Sunrider: VENICZAR, the companion novel to Liberation Day

Samu-kun Liberation Day, Sunrider

Six years before the fall of Cera, revolution brewed throughout the galaxy.

The New Empire ruled half the galaxy with an iron fist, collecting the resources and labor of hundreds of colonies for the sole benefit of New Eden. Yet, there were those who refused to be oppressed. They gathered under the crimson banner of Compact, a rugged band of freedom fighters who sought independence for the colonies.

A young woman from the doomed world of Diode crash lands at the edge of Imperial space and joins Arcadius and his band of fighters against the all mighty New Empire. Their adventures together chronicle the final years of the Compact Revolution, and the birth of PACT. But a civil war will make monsters out of even the most idealistic of freedom fighters. What begins as an independence movement becomes a nightmare.

The revolution will not be civilized.

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Join an all new cast of characters as well as returning familiar faces in the Sunrider companion novel VENICZAR. Who was the mysterious Arcadius who vanished from public view during the final days of the revolution? Find out the origin stories of the villains of Sunrider: Liberation Day and discover if they are truly villains.

Read Sunrider: Veniczar by backing our Patreon at the $5+ tier. You also get the beta for Sunrider: Liberation Day on top of that after your pledge is processed!

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About the Author:
Woolyshambler is a medical student and aspiring doctor who also likes waifus. His claim to fame is completing the official novelization of Sunrider: First Arrival and Mask of Arcadius which is actually twice as long as the actual script in the game! And the poor guy didn’t even get paid for that… Find him on our community forum!

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Click to read the prologue to the novel for free!

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Behind the Scenes: Today’s VN Industry

Samu-kun Behind the Scenes

Ah, hello again, this is Samu-kun for another monthly blog post… Thanks to Anime Expo and Comic Con taking up so much of my time, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to write a post for this month. Luckily, I’m somehow a few hours ahead of schedule for making Sunrider Liberation Day, so I can spare some time before going back to work. Hah. Hah.

This month, Gamesutra published an article written by Mr. Riva, the head of Winter Wolves about VN development. You should check out the article here.  This article is actually a repost of what Mr. Riva wrote for an interview with another publication three years ago.

Ahem, I don’t mean to dig on Mr. Riva, who operates an obviously successful VN/game company. You can actually check out their Steam listing here and purchase any titles which interest you. What is important though is that the article reflects the VN industry as it was like in 2012, when it was actually written.

Much has occurred in the past of three years which shook the VN market considerably, and which will considerably change the market in the future… 2012 was a long time ago, before these changes, so the article doesn’t mention the latest developments.

So it’s basically no secret that visual novels are now a multi-million dollar industry outside of Japan now, with unprecedented revenue, mega Kickstarters, and Japanese companies rushing to land on our shores to tap into an enormous English consumer base. Ooo yes, it’s nice to be in such a hot industry eh…

In the current market, the best selling visual novels are inextricably anime games, and feature sex over any other feature. This will either be completely obvious to you, or fill you with shocked horror. But the the easiest way for a VN company to maintain reliable cash flow is to make a game with a lot of high quality anime sex. These games can achieve anything from a 10 to 100 times return on developmental costs. Just a single one of these games can essentially operate a VN company for a full year. What a bonanza industry…

These titles flush companies with money, which allows funding less profitable endeavors. In other words, they make developing higher quality products even feasible. Creating a real visual novel costs an enormous amount of money. You may be shocked when you see a Kickstarter make hundreds of thousands of dollars, but making a VN from scratch usually costs multiple times whatever any Kickstarter actually generates.

I am sure the expenses associated with English visual novels will sky rocket in the coming years, and may even surpass visual novels created in Japan.  Kickstarters which make over one hundred thousand dollars may become the norm, and not even those would be sufficient to develop an above market value VN. But a cash printer fan service game made on the cheap could pave the way to securing battle funds for ever greater works because they will make that Kickstarter look like pocket money. Or you can just make cheap fan service games forever, that’s definitely a lucrative option too.

