Steel Hearts Progress Report – February 2, 2021

Welcome once again to the Steel Hearts development blog, The Combat Report. Instead of focusing on a particular character or aspect of the visual novel, I’d like to instead discuss the overall progress of the visual novel. Ideally, I will be posting these progress dates every so often (interval to be decided).

The Writing

The writing is currently our present focus at the time. This is mostly done by myself, although our director, Havock, will write scenes on occasion (mostly Hannah scenes).

Common Route

As it stands, the writing of the common route is 99% complete, including branches. The final 1% comes from the scene of the “walker fencing” duel at the festival. Due to the unique nature of this scene and the amount of art assets/animation required, this scene is on the backburner until we storyboard it out, so to speak.

The common route as it stands runs for about 75k words, and has an estimated runtime of 7 hours.

Scenes completed: Approx. 122/127

After the common route, naturally, the game splits off into four unique routes, one for each heroine.

Juliet’s Route

Juliet’s the one I have the most work in (Brynhilde has more scenes completed, but I believe Juliet’s scenes are usually a bit longer). I spoke a bit about Juliet’s route here–it’s a deeply personal, heartfelt route, full of emotional ups and downs. In some ways, it comes easy to write (but there are some subtleties which are hard to get a grip on myself). It’s coming along well, I believe.

Scenes completed: Approx. 33/86

Lisabet’s Route

Lisabet’s route is, as I said before, is definitely the most traditionally romantic story. Thus… it’s hard to write(!) especially when you take into consideration Lisabet’s eccentric nature–it’s a challenge to write her as she is and not pigeonhole her too much into an archetype. It’s the route I’ve worked on the least so far, but then again, so too does it have the potential to grow more.

Scenes completed: Approx. 27/85

Hannah’s Route

Hannah’s route is a real monster to get a handle of. We’ve revised the structure multiple times, but I think we’re working on its final draft. Due to the route’s focus on internal conflicts, we’re making sure to make it right. Many a time, I see similarly-themed routes blasted as “pretentious” or hard to understand. I want to be sure the route is not hard to grasp or self-indulgent, while still being gripping.

Scenes completed: Approx. 30/85

Brynhilde’s Route

Brynhilde’s route is coming along well. As I wrote in her article, her story is action-packed, making it fun to write. I especially enjoy writing Beatrice and Marie, her foreign rivals (who later might end up helping you out…?). If I keep at it, I think this route will turn out great–maybe one of my favorites.

Scenes completed: Approx. 34/84

All in all, if you add up the scenes completed, about one route and then some has been written–not bad! I aim to amp-up my writing schedule into full gear to complete some routes (or maybe all?) this year.

…And Beyond

After the conclusion of each route, they then branch together for part 2–the half of the story set during a terrible war, one that even surpasses The Great War. Depending on what route you took, some scenes and endings will have variations.

Some of the more significant scenes have been penned out, and the general outline of the story is complete, but I plan on writing part 2 in full once the prior half is finished. Will part 1 and 2 of Steel Hearts release separately? It’s possible, though I wouldn’t put your money on it (put your money on Dogecoin instead (this is not financial advice)).

The Music

We’ve received a few preliminary tracks from our artist, a good friend of ours. I can’t give you an estimate on how many tracks we’ll need, but I’d like to have a fair amount (I’d also like a synthwave alternate soundtrack, though that’s just my personal pipe dream).

Here’s a favorite of mine, a nice waltzy piece. I think it’ll fit for peaceful outings in the city, or perhaps for some Brynhilde scenes.

The Art

Although I have commissioned pieces from a few artists to see how our characters look drawn (previously I had drafted them with Custom Maid 3D 2’s character creator), we have not yet decided on an artist. Our director, Havock, believes it’s a good idea to wait until our writing is more complete before finding an artist. After all, we wouldn’t want to commission some BGs, character sprites, or CGs but then realize we don’t need them after we change something.

Nevertheless, if you’re interested or know someone who might be interested in providing art for our project, give us a shout!

The Yadda Yadda

Thank you for reading this far! And if you’ve been reading all our articles, thank you once again! If you have any comments, concerns, suggestions, praise, scathing criticism, death threats, or anything else, feel free to comment below or contact us.

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Author: Palladion

Hi, I'm Palladion, the writer for Steel Hearts. Back in 2016, I read Katawa Shoujo, and became enamored with VNs and writing ever since. Aside from VNs, I also enjoy video games, TTRPGs, reading, and occasionally watching anime, drawing, or building models. Contact me at: Twitter – Discord – Palladion#5914

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