With the research and my skills analysed, I set about the creation process for my work. This spawned a few ‘beta’ designs and changes to my schedule, the setting and my expectations. By the end of Week 6, I had finished my presentation and knew how far I wanted to take this project, as well as the key elements of my fictional story.
To start with, my character profiles were finished early on. With a rough framework of the plot in my head, I knew who the Big Bad Evil Guy* was. Danganronpa has always been a series in which the story is about the characters, not the other way around. So, I had to ensure that these characters were all fleshed out. Even those that would die early on, I needed some semblance of depth.
*Slang for a mastermind, central antagonist and/or obviously evil entity.
An example of a character profile. Their name, statistics, preferences, overall concept and what lies beyond public knowledge. Any deep issues, medical history and long-term goals are noted here. I also wrote a sample quote, to get an early impression of their mannerisms and vocabulary.
That led to some interesting design changes! Reiko Rai and Saeko Koyama are of particular note!
To the left is the original design of Reiko Rai, with her updated design below. My first idea for her was of an exotic fortune teller, obsessed with fate – which happened to be the overarching theme of the story itself. She would set herself up as a minor antagonist and contrasting force for Miki, the protagonist. However, as time grew, I found that her design was too outlandish. I understood her more as I wrote her profile, and thus this new design was born. Here, she is set up more as a minor antagonist that subtly breaks the fourth wall with a gothic design. I kept the strange eyes, as that was a staple for her and still fit into my new image. The only problem was her white ribbon – an unfortunate compromise with the dollmaker I used, Dreamselfy. I made a special note in her description that official art would not contain this ribbon.
To the right, we have Saeko Koyama. Out of every single character, she had the most drastic change. She was initially set up as a waitress, with an emphasis on ‘moe’ – a trope in Japanese animation and a part of their entertainment culture. Then, I realized that there were one too many lighthearted characters with bright designs. So, I axed her concept and changed the idea. I wanted a more sour, cynical character to balance things out. Thus, her new design involved a punk-ish aesthetic, a smoking addition and bleak eyes. She became a band manager, rather than a waitress, and has deep trust issues due to past relationships.
My schedule changed. A lot. The crux of my planning issues stemmed from overly high expectations. My initial expectation was to write the prologue and a full chapter, including that chapter’s fully fleshed out murder mystery! That would be a monumental amount of work, and would be roughly 1/5 of the whole story.
What changed the most was my planning expectations. I initially thought that all of the planning, all of the art and all of the profiles would be done by May 10th. That never happened. Instead, I pushed it week-by-week and ended up with my planning finished 5-6 weeks before the project’s deadline. This stemmed from outsourcing to artists and realizing that my story’s scope was larger than I expected, even with my research.
I managed to cope with this well, and I even turned out better for it! I was able to do some talent-related research (the entire Talents section on my research compilation), and the story itself had changed in ways I did not expect.
The major difference was the story’s setting. I had to have an engaging setting, and the problem with many Danganronpa fanstories is that a setting change was meaningless. The story was the same, and the setting was meaningless. However, that shouldn’t be the case.
In the first game, the story was set in Hope’s Peak Academy and tied into a major reveal during the end. In the second game, it was set on Jabberwock Island in which every island had its own assets and theme – the island was revealed to be a simulation, tying into an endgame plot twist.
The first idea was to have my story set on an island. However, this would be an artificial, man-made island with defined sectors and areas. It would be known as Shimei Island – ‘Shimei’ is fate or life or death in Japanese. Unfortunately, I stumbled with the architecture and layout of buildings, facilities and the like. This dragged me down, and I eventually toyed with the second idea.
This second idea was an enclosed facility. Known as the Oracle Sciences Complex, the name stems from the ‘oracle’, and took minor influences from the Oracle of Delphi as it revolved around fate and destiny. This also allowed me to arrange areas without worrying about streets or outside areas. Rooms would be neatly and tightly organized, providing quick access.
To show aspects of our planning such as why, how and what, we were all told to create a powerpoint. I might have spent a little too much time on this, as the powerpoint exceeded the limit of 5 minutes that we had. I wrote too much, and this ended up being the main negative point. I was thorough, at the very least. There were some more points against this, however, as my aim might have been a little misdirected – I was missing the point in a few areas. This made for some problematic slides on the powerpoint.
There were three problematic slides in the powerpoint. Taking the feedback from Greg, I pinpointed the issues and changed them. They were Basic Information, Tag Line and Research Plan. One by one…
Basic Information had some changes made to the length. I was too vague and broad with my estimate before. At first, I said ‘approximately 30 novel pages give or take a few’ and ‘end two thirds into Chapter 1’. As my expectations simmered down and I had a better grasp on how long my product would be, I changed this to ‘no more than 20000 words will be submitted’. Of course, there may very well be less – given the half-script half-novel format present in almost all visual novels – but that is a case of ‘if it happens, it happens’.
Tag Line had the most issues. The first tag line was ‘can you fight fate’, which itself is a contradictory statement, does not present anything academically and can be seen as wishy-washy. This is where most of the feedback from Greg came from, and I changed it accordingly. Thus, the tag line became…
‘Can online stories (‘fanfiction’) be just as valid and engaging as traditionally published stories?’
Research Plan had some minor adjustments made. Toward the bottom, I listed a number of subjects I would study – talents that these ‘ultimate students’ would possess. I shifted my perspective, seeing that I had hardly explained where and how I would get this research. Instead, I narrowed down the list to a select few and made evident that I would interview members of the Danganronpa fandom – people I already knew and could trust. This also stemmed from the fact that I had little primary research planned out, so this would be enough to fill that criteria.
This is the fully updated and completed powerpoint. It is Google Slides, as uploading a powerpoint version of it does not seem to work on WordPress.
This is also the proposal that I referenced and made alongside said powerpoint. Another web link, due to the same issue.
Below is a slideshow of the old slides that have since been corrected.