But, Kat, take a deep breath. You’re okay.
KATERINA: I’m sorry, Sofyuska. I just… I had no idea that this might actually happen. When I hired you… I didn’t really think…
SOFYA: You didn’t think you were really in danger?
KATERINA: Not real danger! Not like this! I thought they’d throw vegetables at me or tag my carriage.

Teenage Katerina Audition Lines
SOFYA: Thank you, Kater– Uh, Lady Lapidus.
YOUNG KATERINA: PLEASE don’t call me that. I’m so sick of everyone sucking up to me.
YOUNG KATERINA: Just call me Kat.
SOFYA: Okay… Kat.
YOUNG KATERINA: Now, if you’re going to be stuck in the castle for the winter, maybe we can at least have some fun.

 

Nikolai Fyodorovich Melinkov

  • Male
  • American Accent
  • Late 20s/early 30s

Nikolai Fyodorovich Melinkov is the eldest heir of House Melinkov. House Melinkov is one of the wealthiest families of the west and one of the staunchest opponents to Imperial control of the borderlands. They are led by Nikolai’s grandmother, Alma Melinkov. Nikolai is the heir because his father (Alma’s son) died during the war and Alma’s daughter is a church matriarch.

Nikolai never wanted the responsibility of leadership. He is a man who enjoys fine dining and classy entertainment. If he had his way, he would run a theater or prestigious tavern rather than control his family’s domain. He also believes that his dying grandmother, Alma Melinkov, is much better suited to protect the family than he is. For this reason, he will use whatever tools he possesses to extend Alma’s life and protect the family’s interests in the meantime–even if that means breaking the most sacred law of the Krovakyn Church and blackmailing Sofya to help him.

IMPORTANT NOTE: We would like Nikolai to sing at some point in the game. Payment for recording song vocals will be a flat $50. Please include a singing sample with your audition

Audition Line 1:
NIKOLAI (firm, threatening): You will do as I say, Lady Rykov. My sister has ten copies of this photograph. If I do not wire back to Volgrad with other instructions within the hour, she will send it to Patriarch Arkady here in Vodotsk. However, if you deliver the Sacrament to me, I will destroy every single copy of the picture and the glass impression.
Audition Line 2:
NIKOLAI (determined): We are GOING to build a dam, and we’ll make the Leshin pay for it!

Audition Part 3:  Please include a singing clip!


I’ve also posted auditions to the following sites:
Newgrounds
Casting Call
Voice Acting Club

Send all audition clips and any questions you might have to jenny (at) woodsy-studio (dot) com. Thank you and good luck!

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Echoes of the Fey – Episode 1: The Fox’s Trail

Get game on Steam

Coming to PS4 July 11

For the first time in almost thirty years, the land of Oraz is at peace. For three decades, the Humans and Leshin of Oraz waged a brutal war over the right of Humans to power their cities and machines with magic. But the Leshin people have overthrown their theocratic leaders who pushed to extend the war and ushered in a new era of reconciliation and reconstruction.

This peace, however, is fragile and strained under the shared history of the two peoples. This is true nowhere more than the city of Vodotsk, a historically Human city that was occupied and ruled by the Leshin for years. Old grudges among the Humans have re-emerged. Leshin who lived there for years as rulers must decide whether to return beyond the Great Forest or stay as second-class citizens. And the wounds of the war threaten to re-open whenever the two peoples come into contact.

foxstrail

fox

Echoes of the Fey is a series of detective stories set in the high fantasy world of Oraz starring Sofya Rykov, a Human private investigator with a dangerous secret: following a near-death experience in the war, she spontaneously developed the ability to use magic. She is joined by her Leshin partner, Heremon ir-Caldy, a doctor fascinated by Sofya’s magic but fearful it will soon come at the cost of her life. Together, Sofya and Heremon navigate the mysteries and tensions of Vodotsk, the city they intend to make both their hiding place and their home.

