Beta plot discussion and feedback [spoilers]

Newly arrived from India, Sara Crewe must make friends at a British boarding school. A light-yuri simulation game based on the classic novel.
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hanako
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Beta plot discussion and feedback [spoilers]

#1 Postby hanako » Tue May 03, 2016 5:59 pm

Are you playing the beta? This is the thread to talk about stuff in!

Favorite characters, routes you love, routes you hate, blathering, what-have-you.

If you are British and notice that I have failed to properly brit-up a spelling somewhere please let me know. I don't usually try to go pure British but with this book being set in London I thought it seemed appropriate.

If something in a scene or route bothers you and you think it should be changed, or you think something important is missing from a route, this is the place to make your case. I will not always be able to agree or go along with suggestions, but I will at least listen, and sometimes readers come up with pretty awesome ideas.

Since details may change, please don't talk about the plot or post screenshots anywhere outside of this forum until the beta period ends.

Thanks!

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Re: Beta plot discussion and feedback [spoilers]

#2 Postby Runespoor » Tue May 03, 2016 11:56 pm

It might be bad form to come over to squee after having finished only one route so far, but just in case it's not I wanted to.

Lavinia's route feels like romancing Vriska Serket in a Victorian school might. It's a good thing. More to follow when I have more thoughts than squee.

Hanako, I felt that some of the French was just a bit awkward; can I suggest alternate turns of phrases?

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Re: Beta plot discussion and feedback [spoilers]

#3 Postby hanako » Wed May 04, 2016 12:48 am

Absolutely! My French is pretty rusty.

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Re: Beta plot discussion and feedback [spoilers]

#4 Postby Runespoor » Thu May 05, 2016 9:49 pm

French notes!

I haven't gone all over the game yet, but I've played through Mariette's route. Except for one or two things, what I noted here isn't wrong so much as I think there's a more natural way to put it.

I forgot to mark the weeks, I'm sorry.

Act I
Mariette :
« Is it alright if I ask you a few questions about yourself ?
- C'est bon, mademoiselle. » → Weird sounding. « It's alright » doesn't translate well. « Bien sûr » would work better (but it means « of course »). « Si vous le souhaitez » ou « si vous voulez » means as you wish. « Certainement » is a possibility. Unfortunately, none really convey reluctance on Mariette's part.

Sara reading the French schoolbook:
« le pere » « la mere » «  le frere » awwww accents are gone.

Mr Dufarge to Ermengarde :
« Écoutez-vous » : Do you mean « listen »? That would be « Écoutez » on its own, or « Écoutez bien » (which would mean something closer to « listen closely »).

Mariette week 9 ; « volume de la poésie française » → I think you'd be better off getting rid of « la ».

Mariette week 12 : « qu'est-ce qu'il se passe ? » is correct, but « que se passe-t-il ? » is more proper. I prefer the latter for polished Mariette.

Mariette week 22 : « dans les provinces » ; if Mariette wants to sound astoundingly Parisian about it, she'd say « en province », singular. There's Paris, and there's la province – that which isn't Paris : it matters very little where it is.

« ...sortez de mon chemin. » → would read more natural as « hors de mon chemin ». Wow, Mariette is furious. It's a very aggressive turn of phrase.

Act I
Sara talking to Jessie :
Jessie convo :
« vous êtes une fille charmante » → « vous êtes une jeune fille charmante ». « fille » on its own wouldn't have been used for a young lady, it more or less referred to prostitutes.

Act II
Lavinia's route :
Lavinia : « si amusant !... » (« so funny ! ») it would sound more natural as « comme c'était amusant ! » or « que c'était drôle ! » but then again, Lavinia isn't a native speaker... (« drôle » has the same kind of meaning as « queer » when Lavinia uses it, to speak of something a little unusual.)

Act II
Mariette's route :
not a nitpick, but I gasped in delight when Mariette called Sara « ma chérie ». Yay protective Mariette!

« Quel idiot je fais ! » → « quelle idiote je fais ! » ou « quelle idiote je suis ! » You want the female form.

