My upcoming project, The Last Birdling, alternates between Bimonia and Tayo’s perspectives. Today, I would like to explore some of the details behind this system. Your feedback is most welcome, and if you know of other visual novels that handle multiple viewpoints in a fresh way, please let me know!
The Last Birdling is written from a first person perspective, so the viewpoint character’s personality will come through in everything she observes. Her inner thoughts, reactions, they are all distinctly her own. On paper, or on screen in our case, this means different word choices as well as sentence structures.
That said, I dislike making characters act a certain way just to showcase their uniqueness. If you study writing books, you will often be advised to make every character sound different, to a point where you can tell who is speaking even without dialogue tags. Now, imagine a group of your friends. If you closed your eyes, and they all had the same voice, would you be able to tell them apart? I for one would have a hard time. For me, being truthful takes priority above all rules.
Since we are in a visual medium, we may as well take advantage of that when it comes to perspective shifts. Notice how the UI changes to green in the screenshot below:
This means we have switched to Tayo’s perspective in chapter two. The same concept applies to decision points:
In the world of traditional novels, shifting perspectives mid-scene is ill advised. To avoid disorienting readers, we want to jump into different heads during a scene or chapter break. The Last Birdling does not feature chapter titles, but there are end of scene cards to signal a perspective change:
This introduces several concerns in terms of programming. For instance, if players return to the previous scene, will the UI switch back as expected?
What about loading another saved game mid-session? I hope all the common scenarios have been addressed. We will see if players spot any edge cases after the game’s release.
So why would we alternate between perspectives? Once readers recognize the pattern, it is no longer something they need to worry about, which makes for an ideal reading experience. If the view changes went as follows:
Bimonia, Bimonia, Tayo, Tayo, Tayo, Tayo, Bimonia, Tayo, Bimonia, Bimonia
And so on, gamers would stumble every time we reached a new scene. We want to set up roadblocks for our characters, not our players.
To round things off, The Last Birdling follows the journeys of Bimonia and Tayo from childhood to adolescence. By the time these two reach their teens, they have suffered through an awful lot. To reflect both their physical and mental shifts, the UI will also update accordingly:
Find out more about The Last Birdling via:
The website contains a demo version, which illustrates how the perspective changes work. Please feel free to have a look.
To finish things off, I am happy to say The Last Birdling has been approved for publication on Steam several hours ago. Thank you so much for your support!
Hope to see you again soon .