Get Echoes of the Fey on itch.io


gameplay“The Fox’s Trail” is an English-language visual novel with multiple story variations. Will you uncover the truth behind the mystery on your own? And once you do, what will you do with that information? Your investigation will change the future of the city and its people. Over 100 individual choice points exist throughout “The Fox’s Trail.” Some will improve your relationship with the characters. Others will provide you critical information. And some will change the fate of the people you will come to know. Explore Vodotsk in side-scrolling segments and assist other characters in minor side-quests to uncover more about the history and lore of the realm.

You can find a full, detailed walk-through in the Steam community (may contain spoilers!)

Credits

Written by Malcolm Pierce and Jenny Gibbons
Art by Jenny Gibbons and Wendy Gram
Music by Jenny Gibbons
Programming by Jenny Gibbons with use of VN Edge Engine by ThinkBoxly
Sound design by Jenny Gibbons
Sound effects by: Drew Becker, Adobe Audition Library, Free SFX

“The Fox’s Trail” also features voice acting–fully performed critical scenes and expression lines throughout–by the following awesome voice actors:

SOFYA RYKOV – Amber Leigh

HEREMON IR-CALDY – David Dixon

ARKADY VANZIN – CJ Aulenbach

EDUARD GALKIN – Dillon Taylor

EMILIA OSBORN – Michelle Michaels

LUKA TETERIV – J.P. Daman

TIATHA IR-ADECH – Kristyn Mass

ANYA SAITOV – Helen Edgeworth

VIOLA ARISTOV – Olivia Steele

SIMION IR-SHEAF – Jacob Anderson

PRISONER: Isaac Lawson


Press Kit

Making Music: The Challenge of Minimalism

First of all, let me be frank: I haven’t had much formal training in music. I rarely know which terms to use when, or how to technically describe some of the tactics I use while composing. But I grew up surrounded by musicians, started churning out my own music in middle school, took a couple college courses in composition, and kept churning more out. I’ve recorded about 19 full CDs of music altogether. So I’d like to think I have a decent amount of experience.

I’ve also allowed myself to develop some bad habits.

I’ve always composed with keyboard synthesizers using a wide array of digital instruments. I use software like Cakewalk or Ableton Live to record each instrument on separate channels. For me, the process of picking out the right sounds can take up at least half–if not much more–of the full time required to complete the song. Even once I’m done recording, I go back and keep changing the sounds–or adding new ones–until I’m satisfied.

It’s fantastic that the digital platforms for composing gives me that freedom. But as a result, I’ve noticed that almost all my songs tend to accumulate more and more instruments as they go from start to finish. In the beginning of the song there may only be two instruments; by the end there are ten, all playing at once in a mad dramatic frenzy.

After spending time with some other local musicians in Game Jams or panels, I’ve realized that my instrumental tendencies are not necessarily good ones. While I’m proud of my ear for instruments, I shouldn’t let the arrangement overwhelm the the structure of the song itself–or in many cases, keep me from thinking about the overall structure in general.

Here’s a version of the main theme for my upcoming visual novel, Echoes of the Fey. It is more or less a normal composition of mine in terms of number of instruments.

 

The overall feel of the soundtrack was very inspired by the “Legend” soundtrack by Tangerine Dream. But it was after I saw the movie “It Follows,” composed by Disasterpeace, that I started considering how many instruments I used. I was in awe of how a few simple digital sounds could create such compelling music, without complex instrumentation (that’s not to say, of course, that Disasterpeace didn’t work some brilliant technical wizardry to stretch those sounds the way they did).

I started limiting my songs to two or three instruments.

This forced me to think more deeply about the notes I was playing rather than obsessing over adding more instruments, drums, or sound effects to amp the drama as the song played. It also made me spend more time with the one or two instruments I did select, adding reverb, flangers, or other effects until they sounded just right. Here’s the result for Magic Energy:

 

I haven’t adhered faithfully to this rule all the time, I confess. But I’m trying to at least break my old habits. So far, I’ve learned that less can be more, even when it comes to increasing the drama of a song. I even made a song that only uses one instrument, and I’m damn proud of it. I can only hope that my music sounds as good as what inspired it!

