Blaugust Prompt #10 – The process behind my blog posts

Do I have specific routines for the process of creating a blog post? Are there differences between different types of posts? Do I only write posts on my PC? Do I only write at certain given times? Do I have a schedule for recurring topics? Well, this question and everything around the process of creating a blog post, in today’s Blaugust Prompt, hosted by Pae from NerdyBookahs

TL;DR: Yes, Yes, PC/Laptop, Yes, No, and more information!

The actual prompt is called: “What’s your process when creating a blog post?”

Now, I’d have to clarify that the process is different for every type of post. I tend to do Stray Sheep and other entries that are more wordy, ranty or just rambly in one sitting and edit them later. I usually sit down with a cup of tea or a mug of coffee, based on the time, and start writing… and when I’m done, my coffee is either empty or has gone cold, which is always a bummer. 

Speaking of “based on the time”, I tend to either write in the evenings or the mornings. During the day, I have to work on real-life stuff and study and do all of that, so I end up only having time to write when I get up and drink my coffee or when I am done with everything in the evening if there’s enough time before the stream. 

As far as to “where”, I tend to do it at my desk using my PC. Based on what I do, I can just use the second screen for music or research or whatever, while writing on the screen in front of me. When I didn’t have the PC yet, I would sit down on my bed and write on my laptop. I did try to edit a post on my phone once… but it’s incredibly hard to pull off and I suck at typing on my phone, even as a GenZ/Zoomer, “lol”. Alas, I usually go for the PC and just work on there. It’s the cosiest and most efficient, I’d say. I don’t have to tab in and out as much and I can type rather fast.

I have to rely on my laptop whenever I’m not at home or at my desk. I used to sometimes work on blog stuff at University in between breaks when I had too little time to work on university stuff and when I had just enough time to edit a picture and put it into a blog post or something like that. Over time, I ended up not doing that anymore, though, since my laptop has become slow and loud… and it can’t be helped since it’s already six years old but it still works when I’m at my parents and the volume of it doesn’t bother me there either, unlike in class. 

As far as schedules go: I don’t usually go for a schedule. I try to get posts out as soon as possible while not posting twice or even three times a day. Spacing out posts is important. While not my primary concern, I also want my posts to get read: Hence, I try to have a few days between reviews, so that some of the reviews can gain traction through Twitter, Discord, and the WordPress reader. At the same time, though, posts can also gain views when you post others and when people click off from them to others, so I try to space them out a bit but not too much. In the end, it’s a bit of a struggle between posting daily and potentially burning out but staying consistent enough for google to pick you up… and just posting every few days and potentially risk losing discoverability. 

I did once try to post a review every week with an additional post per week… but it ended up burning me out a bit and I posted fewer reviews for a while. Essentially Stray Sheep can be posted asap while reviews take a bit of work and cannot be mass-produced by me, at least with my standards and the value I put into them. The new Lookout Post also takes a bit of time to prepare as I want to get facts right or talk about certain games. The Gaming Journal posts also are more like gaming-related Stray Sheep that get posted once done.

Now, while other posts usually end up just being a write-up of sorts, reviews take a bit of work for me personally. Based on the game, I try to see every feature and every nook and cranny of it. Sometimes, you get the bigger picture already after a few minutes to hours, like in Fall Guys, but in other cases, it tends to take more than just hours. I’m working on a review of Outer Wilds right now and while it is written up, I fear that I’m spoiling too much. To find out whether or not I liked it, I had to complete the story, which didn’t take too long… Just 24 hours in total, according to steam. After that, I wrote up a post that is nearly 4000 words long (3870 words to be exact) and now I have to cut out words so that it ends up being shorter and less spoilery.

I essentially play games that I want to review, take screenshots wherever I can, and then take notes and write a post. 

Now, usually, posts can be as long as needed but reviews are a bit iffy in that regard, too. Reviews are supposed to give you insights on a game and whether or not you should buy or (rather) play it. Nowadays, people tend to not have the time to read through a post that requires you approximately 30 minutes to read through. Instead, people end up reading posts more that are shorter and more compact with more compressed information and essentially a TLDR at the beginning or even a summary that you can skip to when you’re in a hurry. 

But I don’t want to do that. I don’t want people to skip over my post. If they want to, they surely can do that, but I don’t want to enable them to exactly skip through everything, so I end up posting reviews that are long enough for me to see them as actual posts… but short enough so that people can finish them in a bus ride or in between. Hence, my posts are about 1000 to 1300 words long and get trimmed down to that. 1100 words are about 3-4 minutes of read-time, according to Grammarly and other sources. This varies based on the skill of the reader and the words of choice but generally, they are “long” but not “too long”. 