Will the market just saturate with cheap fan service games, reducing the value of those games to VN companies? I don’t know… But throughout the history of mankind, sex has always sold so well…

VN development companies will likely boom and bust in the coming years… Eeek, I should have left out the “bust,” now I’ve made myself nervous… A-ahem, anyways, my point is that things are a bonanza industry and a lot of new companies are gonna form in the coming months to take advantage of the gold rush. Maybe you should quit your life, saddle up a VN company, and head into the great unknown too eh…

Well, I dunno what the point of talking too much about this though, because we’re all slaves to the free market after all! I missed a lot of stuff, but that should be enough for today… I’ll just ride on top of the sea of market trends on the raft I’ve fastened together and hope for the best tomorrow…

Announcing Rita

Samu-kun News

We’ve had a fun time here in Los Angeles with Sekai Project. Even though we’re pretty much hikikomori who never go outside, we’re glad to finally be able to meet all the people we work with in person.

We are pleased to announce RITA will sing the opening theme of Sunrider: Liberation Day. With high profile singing roles in visual novels such as Little Busters and Yosuga no Sora, we have no doubt Liberation Day’s opening will fit perfectly in the music library of all anime fans. We will work hard to ensure that the OP lives up to the high quality fans expect from a Rita song.

We’re remaking most of the assets in Sunrider: Mask of Arcadius to deliver a stunning finale to the original Sunrider trilogy. No doubt, Liberation Day will be the most high technical game we’ve made yet, with completely remade visuals and music. We are remaking all of the character art in Mask of Arcadius and sparing no expense in ensuring that all our assets meet the highest industry standards of visual appeal.

Another feature in Liberation Day are all new mecha animations during the story segments. All the clips in the trailer of the mechas are in-game footage and will be used to capture the drama of the Sunrider’s mecha wing as they confront enemies.

Sunrider would not be the same without a top tier sound track, and we are sparing no expense to ensure that the new music sets a new bar for visual novels. The trailer unveils the main theme of Liberation Day. We hope that our fans will be impressed by the all new fully original sound track we are producing for Liberation Day.

But that’s not all! We still have huge things in the works for Liberation Day. We will make those announcements as our efforts bare fruit. Please look forward to us seeing us along with Sekai Project at the Tokyo Game Show 2015.

Sunrider at Anime Expo!

Samu-kun News

Hello everyone, we’re all prepared to head to Los Angeles for Anime Expo.

This year’s AX is going to be a watershed moment for visual novels. We have big announcements of our own for Sunrider, which will be unveiled on July 4th, 7 PM at Sekai Project’s industry panel. If you’re at AX, please be sure to attend.

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AX will definitely be a game changer for visual novel fans! Please look forward to all the announcements.

Our alpaca sponsors also have these great projects for your consideration…

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Behind the Scenes: Staff Members

Samu-kun Behind the Scenes

Hello everyone, this is Samu again with another behind the scenes blog post about running a visual novel company… Thank you for having me.  m(_ _)m

So let’s say you want to make a big visual novel. It’s unlikely that you’re going to know how to make every single asset in your game. A VN needs character sprites, CGs, backgrounds, music, sound effects, code, and a slew of other assets. To make all the assets, you’re going to have to build a team.

I started out just making everything myself and using free assets for the things I couldn’t make, so that’s a good starting point. Remember, the bigger your team, the larger your monthly operating expenses, so making most of the game yourself with some contractors doing small tasks and using free to use assets is a sound strategy.

So there are a large number of roles in a VN company… Usually, a single person can perform multiple roles, so there’s no need to hire an individual per role. So here they are.

