Thursday, December 31, 2015


Squeaking in one last post before the year ends.

2015 was the year I left the crappy job I'd worked at for over three years and ended up in a much better job that I can actually feel happy with. Mere days before I left that crappy job, I also made the decision to begin developing games. I've gotten a ways in with that...I've released three games, have a couple more in the works, and I plan to keep pushing forward.

Plus, you know, I have swag business cards.

However...that's not what this post is really about.

Despite being a writer, I have a hard time telling people some things. Or maybe, I worry that I'm not getting my point across and thus stress too much. But I am a sincere person, so I generally go with just saying how I feel and hoping that gets it across.

I am honored to have Naomi Norbez as a Patron and a fan. I want to share with you all some of what she made me for Christmas.

I don't think I could ever really put into words how happy this makes me. Just...thank you. Thank you so much.

Thank you to everyone who follows me, and I'll see you with some more stuff in 2016!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Circus Reviews - Asphyxia

I've been meaning to play this game for a while now, but didn't get around to buying it until very recently. I fully intended to review it Christmas day, but then the whole Steam nonsense happened, and here we are a couple days later.

Asphyxia follows Samantha "Sam" Coleridge, a seventeen-year-old boarding school attendee in London whose lifelong depression has recently worsened thanks to a falling out with her best friend/idol, Lillian Wordsworth (and also a separate falling out with her decidedly-not-best friend, Tabitha De Quincy). Despite Roberta Southey's attempts to comfort her, Sam is despondent. Will a school field trip give Sam the chance to set things right...or is there no hope left for her and Lillian?

The characters are apparently all based off British Romantic poets, and the game provides literature files about the poet each girl is based on. I personally did not play through with this information (and reading it all prior to playing may spoil some plot events), but it can give you a lot of insight into the characters' actions and why things happen the way they do. It's an interesting choice, although it seems to have caused some people confusion about why the game itself isn't actually set in the time when these poets lived. The writing is also meant to evoke the time period, and it serves its purpose well even if it's a bit flowery at times.

Samantha herself is a spot-on portrayal of a depressed teenager, and I identified with her quite strongly. Other than how Sam feels about each of them respectively, Lillian and Roberta are extremely similar: they've done their best to take care of Sam but find it overwhelming to the point of draining their patience at times, and they're flawed but ultimately want what's best for their friend. De Quincey (I don't know why her teenage schoolmates only refer to her by her last name, it's a bit odd) is a creepy and obsessive stalker, and while I won't spoil the event that caused her and Sam to stop speaking, let's just say it ends up making her look very bad, and if the game wanted me to feel sympathy for her it failed miserably on that point. Georgia and Percy are mostly background characters; although Georgia gets a bit more limelight in one of the endings, Percy feels tacked on. Miss Alexandra Pope is a concerningly sadistic teacher, and while it's commented that she looks young for her age, her sprite takes that too far; she looks roughly the same age as her students, and it's distracting.

There are four endings you can get, and while all of them are well-written, none feels complete without the others. Each path has information vital to who Sam is, information that you don't get on other paths. It feels like this was meant to be one full novel with everything presented together rather than spread out across different paths. I did like all the paths, though, and was quite eager to finish them and get the big picture.

The art is gorgeous, and the soundtrack is pleasant. I enjoyed the story despite the above-listed issues. I suspect that Samantha might be hard to relate to for a player who hasn't dealt with clinical depression, but I found her quite relatable myself. I still find myself thinking that a more concise novel focusing on Samantha, Roberta, and Lillian that included all relevant events might have been more enjoyable. Regardless, there were enough positive notes to keep me engaged throughout my entire play through, and I'm glad I finally picked this up.

Asphyxia is available on Steam and

Final verdict: While the side characters don't feel as developed as the mains and the branching paths feel like they need connecting, Asphyxia has a wonderful main character and a bittersweet but compelling story.

Asphyxia is developed by ebi-hime and published by Sekai Project. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I was not compensated in any way for this review.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Steam Winter Sale Visual Novel Recommendations

God, what a mouthful of a title.

