sakevisual loves you
sakevisual's tumblr. Makers of Ripples, RE: Alistair++, the Jisei series, and the upcoming VN, Backstage Pass.


My fanart of Aki and Naoki from Yosei, yaaay <33

I love me some Mizutani twins.

Quick question:

If you attended a “How to Make Visual Novels” panel, what topics would you expect/want to see covered?

Backstage Pass Beta Update

Quick update before we head out.

Latest Update: 0.5f
-Finals discussion during cafe chats set to correct weeks
-Blog stats now available on weekends
-New alone ending “Producer End” available (kind of hard to get, but I believe in you)
-“Bought all clothes” Achievement temporarily removed (we’re working with the guy who does the Steam component to figure out why it’s freezing things)
-Adam path updated to make friendship route easier to achieve.
-Minor bug fixes
-Typo fixes

Pay no mind to the file size changes. We’re editing in the voices as we get them, but you won’t notice a difference right now, as they’re all still turned off.

If you have Backstage Pass on Steam, it should update automatically. If you got it direct from our site, the download link in your confirmation email will lead you to the newest version.

We’re not done with John’s lines yet, but everyone should say thanks to our super great engineer who sent along some of the completed files so I could post this.

Oh, and if I didn’t mention this before, everyone thank Ian Sinclair for a lovely performance. You can hear him on TV right now as Space Dandy, which is a great show (seriously, go watch it like now), and we’re very grateful to him for making the time to be a part of our game.

I’m not dead yet probably.

Hey, I’ve got a con-free weekend, which means I get to see my bed for more than a night. Crazy. So here are some updates:

-Got through about half of the bugs reported since the last update. Will put the fix up before the next con.

-Voices are starting to come in. You might notice file size changes in future updates - those are just voice files being uploaded. Once all the voices are in (minus Sian), I’ll turn them all on for you to hear.

-Sent out all the Steam codes to everyone who requested. As a reminder, please make sure you use the email address you used when you pre-ordered. Also, please don’t request a code if you didn’t pre-order. If you’re not in the pre-order database, I can’t generate a code for you.

And some responses to questions:

When will you release the full cast for Backstage Pass?

Once recording is entirely complete, we’ll post it with a neat little trailer where you can hear samples of all of them.

Is there any info on the next Jisei game?

It’s still in planning stages, but we’ll be starting on that after Backstage Pass is released. I can confirm that this one will be more Li Mei-centric (as opposed to Yousei, which was Mizutani-centric). We’ll also meet a major character who’s been referenced in both Kansei and Yousei.

How will Backstage Pass have an opening if Yousei couldn’t?

Yousei couldn’t have an opening due to a bug in the Ren’py engine, but that’s been fixed, so Backstage Pass will have an opening.


I totally forgot I have taken pictures of these, drew them as commission samples at Otakon.

Weekly (iiiish) Update

A quick drive-by update for you guys, as we’re currently packing for AnimeFest (will I see you there?). Most of the week was spent doing review and inserting lines into code. We’re still waiting on the sound engineers to clean up our last few sessions, and there are a couple things we’re going to have to go back and re-record, but overall it’s sounding really great. And before anyone asks, I swear that the minute I get John’s sessions in, you will know.

Q&R (Mostly about Voices)

So it’s mostly voice related questions this week which is cool. Let’s have some voice-related responses!

[…] in other visual novels it has this option to turn off character voices, would we be able to do that in backstage pass?

We know everyone plays VNs differently, so turning off voices has always been an option in our games. And THIS time, we’ve even got the option to turn off individual voices! Wish the MC had a voice? Turn it on! Prefer your game without the MC voiced? Turn it off! Want to practice voice acting? Turn off your favorite character and read him or her out loud with realtime reactions! The world is your oyster! I use exclamation points a lot!

How will we be able to pay for the game when it gets released? Will the only way be paypal and master card/ visa?

We use BMTMicro. There’s a list of payments they accept here.

Can we hear what [insert character name] sounds like?

I haven’t gotten the files back from our super cool sound engineer yet, but I promise once they get here, you guys will be the first to know.

Hi! I was wondering how exactly do you guys put the record voices into the game? Do you have to match every single file with an unique line manually? Does it take long?

We use Ren’py, so we have to match each file with each line. There actually is a Ren’py function that can do auto dialogue, but for a game of this size where things are getting moved around a lot, it’s not practical. For longer games, it can take a while to complete.

