Today, I thought I'd give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the making of Musume, and talk about where I am in the animation process with the new character models.
This is a screenshot of Live2D, the animation program I'm using to animate Xesxus's drawings. Right now, I'm just getting a feel for the program, but I've already done a little bit of rigging. Suzu's arms are now rigged and can be moved; you can see their rig trees in the lower left hand corner of the screen. I also did a simple rig of her ponytail (it can now move left and right), but I plan on doing a lot more work on her hair once I get a better grasp of Life2D's deformation system.
Ultimately, this rig will produce the frames of animation that will become Suzu's idle stance in the game.
It's exciting to be working on this. I spent almost a year trying to find an artist who could make in-game character models that look like Xesxus's art. It finally dawned on me that the best way to accomplish that goal was to have Xesxus create the models himself. He may be a concept artist by trade, but I think this will really help the game look great.
I'll post animations as I create them. For now, however, here's the big version of the picture above. You'll notice that her ponytail and arms are in slightly different places in the below picture, which is what Suzu looked like prior to me rigging and messing around with her model.
In my previous post, I wrote that I was changing the direction of Musume's development, and that it was going to be very similar to one particular 2D action title on the market. I didn't say which game it was, but I left a drawing as a clue. Here is a slightly revised version of that drawing, which depicts Suzu's idle stance while in combat:
A commenter named Yelvu wrote that Suzu's stance reminded him either of either Strider or Muramasa: The Demon Blade (re-released as Muramasa Rebirth for the PS Vita, which is the version I have). He was wrong about Strider but 100% right on Muramasa.
When I wrote that Musume's new direction would follow one particular game, I fibbed. It's actually two games. Muramasa is one, and ICEY is the other. Both are some of the most fun action games you can play, and if you haven't played them you're missing out.
I won't say any more because I want you to check out these games for yourself. If you do, you'll have a clear idea of that the final version of Musume will be like.
From time to time, I hit obstacles in the development of this game. Sometimes, they're small (what's the best way to code a jump?), and sometimes, they're big (this game engine isn't working out; I may need a new one). Just recently, I hit an enormous wall.
The problem? The game, as it's currently shaping up, is going way too far from what I originally envisioned. I put together a short prototype of the beginning of the first level - you can see it in earlier blog posts and on the videos page - but as I worked on it, all my heart went out of it. I realized that making a conventional platformer just isn't something I want to do, which is a problem given that this is ultimately a passion project.
So, I'm changing the direction of Musume yet again.
It will still be a 2D action game with platforming elements. However, the emphasis will be much more on the action part. There's one game in particular that I'm seeking to emulate, but I won't say just yet what that game is. I will, however, give you one small clue: Suzu's in-game model is changing, and below is a preview - drawn by Xesxus - of her idle stance. I'll have more info once this picture is finished.
In the beginning, there were only two characters in Musume: chaos witch Suzu Aoyama and axe fighter Mayu Suzuki. Suzu has been on this site from the very beginning. Mayu, however, has just shown up.
I've had art of Mayu (drawn by a different artist) on the site before, but ultimately I scrapped that art and asked concept artist Xesxus to build her from scratch. This is the result, and I think it's amazing. Lots of people seem to agree.
So who is she? Well, she is basically Suzu's best friend and her exact opposite. She is as strong as Suzu is fast, but is impulsive and carefree where Suzu is studious and reserved. Opposites attract, and in Musume, the Suzu/Mayu combination will lead to a lot of drama and dead monsters.
It's always fun to introduce a new Musume character. Here is assassin Lotus-001:
Lotus isn't human, but what is she? Her character sheet says that she's an "Integrated Chaos Entity". But what does that mean, exactly?
I guess you'll have to play the game to find out:)
Musume will have many playable characters. Suzu is just the first. Second up: sniper Tsurune Matsuzaka. Here's a preview of what she will look like in the game.
More animations coming soon!
Musume took a big step forward today, with the inclusion of background music. Official composer Moonraccoon composed a sixteen-second loop to go with the footage of the first level.
Will this be the final background tune for this level? No. Everything you're seeing is a rough draft. However, this is another element (and a crucial one) that has finally snapped into place.
Main character Suzu Aoyama is a magic user, and I've finally implemented her first magic use: a fireball made from chaos energy (like the power ball hovering above her hand on the first page of this site).
The fireball and the boss are placeholders, but it's still good to see these elements come together.
For now, however, join me in welcoming Suzu to the club of magic anime girls.
One of the most fun parts of working on Musume is creating and introducing new characters. With that, I'm proud to present Azura Shoryu, headmistress of Suzu's temple and a badass fighter in her own right:
Azura is a bit older than Suzu (most assume that she's twenty-four years old, although no one knows her real age) and is the one who leads the Daughters of New Tokyo into battle against the waves of monsters when they spawn.
It will be a while until Azura becomes playable, but she will play a major role from the first level of the first chapter of Musume.
Next up: android assassin Lotus-001.
Speed and flow. That's what I want Musume to feel like when you're controlling Suzu, and the platforming here is a good indication of what I want the game to feel like. The goal is for the player to be able to slice through enemies while running through the level without breaking stride.
This is a short loop - only fourteen seconds - but it's a good indicator of what the final version of level 1 will look like when it is finally done.