Which version do you like better?

Echoes of the Fey: Character List

Voice actors are now cast for Echoes of the Fey. See the original VA posting here.

Echoes of the Fey: Characters

A new VN series by Woodsy Studio

For thirty years, the continent of Oraz was wracked by the great war between its peoples. The East was ruled by the kingdom of the humans, divided up into counties and family houses. Beyond the great forest of the west were the Leshin, undying men and women with a strong connection to the Fey, capable of powerful magic. When Humans learned to tap into the Fey with technology–powerful Fey reactors–the Leshin staged a decades-long invasion to disarm Humans of their Fey reactor technology.

As the years drew long, the Leshin resolve for war weakened and was propped up by a shrinking group of religious fanatics. In the last days of the war, these fanatics staged a suicide attack on the city of Onigrad. In what would come to be known as the Immolation, extremist Leshin mages detonated the city’s Fey reactor, killing thousands of humans.

Horrified by the actions of their religious leaders, the Leshin people revolted and the new government surrendered to the humans, ceding all lands seized in the invasion. The Immolation ended the war, but with a loss instead of the victory the extremists hoped for.

One Human soldier, Sofya Rykov, survived the blast radius of the Immolation. She awoke severely injured and as she recovered, she found that she now had a connection to the Fey that was stronger than any Leshin mage. She could use magic previously unthinkable by humans. This is an ability she can barely control and must hide from everyone around her. Disowned as a traitor by her family, Sofya opens up a shop as a private investigator in Vodotsk, a town on the Human/Leshin border.

Episode 1: Fox’s Trail

Tiatha ir-Adech’s son is dead. Or is he?

A Leshin soldier, Folren ir-Adech was supposedly killed while rising up against his extremist superiors when they attempted to execute several human prisoners of war. But Tiatha claims she never felt him die through the Fey, and his bonded pet fox remains in Vodotsk as if seeking its master. Not many humans would help Tiatha, but Sofya Rykov isn’t most humans. Besides, she just learned how to turn into a cat and that has to be useful in tracking a fox.

Sofya

 

 

 

Sofya Rykov

Female, mid 20s – The daughter of a powerful human noblewoman, Sofya was supposed to have a comfortable life in the Imperial Court. The events of the Immolation, however, imbue her with mysterious and unstable magical power that she must hide from all other humans. To make matters worse, she is disowned as a traitor. Hides her injuries–both physical and mental–behind a reckless optimism and a fondness for drink. Now works as a private investigator in the border city of Vodotsk, using her magic to secretly take investigative shortcuts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heremon ir-Caldy

Male, late 20s in appearance (actually much older as a Leshin) – Heremon is a Leshin (elven) medic with a stoic and analytical personality. Feels responsible for Sofya, who saved his life during the Immolation. Stays by her side out of a mix of affection, concern, and curiosity regarding her magical powers. Is deeply distrustful of other Leshin, due to the trauma of the Immolation.

 

 

 

Arkady
 

 

 

 

 

 

Arkady Vanzin

Male, mid 30s – The Patriarch of Vodotsk County Krovakyn Church. A fanatic true believer, Arkady has quickly climbed the ranks in the church by feigning an interest in politics and a loyalty to the Emperor. Keeps his composure 90% of the time, but at times betrays the wildness of his devotion to the goddess Eszther.

Luka

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luka Teteriv

Male, early 30s – Imperial Inspector for the city of Vodotsk, plagued by a youngest-son inferiority complex. Was never the best soldier or socialite, now he’s assigned to be the Imperial police force for a city that isn’t even technically part of the Empire. Gruff and desperate to prove himself. Butts heads with Sofya, who he sees as a threat to his legitimacy as inspector.