Hey gang, AnimeFest is next week, and we’re excited to see all of you! You can swing by to say hi to us any time at our table in the dealer’s room (hidden in the back, so think of it as a fun treasure hunt!). We’ll have all our Jisei games for sale along with free postcards and a demo of Backstage Pass on display. We’ve also got a panel on making visual novels, and we’d love to see you there!

Friday 8/15 - 5:00pm - Panel Room 6
Visual novels have long been a popular medium in Japan, and in the past few years they’ve been gaining popularity in the west. But did you know that you too can make your own visual novel? Join Ayu Sakata and sakevisual as we go over the process of making your own visual novel. We’ll talk everything from planning, to tools of the trade, and releasing your final masterpiece. There will be free stuff!

Hey gang! Let’s talk about voices. I mentioned yesterday that we’ve had a problem come up with Sian’s voice actress. If you want to get to that part, skip to the last paragraph. If you’re curious about the voice recording process, read on.

Back when sakevisual started, voiced EVNs weren’t very common. In fact, the general public sentiment was that they should be avoided altogether due to things like filesize, and lack of good and/or affordable voice actors. But after the good response to Ripples, I knew I wanted Jisei to be voiced. It was a messy process trying to organize all of it the first time around, but the final product was well-received, and I was hooked. I resolved to make sure that any release I’d charge money for would have voices in it.

Because apparently things are more fun when they’re difficult.

Our process these days is less of a mess than it was for Jisei, but it’s still kind of a mash-up of several different things.

1.) Casting - This should take place once the script is complete. Casting at the start of production is generally not a great idea (speaking from experience), as you may lose voice actors along the way if you wait a long time to start recording. You’ll also have a much stronger grasp on what a character should sound like AFTER the script is written rather than before. When you cast, you can scout, hold closed auditions, or hold open auditions.

-Scouting: Offering a role directly to a single actor. In the case of Backstage Pass, the actors for the main five characters were cast this way.

-Closed Auditions: Picking a few actors you know and asking them all to read for a part, then choosing the one you think fits best. For Backstage Pass, I sent out auditions to several actors I know before choosing Rachel’s voice.

-Open Auditions: Posting auditions online (or elsewhere publicly) to get as many options as possible. I generally use this for supporting cast, as I like to find new talent and give people a chance to show off any voices I might not know they’re capable of. This is also the most time-consuming process of all, as you have to go through each audition carefully, and there are a lot. Backstage Pass brought in over 500 auditions, and I listened to every single one.

2.) Recording - AKA the fun part. With the rising popularity of online voice acting, it’s common for a creator to email scripts to everyone, then sit back and wait for the recordings to come rolling in. That’s the easiest path, and probably the one that will yield the worst results. You may have two talented actors in a scene, but if one actor reads an argument as a shouting match and the other reads it as a calm debate, they’re going to sound like they came from different games. When I use online actors, I call them up via Skype (or any other voice chat program) and listen in while they record. That way I can give direction and feedback live to get the most appropriate read possible. For local actors, I either use my own mic setup, or we record at a local studio (pictured above).

3.) Sound Editing - Or, the job most people forget exists. Once all the voices are recorded, they have to be cleaned up. Mics record at different volumes, and those have to all be adjusted to the same level. Stray clicking noises or breathing need to be removed. There’s a lot of sound engineering magic that goes on behind the scenes to make everything sound normal.

4.) Review - After all the lines are ready to go, they need to be reviewed. The director finally gets to listen to everyone together and hear a complete piece. This is where you check for anything that needs to be redone. Some lines may have background noise that can’t be fully removed. Maybe a read sounded good at the time, but doesn’t fit in the context of the other actors. Some of the lines may have been rewritten since you recorded. If anything needs to be redone, you call the actor back in and repeat 2-4 as necessary. If the actor isn’t available, you might even have to go back to step 1. Recasting in voiceover is actually fairly common, especially since there’s no face that viewers can connect with the character.

So, why did I write all of this in the first place? Well, I guess to make the big “duh” point that voiceover takes a long time to get through, and can extend the development time of a project by a lot. And that’s where we are right now.

We’ve still got bug fixes and other things going for Backstage Pass, but the bulk of the work left to do involves getting the voices done. While we’re moving at a pretty good pace for the most part, our actress for Sian has just come down with bronchitis, which leaves a big question mark over when she’ll be able to record again. We know you guys have been waiting a long time for this already, so instead of making the decision for you, we’d like your thoughts. My initial plan was to release all the voices at once, but I honestly don’t know when that will happen now. Do you prefer to wait, or would you rather we release the game without Sian’s voice (once all the others are finished), and then patch her voice in later? Or, if you have another idea, what do you think?