  • Administrative
    • Financial Officer: Records the company’s finances, minimizes the company’s tax liability, works with a CPA (bonus points if this person already is a CPA!)
    • Legal: Makes contracts for employees and third party contractors, drafts and analyzes licenses, deals with intellectual property issues
    • Producer: Pays team members, works with the publisher/distributors, predicts future revenue and market trends
    • Director: Holds the creative authority, oversees all the following roles
  • Visual Art
    • Concept artist: Designs the art assets
    • Character artist: Draws the character sprite
      • Sketcher: Sketches the characters
      • Inker: Lines the character art
      • Base colorer: Lays down the base colors
      •  Finish: Shades the colors
    • CG artist: Draws the event CGs
      • See above
    • Story board artist: Draws the story boards, sets the cinematography
    • Background artist: Draws the backgrounds
    • 3D: An artist who makes 3D models
      • Mesh artist: Sculpts the 3D models
      • Texture artist: Makes 2D art to slap onto the sculpture
      • Rigger: Puts a skeleton frame underneath 3D models so that it can move around
      • Animator: Moves the skeleton to make the 3D model move
    • UI artist: Draws the UI
  • Programming
    • UI programmer
    • VN integration coder: Codes the VN
    • VA coder: Codes voice acting into the game if your game has it
    • Gameplay coder: Codes gameplay if your game has gameplay
    • Engine programmer: Creates your base engine
  • Audio
    • Sfx Engineer: Creates sound effects
    • Music composer: Composes the music
    • Music mixer: Mixes the instruments in the music
    • Theme song: A separate vocalist + band which creates the OP/ED songs
    • Voice director: Someone who oversees the voice actors
    • VAs: Voice actors
    • Vocal Audio Engineer: Someone who mixes and cleans up recordings of the vocal lines
  • Story
    • Writers: Writes the scenario

Whew, making a VN sure is a lot of work eh… So you hire staff members with a general knowledge in one of these areas and them assign them various roles. Some skilled staff members will be knowledgeable in more than one area, allowing that person to program and write the story, or to draw characters and code them into the game! Oh, what great fortune, you better pay them well to keep them on board…

Now that we know just how many different roles are involved in making a VN, we need to fill them. Here are some types of staff members you might employ.

CORE/PIVOTAL/”LIFER”

Basically, someone who’s a lifer has quit everything else in life and dived so deep into the project that this person will die if the game doesn’t get released. Most likely, this person is paid both regular fees, on top of royalties from your game’s revenue. This person is highly skilled and will almost never quit, but the draw back is that all lifers perish with the game is it bombs at the market. :\ You generally want the director, artist, and writer to be lifers because those roles are pivotal and must be placed into the hands of someone who’s not going to back out.

CONTRACTOR

A contractor is someone who is skilled at a certain role, and who makes a living off providing that particular skill to various clients. You can expect skilled and reliable services from contractors, provided you pay what they want. As the name implies, you sign a contract with this person, specifying the exact assets you intend to buy from the contractor, and for what price. So they’re expensive but reliable. They’re good for putting in charge of programming, art, writing, and audio.

LIBRARY

A library is simply an online collection of assets you can buy. The plus side is that you immediately get access to what you want as soon as you pay. The draw back is that you don’t have exclusivity, so for all you know, 300 other games might use the same asset. Also, the library might not have exactly what you’re looking for. There are various art, sfx, and music libraries you can use to fill in gaps in your assets.

AMATEUR

lol… There are many of these people floating around the VN industry. Generally, they’re students in undergrad who like anime and VNs! They comes in varying skills. They’re cheaper than professional contractors, but heavily unreliable. You can hire them, but never make your company reliant on them or else you’ll regret it… Make sure they’re in non-essential roles.

VOLUNTEERS

These people are kind of odd balls. There are really two types of volunteers.

1. REALLY amateur: Basically, someone who’s so inexperienced that they’re willing to work for free. Don’t expect much from them… Sometimes they can actually harm you if they make mistakes.

2. Someone who already have a modus vivendi who just wants to do something exciting and get Internet famous: This is someone who’s already financial stable, who happens to have spare time and they just want to do something more interesting than their real job. Usually, they’re quite reliable, although they won’t be as skilled as contractors. They’re in it for the glory, so they usually want their names associated with the project and for the project to be popular. Also, if something unexpected happens which removes their financial stability, they won’t be involved with the game any more.

Whew… What a long post… Okay, I think that’s all I’ll talk about today… Good bye…

Behind the Scenes #1: Funding Your VN

Samu-kun Behind the Scenes

Ah, ah, hello everyone, this is Samu-kun…

The nice people over at our patreon funded us at over $1400 per month, unlocking this blog series about VN development. I’ll be talking about the operations of my company and the visual novel industry in this blog series… I thank you for having me.