Tiatha

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tiatha ir-Adech

Female, 20s in appearance (again, much older since she is a Leshin) – Powerful and well connected Leshin. Looking for her son, Folren, who is believed to have died during the war. Convinced he is either still alive or buried improperly, she hires Sofya to find out what really happened to him, but may have alternate motives for the investigation.

Eduard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eduard Galkin

Male, early 20s – Like Sofya, Eduard is a high-born noble who found himself in the wrong place in the last years of the war, and now at the center of Sofya’s investigation. Eduard conceals a dark secret from his time as a prisoner of war behind a flamboyant and flirtatious playboy persona.

 

Emilia Osborn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emilia Osborn

Female, early 40s – Lady of the Krovykan Church in Vodotsk. Devoted to the people of the city and her own brand of populist church teachings, which she developed while secretly ministering during the city’s Leshin occupation. Jealous of the outsider Arkady’s position as Patriarch.

 

Viola

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Viola Aristova

Female, mid 30s – Arch-Commander of the southwest region, Imperial Army. An army lifer who has spent most of her time in command positions due to her family’s wealth. When she was young, people didn’t think she deserved her job and she reacted by becoming one of the most ruthless and pragmatic leaders in the Imperial Army. Now struggles with peacetime and her place as an Imperial officer in an Empire that isn’t recognized by her family’s lands.

Anya

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anya Saitov

Female, mid 20s – A commoner who lived in Vodotsk during the occupation and Folren ir-Adech’s ex-girlfriend. Spent her entire teenage and adult life living under Leshin control and learned to be resourceful and clever. Was well-regarded as a smuggler and white hat grifter. Has had some trouble adjusting to human culture since the end of the occupation.

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Your Friendly Neighborhood Vampire Detective

Last weekend I participated in the STL Scatterjam 2015 with Malcolm Pierce and musician Sarah Wahoff. Scatterjams are a type of game jam that started in St Louis last year. Teams are encouraged to form up long before the jam begins, thereby skipping the awkward phase of most game jams in which teams are hastily formed amongst strangers. While it’s still good to try working with new people during a jam, for a Scatterjam you have more time to reach out to other members of your community and ensure the team you form is a good fit. Group festivities are only at the beginning and end of the jam; while working on games, teams can scatter as they please to work at home or elsewhere.

The theme was “connections.”

It’s a broad theme that can encompass almost anything, so my team had a hard time deciding what sort of game to make at first. We drank beers and threw some ideas onto a white board. But as soon as Malcolm said, “What if you’re a vampire detective…” we knew we were on to something fun.

We decided to use RPG Maker like last year, and Malcolm is the RPG Maker expert, so he got to building the environment while I sat down and started drawing. We decided to put all of our assets through a specific color pallet, so that the tiles that come packaged with RPG Maker would have a fresh look. Sarah started composing some melodies, and we all dove deeply into the work.

On the second day of the jam I took a short break from drawing to try collaborating with Sarah on music. I haven’t had many chances to collaborate with other musicians, so I really enjoyed rearranging one of her melodies into a new piece. You can hear the song we made together in the game, and a little clip of it at the end of the trailer.

Finally, I asked David Dixon if he had any interest in throwing his voice talent into the mix, because I’ve really enjoyed working with him on projects like the Serafina’s Saga animation and Serafina’s Crown. My team and and I tried to voice the rest of the cast with our own humble VA efforts (and less than ideal recording setup).

By the end of the game jam, we had this!

It has some pretty rough edges like anything that comes out of a game jam (and a few of the art assets may be a little familiar :p), but altogether I’m proud of our little dark comedy. There’s about 20-30 minutes of playable content altogether, including alternate endings.

Download it free from itch.io!

If you give it a try, I hope you enjoy it!

 

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Writing Branching Narratives (AKA Time Travel vs. Parallel Universes)

Over the last couple of years, I have discovered that writing stories with branching plot paths might be one of my favorite creative processes in the world… and also the most frustrating.