Back to my post on Outer Wilds: According to this post here, it would take a slow reader about half an hour to get through my review in its current state. Even a faster reader like me would need nearly 10 minutes for it, which could be considered too long already. So, I have to cut it down to about 1000 words or 1300 at max… or even a bit more, but not too much.

The other reason as to why I have to cut it down is spoilers. Outer Wilds is heavily based on exploration. Every screenshot, every information, every reference, every joke, every single word can ruin the experience. The same goes for my posts on Necrobarista or Milky Way Prince – The Vampire Star. Being visual novels, their story is really important for the experience of the player. Every single word that I could write, could be a word too much. Hence, I have to see what I can do about that, how I play around it, how much I can say and what I would consider a spoiler… or what information would be a key-information for me. In Outer Wilds, for instance, the information, that [no spoilers], was crucial to my understanding. Hence, that information would ruin everything about the game for the reader. Duh.

Hence, I need to get rid of all the information that people don’t need to know before they play the game. The screenshots mostly are either pretty or add to my information but never show any bosses from late-game or whatever… The information is always based on the first few hours of my experience while the issues are things that I encountered over the course of my playthrough. 

After I’m done writing the review, I then go and research some facts about the game like the Developer, Publisher, Release Date, Platforms, Genres and put them into a small verse-block to essentially give people a quick look into what the game is about and whether or not the game is something they might be interested in. I also look for a featured image since that’s going to be displayed on top of the post and since that one will be in the link text and all of that. 

At last, after all of that, I tend to go back to the beginning and write a pitch of sorts. Something creative that basically invites people to come to the post. In my review for Milky Way Prince: The Vampire Star, I ended up talking about idealization and intimacy by first alluding to the very first time I met my current girlfriend and the somewhat cringy but also very hopelessly romantic memory I had of that. That anecdote then relates to topics in the game and I refer to the summary of the story without telling too much about it. Afterwards, I welcome the reader to another review and head into it. 

That works quite often. 

Sometimes, I need to find other words for it though… I can’t just start every review with “Today’s Indietail is about [game name], a [genres] title” – that would make every review generic and less personal. Instead, I’d love to write a short paragraph or two about something related to it. In my review on Ayre, I asked questions about freedom and flying… and while not that creative, I couldn’t really come up with anything else, so I just went for that. Still better than nothing!

So, to sum it all up: I do work at certain times, I do have certain routines, I prefer my computer as a workspace, and usually I have some coffee or tea ready for the process of writing. Reviews take a lot of work and effort since I am considering these things and a lot more… and I tend to write posts up and then later worry about editing, layout, and the initial pitch… in that order! 

Thanks for reading this post so far! You’re a champ!

This prompt was hosted by Pae, so check her post out if you haven’t yet. The next post in line is by Krikket, so check her out as well! 

Cheers!

This post is part of the Blaugust 2020 event. Wanna know more about it? Then check out my post on it or Bel’s post where he also linked everyone who’s participating! Be sure to check out the others as well!

Indietail – Necrobarista

At last year’s GamesCom I interviewed Ngoc Vu, the lead artist from Route 59, who at the time worked on Necrobarista. Now that the game is out I got a key for review purposes and, well,…

TLDR: I love it. It’s a great game. Why? Find out here!

Developer: Route 59
Publisher: Route 59, Coconut Island Games
Genres: Supernatural, 3D, Story Rich, Visual Novel
Release Date: July 22nd, 2020
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC - but PS4 and Switch are planned soon as well!
Copy was provided by the Devs.

Necrobarista is about time. Time to move on – or time to stay. Somewhere in a backstreet of Melbourne, there’s a Café where both the alive and the healthy come to. When you pass away, you have 24 hours to stay in that Café, have a drink and then move on… and Necrobarista tells a story about the owners of that Café and the people that come there. It’s a story about the ethics of Necromancy, hipster coffee, and letting go.

Strap on for a haunting and innovative experience and a haunting, yet cosy, time!

Meet Maddy, Chay, Ashley, and Ned – as well as a bunch of other characters! Get to know them! Listen to them and have a cosy time. I really liked the characters as all of them had a certain depth to them (without spoiling too much here). There’re all kinds of characters in all kinds of shapes and colours, so there’s some degree of inclusiveness here with representation for all kinds of people, which is something that I really fancy.

