Nerus 0.8 is out, and Q&A answers
Hello, everyone. This build includes around 8k words of new content, fixes to a bunch of grammar and spelling mistakes in the Prologue, and some minor edits to the "Obli" record in Chapter 2. It also includes a new CG for that record made by Eddio, which you might have caught a glimpse of in the game's new cover. As usual, if launching the Android version gives you any trouble please try reinstalling the game from scratch before reporting anything.
Now, the thing we are actually here for: the Q&A answers!
souldozer asked: "What were your main sources of inspiration when planning the storyline of Nerus?"
Nerus has had a couple of different iterations, starting with short stories, a 200k word novel draft, and finally the visual novel. I can't quote any inspiration in particular for the short stories, but the novel draft and the visual novels were inspired by The Name of the Rose and Umineko: When They Cry respectively. I think the aesthetic similarities are obvious enough if you are familiar with these stories. Many of the tools I use for Nerus such as the multiple points of view, to name one, are heavily influenced by Ryukishi07's writing in Umineko. I could talk about this for multiple paragraphs, but I'll choose not to since I still haven't shown my entire hand.
"Were the later parts of Shax's and Neru's story planned from the very beginning of development or were they changed as the story unfolded?"
Yes. It escapes me for how long the key points of the Prologue (and the "Obli" record of Chapter 2, or Prologue Part 2, as I like to call it) have been planned, but I'd say six or seven years minimum. Very little was changed, but a lot was added on top of the concepts that existed years ago.
"Were there characters from other media whose personalities/experiences were used as an inspiration when creating the characters of this story?"
This is a tough one. I consider my writing style to be this chimera of techniques I pulled from other pieces of media, and while I can isolate some of them as being inspired by X, some are an amalgamation with too many elements to count. I can tell you Bitey took some elements from detective characters from mystery stories/games I know, but it'd be hard to point out anything specific. I do have a funny anecdote that maybe relates to this question though:
At the same time I was writing the Prologue, I was reading this one visual novel, The House in Fata Morgana. It's a very good game. I was surprised when they introduced these two characters around the midway point of the game because they reminded me a lot of Nerus and Shax, down to the color scheme. It was a "Goddamn it, someone wrote Nerus before I did" moment for me. I did end up borrowing a few things from this game and I think that affected the way I portrayed Nerus and Shax, but I wouldn't say it prompted me to fundamentally alter their characters. Also, to be clear: I'm exaggerating for comedic effect; reading The House in Fata Morgana won't spoil Nerus for you lmao.
There is one character that I can say was influenced by a few different pieces of media, but if I talked about that I feel I'd be giving away what their deal is. I don't think everyone realized yet that they exist, so I think it's a bit early to talk about them anyway.
KoptenOwl asked: "What got you interested in Gnostic Christianity as an influence?"
Reading Homestuck did. It had a surprising amount of Gnostic theming that got me very interested in looking deeper into the mythology. In my opinion, Gnostic Christianity also is a good fit for Nerus because it's conducive to its themes of duality and the origin of evil. I also wanted to make a different interpretation of the Demiurge; the popular "power-hungry tyrant" characterization I often see didn't make sense to me. The Demiurge's origins sometimes change depending on the myth, but most of the time he struck me as someone unaware of the harm he was doing until it was too late. I thought he was a pitiful figure.
"Favorite character to write"
This changes with the day of the week, but for right now, I'll say Noch (even if he isn't in-game in 0.8 lmao)
"Hardest scene so far to write?"
Any sex scene. The part of the Prologue leading up to the fur brushing scene. That one scene in CH1 where the cook locked himself up in the closet.
krzalu123 asked: "How many years you think you need to end this story?"
I'd like to know. I'm expecting CH2 to be the longest chapter and for everything else to go quicker, so I'm going to be optimistic and say I need three more years.
Ezzy asked: "Is Shax a good boy?"
Of course. He's so good he deserves destruction.
"Are you a good boy?"
"Your favorite scene that you've written so far and why."
Anything involving Obli. A detail I sadly think went over most people's heads is that, in a casual setting, a descendant will act like an anthropomorphic domestic cat. I was very much looking forward to Nerus being confused and suffering because his boyfriend is suddenly acting like a sleazy cat. Perhaps I didn't take this far enough, so next time I get a chance I'll go all the way.
