Monday, June 13, 2011

Sequel Dilemmas

After the break, this blog contains some major spoilers about TCAST. If you'd like to play it, go here!

"You like me, you really like me!"
Cough. You want to see a writer doubt themselves? Search no farther than my "On the Eve of Something Cheap and Sacred" post. Which, may I say, it's a healthy thing for a writer to question themselves, and I'm glad I did and I will do it in the future.

But believe me, the person who sat down and wrote that post had no idea the reaction TCAST would get. Namely, the overly positive reaction.

TCAST has been out for two weeks, been downloaded over a 1000 times, and accumulated so many positive critiques and kind comments that I honestly can't believe it. I'm hugely grateful to everyone who has played it, enjoyed it, maybe been touched by it, and especially everyone who has given me some kind of feedback. I'm even grateful to the people who brought negative critiques, because everyone so far has been respectful and thoughtful and fair. And of course, you can learn a lot more from criticism than praise.

The question on everyone's mind is whether there will be a sequel. Of course, I kind of put this question on everyone's mind. If I remember correctly, Morhighan, the colorist who did Jude and Elly's sprites, was the first one to drop the "sequel" word. At the time, it was totally out of the question to me, I saw TCAST as a completed short story. But I thought a lot about it, and came up with some ideas. I decided to plant the sequel idea into the bonuses just to get the conversation started as to whether people wanted this or not.

A lot of people are like "Please make a sequel!" A few people are like "I think it's better without a sequel" and others are like "I don't think you should make a sequel but if you do I'll definitely play it."

The problem with a TCAST sequel... is... well... how the hell do I make a sequel to a game that everyone likes? I don't use it to mean that everyone everywhere will like my game, of course not, I already mentioned some people didn't like it. Rather, I mean that all kinds of people have had positive reactions to TCAST.

This is not at all what I envisioned when I made the game. I imagined TCAST as very not mainstream, kind of counter-culture, semi-perverted vaguely otome vaguely queer descent into the violence and sexuality surrounding robots. I mean I know it's no Evangelion and no Utena and no Higurashi, and TCAST has cleaned up a little since it's first draft, but I didn't think it was something the average visual novel player would be able to get into. Probably part of the reason I thought it was so offbeat is because I'm raised ultra-conservative evangelical Christian. (And my ultra-conservative evangelical Christian relatives and friends have had uniformly mixed reactions to the game. Generally "It's awkward and kinda gross, but I'm into it by the end." I'm grateful to them for playing it, but I gotta say, their reactions are the key to my big doubting blog post.)

That said, my sequel ideas were more in the vain of my not-mainstream game. To me, the logical progression of Autumn's character and the themes of the story is that the story becomes more sexual. (Which is why I asked in the bonuses if people wanted an adult game or not. Unfortunately, I haven't heard very much feedback on that topic so far.) I imagined a dating sim where Autumn could pursue Jude or Elly and perhaps a human. To me it's a given that Elly (albeit Elly in an adult, EternaLover body) would be on the dating menu. They're childhood friends, which is such a standard for a romantic partner in visual novels and Japanese storytelling that it's almost become a cliché.
In TCAST, Autumn is certainly obsessed with Elly. And I think this obsession has romantic undertones, especially after Elly appears in Jude's body.  However, I don't think many of the players either picked up on that or were into it. Only a couple people that I can think of made an allusion to it, one was like "do not want" and another was like "Lolz." If this part of the game became overt, how many people, who were invested in Autumn and Elly's platonic child friendship, would have their image of TCAST tarnished?

That's just one small example of the larger issue of why I have no idea whether I want to write a sequel for TCAST. There's a lot of risk involved in making a sequel. I have to respect the characters and the story people have come to enjoy, but simultaneously create an interesting artistic vision. The problem is I feel my vision for a TCAST sequel is so far off from what people will want. And I would be disrespecting everyone involved if I simply write what I think people will want.

Though originally my idea was for a dating sim sequel, at this point I have no idea what form the potential sequel would take.
If you're reading this and would like to offer your two cents on this dilemma, please leave your thoughts in comments or send me a note on deviantart or a PM on the Lemmasoft forums. :)

I would like assure everyone that my next game will be Darlings Lost, and I don't know if I'll even decide on the TCAST sequel until Darlings is finished.


Kikismuge said...

I kind of stumbled on your game by accident when i was looking for full on Otome games to play that were in English cause, lets face it, their aren't a great deal of them. I was hesitant at first because the game was no at all what i expected. Well it really wasn't a game at all (lol more like a novel..... OH WAIT VISUAL-NOVEL!!! I GET IT he he..). Anyway while I was playing I really got into the characters and found myself becoming more and more attached with Elly's relationship with Autumn and then the contrast between that and her newly blossoming relationship with Jude kept me hooked. I really hope you make another game to this, preferably a more interactive one, that takes the reader deeper into the relationships of both Elly and Jude so I can finally get some closure on what happens and who she picks!!! (GO JUDE!!!!. sorry I'm biased) This is the great groundwork for a really awesome Otome game that i would love to, LEGALLY DOWNLOAD AND PLAY..... *cough*. (he he) Keep up the great work and i'm excited to see what other games come out of that talented mind of yours! KEEP ME POSTED!!!!!

carosene said...

Hey! :D Thank you so much for reading (the game, and the post) and for responding. Very glad to hear you stumbled on it. X3

Thanks so much for your thoughts. :) I'm glad to hear you were into the relationship between Elly and Autumn simultaneously being a Jude fan. XD
Currently I don't have any plans to make any commercial games, so they'll be free to download. :)

nat said...

I love this game a lot. The story is just extremely awesome and touching. It really drags you in. The only other thing that has given this type of magnetic pull towards the story and its characters so far is just an awesome fan comic, and for me, I do not usually enjoy Kinetic Novels, because some of them have stories that are not really... developed? I love CAST, however. The art, at first, didn't quite sit with me as it wasn't exactly my cup of tea, but in the midst of it all I just started loving everything. I loved how dramatic and sad everything got, but I felt as if the end was seriously incomplete for me. I wanted to know what Elly would look like in her EternaLover form, especially. A dating sim sequel would be fine. Well, the end felt kind of like... the end of Studio Ghibli's Spirited Away, in my opinion. You know, the kind where it ends, but you want to know what happens next, but might spoil it overall for you if you knew, but you are still DYING to know? That kind.

I just have to say that sometimes you shouldn't consider what your readers want. Sometimes in the story, what happens, just happens. You should just let it 'go with the flow' instead of constantly worrying if anyone will like it. If you follow most of what you did in the first place, they will like it. All you need is faith in yourself and your abilities.

Katey said...

I really liked this. I loved the way you ended, leaving it ambiguous of what was to come next. It left me sad, but also hopeful of what might be like the title you gave it. I had originally thought there would be options to choose what to do, when there were none I was surprised. If you do make a sequel, would it be possible for you to put more choices of what to do? I do think that the idea to choose Jude or Elly or a human would be a great idea as well. It would also be wonderful if you just left it as it is and not make a sequel. Thank you for all your work!

Alikkatz said...

I realize you posted this over two years ago. I'm sorry I just now got around to playing TCAST. But as far a sequel goes I like the dating sim idea. (Maybe with some Jude Smexy time thrown in. >.< God I'm a perv.) So whether or not you are still going to make a sequel...That's my two cents. :) -Kat

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