I'll get back to you about more constructive remarks. So far my big crit - and one that I realize isn't so easy to fix - is that I wish Act II involved more decisions on the player's part - maybe a branching off point? Stats are quite easy to gain. Act I gives a choice between the different characters, but on Act II once you're locked into a route, it's smooth sailing. Perhaps there could be a choice, not between characters, but between events on the same week for the same character, with different requirements? Bigger requirements might give a different scene (perhaps concluding with a different ending, or starting/concluding a sidestory? It could give a nod to Melchisedech)?

I've played through Lavinia, Mariette and Jessie's routes. I love each of them, though the Jessie one really does make me wish there was some way to reach out to Lavinia as well. (Lavinia Herbert: consistently the worst and yet.) I think my favorite so far might be Mariette, surprisingly; there's something so satisfying about the way Sara comes to realise their relation in Act I wasn't and couldn't be equal, and the way Mariette finally lets go of her resentment, and I loved the idea of Sara taking Mariette for a model. Mariette being angry at Miss Minchin on Sara's behalf is amazingly cathartic.

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Re: Beta plot discussion and feedback [spoilers]

#5 Postby hanako » Fri May 06, 2016 12:25 am

Thanks hugely! I think some of those accents went missing when I was having encoding problems early on (they kept getting mangled and I took a bunch out, but failed to restore them all)

Don't worry about making note of weeks, I can find phrases fairly easily.

« volume de la poésie française » → I think you'd be better off getting rid of « la ».


I'm still not sure about this one. I googled for it originally and found a lot more hits for the phrase with la in it than without, unless there's a subtle difference in meaning that I'm missing.

As for Melchisedec, he makes his featured appearances on Ermengarde's route, iirc.

---

Another user helpfully pointed out that I've gotten into a bad habit of lay/laid errors (whoops!) so I've been cleaning up a bunch of those as well. Just noting that in case anyone else spots them. :) Should be fixed for the final.

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Re: Beta plot discussion and feedback [spoilers]

#6 Postby Runespoor » Fri May 06, 2016 11:06 am

« volume de la poésie française » vs « de poésie française »
It’s a grammar thing. “Anthologie de la poésie française” is dependant on the word “anthologie”, it’s a set phrase. In that case, the « la » article indicates the book concerns all of French poetry, and the selected texts are especially representative/a best of. The assembled texts stand in for the whole of several centuries worth of poetry.

In your case, the corpus is only one author. So you might say it’s “a volume de la poésie de M. Authorsname” – it stands in for that author’s work – but you wouldn’t say it’s representative of the entirety of French poetry. It’s still French poetry, so the less hyperbolic “de poésie française” is true, because it merely characterizes the book, and that’s the characteristic that Mariette is interested in.

There’s one way Mariette could say “volume de la poésie française” without it being ‘wrong’, and that’s if she’s being self-deprecative, or ironic, or passive-aggressive, or something, by pretending to make a much bigger deal out of one book than the actual (monetary, literary, historical, take your pick) worth of the book. I wouldn’t put it past her/you, but it’s not the most obvious reading level, and it might be a little too subtle.

It is an extremely minor nitpick. :P I’m keyed up to pick French in English-language works apart.

--
I’ve been thinking about Lavinia some, and one thing I’d have loved to see in her route is something (a scene, a hint, a letter from her family, something) that shows her issues about being mixed-race aren’t all in her head. As it stands, there are a few comments - Cook’s comments, Becky’s morbid delight about heathens, Sara recounting the tales of her father’s acquaintances to Jessie – but none that are either directed at Lavinia, or even uttered in her hearing. It’s not hard to imagine she’s heard her share, but a more direct danger on Lavinia’s social standing would… go some way toward… making her more… sympathetic? I know, she’s Consistently The Worst. Jessie and Becky and Mariette’s routes all include direct acknowledgement to the social pressures and dangers they face, through existing threats. Lavinia’s raise the issue of racism in the same society but she’s the one making it an issue.