I experience the story as I write it.

I truly believe that every writer has a different style and process that works best for her, and while techniques exist to help any writer execute her vision, the truth is that there is no one or even best method for strong writing in general. Personally, I have always fought against the motto that a lot of writers intone when asked how to write: “Writing is editing,” they often say. “Writing your first draft helps you get your thoughts onto paper, but the true writing happens during your second, third, or even fourth draft.”

For me and my own writing style, that motto is bull shit. Yes, I believe that editing is important. Yes, I’m willing to admit that maybe I need to do more of it sometimes. But for me, something magical happens when I write that “first draft.” I don’t approach it lightly. I spend a lot of time thinking, planning, and feeling what I want to portray before I start writing. And once I do start writing, I feel as if my words come to life as I write them. I feel as if my characters are really in the room, saying what I tell them to say, moving as I tell them to move. I feel a bond between myself and the world I’m creating that is fundamental to my ongoing muse. I discover the story even as I’m writing it. The characters tell me more about themselves as I write them; they lead me towards the twists and turns of the plot, even if my outline disagrees with them.

Often, as I write that first draft, I will stop and rewrite some of my freshest paragraphs, tweaking small sections until the scene flows to match what’s in my head. Sometimes, I’ll need to change something earlier in the story to support something new that I’ve discovered while writing the new scene; if so, I make that change immediately.

Generally, this is my process. Although I go back and edit some later, those changes tend to be surface-level, polishing the pace and consistency of the story. My “first draft” is my most important, my most treasured, and often the closest to my final form of the story. This is not to say that I never go back and rewrite scenes or even delete scenes if necessary—that agonizing process writers love to describe as killing your babies. For me, the reason that it’s so difficult to go back and change something from my first draft is because it feels wrong. When I tried to describe this feeling to my sister once, I told her, “To me, that scene already happened. To go back and change it would be like enforcing time travel. It’s just… wrong.

This is just how writing works for me. When the story feels right, it feels right—it feels real—and I don’t just casually change it for the sake of wrapping my book or script into a perfect, tidy package. I’m not saying that’s a writing style to which every writer should aspire. It’s just what works for me, for better or worse, and that’s that.

Okay… so if you’re against time travel, how do you feel about parallel universes?

If re-writing means time traveling through your story, then writing a branching narrative means forming parallel universes.

This, I can do. When I first start creating parallel universes, it doesn’t feel wrong. It feels plain fun. “What if Blaire lets something slip in this scene, and Amalek discovers his secret? Well, let’s find out!” As I write an alternate branch, sometimes I have so much fun that I worry I’m being indulgent. But I can allow myself to do it anyway, because I want my audience to experience an outcome catered to their own decisions for the story, and this allows both me and the player to have fun in the process.

Writing branching plot paths also allows me to discover new aspects of my characters that would have remained hidden, otherwise. For example: while writing “Serafina’s Crown,” I actively fought against making Arken a romance-able character, despite the fact he’s probably my favorite character in the series. Next, I made the mistake of allowing the player to flirt with him, as Odell, on multiple occasions. And while writing one of those flirtatious branches, I felt both myself and Arken finally cave. “Arken wouldn’t ignore a cute girl flirting with him repeatedly,” I had to admit. “He just wouldn’t.” So at last, I started writing a romance path between Odell and Arken. In the process, Arken’s emotional baggage started rising to the surface, and resulted in some great scenes. Now, out of all the other romance possibilities for Odell, Arken is probably my favorite and most meaningful option.

So parallel universes are a blast! But, um, which one’s “reality,” again? Does reality even exist anymore?

Writing branching plot paths can be exhilarating, enlightening, and altogether very rewarding for both me and my audience. Until, like a bug flying into a spiderweb, I get trapped in it.

Wait... huh?

Wait… huh?