Necrobarista has a certain cosy slice-of-life-ness to it that I really enjoyed while playing. On top of that, though, it also has some intense moments here and there as well as some rather emotional moments. Think about it: It’s your last day on earth. I’ll just leave that there and you can think about it all you want, get emotional or shrug it off. Whatever you feel like. The story leaves a lot of room for interpretation and analysis, which is something that I personally really enjoyed doing. At some plot points, it made me feel down a bit but other plot points felt really nice and wholesome in a way. And while overall cosy, it gets intense later on as well.

What’s interesting is that you don’t spectate the story from the lens of one character that looks at all the characters interacting with only them, like in a lot of other visual novels, but rather you get different perspectives and points of view. You get to see the characters from the POV of one character or from above or the camera moves around a bit, panning while you read the text. There are no text boxes on the bottom side of the screen. Instead, you see them floating near the characters. You always know who’s talking but they are always somewhere else, making the game feel more whole and organic. It’s lovely.

A lot of these feelings are conveyed through the colours and the soundtrack. Necrobarista’s soundtrack has been composed by Kevin Penkin who’s known for making the soundtrack of Under The Dog, Made in Abyss, and The Rising of the Shield Hero. I’d put Necrobarista’s soundtrack on the same level as Made in Abyss. I love it to bits. It’s cosy and joyful, endearing and amusing but it also can be intense and mystic, enigmatic and threatening. That – combined with the lo-fi style that uses not only gorgeous images and colours but also some slight animations here and there – makes this just a wonderful experience.

And while I would have loved this game to branch out into choices and a story with different kinds of stories that you can explore over time, it really is not that kind of game.

It’s linear but still quite rich. I love the story and the aesthetic. The characters are great. The soundtrack underlines the plot points and brings the best out of everything. Again, I can’t praise Kevin Penkin enough but after what he did in Made in Abyss, it’s no surprise that the soundtrack for this game turned out so great. It sticks to your head and you notice a “sound” that you ultimately recognize as “Necrobarista-like” – or at least that’s what I feel like when I hear those tunes somewhere else now.

The story is linear but doesn’t need the branches. Of course, there is still some degree regarding choices.

For instance, you get to pick words that you’ve heard from different people at the end of every chapter. These words get associated with different meanings and subjects or people depending on the context and the character that said them. When you pick them, you then gain memory fragments from different categories. You then can use these fragments in the Café while walking around before continuing the story. You use them to unlock side stories or “memories” (essentially extra lore) that you can read on to learn more about the characters.

You click on “Blood” and get a fragment for “Magic” as it was mentioned in that context. You click on “Weather” and get a fragment for “Melbourne” as they were talking about a storm brewing. You click on “Minor Demon” and get a fragment for “Lore” as it’s part of the world that those exist… and “bowl of peas” belongs to “Food” as Ned loves them. Use these different fragments up for some nice and short stories in between chapters and collect more to unlock more stories. At some point, you’ll get through the main story but you can always load previous chapters and load previous save states, so it shouldn’t be a problem to unlock all of them, especially as you can view what you need and what you have already in the “memories” section of the pause menu.

I liked this feature. It creates a bit of replayability which is quite nice overall.

And you also get to explore the space a bit to unlock more short stories. Visit the basement or the bar, the Café’s upper area or the outside area. Look at different objects.

Enjoy the view. Take some pretty screenshots! I did, too! A lot of them!

But seriously. It’s a great game. I guess this is not a game for you if you’re not into reading or if you don’t like Visual Novels or anime or stories revolving around life and death… or if you feel like there’s not enough action in this game… but that’s your loss then. I highly recommend this game. I didn’t find any issues with it. The story, presentation, the characters, the gameplay, and the score were just great if not even superb and I loved it.

Necrobarista just came out on Steam! Check it out or wishlist it! Highly recommend it!

I’m glad that I saw it at last year’s GamesCom. I’m glad that I did that interview. I’m glad that I started this blog. Next week, the blog turns a year old and if it wasn’t for the blog I wouldn’t have been able to write about all kinds of topics and about these kinds of games. I love it. I hope you’re enjoying the blog posts, too. Until then.

Cheers!

The Stray Sheep #22 – GamesCom-Interviews #4 – Answer Knot, Nanotale & Necrobarista

So, today’s Stray Sheep is going to cover the next three interviews. This one features Naraven Games’ Answer Knot, Fishing Cactus’ Nanotale – Typing Chronicles and Route 59’s Necrobarista. After this, there’s going to be two more posts with interviews, featuring the dev/publisher of Tunic and Overland in one postand the devs of Kingdom, Flotsam, and Foundation in another post, so stay tuned for those!

