A YEAR OF SPRINGS 1-year postmortem
hello! today is A YEAR OF SPRINGS' first anniversary. thank you to everyone who's played it so far!
the game is also on sale for 30% off to celebrate.
since it's been a while since the release, i thought i'd put together some thoughts on the game.
i first started working on putting the trilogy together in august of 2020 - or at least that's what google drive tells me is the creation date of the project folder. i worked on it on & off since then between different projects and other things.
it was the first time i've ever spent more than two months on any one game (and to put it strictly, since i'd already had the original games done, i had about put in six months of dev already).
the game totals out at about 30,000 words with the additional epilogue, making it the longest game i've made up until now too.
part of the reason i ended up putting this trilogy together is that in 2020, with everything going on (state of emergency started where i live around april, which is also when i started a new job because my old one refused to allow remote work despite the circumstances), i wanted to work on something that i was familiar with. even though it was a lot of work, i already knew haru's, erika's and manami's stories, so it was dev that i was comfortable with. while i had made quite a few new games last year too, it was nice having the spring trilogy to go back to when i was feeling particularly worn down by everything.
issues i ran into
that said, i still ran into a lot of issues when putting the games together... i had never really intended one night, hot springs to become a series when i first made it. the first game only came about because i was feeling sad and angry about something i saw in the news. (i don't want to get into it here, but it was about somebody being arrested at a public bath in japan.) similarly, i only made last day of spring because i was frustrated with all the news about the new reiwa era at the same time that (as mentioned in the game itself) the supreme court had just upheld the law that transgender people need to be sterilised to change their legal gender. (at the point that this devlog was written, this is still the law and has not been changed.) spring leaves no flowers is the only game i just made because i wanted to, haha.
as such though, i had to think about how i wanted to put the games together. it would have been easier to just package the three together as three separate games, but i wanted it to be a connected experience, which meant i had to make the game from scratch. all the menus are coded anew to work as one game, and i had to rearrange a lot of the dialogue since i'd reused the same labels through the different games.
this caused huge problems for me though, since the engine i used (ren'py) doesn't allow things to have the same name. (this is probably the case for most engines hahaha). but by changing the label names (e.g., there were three start labels, so these became start, start2, start3), these lines were all considered to be completely new lines, so i wasn't able to merge the translations from the original project... so for all translations for the game that already existed in the original jam versions, i actually copy and pasted every single line individually... (this took a very long time.)
i'd also used the same names from the sprites (so haru's sprite in one night, hot springs was just called "haru", same as in last day of spring and spring leaves no flowers). keeping it this way would mean that only one sprite could be shown though (so haru in her jacket from one night, hot springs would show up in last day of spring and spring leaves no flowers too), so i had to redefine the sprites to make this work! (in more specific ren'py terms, i have a conditionswitch for every single sprite that shows up haha. thanks to this though i got to add some new sprite variations though!)
i had a lot of problems with the menu screen as well, since again i used the default ren'py names for them and ren'py can't have multiple screens with the same names. (this is a good thing and not a ren'py issue - it's definitely a me issue for trying to put three games together into one!) i 'solved' this by keeping only one version of most of the screens but having different stuff show up depending on what game you have loaded at the time. as such, each game has different save slots so you can't accidentally load up a different game while you have that game open, but preferences are shared between all three games. (i'm very proud of how this turned out!)
about the trilogy in general
this section will go into spoilers so if you don't want to read them ctrl+f 'small changes' to jump to the next section!
i don't think i've really talked about the design of the game in detail before (i don't usually like talking about my own games, to be honest) but i feel like this is a good chance so i will go into it a little.
since the trilogy discusses a number of sensitive topics, i wanted to do what i could to make sure people who played weren't unpleasantly surprised. in my head, these were the general guidelines i followed:
- when haru faces potential transphobia in one night, hot springs, i tried to always make sure she had a way 'out' (she does not have to talk to erika, she can choose to not go to the hot springs entirely) & not have the game punish her for it
- likewise, haru is never 'punished' for taking so-called 'positive' choices like telling the staff member why she wanted to use the family baths, going to the women's bath with erika, or opening up to manami
- on the other hand, in last day of spring, erika's 'positive' choices make her have to confront systemic transphobia - it was important to me to depict this, but i wanted to show it in a way without having haru be the one who had to directly go through it
- similarly, when manami is trying to figure out her sexuality, i wanted to make sure that if she chose to be honest with herself, she wouldn't face negative consequences for it - everyone around her is supportive
is it realistic that all the main characters of the game are always supportive & trying their best to be good allies? maybe not. but do i care about that? no. this game is fiction & i wanted to make a game that made me happy, so i did.