And this is when writing branching plot paths quickly transforms from being my favorite process in the world to the most frustrating and confusing ordeal. That “reality” I so enjoyed exploring and discovering when I started writing the story starts to slip from my grasp. While writing one branch, I’m distracted by thinking about what’s simultaneously happening in another branch. “Oh, Blaire and Amalek totally trust each other right now. Except… they were at each other’s throats just a minute ago! Wait, no, that was a different plot path.” I struggle to hold all the different paths in my mind until it starts to feel like a maze. Events start to lose significance to me as I write them, because they don’t feel like reality anymore, just one of many possibilities. And then the writing process which I initially found so exhilarating becomes purely exhausting.

Writing a branching narrative is difficult, plain and simple.

The moral of my story, I suppose, is that writing a story with significant plot branches is no walk in the park. It may seem like a blast at first, and you may feel as if the universe has opened up and given you permission to do whatever you please without consequence. But if you want your full narrative to remain a significant experience from start to finish, branches and all, then maintaining your plethora of plot paths becomes a trying task, indeed.

As I continue to write large interactive narratives (Serafina’s Crown will be my third), I search for ways to ease the symptoms of emotional melancholy and logical dizziness. Sometimes, I try to focus on one plot path at a time, so that I can give it my full attention before working on another. But this doesn’t always work, because for the sake of outlining and tracking production, I need to see all the threads of my spiderweb and how they connect to each other before I continue.

Difficult… but worth it.

It’s difficult. It’s exhausting. It’s emotionally draining and technically confusing. But if you push through the difficulty, writing an interactive narrative can be one of the most rewarding creative endeavors you’ll ever experience.

 

Demo and Release Considerations

I’m very excited to demo Serafina’s Crown at the upcoming Six-Pack Demo Night at Earthbound Brewery on February 18th. Demoing one of my games will be a new experience for me. I’ve had friends play the game while I watch, which is a blast, but that’s quite different from presenting it to total newcomers in short bouts of play-time.

The challenge with show-casing a visual novel, of course, is that it’s a heavily story-based game, and most of the “playing” aspect comes in the form of reading large sections of text. So how should I present Serafina’s Crown in a way that’s quick and accessible, but still gives the player a good sense of the story and overall feel of the game?

The best plan I can formulate right now is to include a video at my demo station that provides a general idea of the story and play style – in other words, a trailer:

Then, the sections I will open for demos will be the Duma Debate sections, which involve using the Divinity Dial to pick numbers that will beat your opponents’.

I am excited to demo the game, and in addition to that, I’ve started to think seriously about my release plan for this title. I’ll be frank with any of you reading this: I don’t make enough money from my games or books combined to support myself. That’s probably no huge surprise. Although I’ve had successes here and there, I’m far from producing a massively popular hit. I don’t charge much money for my books or games, and some of them are completely free. That’s because I want my creations to be accessible to a wide range of people, and also because these days, a lot of players and readers expect to get things for free. So it’s often the only way to get exposure.

But I’m nearing a crossroads of sorts. With Serafina’s Crown, I need to start making enough money to legitimize my company as a sustainable business, or I need to focus on a full-time job (or lots more freelance work) and set this aside as more of a hobby. It pains me to say that, but otherwise I just can’t justify spending as much time and effort on projects that pay me next to nothing in return.

With my re-release of Serafina’s Saga, I added in-app purchases in the form of costumes. These have provided some revenue, but nothing significant. So that leaves me to wonder whether I should continue to add more in-app purchases, perhaps in the form of story content such as additional plot paths, or whether I should abandon that model altogether and sell my game at a set price. It’s going to be a difficult decision. And if you’re reading this as one of my players, or perhaps a fellow game developer, I hope you’ll give me your opinion.