I’ll be talking today about one of the most important aspects of running a visual novel company: Funding. Ah yes, the almighty greenback truly controls our lives. Countless normals slave away at mundane jobs all for an envelope filled with Andrew Jacksons every month, so there’s no way that a VN company can escape its power either…

Today, I’ll be delivering a general overview of the cash flow of an entire game. There’s a lot of details I’ll be skipping, but I’ll save that for another day.

1. Acquiring Funding

Let’s say you have an idea for a game. For it to come to fruition, you need money. You might need to buy songs and sound effects, hire help, buy equipment, and most importantly, you need to feed yourself and pay your bills while you make the game. Let’s assume you’re just a normal person and are few tens of k’s in the red to start off with because of educational loans. (It’s amazing how older people completely cannot wrap their heads around the concept of starting in the red… Beh, scumbag boomers…) In the past, you got the money off of someone richer than you after you promise to repay them + more once the game is finished. This is still an option and quite a number of VN companies actually do this. This wasn’t what I did though, so I couldn’t help you here. Another option is crowdfunding off Kickstarter. Running a KS is a long topic, so I’ll save that for another day. Or you could get a job and fund the game off your real job. The benefit here is that your risks are reduced because you’re still a normal with a steady income, but your payoff is reduced as well, because you have less hours to allocate to your game. This is a better option if you’re more conservative and don’t like risks.

Of course, there are less impressive ways to fund your game. Like your parents are rich and can support you, or you are married and have a spouse with a high paying job. But those routes are only for the 1%…

Anyways, let’s say you’ve done that and now have money… Let’s say $40 000 off Kickstarter! Whooo you’re so rich!

2. Allocating Funding

You now have $40 000! Wow! More money that you’ve ever seen before in your life! You can almost shed tears of joy man… It’s such a beautiful pile of money. T_T

A-ahem, anyways, now you have to allocate where to spend that money. Off the bat, Kickstarter will take 10%. And kuma shocku, Uncle Sam will want a piece of that Kickstarter pie too. You can generally expect about 10-30% to be taken away by taxes, depending on how much money you made. $40k doesn’t put you very high on the tax bracket though, so let’s say you only lose 10% to taxes. (Ahem, hire an account, I’m shooting from the hips here…) After that, you likely have to spend money manufacturing and shipping whatever physical goods you promised during the KS. Let’s say you allocate 15% to physical fulfillment.

Also, you might need to upgrade your equipment. You need a top of the line computer for 3D modeling, less so for 2D illustrations, but still a decent rig in the $1000 range. You also need a tablet. Eh, let’s say you don’t upgrade that much though, and you only lose 2% of the money on equipment.

So you lose 37% of the money out of the gate. Out of the $40 000 you raised, you actually keep just $25 200 to make your game. Quite a bit less impressive eh… :/

After that, you have to hire staff members. Let’s say that you spend $5200 on hiring staff, leaving you with $20 000. It’s actually much more complicated than that, but I’ll punt that for another day…

Ah yes, and now this is the pivotal part. First, you need to figure out your wage! You are da boss now! You set your own wage! Yay!

But you better put your party hat away, because your wage is gonna be lame and your hours even worse. For your first game, your monthly wage is basically the lowest amount of money you can survive on. Now, this varies quite a bit where you live. I live in San Diego, which has pristine beaches I never visit, year round sunshine which I block out with my curtains, and rent which is too damned high! Let’s… uhh… just say you need $3000 a month to survive in this paradise. Hopefully you live in Iowa with mosquitoes the size of your head and 2 weeks of good weather in a year. Then maybe you can survive on just $1500 a month. Let’s just go with something in between and assume you can survive on $2200 a month.

For your hours, just assume you’re gonna abandon everything and work all day every day.