this is how i usually make all my games - i never want to punish the player for doing something 'brave' & i always want them to come out of a game feeling happy rather than sad. i don't know if i'm successful but this is what i try to do.
small changes that i'm proud of
this is just a section for stuff i want to show off because i'm proud and i want people to know about the work i put in haha.
- socks for sprites when they're indoors!!!
- in general now sprites will change every time the speaker changes making it easier to tell who is talking
one night, hot springs:
- background changes if your room is upgraded
- STEAM EFFECTS! in some cgs
last day of spring:
- two different clock times for the background!
- the phone button looks less ugly now!!!
- SOUND EFFECTS FOR BUTTONS!
- making sure menus show different highlighted colours depending on what game you're in
- added to the font to add music player buttons
- works with controller completely
- choice button graphics are no longer the default renpy ones!
- when on save/load screen when hovering over a slot it'll say save/load above it depending on what screen you're on making it more obvious what action you're about to take
- separate history screen that pops up above the screen and has the text fade out at the top and bottom when you scroll! i think this looks really cool and i'm very happy with it!
- sound captions for one night, hot springs (i only came up with this system in last day of spring, but i retroactively added it to one night, hot springs too)
in a lot of ways, this trilogy of games is about the experiences that i and the people around me have had as minorities (gender and sexual minorities, racial minorities, &c.) except because i got to write the story, i gave us all happy endings.
i've had a lot of people tell me that they wish the people around them were as understanding as the characters in these games and you know what? i wish the same thing! this game is about the world i hope to live in - one that still has a lot of problems but is changing for the better. a world with people who might not understand completely but are still accepting. right now, making games is one of the only real ways i feel like i have to try to move towards that world. i feel helpless sometimes up against everything, but when i make games and get comments from people telling me that the games helped them in some way, it really means a lot to me.
if you've played the trilogy, i hope that you might think of it sometimes when you are feeling like the whole world is against you - that it'll help you remember that there are people out there on your side dreaming of and fighting for the same things.
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So happy for you and the wonderful work you made!! I absolutely adored it and was fully moved!! I've never had a game that approached asexuality so positively and explicitly as yours!! Treasured forever! Thank you for providing a positive and beautiful space for shared experiences!! <3
You did a really great job!!!!!!!!!!
I am terrible at words so I'm struggling to fully express what I want to say but for now I'll say thank you. Thank you for everything you've made it's all so special to me <3 I'm so happy I found one night, hot springs along with everything else you've done. AYOS especially means the world to me. I really hope the best for you in both game development and life <333
Of course there are people on your side, fighting for the same things! There are millions of them, all over the world.
Good to see that you made improvements to your games, and that you're pleased with what you created! All the best to you.
thank you kc for putting this together…i, um, am really not good at expressing my thoughts to words so i hope this read nicely i’m really glad you chose to made it all have a happy ending (it’s your story after all!), reading it made my heart warms a lot and now that i have gotten my citizen ID card, i felt a lot more understanding and wonderful about erika’s gift…thank you thank you all, you too kc you are a wonderful person and i really do hope all of us (and you in particular) have a better life going forward…<3
“but do i care about that? no. this game is fiction & i wanted to make a game that made me happy, so i did.”
Well, the girls are well written - sometimes I wish I could invite them to tea…
The world would be surely a better place to live if people were as accepting as you show in your games.
Whether it is about gender, sexual orientation , "races", religions or any kind of differences from the "normal" person in the herd of human society, the person is looked at like some kind of unwanted thing.
Maybe someday the "normal" will disappear and people will be accepting of all the small differences between humans ( and accepting animals as living being along, not just a "thing" to be only used)
I have played the trilogy in the separate games but maybe I will try out this newer version soon.
I love this trilogy.