Just a quick write up of my recommendations for this year's Steam Winter Sale, since I'm sure that you all have plenty of money left over from Christmas shopping. Disclaimer: this game obviously can't include games I haven't played, since that wouldn't be much of a recommendation.

Sound of Drop - fall into poison -

Length: 3 to 5 hours
Genre: Horror
Discount: 30% off ($12.99 to $9.09)
My thoughts: Great characters, great story, great soundtrack. Some of the endings and choices feel rather contrived. Full review here.

Hatoful Boyfriend and Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star

Length: 4 to 6 hours for each game
Genre: Dating sim, parody
Discount: 75% off for Hatoful Boyfriend ($9.99 to $2.49), 15% off for Holiday Star ($9.99 to $8.49), 50% for the bundle of both games' deluxe editions ($24.99 to $12.49)
My thoughts: Well-known, very hilarious games. Hatoful Boyfriend is regularly discounted to this price, so you'll probably get another chance to pick it up soon. Holiday Star's discount is a bit smaller since it came out like last week, so that I'd recommend getting while it has a discount.


Length: 3 to 5 hours
Genre: Fractured fairy tale
Discount: 60% off (from $19.99 to $7.99)
My thoughts: Much more than just a Cinderella retelling. Plenty of replay value, although getting all the variations of the endings gets tedious. Great characterization. Full review here.

The Royal Trap

Length: 5 to 8 hours
Genre: Adventure, romance
Discount: 40% off ($19.99 to $11.99)
My thoughts: An intriguing story and nice artwork, but its biggest strength is in its amazing, heartwarming characters. This game is actually on sale directly from the Hanako Games website for a bigger discount, but regional pricing may vary.


Length: 5 to 8 hours
Genre: Romance, apocalypse
Discount: 60% off ($19.99 to $7.99)
My thoughts: Touching romance, gorgeous visuals, high production quality very apparent. Full review here.


And with that, happy spending! I personally am going to sit in a corner and be sad that I can't afford Clannad.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Year End - Heading Into 2016

Hello, folks. This is a condensed version of my Patreon post regarding the year's end and what plans for 2016 are.

I intended to have Yumi-chan's Wonderful Cake Shop done by now, but unexpected delays ended up making that impossible. Currently progress is being made and I am projecting release for spring 2016. I will keep you guys posted on how that goes.

I am working on other projects, and have decided the visual novel I'm going to be focusing on. I want to have my second visual novel out in 2016 as well, but I'm not sure how financially feasible that is. We'll have to see.

In closing, I thought that my first roughly-a-year of video game production went as swimmingly as it could for a newbie such as myself. I released three games, small though they were, and am actively working on others. I feel like I've gotten somewhere.

Thank you to all my followers. I appreciate your support.

Oh, and one last thing...

Yumi-chan's completed sprite! :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Circus Rambles - the last love song Post-Mortem

Game number three, and I still don't feel like I've hit the magic well of knowledge or anything, but I like to think I'm getting better.

At time of writing, the last love song has 77 views and 2 downloads since its release date close to midnight Sunday. That's probably very very small. But I personally think every little bit counts.

It was a hard game to write, really. There were long pauses during development because I had trouble bringing myself to write about a relationship crashing and burning. I don't normally get the shoes of my protagonist, so to speak. Perhaps that made the game a bit better.

I noticed that the exact same person has rated my last two games 1 star without leaving a review. Bad ratings on their own don't really help me because I don't know what your problem was. I don't think I'm writing perfectly by any stretch of the imagination, but I don't think I've written anything unreadable, either. Honestly, though, I'm not torn up or anything like I thought I might be. Have I grown a thicker skin from working in customer service? Possibly.

My first two games were linear, and this one was all about the choices. I admit to getting some flak for writing linear games, and I didn't realize at the game, but my impression is that linear IF games are kind of looked down on by some people. I personally equate them to kinetic novels: visual novels without choices. Just the story. I don't see anything wrong with that. I can see why people wouldn't necessarily be into them, but I don't think they're any less of a form of game. No, I didn't write a game with choices just to satisfy people who disliked the linear games; this was just the next idea that slapped me in the face with inspiration.

