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Otome & Josei Jam Demo

Goal

Create a short, fun and uniquely premised visual novel demo using Ren'Py for Otome Jam & Josei Jam in 2 months

Role

Project Lead, Writer, Producer

Takeaways

1) Solidify team, design concepts & outlines before Jam starts

2) Take time to introduce any unfamiliar software to the team to level the playing field and ensure usage/proper formatting

3) Always "Yes, and..."

Tools

Ren'Py - Engine

Notion - Project Management, Documentation

Google Drive - Repository

Figma - UI Design, Retro

Canva - Page/Social Media Design

Discord - Communication

Team

DailyCatfeine

GUI & Logo Designer

Madame_Em

Narrative Designer, Writer, Editor

Aimée Jenesse

Concept Artist

otaku_Ams

Programmer

Olive Haugh

Composer, Sound Designer

Bharathi Mathivanan

Sprite Artist

key_art_169_edited.jpg

Premise

A once prominent political campaign manager now fallen from grace, Tanya [renameable] is forced to retire and relocates from the big city to Pine Pass, Vermont. Just as she's settling in, the Mayor's sudden resignation awakens this sleepy town and has Big Foot, La Llorona, and the Lich King at her doorstep. Help these cryptid candidates earn the votes of the people and win their hearts along the way!

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Contributions

Since I have the most experience working on indie Otome games in the group, I was chosen to direct, write, and produce the project.

Direction: It was important to me that everyone felt they had a voice in the creative process at every stage of development, so I took a collaborative leadership approach which consists of open communication, asking questions, and active listening to empower team members.

Writing: I wrote roughly 4,000 words of the 5,000-word prologue, drafted all the character bio-bark sheets in Notion, created copy for the game's landing page, and worked with my co-writer to finish an outline for a full game.

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Production: This role was the most nebulous because it was a catch-all for the administrative tasks, but I mainly conducted weekly scrum meetings, scheduled 1-on-1s, and executed development sprints. I also drew on Social Media Management experience to do store page setup and collaborate with the GUI Designer to create promotional asset templates for future use.

While it was challenging to balance competing priorities, overall, it's facilitated my growth as a Project Leader and has fortified my affinity for the collaborative leadership style.

Triumphs

1) Weekly meetings and sprint sessions were a hit. The most notable feedback during our post-jam retrospective was that everyone always felt they knew what they needed to do and when due to the frequency of written and verbal communication. This was a group that thrived with meetings. A majority reported that the scheduled sprints were very effective because it helped us learn and acclimate to each other's work styles and kept us all accountable for our deliverables.

2) We made the deadline! Aside from myself, this was everyone's first visual novel. There were some initial doubts when we'd started working together, but as the week went on and comfort levels grew, we were able to all pull it together and put our demo out into the world.

3) We're still working together on a full game! I think that's a testament to how well we worked together and how much love we have for the project.

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Roadblocks

1) Some team members ghosted/dropped last minute. This had me scrambling to find replacements in the first weeks of the Jam. The search and onboarding process affected our scope and forced us to pare it down and prevented us from polishing the game the way we wished.

2) People were not keeping up with their Notion cards which made it difficult to determine how much progress was being made and what deadlines were being met between weekly meetings. I think doing a general walkthrough of the software at the beginning could've mitigated this.

3) We didn't realize it wasn't against the rules, but had we'd known we were able to work on outlines, character design concepts, and other parts of the game before the Jam, we would've started early. The outlining took a lot longer than anticipated due to research rabbit holes and getting carried away with fleshing out a full game outline when we should have been scripting. 

Takeaways

1) Start early! Solidify the team, core concepts, design choices and outlines prior to the start of a game jam. This way, all actual jam time can be dedicated to simply putting everything together. 2 months is less time than you think. 

2) Take time to introduce any unfamiliar software to the entire team. Getting everyone on a basic level of understanding on the essentials not only ensures better workflow, but also gets folks to think about how they can do/format their work in a way that creates ease for the teammate(s) they hand work off to.

3) Like in the acting world, it's always "yes, and...". The extra moments we spent during production meetings and coworking sessions spit balling and indulging our imaginations on what this coming game could be kept morale high, added a lot of color to the world, and deepened our working relationship as a whole.

Overview

A short Ren'Py visual novel demo created during 2023 Otome and Josei Jams about a human campaign manager helping cryptids become Mayor of a small, magical town.

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