(Post?) Pandemic Update and News

(Post?) Pandemic Update and News

Hello from Becca and Ginny!

We know, the blog has been quiet. The pandemic was a hard hit on both of us in different ways, and real life and health, mental and physical, required our attention first. But we never stopped working on Mystic Riders, whether in small ways or bigger ways. This is just a quick update on both what is going on behind the scenes, some small changes you are going to see on older posts and effective going forward, and what updates are going to look like.

So let’s start with some behind the scenes stuff.

There’s a timeline! This may seem like a really nitpicky thing, but since we’re starting narrative first, both of us realize as writers how important a timeline is to a story. Otherwise you end up contradicting yourself, or contradicting history if you are drawing on it, and then the plot holes begin. Right now, we’ve put a hypothetical start year to the game, with the idea that if it needs shifted in either direction, it would be easy enough to do from that start point. All sorts of things are factored in, include mentor birthdays and important events, so it was kind of interesting to see those facts play out and to factor in where historical events match up.

We had to take the ko-fi/PayPal down. Something broke down in the communication between the two within the last year, and when Becca thought she fixed it, well, she discovered it was doing weird things and investigated further. The end result was it either required information that we, as a team, weren’t comfortable giving them because security with personal information is a big deal to us, or it was going to charge us so much in fees, we wouldn’t see the end results of the donations anyway. In the end, we decided it was better to just issue refunds to those who donated, and continue with our plans to do larger-scale funding such as grants and business investments/loans rather than crowdfund. We will continue looking into options as we use our personal funds to gather the ground work materials needed, such as artwork.

Speaking of…

We’ve started getting some artwork in! There are two sources of artwork. One was one of you, who reached out and wanted to help! She’s gotten busy in real life, but it got us a really good first discussion on what the starter horse is going to look like in game, since we didn’t want a complete duplicate a Fjord, but wanted to keep some of the characteristics. It was a lot of fun bringing her in and seeing these sassy-pants horses come to life.

We also have teamed up (a.k.a. commissioned) an artist named Yune who has been an excellent resource. For now, there are three complete pieces and one is an WIP. Our WIP is another Rose Neptuna, this time to let Becca play with colors (because she’s not 100% sure anymore) and also to get her in the same style as the completes. Once we receive that picture and get colors figured out, it will be updated on her article. Watch the Twitter account for an announcement!

The complete pieces are “croqui,” or figures for Ginny to design clothes on, in our three body types–tentatively named Heart, Star, and Flower (because we’re intending on use those shapes to designate merchandise-type-stuff later, but shhh, that’s a secret). The three girls pictured are the three Light Riders demo girls, so if we ever make a trailer, ad, or a game demo without the player customization aspect, that’s who you’ll be seeing for that side of the conflict. Ginny has used those figures to make some good “approximations” of the mentors when they were the player’s age, so they should be getting profiles eventually now to help break up all the horse breeds.

Next on the art commission agenda, after the current WIP, are going to be getting all the face options laid out (in some “template” style demo faces that should be easy to mix and match to prove a point, but it will cover all of our wanted options) so we can toss hair on them into the basic hair styles available, and then we’re going to get some figures for the boys since most of the NPC boys will fall within three similar body types, just aged up or down. (Becca also has a crazy idea to do some further concept art, but we’ll see on that.) Our ko-fi is also proceeding along towards getting us to the goal of getting a logo.

That’s a good spot to kind of transition us to an update you are going to see throughout the blog. Ginny has been created a YouTube channel, and through interaction with viewers over a different game, we realized something pretty important. Some terminology–player character and main character–get used interchangeably in MMOs, because they are usually the same thing in this particular genre. However, this can create issues as players want that character to be a version of themselves. And when that can’t be met, it causes psychological upset for the player, and can have a negative impact on their gaming experience–and of the game! We want you all to have fun without that necessary stress.

So how did we decide to address this? Well, we looked to several staples, such as the Final Fantasy games we enjoyed and Legend of Zelda, where yes, you are in control of a character and have some customization options (if not very much), but the character is distinctly different from being yourself put into the world. So we are going to make concentrated efforts to adjust the language on the site and in our documentation, shifting it from being “you” the character and instead, “Main Character.” Now, this means we are also going to retire the use of the term “PC” for player character, and instead us “MC” for main character, just to help drive home that division. It won’t be you in the game, but rather a character that you can create. While the character can share as many characteristics with you as are available, there will be a separation. It can also just be what you like of the options given, since sometimes it’s fun to create characters wildly different from yourself. (Becca’s love of pastels doesn’t mean she can wear them with her skin tone, for example.)

Becca will be going through articles to change out that language, and also to update the main character used in the holiday stories. We’re not sure who caught it, but our demo characters all had first names beginning with P and last names beginning with C as a way to, narratively, indicate who they were. With an update in terminology, Pippa needed a new name! Pippa, which is the name seen so far, will be updated to Marcy.

So once all of this is completed, we’re thinking in the spring, Becca should be back to writing up blog posts in the summer (when her work slows down). However, updates will be slower to try and prevent the earlier burn out from too much happening at once. You should begin seeing them once a month, with maybe occasional bonus posts if Ginny wants to post up a holiday or Becca gets massively ahead and decides to eat into the reserves a bit. Or art comes in!

