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ThinkBoxly is the personal developer blog of Lucas Chasteen, author, programmer, artist, and always learning. Read more

Saturday, September 29, 2018

YNK ZERO Devblog 2: Halfway There, Two-Thirds to Go ⇄ XGASOFT


Hello, world! Lucas Chasteen here, author and developer of Yugure no Kagami ZERO and the VNgen visual novel engine it runs on. In our first official devblog, we examined some of the technology and design decisions going into ZERO that will take it above and beyond what’s commonly expected of visual novels. In the past month since that article went up, this vision has gained greater clarity as the software side of things came into focus with standardized “best practices” for this particular project.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

YNK ZERO Devblog 1: Breaking Boundaries ⇄ XGASOFT


Hello, world! Lucas Chasteen here, author and developer of Yugure no Kagami ZERO and the VNgen visual novel engine it runs on. From its very inception, VNgen was my way of re-thinking the visual novel experience from both a developer and user perspective, and while I’ve had the opportunity to talk at length about the developer side of things over the past two years, I’m incredibly excited to finally present my own work with the engine and share a bit of the journey along the way.

In this series of devblogs, we’ll periodically go behind-the-scenes to look at progress as it unfolds and also grab a sneak-peek at features being implemented into YNK. As should go without saying, everything you’re about to see is in an early pre-release state and is subject to change.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Update 36 - Starting From Zero


When you've spent long enough on the journey, sometimes it's easy to forget the destination. When Yugure no Kagami was first conceived four years ago, I had no idea it would be this long before I got there. But as this devblog stands to witness, it's been a long process of laying the foundation for the purpose of saving time in the future. By building VNgen once and building it right, I've positioned myself (and other developers!) to quickly and easily create content without compromising on functionality or presentation.

Well, I've been teasing it long enough. As of today, I'm proud to present to the world Yugure no Kagami ZERO, the first chapter of this epic saga, set to release independently later this year. Check out the fancy teaser site here, and read the official press release here! In a new tab or two, preferably—because that's not all we have to talk about today!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Update 35: Building (With) Tools


A wild devblog appears!

For the past couples of months, I've taken a bit of a break from the regular devblog-style posts to cover some related topics instead. Each one was important to me, but there's another reason for the hiatus as well: behind the scenes, things were shifting gears in a big way. It's taken time, but the foundation is laid and I'm now settling into the process of building with tools, not just building tools.

It's been enlightening to place myself in the shoes of a consumer using VNgen in real-world scenarios, and especially pleasant to discover just how well it holds up to daily (ab)use. Once, I forgot a certain feature even existed until I needed it, then *bam*, there it was. It would have been a huge pain to implement now if it'd been missing, so suffice it to say I was relieved to discover there was no oversight on my part there.

But that's not to say VNgen is perfect, nor is it yet capable of everything it could or should be. Soon it'll be time to talk about my first-party VNgen projects in more detail, but that day is not quite here yet. Today, it's time to take a look at some of the improvements being made to VNgen as a result of creating projects with it myself.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Say Hello to XGASOFT 2.0!


It's hard to believe almost a year has passed since XGASOFT's main site first went live, and along with it, the unveiling of Yugure no Kagami to the world. Since then, however, my development efforts have been laser-focused on completing VNgen, the engine designed to make it possible. It might've looked like nothing was happening, but the planets are aligning and it's time for that to change.

And change it has: xgasoft.com has been completely revamped from backend to frontend, and is about to see a lot more activity very soon. As described in a previous devblog post, future development updates will be featured by XGASOFT, leaving ThinkBoxly for more personal content instead. What's more, you can now subscribe to receive XGASOFT updates by email and receive 10% your next purchase of any XGASOFT product (like VNgen)!

And speaking of VNgen, keep your eyes peeled for a new update hitting the Marketplace and Itch.io this weekend! Feedback and development have both continued post-1.0, and the new version contains multiple fixes to text and vox actions, plus adds easier NVL-style presentation with auto text positioning.

And... that's about it for now! A bit of an abbreviated post this weekend, I know, but for good reason. What reason? Stay tuned to find out soon at XGASOFT!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Finding Success in Failing Health - A VNgen Post Mortem


VNgen is a visual novel and animation engine for GameMaker Studio. Using a custom scripting syntax, it is designed to produce premium content quickly and easily on a wide variety of platforms. It is currently being used to create both first-party and third-party indie games of multiple genres. If you value my work, please consider supporting me on Patreon. Your support will play a critical role in the ongoing development of these and future projects. Stay tuned to the end of this post for details!

I'll be honest: VNgen had a rough launch. Days turned into weeks, things came up, and I had my head down trying to get through it all without breaking something in haste.

But it did launch, and you can now download VNgen 1.0.2 for both GameMaker Studio 1 and 2 RIGHT NOW! GMS 2 users can even try VNgen for FREE with the trial version, so what are you waiting for?

Reception so far has been extremely positive, and I appreciate everyone's patience as 1.0 and post-launch fixes rolled out a bit slower than I had planned.

Indeed, "slower than planned" has been a theme throughout VNgen's entire development, but not without justifiable cause. Today, I feel it's appropriate to stop a moment, look back on the road behind us, and talk about that development from the start, as well as what it means for the future. I'm not here to share excuses. In fact, VNgen's development is a far more personal story than anything I've shared here before. But it is one I feel is worth sharing, and one which might inspire or at least offer solidarity to other developers who've been through similar trials. So buckle up!