Lucid9 is a visual novel created by Fallen Snow Studios that had its first part released during 2016 on Steam. I also happen to be working on it now. Who would’ve guessed.
The story of how that came to be is somewhat mundane. During the latter half of last year, a friend of mine sent me a message asking if I’d be willing to write for Fallen Snow Studios, as they were currently searching for writers to help with Lucid9. Against my better judgement, I answered that it sounded interesting and later got in contact with David, one of L9’s writers. We talked, I sent him a few writing samples and somehow got to the middle of the game in one sitting before he asked if I’d ever even heard of it before. The truth is that I only vaguely remembered seeing the name thrown around.
Applying for the team before learning anything about the project PROBABLY wasn’t the best possible choice, but in retrospect it’s not one I regret.
Accepting to work with several writers on a multi-route visual novel may sound a bit hypocritical on my part after this post I wrote about how I don’t want to do that ever again, but I felt it wouldn’t hurt to give the system one last chance. There was also something that made my stay at Fallen Snow Studios immediately more appealing than with other teams: the presence of an actual director to oversee the project. That’s a surprisingly rare thing with EVN studios: the role of director is usually undertaken in conjunction with the title of writer or artist, never as its own thing. But that’s what we have in Fallen Snow Studios: a guy whose sole purpose is to direct, helping around in all areas and keeping things organized. I can state with absolute certainty that his presence has helped a lot with keeping the project together.
Now, onto Lucid9 itself. For those not in the know, Lucid9 is a mystery/romance visual novel with some minor dystopic/utopic elements, taking place in a near future with slightly more advanced technology. The setting is Japan, or more specifically the fiction city of Isamu, home of a couple of mega-corporation and the occasional serial killer. The first half (called Inciting Incident) has problem-kid Yama getting involved in a series of suspicious events as he uncovers dark secrets related to Isamu’s inner workings. There’s also a few guys and gals involved with whom he spends most of his time with. Long story short, awful stuff happens and then the “Common Route” abruptly ends. The second half of the game, which we’re currently working on, contains all heroine routes plus a final, True Route to tie everything neatly together.
Initial planning for this second half began after all writers were gathered, further developing the world already introduced during Inciting Incident while deciding on how much to reveal during each route. I’m in charge of Elizabeth’s story, a half-british “ojousama-but-not-really” that likes to spend her days (rightfully) telling Yama why he’s wrong on various subjects. After finishing Inciting Incident my first thought was that it’d be fun to drink with her, which is one of the best compliments I can give.
It all looked good, but soon I found my very first challenge to overcome. Despite having done this writing thing for a while, I’d never actually tried my hand at this sort of story before.
It all went well for a while… but then I realized a small-yet-significant problem: I’d never actually written this sort of story before.
Though that’s maybe too much of a stretch. I had experience writing romantic stories for multi-route VNs before and apparently they were alright, so that wasn’t an issue. No, it was more about the dystopian and mystery elements of the plot. Not that I had a problem with them: I’m actually a big fan of mystery novels, but that doesn’t necessarily turn me into a good mystery writer. I’m also not very good at creating big, sprawling societies while also detailing every single aspect that makes them work (the so called “lore” of a world). Well, “not good” isn’t probably the right word: I just don’t enjoy it as much as jumping straight to the characters and their motivations. My writing is currently better suited for stories with smaller cores with only a handful of narrative threads to explore. Could I really tackle a bigger world that I’m used to while balancing everything with the style of other writers?
The I answer I came up with was: “probably not too well, but I don’t actually need to: I just have to make Elizabeth’s route self-sufficient enough for me to feel at ease, while at the same time keeping enough connecting threads with the rest of the story to make it feel like part of a whole.”
So in the end that’s what I’m doing. Elizabeth’s route might not be as expansive or filled with high-stake conflicts as others might. I possibly won’t deal as much with the complexities of the world of Isamu as the rest of my fellow writers. Regardless, I’ll try my best to offer an engaging experience and a satisfying pseudo-conclusion for Yama’s and Elizabeth’s tale.