Character List (Voice Actors Needed)

Below is a list and summary of the most significant characters from Serafina’s Crown. I am excited to announce that this visual novel will have voice acting, and I am currently searching for VAs for everyone on this list except for Arken, Kallias, and Serafina. If you’re interested, go here for more info and audition lines for each character.

odell

Odell Perin

Odell never wanted to live the life of royalty in Castle Krondolee, even though her mother was an important House Leader. She hates politics and prefers to explore the world with no attachments.

When Queen Belatrix dies and Odell’s mother steps down as House Leader of Perin, Odell has no choice but to assume a role of utmost importance in the Darzian government. How she handles her duties depends upon you!
arken

Arken Jeridar

Arken has a dark past, including betraying his own family and raising Serafina Elborn in secrecy. But he has repaired old bridges; most people in the Darzian nobility respect him now, and he serves as an adviser to Odell when she has no one else to turn to. For a reason he’s not eager to share, however, Arken seems intent on preventing Serafina from taking the crown of Darzia.

Learn the full truth of Arken’s past in the free novella, “Grand Traitor.”

 

serafina

Serafina Elborn

Serafina has come a long way since her childhood in the Darzian jungle. Now she is married to Reuben Jeridar with children, and the crown of Darzia is within her grasp.

As rebels calling themselves the Red Scarves cause trouble throughout Darzia, Serafina seeks the crown so that she can  spread peace and reform. But her husband, Reuben Jeridar, may have a different vision of their future together.

reuben

Reuben Jeridar

Reuben is a man who uses flattery, seduction, and lies to obtain what he wants. A close descendent of Mallion, a god of chaos, Reuben can also change water into wine (literally). He rose from rags to riches and now sits two chairs from the throne of Darzia. The question is: what does he want now that his wife might become Queen?

Many people suspect that Reuben secretly arranged Belatrix’s assassination to free the crown for Serafina. It will be Odell’s responsibility to uncover the truth.

kendal

Kendal Terrace

Kindal is a talented diplomat. Otherwise, he likes to spend as much time lounging or playing relaxing games as possible. In truth, Kindal is a spoiled aristocrat who simply believes that poor people deserve to be poor and that the noble class is truly superior to the lower class. But his desire to have fun and indulge himself can be highly contagious. He survives solely on his friendliness, charm, and ability to diffuse situations by helping people relax.

 

roza

 

Roza Pajari

Roza is a powerful warrior, leader of a House secretly affiliated with Belazar (god of wrath). She has no patience for bull shit, but she does enjoy a good challenge. She believes that strength and aggression are the keys to survival, and she would be lost without clinging to such traits at all times.

Roza is determined to prove that Reuben assassinated Queen Belatrix. Might she have her own reasons for wanting to see him fall?

 

kallias

Kallias Jeridar

Kallias is known to most as the greedy, careless king who led Darzia into economic ruin because he valued gold over natural resources. After his downfall, however, Kallias spent several years secluded on an island with as much gold as he desired. He realized that gold meant nothing without other people to believe in its value. He has now decided to abstain from gold for as long as he can and put the people first. He returns to Darzia a very changed man.

 

 

picard

Picard

Picard is technically the god of joy, but don’t let his title fool you. Being joyful does not equate to being nice.

Picard is playful and silly, but he is also sadistic, as well as masochistic. He loves sex and he also loves torture. He’ll try to squeeze pleasure out of any situation. And if something fails to amuse him (rare but possible), he will destroy it. Because he now possesses the power of an ancient deity, who can influence the flow of the winds and the movement of the sun, he’s quite capable of destroying whatever he wishes.

lorenzo

 

Lorenzo Dugarek

Odell falls in love with Lorenzo when she meets him on her travels away from Darzia. Lorenzo appears to be little more than an idealist Vikand chief who likes swordplay and women. But there does seem to be something special about him, especially once he gives Odell a precious gift in the form of a magical necklace…

Working on a Team vs. Flying Solo

More times than I can count, I’ve heard people say: “You can’t be the master of all trades.” While that may be technically true–no one can singularly master all trades alone–I don’t accept that motto as a general philosophy. I aspire to the ideals of a Renaissance woman: someone who seeks to achieve excellence in as many crafts as possible. I can’t help myself. I have a lot of interests, and I’m generally skilled enough to at least achieve competence in whatever I pursue, so I tend to keep trying!

