A lot of time and effort has been and will be put into SweetCanvas. That is to say, I'm not approaching this like a free release at all and could easily assign a price tag to it.
However instead of potentially making a return on investment, I would much rather have as many people as possible actually play and hopefully enjoy my game.
Going by ESRB standards (as we've interpreted them) SweetCanvas would likely get a T rating.
There is alcohol usage, suggestive imagery and dialogue, very limited profanity and some routes contain depictions of violence.
Unfortunately not, since I just can't afford it. Possibly in a future "Plus" version, if there's enough of a positive response to the initial release to warrant another Kickstarter for that specifically.
I won't be making any serious plans for merch while I still have the game to complete.
If you mean like PC98 VNs or more dating simulation type games, then no.
Isa can and will give gifts to whichever girl you're leaning towards/already on the route for, over the course of the narrative, but there are no affection mechanics.
I've been using Evernote (the free version) since it makes it easy to organize everything that I need, but you can use basically anything as long as you're comfortable with it!
The first character conceptualized was Isa, for obvious reasons. Although he still had to go through quite a few different iterations before I finally arrived at what he's currently like.
The first character that I sat down and designed visually was Kana, and unlike Isa, I got her right pretty much first try!
I started by figuring out their characters first. So their personalities, backstories, race, the role that they were going to play in the story and so on.
Then from there I just gave my best shot at creating memorable designs that embodied as much about them as I reasonably could given some of the limitations, like how a majority of the main cast needed to look good in their school's uniform, among other things.
The estimated length of the game is based on how much of the script is fully written (and how many hours that might roughly translate to in game) across all routes and projecting from that how much would still need to be written to reach each route's planned conclusion.
The main factor behind the length is how many routes there are, no route on its own would even begin to approach this length.
Seven characters means that on average, each route is a little over seven hours. Although, in practice, some routes are shorter and some are longer than others.
Also keep in mind that this is just an estimate. The full final playtime across all routes could and almost certainly will be either less or more than this estimate depending on how the script turns out, as well as in game factors like scene and day transitions, the users reading speed, whether you're reading on auto or manually advancing the text and other things of that nature.
I found that the most natural way for me to write a cohesive narrative that spans seven unique characters, who all need to also have their own self contained arcs, was to write things based on cause and effect. Meaning that I'm not going out of my way to force things to happen in a certain way (I mean obviously I literally am since I'm writing the story, but hopefully you get what I mean) I'm just allowing the story to play out in the way that I feel is the natural way for it to play out.
So no, I don't actually do either of those things. I first established all of the relevant information across all of the relevant characters, took into account what those characters roles societally were (societal roles as in: wealthy student, normal student, poor student, normal teacher, student with extenuating circumstances, non student, position of power, race, stuff like that) as well as what their personalities are, what their goals are, how easy it is for them to reach those goals given their societal roles, what they would do in the event that they couldn't reach their goals to either remedy that or change course, etc.
Then, from there I've just let the story develop itself, somewhat organically. I don't try to shoehorn any character into a position that they would not realistically be in within the context of all that I've developed about them as a person, just so that they have more screen time. For example, for much of the common route you hang out with Kana and Alys after school. Due to the relationships that the characters have to one another, because Alys is there, Kaela will usually not be there. That means that you spend significantly less time with Kaela than you do with Kana or Alys up until certain events do or don't happen (depending on your choices) that would lead to you getting closer to Kaela, and that's just the way that it has to be.
Another example, Beth, one of the main seven girls, literally just doesn't show up in the narrative at all for months because it just wouldn't make sense for her to even be in the city, and then once she does finally enter the city, it still wouldn't make sense for her to run into Isa until much much later, and after certain other things have already happened.
Another example, if you don't choose to do Io's route you barely ever speak to her, and so on.
Basically, I don't believe that it's necessary to give all of the characters equal screen time just because they exist, especially since this is the kind of game where you can make informed choices that determine who it is that you want to approach and therefore spend more time with. Although, not all of the routes are equal in length either. One of them is extremely long, three of them are roughly the same length, two of them are a bit shorter than those three and the last one is comparatively very brief.
It just came down to, how much time do I naturally need to spend on this route's specific story to best serve the narrative and themes of the overarching story, while also making sure that that specific story works as its own self contained narrative, and the answer is different for each character, either due to their circumstances or how they would interact with Isa and so on.
There used to be a mix of both. By the time that the story of SweetCanvas takes place however, only real animals are left.
The rules are actually pretty flexible, since a strict set of rules would be impractical when you have so many different races that you have to account for.
Technically you only need to be wearing the upper half of it. Specifically, the sweater vest and one of a ribbon, bowtie or tie are non negotiable, although students are obviously encouraged to wear all of it, if possible.
Seiki also does have a variety of alternate uniforms to accommodate races with less humanoid builds or needs.
Guns were never publicly invented in universe, so they just don't exist as a concept to the majority of people.
As for magic, there are strict laws on its usage by the time period that SweetCanvas is set in, meaning that the average person can't use it freely, if at all. It mostly applies to the other races though, since the average human wouldn't have been able to use any particularly noteworthy magic anyway.
The public has technology that's analogous to what we had in the 2010s in real life, so their appliances, industry, infrastructure etc. are all more or less completely modern
The city that the story is set in is a modern megacity, not to mention that their world doesn't technically have country borders anymore, so there's a mix of various cultures pretty much by default.
That being said, the culture of the city is distinctly Asian and most of the population was born and raised there, so yeah, they'll very often eat Asian foods.
Although, depending on the route, you will get to see how some of the girl's unique cultures and the culture of the city contrast, as well as how they bounce off of and mix with one another, and that is actually reflected in the foods they choose to make/eat as well
The five characters who are still in school are in their third year, their final year of highschool.
As for the characters who have long since graduated, Io's highest level of education is a bachelor's degree, and Beth has SEL 1, or Service Education Level 1, which is the highest level of a sort of military education exclusive to angels.
Isa is by far the worst at it. As for how they rank, from best to worst it would go:
Kaela >= Alys > Io > Kana > Isa
Going in order of how well they do, Kaela is uncontestably the top student in the grade and Alys is also an exceptional student, although not quite at Kaela's level.
Peal, like Kaela and Alys, is also an exceptional student but she tries not to stand out and so doesn't go out of her way to ace every test, so she averages out at about average.
Kana is generally bad at studying, but it's a motivation issue rather than one of aptitude, and finally, Kyt is exempt from all testing so there's nothing that could be said about her grades.
Alys, Kaela, Io and Beth all have licenses, but out of the four of them only Io regularly drives.
Kaela doesn't have a car and so usually takes the train, Alys prefers to walk and angels as a whole use alternate modes of transportation
Peal could also drive if she wanted to, but she has no license.
Absolutely not. Most people have an instinctive aversion to interacting with Peal, so something like being bullied isn't likely to happen.
Alys's hair is naturally blue like most other elves, she's just bleached the outer layer.
Yes absolutely! Left to his own devices he would get all kinds of piercings. Belly button, tongue, the works.
Peal has no food preferences. That's also the wrong kind of peel.
Yes! Isa will go out of his way to wear different things depending on what he thinks the person that he's with would like.
Although, unlike the girls, Isa's sprite does not often appear on screen, so you'll usually only be able to actually see his outfit if he appears in a CG, otherwise it will just be a description.
Yes, but not for the reason you're thinking of.
There won't be any RPG or simulation mechanics in SweetCanvas, so technically no, but also yes.
Both, actually. They're scribble/ribbon like in nature, but they move so rapidly that it gives off the impression of TV static.