One thing I didn’t like about the Lavinia route but realize it was probably the point is how passive Sara felt to me. Especially in that route I wished there were ways to make choices as the player – maybe even just to get the heck away? Or to prod the issue of Lavinia being mixed-race earlier. Sara’s almost perpetually confused in that route, and Lavinia’s abusive as usual, and I do wish I had some power over either of these things. (my real wish would be to have the opportunity to have Sara choose not to run away and instead confront willingly Lavinia And Her Issues, but that goes pretty definitely against the gameplay.) I loved how messed-up that route is, but I guess I’m wishing there were ways to make it so in a different way.

And while I’m wishing Lavinia stuff, I also wished there was some kind of 3-way ending because Jessie’s happy ending and Lavinia’s make it obvious this is so not over!

On a non all-Lavinia-all-the-time note, I am a bit frustrated with how linear Act II is. Would epilogues be possible? LLTQ-like epilogues dependant on stats would give more weight to the gameplay, especially in the second half of the game.

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Re: Beta plot discussion and feedback [spoilers]

#7 Postby hanako » Fri May 06, 2016 4:46 pm

Alas, epilogues mostly fall into the classic category of "if it sells well enough, maybe there could be an expansion" :)

Thanks for explaining the poetry difference, I get it now.

I'm adding a coded remark from Miss Minchin at a certain point, since she's the one person who likely does know and would be willing to use it to keep Lavinia in line.

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Re: Beta plot discussion and feedback [spoilers]

#8 Postby adirosa » Sun May 08, 2016 3:35 am

Something that might be nice to clarify is the part where certain stats are based on the previous stat gains in the week, such as 'double (stat)' or 'gain half of (stat) and (other stat)'. It's not clear that it's referring to the stats you gained throughout the week, and I initially thought it had to do with how much of each stat Sara had at the time.

Also, I finished Becky route and it was very very cute!!!

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Re: Beta plot discussion and feedback [spoilers]

#9 Postby cecilia » Sun May 08, 2016 5:08 am

Is it intentional that the Becky route is available even if the act 1 scenes aren't completed? It seems like it would make sense, plot-wise, but I was a bit surprised to see it there in a file where I hadn't touched her route (since it was a second playthrough and I'd already completed her path)

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Re: Beta plot discussion and feedback [spoilers]

#10 Postby hanako » Sun May 08, 2016 12:06 pm

Yes, it is - considering Sara's living circumstances in the second act, I thought it would be silly to not have it as an option.

Also, since it's technically possible to finish act 1 without having completed anyone's scenes, having Becky available as a fallback in Act 2 prevents the game from getting stuck, since you can't complete act 2 without a route. Act 1 will end after the fixed number of weeks has passed, regardless of how many character scenes you've seen. The end of Act 2, however, is triggered by getting to a "climax" scene at the end of a girl's route. If you play Act 2 and steadfastly refuse to pick any girl scenes, then eventually you'll just start getting weeks of stat-raising with no plot events happening at all, and that will happen forever until you give in and finish the character plot. :)

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Re: Beta plot discussion and feedback [spoilers]

#11 Postby LumberingCrane » Sun May 08, 2016 4:27 pm

I only finished one route so far and it was Becky's (this was 4 days ago), and I'm still not over it. I kinda needed a break after that since my heart is especially weak to this kind of story, especially act 2, so I needed a breather. Another reason is that I loved that route so much that it'll be hard for me to move on to another one :oops:

As I've already said my piece so far (That I love this game to high heaven) in another forum post, I'll just post whatever little criticism(?) I have, even though it's too substantial to be added at this point:
- This isn't really a criticism, but the different routes felt more like Persona's social links to me more than anything. It's there to compliment the story, but it doesn't change what happens in the main story whatsoever. I thought it would once the route was locked, but a brief check in another route showed me that the story is unchanged. I suppose I expected this to be like Royal Trap where the routes are vastly different from each other in the way they progressed. (Gaston is always going to be the best prince :mrgreen: )
- I was really surprised and slightly horrified to see the new stats on Act 2, since they were very depressing and so was a polar opposite to the normal and comparatively cheery stats on Act 1 (This is intentional, I believe). I was excited though, because I thought it would be a new mechanic this time around where we have to do the opposite of act 1's stat raising, wherein we have to plan it in a way that no one stat would be too high (since they're all negative) so we would have to essentially keep the stat raising as spread out as possible to have the least amount of stat gain by the end of the week, and that if it would reach the max limit it would result in a bad ending. It would've been a real shock for those expecting a relaxing experience, then suddenly get blind-sided with this much more difficult 2nd act (Maybe to reflect what's happening in the story too?). I'm not disappointed by the lack of this, I just thought that it would've been cool to have that.