"What gave you the idea to make a Visual Novel out of this story over the other forms of media (e-book, comics, etc.)?"
Nothing gave me the idea as much as I decided to try and saw that it worked well enough and that the medium had a lot of interesting tools to enhance the story with. I decided to stick to it to see how far I could take it. That said, a comic would've been entirely outside of my skillset.
chiiriimoya asked: "When you think back to the earliest incarnation of this story you can remember that reasonably resembles what we have now--be that an outline, a rough draft, loose collection of ideas, etc--has it changed much in terms of the overall structure, theme, or tone?"
It changed a metric fuck-ton in all of those. Compared to the novel draft:
- The Prologue, Chapter 1, and Chapter 2 were supposed to be the first part of the story, with Chapter 3 being the second and the rest being in a third part. The Prologue was also supposed to be a flashback late into Chapter 2, but it got moved to the very start as I thought it set the tone of the story better and Nerus and Shax became a lot more relevant in the visual novel.
- Related to the point above, Nerus wasn't the protagonist of the story in the novel draft, but rather a relevant background figure.
- The idea of Nomino existed but he wasn't going to actually appear in the story.
- There was going to be a faction of descendants revolting against the Demiurge.
- Bitey was a low fat buff, not a detective, and a side character. Alessia would find Rel very early in the story and travel with him and a friend of his (a human woman, not Bitey) for a while before arriving at the abbey to solve the murder.
- Originally, Alessia, Leila, Aloys, Frank, and a fifth character who was Obli's disguise were all buddies that knew each other beforehand and solved the abbey mystery together. Frank and the fifth character obviously got compressed into the same character. Incidentally, the abbey mystery was a lot more convoluted in the draft.
- Related to the point above, Kede was supposed to be an Internet provider in the original draft. This got changed as the Internet is such a ferocious mass brain-rotting machine that I thought it'd be unrealistic for them to let humanity go back at it so soon if they really have their best interest in mind.
- The culprit was a grandma who lived in the church and was part of a death cult organization. This got changed because I realized it'd be more realistic if the asshole rich murder victims were part of a death cult rather than the perpetrator. Now, were the abbots part of a death cult? I guess we'll find out in Chapter 2!
- The Seven were a lot more prominent, each one of them would get to appear in the story. In the visual novel, all of them still exist but only Temp and Noch participate. This is because having sprites for all of them would be insane and for plot reasons I won't elaborate on.
- Temp used to have a more prominent and antagonistic role, which would reflect on Brandeis being a very nasty person.
- Noch and his role didn't change much on a fundamental level, but the way he will be portrayed in the visual novel will be very different from the draft (even though it's basically the same character)
- Alessia's mom was alive and would be an accomplice for the death cult grandma... Somehow.
And many other such changes. I could be here all day listing everything, so let's move on.
Incidentally, the earliest idea, the short stories, had the premise of this little demon, Shax, trying to impress a demon lord he had a crush on (who wasn't Nerus). Shax was the first Nerus character to be created.
"If so how much of this do you attribute to the medium (Visual Novels) you're working in?"
Difficult to say right now. Swift point of view changes and some of the more mechanical tricks I use are 100% exclusive to visual novels. Having to work with sprites also changes the way I do things to be more economical, such as when I cut more of the Seven from the story. I'd attribute a significant part to the medium.
"How has your approach to writing or overall workflow developed as you've been working on Nerus?"
I think saying "I wing it" is a fair assertion of my approach to workflow. I may be a lot of things, but I'm not organized when developing this game. I try to have an outline for everything I'm doing in the near future, but sometimes I end up not following it at all, which was the case for Chapter 1. It doesn't help that occasionally real-life factors get in the way.
"Of course they're all your precious creations and serve a purpose, but was there anyone in the supporting cast who didn't initially have a sprite that slowly became one of your favorites once there was a visual component to them?"
Santiago. He became my favorite side character in CH1 while writing 0.5 (I already liked him before because it was really funny to shit on him though). I also grew attached to Sevos, I definitely want to bring him back somehow.
Thank you for all the questions, it was very fun answering them. I might do something like this again in the future, although probably not for 0.9. Perhaps when we are nearing Chapter 2's end.
That will be all for now. See you guys again soon.
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