As a result, I’ve often worked on my creative projects alone; not by deliberate choice, necessarily, but simply because I can. For someone with multiple interests, it’s often easier to go ahead and do everything yourself rather than take the time and energy to find other people to help you. Many times, this has saved me from failure; plenty of projects never would have been completed if I didn’t eventually do everything myself. I’ve recruited other people to help me in the past, only to find that they drop out or else vanish shortly into the project, never to be heard from again. This makes me reluctant to trust new people.

But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try.

Over the last year, I’ve made ongoing efforts to work on creative teams any chance I get rather than flying solo. Game Jams have been great exercises in this respect, forcing me to focus on one specific role for 48 frantic hours of cohesive production. But the games I make at jams are very different from the games I make in my own time, which are narrative-heavy visual novels. Therefore, it’s still difficult to take the lessons I learn at Game Jams and translate them into my ongoing work.

A better experiment was the recent 8-Bit Dev Pipe here in St Louis, where I worked on a small team to create a game in 8 weeks. Unfortunately, a couple weeks in, our programmer dropped out, forcing me and my one remaining teammate to completely reevaluate the project and our roles in it. He and I shared a lot of the same skills, so we were stuck in an awkward position. We couldn’t just split up the project based on our strengths and weakness. We had to really ask ourselves: which part of the project do we want to work on most, and why?

Altogether, I’ve come to the following conclusions about why working on a team can be beneficial or difficult, even to one such as myself:

TEAMWORK CONS:

1) Finding competent people to work with you costs time, effort, and probably money. Other people probably won’t feel motivated to help your project unless they’re getting paid *or* they feel like the project is theirs as much as it is yours. If you start the project on your own, it will be even harder (or simply impossible) to bring other people on board afterwards.

2) You must trust your teammates to work effectively. This is a big challenge for me. I find it very difficult to trust or rely on other people, due to how many times they’ve let me down in the past. But you must set your doubts aside and have faith in your team members for everyone to work well together. This is especially unfortunate if they do not, indeed, deserve your trust.

3) Different ideas can lead to a fragmented project. Most likely, every individual on the team will have at least a slightly different vision of the what the final product will look like. If not handled correctly, or if healthy communication isn’t constantly enforced, this can cause the final project to lose cohesiveness.

TEAMWORK PROS:

1) Two heads are better than one. Sometimes if you’re stuck, a second person’s perspective can help you out of the rut, even if they know less about the craft than you do.

2) Moral support. When you’re alone, it’s easy to get depressed about every failure within the project. You might start to feel as if you can never fulfill your hopes, or that maybe it was foolish to try in the first place. All of the weight lies on your shoulders. But if you have just one more person working with you, you can take turns feeling the lows and highs of success and failure. You can provide critical feedback as well as ongoing encouragement to each other. In a sense, the stakes are higher, because more people will suffer from an overall failure of the project. But this fact can also help motivate you to do your best at every stage in the process.

3) Different ideas can lead to … a better game! It turns out the third con of working on a team can turn into a pro if handled correctly. If everyone on the team remains honest about his aspirations for the project, and–yes–argues out the reasons to do something his way rather than another, you might find that you agree with him. If everyone remains open to new ideas and willing to discuss them until a consensus is reached, then you will probably find that your final product gets better and better as a result.

Moral of the Story?

I’m still learning how to work effectively with other people, and trying to expand my studio to include more creative people with new ideas and perspectives. It’s not easy by any means, shape, or form. But I do feel like I continue to grow and improve as an artist the more often I challenge myself by working with other people–not to mention forging fun relationships with awesome individuals in the process–so I do believe it’s worthwhile to keep trying.