Though if it wasn't obviously already, I really love this game and I consider this to be one of the most enjoyable VN's I've ever played. I am now highly interested for yuri adaptions of other novels.
Last edited by LumberingCrane on Sun May 08, 2016 4:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Beta plot discussion and feedback [spoilers]

#12 Postby hanako » Sun May 08, 2016 4:30 pm

Heh, you're not the first person to have thought that about trying not to max out the bad stats. It's a neat idea, though I think it would be the wrong tone for this game if poor Sara actually did starve to death. I can certainly see other stories where that might be a possible mechanic. :)

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Re: Beta plot discussion and feedback [spoilers]

#13 Postby LumberingCrane » Sun May 08, 2016 5:06 pm

Yep, I definitely see your point. I wasn't thinking of death per se as the bad ending, just maybe any of the stats being too high would be enough to make Sara break and lose hope and her positive outlook. Again though, I still think that would be too much for this game even with the shift in tone on Act 2. It also might be out of character as well.

Haha, Sorry for the wordy previous post by the way :oops: . I went overboard with the description.

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Re: Beta plot discussion and feedback [spoilers]

#14 Postby Darksilverhawk » Tue May 10, 2016 5:35 am

Oh gosh this is so cute. I just marathoned through one route to completion (Mariette's) so have a few initial gut reactions.

1. This is all so cute.
2. After about 5 weeks I started really wishing there was some way to view the stat requirements for available events as I picked my activities for the week; with (potentially) two long scenes between seeing the events screen and reaching the scheduling screen, I would frequently forget exactly which stats I needed to be raising for the next desired event and just focus on the lowest ones. That said, the pace of the game overall may be slow enough that it doesn't really matter, since it does seem to be hard to actually miss events if you're aiming for them. See point 3b for further stat thoughts.
3. I also found myself a little frustrated at the route locking in act II. The transition for bouncing from character to character in act I to suddenly having to pick one right at the beginning of act II was a little... jarring, I guess? I was sort of hoping of Sara to continue the friendships from act I in some form, not pretty much abandon everyone but one person. I would totally understand only being able to follow one route to completion; maybe once you get halfway through the act II events with one character then it would lock you out of the other routes?
3b. I admit I was also starting to skim through a little near the end, since it was 1 am and I wanted to finish a route before I go to bed, but I also started COMPLETELY IGNORING the stat raising mechanics a few weeks into act II. I had no trouble reaching the minimum stats at any time by simply picking random activities every week.
4. Did I mention this game is really cute?

I need to go to bed, so more coherent thoughts will probably come tomorrow after I do Jessie and Becky's routes.

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Re: Beta plot discussion and feedback [spoilers]

#15 Postby hanako » Tue May 10, 2016 12:22 pm

The very earliest design did have the route-locking happening later in act 2, but this caused problems with pacing and consistency between the different routes. The act2 storyline has a lot more urgency and flow, with one event connected to another more directly than they are in the first act. Jumping between characters feels disjointed and leaves stories hanging much more noticeably... and if you try to follow too many paths at once, you'll end up running out of act 2 common content long before finishing the route, which is not how I want a new player's first playthrough to go.

At the break between acts, though, it's part of the story that she's at least temporarily cut off from everyone, and the first scene on every possible act 2 route reinforces that loneliness. So you can play the first scene on multiple act 2 routes, beating the drum of poor Sara feeling miserable, before taking someone's second act2 scene and getting locked into a route.


--

Side note - there's been some discussion about Lottie's age, considering the need to balance her very childish presentation with her ability to interact with Sara and have enough self-direction for her own route. In the original beta release she's still listed as ten. I'm considering moving that down to eight (I don't think she can go any lower than that).

Feel free to chime in with thoughts on Lottie's age!


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