First of all, I want to thank everyone who has played and given feedback to our demo! We are currently at 432 downloads and hold a 5-star rating! While the number of downloads may be humble in comparison to other VNs, words cannot express how much it means to me to receive such positive feedback.
The demo has been out for about two months now, and we owe it to the community to introduce ourselves, give an update on development, and our plans for the future.
Garden of Seif was born roughly three years ago. I had recently left the Lucid9 development team as one of the creatives, and I had felt something was missing. Working on Lucid9, I had truly discovered what I wanted to do with my life: create visual novels. I cannot thank them enough for giving me that gift the moment they accepted me on the team, and not to mention the skills I learned while being there. It pained me to leave, but at the time my life had been chaotic and I didn't have the time to give them the focus that the project deserved.
So, while I desperately felt the urge to create, I had an idea brewing in my head: a visual novel that takes place in a middle-eastern inspired world. Arabian nights. Tales of sultans, Arabian-assassins, and rebellious nations that challenge the Imperial reign. I have always been drawn to historical fantasies and mesmerized by desert landscapes, so it was only natural for me to envision a novel that illustrates these concepts. Would people like it? I often asked myself that question as I wrote Iris's story; a story and setting that differs from a vast majority of the VNs I've come across. But I proceeded anyways.
It started off as a rough, half-baked idea and hand-drawn, comic book style sketches made by me and my close friends from high school. I was the writer and art designer. Elijah drafted the very first sketches of all the characters: Seth, Mara, Duran, Malz, etc. Erik began coding the original demo (which has changed dramatically since then.) It was a learning process for all of us having been beginners at the time we initially formed. Me being a meticulous perfectionist, I had high exceptions for this project. So we would re-draw, re-write, and re-code until everything became what it is today. And now, finally, the story and art are solidified. I've commissioned two artists to design our backgrounds, CGs, and sprites which has tremendously sped up our process. This past year, Garden of Seif transformed from a "rough idea" to professional project.
The original team had left to pursue different areas of work once our demo was published this last March 2020. I have personally taken on the coding, and went from novice coder to being able to code 3D camera movement. Erik crafted the main skeleton of the game, and in his absence I'm going through and refining, adding SFX, VFX, and 3D movements to breathe life into it.
Another person worthy of mentioning is Alexis, the "assistant" for this entire project. She has played this demo a thousand times, making sure it's polished in all aspects. She has helped steer the direction of the plot dramatically, idea-bounced, and refined the inconsistencies in the script.
Our future. There is nothing that can stop me from finalizing this project in entirety. I cannot say for certain when our full release will be, but my goal is to finish a good portion of the coding by the end of 2020. 2020 has been a difficult year, as you all know. And it's only natural that amidst these difficulties, we must slow our financial endeavors. It is likely that we will open a Kickstarter in the future, but as of now we are self-funded. We have been able to do this slowly but consistently.
Regardless, I'd like to have the main route finalized by the end of this year. The main route is 8 chapters long (aprox. 3 hours of reading.) There will be two routes following the main, each aprox. 3 hours of read time as well. It is an option to release the main route entirely, and release routes separately in the future, but that is something I am still contemplating.
There is much in store for the future of GoS. I have story boarded and begun designing the opening video, which will play about halfway through the main route. I am a video editor and animator for a living, so it will be a pleasure for me to design this video, but it certainly takes time. One thing is for sure: there is nothing more important to me than getting this project done as soon as possible, but it is of equal importance that I get it done as epic as I've envisioned it to be.