Now, you divide the amount of money you have left by your monthly wage to get the amount of months you have to complete your game! So divide $20 000 by $2200 per month. Congratulations, we just found out the release date of your game! You have 9 months and 2 days to finish your game, or else you’re going to be bankrupt, out of business, and maybe dead. But at least people will say you died for our waifus right? Yeah right! They’ll probably just laugh about you on random internet message boards and game journalists will draft articles about how another Kickstarter project crashed and burned. A-ahem, I’m going off topic, I’m sorry…

But yes, make sure you finish your game in 9 months or very bad things will happen… It doesn’t matter if it’s the worst game in the universe, you need to get the game out by then! Your life might depend on it!

3. Make VN. Profit!

And now we’ll skip absolutely everything and just go to release day! The developmental stuff will be covered later, this is just about the cashflow.

Congratulations, your game is out!!! It was a long journey, filled with tears, frustrations, friends and family calling you a fool, but hey, it had some fun parts too! I personally liked the parts when my waifus appeared on my screen the best. =w=

Ah yes, this is the happy part. If you worked hard, did your research, and met deadlines, there’s no reason why your game shouldn’t at least recoup its developmental costs. Now, all that stuff will have to be covered later, but I’d say if you’re even a half decent VN tycoon (like you score a 6/10), you should definitely make back the $40 000 if you’ve managed to survive this far. And now you can begin the entire process again, but smarter, more experienced, with a bigger fanbase, and with a better reputation. So it was filled with much work, and much more work remains, but at least you came out all right!

Now, if you’re a good VN tycoon (score 7/10), you should make two to four times your developmental costs as profit. That’s an average of $120 000 profit! Whoo good job! You definitely earned all that money. Now you can hire more staff members and make an even better game than before! Maybe you can even buy games on Steam again and take weekends off! Wow!

If you’re truly great at this, you can make five++++ times what you invested. Developers who are talented, shrewd, genius, all at the same time, can even pull 10-50 times their developmental costs! Yup, imagine your little game making you $1 million! Quite a dream, eh… Maybe not this time, but next time for sure!

4. Conclusion

And now you sink all that money back into your company and make a VN truly for the ages!

Just remember, you have to go back to step one, and you will once again lose a chunk of the money you just made out of the opening gate again, but hey, you already knew that by now, right? Basically, the cash flow of a VN company is just the above three steps repeating over and over again…

The take away here is that developing VNs are a high risk venture and a lot of work, but the payout can justify the risks if you have the makings of a true VN Tycoon. \^_^

Whew, what a long post, I was hoping to keep these short… I’m sorry everyone, I’ll try to make things more concise next time… I… should go back to work now…

Announcing a New Sunrider Novelization Project

Samu-kun News, Sunrider

novel art

We are proud to announce a new collaboration project with WoolyShambler! Sunrider will now receive a novelization which adds new story content and more character development to the original story. Just like a book can take more time to develop the story compared to a movie, Sunrider: The Novelization will help fill in the gaps left by the game. Obviously, we’re amazed by the quality of what’s been written already, and confident that future installments will be worthy of our official seal of approval. Witness Sunrider, re-imagined and in deeper depth than ever before! Read the novelization here for free!

Sunrider Academy Released!

Samu-kun Sunrider Academy

Sunrider Academy is now available for purchase!

Sunrider Academy can be purchased at the following places.

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Purchasing the game once gets you access to all the content in the game. A purchase at Denpasoft comes with a free Steam key to unlock the game on Steam! You may also mod the Steam version of the game into the version sold at Denpasoft.

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Purchase Sunrider Academy’s opening song!

Price: $0.99

Vocals: μ (Miu)

(c) 2015 Amasawa-Kobo

AMAZON

iTUNES

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Content Restoration Mod

You may optionally install a mod to add in the extra content in the Denpa version if you bought the game on Steam.

1. Find Sunrider Academy install location by right clicking the game on Steam and pressing properties
2. Press “Local Files” tab > Press “Browse Local Files”
3. Open the folder called “game”
4. Download additional content (109 MB) and drop the three files in the patch into “game” folder
5. Start game on Steam. Content warning should appear & “Denpa Edition” should appear at the bottom left side of the main menu