Someone told me that people who'd been in long-term relationships would find the game easier. Maybe? I am in a long-term relationship myself, so I don't really have an unbiased answer to that comment.

I think that's it for thoughts.

Thanks for playing, everyone who has. It means a lot to me.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

the last love song is released.

Well, I got pissed off tonight. So I released the game half an hour early. Yay for you!

Thanks for your support, guys. It really does mean a lot.

I hope you enjoy the game.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Circus Reviews - Sound of Drop - fall into poison -

I heard of this game when it was first released on Steam and thought it sounded interesting, but didn't end up getting it on launch. Then some time went by and the Steam Autumn sale happened, and this game popped up again. And since I can't afford to buy/review Clannad like I had originally planned to, because commissioning artists and paying bills both take up my paycheck at the moment, I decided to pick this up while it was on sale just to have something new in my life.

Sound of Drop is about a middle school girl named Mayumi Nakanobe and her best friend Himeno Tamagawa, who go to Manten Aquarium one day to investigate the morbid rumors surrounding the place, including those of girls disappearing after visiting a certain exhibit. While there, Mayumi catches a glimpse of her little sister Mari, who disappeared in the aquarium five years ago and was never seen again. Mayumi tries to chase her down but loses sight of her, and when she tries to turn back, she realizes that something about the aquarium has changed...

The main characters, Mayumi and Himeno, feel realistically human and flawed, and their friendship remains compelling and relevant even when the game starts to focus more on other characters and subplots. Aside from the previously mentioned Mari, there's also an aquarium employee named Kenji who offers you assistance inside and outside of the aquarium, a cold and cynical girl named Sayo who also seeks to solve the aquarium's mysteries, and a mysterious and methodical woman named Rieko. They all get varying development on the different paths, and no single path will tell you everything you need to know about them.

The game has a whopping 31 endings, four true endings and 27 bad endings. All of the bad endings are quick game overs from a wrong choice, and they mostly come about because you tell Mayumi to make a really stupid decision, like blatantly ignoring someone standing right there with the correct answer. The game has a helpful warning system, though: if the choices are red, then one or more of them will lead to an immediate bad ending, but if they're blue, you can pick any option. It might be strange of me, but there was at least one scene where I enjoyed the contrast between the glaring red choices and the smiling, oblivious face of a character sprite. Slightly more jarring is the cute chibis in the bad ending screens. They don't really fit thematically into a horror game, although they are nonetheless very well drawn.

The Steam version has the paths sort of split into two groups. When you first start the game, you can get most of the bad endings but only two of the true endings. Once you get one of them, starting a new game will include a new opening scene with Sayo and a girl she knows called Miku, and this also opens a new choice that will lead to a different set of true and bad endings down the line. However, the relevant choice and the new opening scene have absolutely no connection to each other, making the whole ordeal feel a bit forced. The choice in question is calling someone by their name, a name which you learn earlier, but if you haven't seen that opening scene on this playthrough, you aren't allowed to select the correct option and are forced to give a wrong answer and thus get a bad ending. I've seen route locking used successfully in games before (The Royal Trap is the best immediate example I can think of), but here it feels far too unnatural.

All those technical flaws aside, though, the story itself is quite captivating and the mystery of what happened to Mari is an intriguing and heartbreaking one to solve. One of the true endings does feel like the golden ending despite not being labeled as such, but all of them are touching and feel like natural directions for the story to go. The artwork looks beautiful and the soundtrack is the best I've heard on a visual novel in a while. The flaws are there, but they don't detract too much from an ultimately excellent addition to the market of translated visual novels.

Sound of Drop - fall into poison - is available on Steam.

Final verdict: The decision-making process can feel contrived due to a number of technical issues with how some of the choices work, but this is easily balanced by strong characters and a truly compelling story.

Sound of Drop - fall into poison - is developed by aiueo Company and published in English by Sekai Project. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I was not compensated in any way for this review.