Before we’re going into the actual interviews, I’d like to update you on what’s going to happen after all these interviews are posted: 

In two days, Blaugust is coming to an end which is why I’m going to feature three games in two interview posts from now on. On September 1st, I’ll publish a post about what I’ve learned from all this and that kinda stuff. 

Anyways, let’s get to those interviews. Answer Knot is a “short narration and exploration game about Zach, June, and a strange phenomenon”. You’re playing as Zach and you’re hearing June’s messages on your answering machine. To hear the next message and find out what’s happening outside of the house, you need to complete tasks in your apartment like checking if there’s beer in the fridge or turn on the radio. 

I talked to Julia Jeanneret, the narrative designer of Answer Knot, who, at first, didn’t want to do an interview in person in fear of me putting her on the spot – but I’d never do anything like that, right? 

What was the most exciting or even fun part about working on this project?

“The most fun part? […] I guess the photo-shooting was the most fun. That really was only fun. [When] you play the game, you see all those photos of these two actors, they don’t know each other in real life, […]. There’re the snow and the lake and everything was taken on the same day in Geneva! That was probably the most fun about it all.”

What’s your biggest inspiration for this game, the story and everything?

“The story-line was very heavily inspired by an audio-youtube video called ‘Colds‘” [remind me to link that one] 

“And game-wise it’s more inspired by Gone Home and all those walking-simulators.” 

[Due to it being quite late that day, I didn’t ask that many questions as I also limited myself to about 5-minute-interviews! And a few questions just kind of weren’t audible at all, so…]

Now, we’ll talk about a few fun questions. So, if you were a superhero, what would your superpower and hero name be?

“[…] I gotta think about my name… but I guess my superpower would be being able to make an entire game by my self because I don’t like relying that much on people. I love people, but seriously I’d like to be able to do everything by myself.”

Yeah, I hate people, too. 

“And for my name… I don’t know, I guess I’ll have to think about it a bit longer. […]”

Uhm, since you’re Julia… how about… Solo-ia. Okay, that’s quite bad, let’s proceed. 

If you could meet one video game character from any game in real life, who would it be and what would you do with them? 

“[…] Aw, I feel like I’m going to say something super lame and think later that I should’ve said something better.”

Don’t worry. If it’s super lame, I’ll cut it out later.

“Thank you!” (laughs)

 Just kidding.

“I think I would like to meet Nathan Drake.”

Who?

“Nathan Drake from the Uncharted Series and I would just hang out with him.”

Oh, okay. I haven’t played those.

“You haven’t played the Uncharted Series?”

Well, tbh, I think I own it on Steam but my laptop’s too bad to run it… so… yeah. Will try it out later. [Possible LttP-post here!]

“Yeah, you should. Then you’ll also see what a fun person Nathan is.”

What’s your favourite antagonist?

“I think, it’s GlaDos from Portal.”

Oh, she’s great! And what’s your favourite game right now?

“That’s something you shouldn’t ask.”

How about your ALL-TIME-favourite game then? 😛

“[…] I have several games that are linked to different parts of my life. There’s Skyrim, Life is Strange, God of War, Pokémon, Kingdom Hearts, and I guess it’s a mix of all these different games! But I can’t pick a favourite, that’s too difficult for me. 

It’s like what’s your favourite child?”

(Some other dev in the back): “Not that one.”

“Everyone but this one!”

So, yeah, that’s the interview basically. I had a lot of fun talking to Julia and I really enjoyed Answer Knot, especially since I’m one of those not-answering-people myself and I felt bad for June and stuff… The story took an interesting turn and I didn’t really expect it all that much. The puzzling was great and, well, I guess I can’t really say much about it because of spoilers and all that! It’s actually available on Steam for free right now, so you should definitely check it out, as it doesn’t even take that much time to play! Lovely! 🙂

For the next interview, I’ve talked to the artist of Nanotale – Typing Chronicles, Amandine Flahaut. Nanotale‘s a typing game and there’s lots of exploring and fighting/typing going on there.

What was the most exciting part of working on this game? 

“Uhm… Everything. […] I’m the artist, so I work at the art directions of the game and I created everything, so I created the world and I tried to keep the same art style as in [Epistory] our first game while still changing the world. […] Even coming here [to the GamesCom] and speaking to people about the game, is really exciting for me.”

How satisfied are you with the game at its current stage? Are there any plans for future updates?

“Oh, what you see is a demo. […] We’re improving a lot of things right now and we’re going to add a few more things and big areas like this one since this is only the first area. I want to make things a lot more beautiful but I [also] think that we’re doing great for now. […] The more you want to do now, the less good the result becomes.”

If you were a superhero, what would your power and hero name be?

