Rakit Studios

Home of Rakit Studios : Creators of Convenience Wars

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Character Friday : Yukito Kitsune

Yay! It’s time for another Character Friday, showcasing another character from our upcoming Visual Novel, Convenience Wars. The idea is to whet your appetite and get you going all gaga over the awesome artwork that aliasvegas is producing. Today it’s the turn of Yukito Kitsune.

Yukito Kitsune is 17 and attends Kito-Oka High School with his sister Sakura. Yukito also works at Yuudai-Mart, along with his sister, Oni and Satoshi. He’s a fun lovin’ kinda guy, who’s always up for a laugh, particularly if it’s at Satoshi’s expense. He’s always embarassing his sister, Sakura but doesn’t dare cross Oni. He’s a pretty good drummer and like Satoshi loves playing video games. He’s often asked to fix peoples computers, something which annoys him to the core. Except if Risa asks him, as Yukito harbours quite a soft spot for her.

That’s it for now. More details to come soon 🙂



Voice Acting – A small example

OK, so I have to admit I’m a little reticent about putting this up, but a part of me is actually keen to document the progress we make in doing voice acting. So in short, here is a link to a short line that we have written for Satoshi. This appears very early on in the game so it’s not going to spoil anything. Yes the room is not dead enough, that’s a given. This was my first day as Satoshi 🙂

Satoshi Example
Comments, suggestions are welcome 🙂

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Voice Acting – Should you? Shouldn’t you?

Making a decision

Ahhh, voice acting. To do it or not to do it, that is indeed the question. When we first started thinking about the game, we had pretty much decided that we weren’t going to do voice acting at all (Of course secretly I had other ideas). After all it is probably the item that you will be most heavily scrutinised on. Anime voice acting is considered to be a very very respected occupation, particularly in Japan. Having poor voice acting just wouldn’t do. The voice of the characters can convery so much more than the imagery. Yeh, a picture does tell a thousand words, but a great anime voice actor can tell a million (even when they’re only saying one). It was probably the daunting nature of it which put us off at first.

Over the weekend we spent roughly 12 hours working on the game. Drawing? you ask. Coding? Perhaps a little Beta Testing? No…..um…voice acting. To be honest, I’m really glad we did. Today I showed one scene to a few friends, and though they had seen it before, their reactions to the script were far better when they were listening to the voices. When they played through the game the first time, they chuckled a little, but it was far more reserved, possibly because they were reading only, as opposed to listening. Maybe it’s harder to allow yourself to laugh if you’re purely reading. One thing was abundantly clear though, the speech left no ambiguity as to how the script was supposed to play out. Ok, so maybe with the most awesome script writing, there shouldn’t be any ambiguity, but then we sit back and remember that this is not our day jobs and hopefully, we’re not expected to be amazing at everything.

Living and breathing

Giving the characters voices, gave them life in a way that I don’t think we expected. We found ourselves laughing at the jokes we had read 100’s of times before, even though they were our voices. It’s going to take a lot of work to record the voices for the characters in the game, after all at the moment it would appear that we have 22 significant characters, with maybe 5 or 6 of those being main characters. The most important thing though is that we are doing it for the right reasons. We are not adding voices just because Ren’Py has the capability to do so. We’re adding voices to enrich the experience.

Day 1 – Sitting around, feeling awkward

The first night we tried to do the voice acting was fruitful, but predominantly because we managed to lose most of our inhibitions. Talking strange lines, even infront of friends and family can often be daunting, especially if those lines are embarassing. To us, the number one lesson we learned, was not to be yourself. That may be counter-intuitive and maybe other people would advise against it, but for us, (me in particular) trying to overlay a different persona into my voice, just didn’t work. It was very difficult to break the personality from the voice that the brain has assoiciated with it for so long. The character you are portraying rarely acts like you and so it just seemed to work better to invent a voice to work with. The one problem with the first recording session was that we were sat down at the table facing each other. It didn’t work out well. We learned our lesson and on the second day changed the way that we recorded significantly.

Day 2 – So darn tired

On day two, the three of us stood with a single microphone in the room. We used the kitchen as it was the most accessible place, knowing full well that the acoustics would be awful. Though the final recording was certainly wetter than we had wanted, just by standing up, we gained more freedom to move and express ourselves. We interacted with each other more and whole whole reading became more fluid. What was also interesting was that the script itself became more organic and evolved slightly, with subtle words changing and word orders being altered.

It also seemed helpful to pick a voice actor that we had heard speak many times and imitate them to pick up different ways of adding inflections to voices and lines. Watch a few YouTube clips on voice acting and see how, and what, the director asks of the voice actor. Notice also how the voice actor is able to deliver exactly the same line in almost an identical manner, but altering it ever so slightly to pick up the right intonation.

A disclaimer?

Obviously we are not professional voice actors. We know this! But we have no way of getting professional voice actors to perform our Visual Novel. To us, voices are hopefully going to play an important part of the story by helping give both tension and levity in the right places. We are in desperate need of practise, but hopefully over time, we can grow into the roles and provide a professional enough experience for the player.

