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2020 Year in Review

Phew. The year from hell is almost over. I think it’s safe to say this year was not what anyone expected nor wanted. At the time of writing this (December 27th) I’ve moved back home and been in isolation with my parents since spring break in March. But I want this to mention the good things that happened this year, since there were a few happy things!

  • Graduated college with a bachelors in computer science from the school of engineering
  • Released Enamored Risks
  • Started marketing for Virtuality Project
  • 1 year anniversary at Studio Élan
  • Spoke at VNConf and Crunchyroll Expo
  • Had an interview with a AAA company for my dream job

Full Releases

Drawn by Akua

Somehow we managed to release a dating sim with 3 routes and over 50k words with 30+ volunteers at the start of the pandemic. This was by far the most chaotic thing I’ve had to manage- I lost my job and had to move back in with my parents during this due to the pandemic, we had 5+ people have to drop out due to the pandemic, and more. Looking back on it I’m still surprised we managed to release in the midst of it all. You can read some of my thoughts on it here.

My friend Ohisashi (who I met when they did promo art for Enamored Risks) hosted a game jam in the summer and with his help I made a side story for Asterism set after the true end for the game. Kotachi takes Ophi on a date to a museum and absolutely nothing goes wrong. This was made in about a week with Ohi doing the sprite artwork, fole doing the GUI, and me doing the rest.

In October we released the demo for Drops of Death, my next big project after Asterism. I rarely write dating sims (in this context it means romance visual novels with multiple love interests), but I wanted to write another otome and I think the mechanic of a randomized killer in a murder mystery who you can date will be interesting to players. I haven’t been able to work on it in a couple months due to getting Asterism ready for beta, but I’m excited to see what people think of the full story. For DoD, fole did the GUI, ArcticFox did the backgrounds, and I did everything else.

One of the last things I released in 2020 was The Witch in the Forest- or should I say, rereleased. TWITF was released originally in 2017 but has now been added to Steam with an improved GUI, new ending CG, and other improvements. It’s nice that I can now say this game is finally “done”.


Articles

I don’t usually talk about them on my yearly reviews, but this year I wrote 11 articles on marketing and game development! I definitely don’t try to keep a regular schedule, but I am glad I was able to do several I’m happy with. Here’s 2 articles I wrote this year that I really like.

There’s a joke in the Devtalk+ server that I’m a boogeyman, waiting for devs who have a scope way bigger than they can handle, and I pop out with my scope knife… or at least, that’s how I imagine it. Scope- similarly to marketing- is all-encompassing and requires both a macro view of the game and a micro look at the components.

I wrote this article when I started rereading the original YGO manga since I love combining my interests. Because I’ve joined Virtuality Project, I’ve been thinking a lot more about alternative ways of promotion and cross-promotion, so I wrote this as an exploration into how other media types do cross-promotion.


Art

This year was actually pretty great for my art, namely the second half of the year. I got back into drawing fanart (okay, mainly just Yu-Gi-Oh!) and tried some harder compositions. I bought Clip Studio Paint and it’s really helped my process, both for game assets and regular art. It’s been a huge help in trying more complex compositions, backgrounds, and had sped up drawing for me.

I also started doing some art studies this year, namely my YGO Suits series. I feel like I’ve improved at least a small amount this year.

Here’s some of my favorite pieces from this year.

I had this picture in mind for weeks before I went “what the hell, how about I try and make it?”. Total drawing was done over 2 months slowly and carefully, probably around 15 hours.
Kotachi and Ophi fighting along side each other. This was another drawing that I thought would be cool but didn’t think I could actually make it.
Sorinne’s stained glass, Duality of You. I haven’t done a stained glass piece in years so as one of my last drawings of 2020 I grabbed a quick sketch I had made and went to work.

Goals

I don’t even want to look at my goals from last year, but here we go…

  • Draw more full art: Yes! Definitely did this, I even got back into drawing fanart.
  • Sketch traditionally occasionally: Nope! I did maybe 5 traditional sketches this entire year. I draw traditionally more when on vacation, and, well, I didn’t really go anywhere this year…
  • Release Asterism: H-Hah…. hah……….
  • Slow down a bit on projects: Yep, definitely. The past few months I’ve been nose-deep into Asterism dev.
  • Graduate college: Sorta…! While I have my diploma, my graduation ceremony was postponed to this upcoming May. So I’ve graduated but still have to back to actually walk at the ceremony.

I had some other goals for this year that I didn’t put here such as moving, but those are all on hold for now… I do still have new goals for 2021, though.

  • Release Asterism & get mostly done with Drops of Death: I’ve put Asterism on my yearly goals for years, but it’s finally near done. I’m hoping to send it to beta testers in January and have it be tested for a month or so while I prepare for NaNoRenO.
  • Release our next NaNoRenO entry: Yep, I’m doing NaNo again! Myself, Violora, and fole are coming back for next year’s NaNo.
  • Find a full-time job: I’ve been out of college for 6 months and still don’t have a full-time job, due to being unable to get an in-person job since I live with my parents and the pandemic is getting worse every day in the Memphis area. I’d love to find something anime-related, especially marketing.

I don’t have many “goals” for 2021 as much as I have aspirations. I’m excited for the releases we have lined up at both my own studio and at Élan. I can’t wait to show you guys what I’ve been working on at Virtuality Project with our VTubers and team. I’m happy to come back to VNConf as a speaker this year.

It’s been nice getting back into my interests this year and it’s really helped me through this hellish time. I hope you all are taking it easy and staying safe ♥

— Miko

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