As for what is going on in the background during this time: Ginny will be continuing to strum up interest, fine-tune game mechanics as more research in our target areas comes into her view, and as artwork has come in, she can start getting the different designs laid out in a way that is much more approachable to the casual viewer. Becca will be finishing up maps and demo weeks, creating a back-log of blog posts so hopefully there won’t be another break, and then sorting out the story document since it’s in sad need of some organization (her own fault) so she can start laying out the story for the overall game in an outline before deciding what to start fleshing out where.

Thanks for stopping for this update, and we’ll see you all with new content in June!

Black Lives Matter: Our Stance

Black Lives Matter: Our Stance

I’m speaking as Becca here, so excuse me as occasionally I break the plural “we” I try to use to reference Ginny and I in prior posts. We have had discussions about not only where we stand, but also what we should do with this blog. And of course, how we can help.

Both of us believe in the Black Lives Matter movement and protests. Both of us want to support it.

Of course, we are two writers who are running a gaming blog to try and get sponsorship–there isn’t any money to speak of right now, and neither of us are comfortable going to the protests for health reasons. So we had to look at what we could do. The first thing, obviously, is this blog post showing that we stand with them and support the protests.

Next, we looked at what we could control, that being the characters in the game and representation. We knew we had covered our bases with the playable character creation, we have twenty different skin tones. You will be able to play with all options of skin tones available right at the get go. While right now how many features are set and how many can be customized are in flux because we don’t have an engine, we hope that we are going to continue to be able to provide a wide range there too. Whenever we create “sample” or filler player characters, we always go middle of the road–i.e. olive skin, brown hair, brown eyes–not white.

The next step beyond the player character is the characters you interact with the most. For our game, that’s the mentor-characters. There are seven Light Riders, five Shadow Riders, and because the Diamond District is “neutral” and not claimed by any set mentor, I count the younger prince and princess twins as the district representatives since they will be your source of info in terms of what’s going on and how to do things. So that puts us at fourteen characters to check our ratios on.

Keep in mind, this is our starting area. In an ideal world, there’s three other countries to unlock. For sake of sanity, each has their own, global influence. Astranar’s influence is Europe. But because it’s our starting area, I felt like we needed to push the ratio farther than what most racial statistics tell me the ratio is for Europe, not only to be fair for representation, but also to be realistic to the fact this is one continent, some crossover is going to happen more.

Upon review and some mapping of the characters by Ginny, we decided that yep, we needed to do some adjusting, which had a minor ripple on to another character who wasn’t adjusted. But thankfully we are now happy with it. Since I don’t remember who all has been mentioned where in what context, and editing past history can be viewed very badly in these turbulent times, I am instead going to list out our district representative characters and their current, possibly new backgrounds as well as the thinking behind it all.

Light Riders:
Vesper “Ves” Leilament–American and white, no change.
Shizuka “Kitty” Sweetsong–Japanese and Asian, no change.
Vivienne “Viva” Streetbeats–Tahitian and mixed (Polynesian and black-French), no change.
Elena “Len” Treeharmony–Brazilian and olive complexion, no change
Minna “Minnie” Opuswright–German and black, she is the one who changed the most and the least at the same time. Minnie’s original character for a different project was German and black, we switched her to Middle Eastern when we changed projects before the Shadow Riders existed…and now we’ve changed her back.
Charlotte “Lottie” Mistwaltz–French and white, no change.
Isidora “Izzy” Silvertreble–Russian and white, no change.

Shadow Riders:
Vanessa “Nessie” Ribbonmelody–changed from German to Swiss since Minnie is now (back) to being German, and white, no other change.
Victoria “Vickie” Blackpiano–English and changed from white to being of Indian descent. She grew up in London still, but her family would have immigrated. I wanted us to have more representation from Asia, and it fit the character really well to make this transition. I’m sure we’ll find further edits down the road that will need to happen. (Like my scripts for demo weeks. I literally just realized that. Next on my to do list!)
Veronica “Roni” Highflute–Greek and olive complexion, no change.
Vivian “Viv” Streetbeats (no, not a typo, I swear)–Tahitian and mixed (Polynesian and black-French), no change.
Varteni “Var” Heatforte: Armenian and olive complexion, no change.

Princess Rowan–Astranaran and mixed (black and white, presents black), no change.
Prince Elowen–Astranaran and mixed (black and white, presents black), no change.

Hopefully this ratio makes sense, covers everything well for the start and then we can build it up as we go to other countries to keep things equal. I obviously will have to review our current characters and our new characters as we build them, and make sure each group fits this ratio. Most of the groups aren’t finished yet, which makes it harder to see where we are at, but obviously as the game continues to develop, we will keep a sharp eye on our ratio.

Ginny and I haven’t talked much about the police, but we have talked about having small mounted police, and they will be spread out. We are definitely not going to have any kind of military present in the game, aside from guards in the palace (which is like the Secret Service) and you may run into one cop in an area. Interaction will be limited with them.

Hopefully these steps will show that we are committed to equality and we want to help. If you have any thoughts for how we can further make adjustments, please let me know in the comments or to our e-mail, and we will see what we can do. Change is needed, and we will do our best to speed it along.