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Character Friday : Kazuko Urashima

Yay! It’s time for another Character Friday, showcasing another character from our upcoming Visual Novel, Convenience Wars. The idea is to whet your appetite and get you going all gaga over the awesome artwork that aliasvegas is producing. Today it’s the turn of Kazuko Urashima.

Kazuko Urashima is 16 and attends Kito-Oka High School near Akihabara, Taito. Kazuko works at the neighbouring convenience store, Ryou-Store. She’s bossy, rude and a like Oni, likes to get things her own way. Her first impression of Satoshi is not what you would call good. She finds him lazy, stupid and entirely unfit for “The Meet” that happens every Tuesday. Though she’s bossy, Kazuko is a great leader. She looks after her friends and though Satoshi has yet to see it, she has a soft side that she keeps closely guarded.

That’s it for now. More details to come soon 🙂


Convenience Wars – Update Post – Interview Questions Beta

So, a very early part of Convenience Wars has Satoshi filling out an interview questionnaire. It was important to us that this functioned well. The first iteration of the IQ screen had the user click on a question number. This would then present the user with the specific options for that question. We have to admit, the screenshot below isn’t very appealing, but at least the mechanism worked.

Queue tonight’s work and we sat down to think about how we could style and design this. We wanted it to look as realistic as we could. With that in mind, we set about making it look like a real piece of paper with printed questions on it. The background was created from scratch then it was just a case of creating some text buttons and placing them in the right parts of the screen.

We weren’t satisfied with that 😦 The buttons took away the feel of a real piece of paper and we really wanted to retain that level of immersion in the game. After a little wrangling, we managed to get Ren’Py to forget about the button styling and make the buttons become part of the paper itself. There is still work to be done. For one thing, we need to come up with a logo for the Yuudai-Mart store and that will be placed somewhere at the top. We do however feel much more comfortable with the look and feel of the IQ screen now. Having to jump through multiple screens before was just cumbersome and we’re pleased we managed to simplify this down to a single sheet of paper.

Hopefully you like what you see and anyone who has played a Visual Novel before should be familiar with what this questionnaire is trying to achieve.
Till next time peeps 🙂
cbx33 – Project Coordinator

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Character Friday : Oni Osamu

Yay! It’s time for another Character Friday, showcasing another character from our upcoming Visual Novel, Convenience Wars. The idea is to whet your appetite and get you going all gaga over the awesome artwork that aliasvegas is producing. Today it’s the turn of Oni Osamu.

Oni Osamu is 15 and is in her first year of High School. She too attends the Kito-Oka High School near Akihabara, Taito. Oni works at the Yuudai-Mart but she’s not like the other workers. Oni’s father Mr. Osamu owns the store and Oni is in charge of the rosters and employees. She takes no nonsense at all and her first impressions of Satoshi are lasting. She’s a little hot headed and incredibly comptetive. Oni also has to get things her own way. Seriously if things don’t go her way, everyone is in trouble. Thankfully, for the most part her requests are simple enough, even though they are sometimes a little ‘out-there’. She’s loyal to her friends and a lot of fun, just ask Satoshi.

That’s it for now. More details to come soon 🙂

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Convenience Wars Alpha Phone Demo

So for the past few weeks we’ve been hard at work on some of the game mechanics. Though a cellphone in a Visual Novel isn’t a new thing, nor is it a new thing anywhere really, but whilst we were thinking about the game and how to make it interesting for people, the constant theme of immersion kept ringing in our ears. If people are going to play the game and get involved in it, they need to feel immersed. For that to happen, there has to be something other than just reams and reams of text. We spoke recently about mini-games, and whilst they add something extra to a Visual Novel, it didn’t feel wholly right to us to move in that direction.

We didn’t want Convenience Wars to feel cheap and so it became more apparent to us that the more important aspect was that of immersive gameplay. We want the player to feel like a) they are a part of the game, and b) that they can choose how to act in the game and that those choices will have consequences. We’re not going to dwell on non-linear game play at the moment, that’ll come later. What became more important to us was not to distract the player with mini-games that are often not based on/related to reality, but to give them things to do that made the game feel more real.

The introduction of the phone was an idea to do just that. When the phone rings, you don’t have to answer it, you can just cancel the call. How will that affect the way the game progresses? Will the character call back? That’s why you’ll have to play on to find out. When you receive an SMS message, you have the choice of how to respond and that response will stay in your message history for you to review as the game moves on. Maybe you make a bad decision and have to live with it staring you in the face. Better think carefully.
Below is the phone concept that we’ve been working on. Yes it’s a little crude, but the theming isn’t complete. The idea was to make a phone that ‘kinda worked like a real phone’. Let us know what you think.

00:01 shows the phone ringing with the choice to Answer or Cancel.
00:07 shows the reading of older messages.
00:24 shows an incoming SMS message with the option to reply.