“Oh, I already am a superhero. I am CUTTER GIRL! I am clumsy and imagine the world being in danger and you telling me to do anything but press that one dangerous button. Well, I’d manage to do just do that. I’ll [trip], something behind me falls and presses the button.”

And that’s your superpower?

“Eh, Yes! Because I can just leave the villains alone and when they escape something bad happens to them, so they’ll just wait there for the police to come.”

If you could meet one character from Nanotale in real life who would it be?

“[…] The green jasper! It’s some kind of a mix between an axolotl, a rabbit and a cat. It’s very cute. It has some kind of kink ears. And I think it would be great to have it in real life as well! Oh, and it smells of MINTS!”

So, Nanotale is coming out soon. Check it out! It’s looking great and for a typing game, some fights felt quite intense, to say the least! I really appreciated the prototype for a holographic monitor that they had set up near the booth. Looking forward to how that one’s going to get developed in the future! 🙂 

Onto the last interview for today! Necrobarista is about a back-alley café in Melbourne where “the dead are granted one last night to mingle with the living”. It’s a visual novel with 3D-animation by Route 59. I’ve interviewed Ngoc Vu, the lead artist for this game.

So, what inspired you to make Necrobarista?

“The director, the 3D-artists and I sat together while we all studied together at Uni. We were all discussing how much we were loving Anime [and] how much we were loving visual novels and [since] we studied Unity during our university years we thought ‘why not just make a 3D-style visual novel?’. And that was the main pillar of the development of Necrobarista.”

So, Necrobarista is about a coffee shop were spirits and humans go to. Is it a rather peaceful game or does it get intense later on, too?

“It does get a little intense later on but I’d say that, for the most part, it’s quite a cosy game. […]”

What was the most exciting part about working on this project?

“The most exciting part was deciding how we are going to produce the facial features for all the characters. That was the part that has undergone the most iterations. I would say especially how we’re creating the eyes […] with all its features like pupils, eyelashes, etc. And pretty much every facial feature has its own engine.”

Are you satisfied with the game at its current stage and are there any plans for future updates, chapters, and that kind of stuff?

“We are very happy with the game. So, the story is finished. The artwork is all locked in. Currently, we’re polishing menus and UI and player experience. As for updates, we are planning to release a DLC which will feature four new side characters and hopefully it will come out a little bit after the release date.”

So, now I’m going to ask those aforementioned “quirky questions” because I’m no professional. (She laughs) If you were a superhero what would your hero name and quirk be? 

“I’m a bit of a sticky bee” (I think that’s what she said but I’m not too sure… hit me up with corrections if it was something else!)

“I’d like to read people’s minds. […] As for a name… Oh, I’m really terrible with coming up with names. Maybe, the Needle.” (Again, not sure if that’s what she said. It was quite loud at the place and… yeah.)

She hates Dr Pepper, so I’ll just leave it at that. Next year I’ll come up with better questions for sure. :[ 

What’s your favourite video-game antagonist? or if that’s too hard, your favourite Anime-antagonist

“[…] There’s so many. I’d say Vegeta [as my favourite anime-antagonist] from Dragon Ball. But he turns into a pretty good guy.”

Spoilers.

“Well, too bad for you, if you haven’t seen Dragon Ball after twenty years. 

Well, yeah, he’s my favourite antagonist.”

Okay, so if you could meet a video-game character. Who would it be and what would you do together?

“[…] I was about to say Tingle from the Zelda-series but maybe not now… with him. […] Maybe rather Dr. [Hershel] Layton?”

That’d be so awesome! I love the Prof. Layton games!

“We’d probably go find coins […] and go fishing for fountain coins. Or he’d give me math-problems and put me back into eight-grade high school.”

So, Necrobarista‘s coming out soon, too, and as I may or may not do a review on that, I didn’t really want to spoil myself too much by already playtesting it there! So, I can’t really say much about it apart from the fact that it looked really cool and that the team behind it seemed really cool 😀 

Anyways, that’s it for today’s post. A bit late again, I know, but I’ve got no schedule, so nobody cares, I guess.

Tomorrow’s post will be about Tunic and Overland. Stay tuned for that one!

Anyways, have a good morning/day/evening/night/whatever and don’t forget:

Sometimes coffee makes you sleepier after drinking it, resulting in you falling alseep even though you wanted to stay up.

This post is part of a contest/challenge called Blaugust! The goal is to post as much as possible and participants are awarded with different prizes depending on the goal they achieved. My aim is to post on all 31 days of August and if you’d like to know more about this “event”, you should check this post out.