It's been quite the week. Thank you for the blow-out response to the Full Bloom update. The day we released the update, I think my heart did not stop beating 100mph until I hit publish. We somehow managed to keep this quiet for the past few months, and the happy reactions made it all worth it. I would have released this devlog sooner, but the other thing that happened the moment I hit publish was that my body just completely crashed LOL. Thanks for giving me a few days to breathe and sleep before posting this one.
(Also - our editor wrote an epilogue to the Blooming Panic webnovel, but we couldn't find a place to fit it in game. If you'd like, you can read it here.)
TL;DR - WHAT IS NEW
- We rehauled the chat system
- The art got a sick rework
- Nightowl gained more content to make his route more "complete" since his route was a last minute finish during the game jam and didn't get the same care that Quest and Toaster did
- Toast got more content to boost up word count and allow the player to get to know him a little more
- We gave voices to the side characters
- We added several new tracks to the OST
- As usual, none of this was possible without the entire dev team, so giant kudos to everyone involved.
I'm going to talk about a few things here, but I'll start off with what everyone is likely the most interested in: the boys.
Let's talk about the content updates. Nightowl received the largest update of the original three, since his base route was the smallest back in June when we launched the base game. For comparison's sake, Nightowl's route clocked in at ~9k words, but NakedToaster's was ~13k words and Quest's was ~16k words. This was mostly because Nightowl's route was a last minute addition - he was nearly cut from the game entirely. You can kind of tell that he was rushed, though, when you see how that original story unfolds.
So, in the update, we gave him ~6k words that beefed up his background, gave him more opportunities for server banter in a fun bloomic quiz game and OST discussion, and allowed a private channel for him and MC. Additionally, the Nightowl VA worked with me to re-record a large chunk of the final call in order to allow the player to still get the good end without wanting to date Nightowl right away. One of the most valid criticisms we received in the base game was that players didn't like that they had to date him immediately in the end, so we hope that these tweaks brighten his route up a bit for everyone.
Oh, also. There are two guests that appear in the Nightowl route now. You can see more of them if you check out Deliver Us From Evil by Galen Games. B)
NakedToaster received a smaller update, where we dive into a text adventure he made as a teenager. These segments come in somewhere around ~3k words, but the original text adventure draft was actually nearly 8k words LOL. We had much more branching options, but realized that we had sacrificed exchanges between the player and NakedToaster for those. So, we cut them down to just one or two choices, since the real point of this addition anyway was to give more chances for the player to talk to and get to know Toasty. These adventure segments also include a special track called "The Rakes of Kildare" that BloomBot plays during the game. Our composers did a great job on that!
Quest, already with his beefy route, didn't get many text updates. BUT, he did get some small additions, such as some scars on his CGs and an OST track unique to his route that appears after Two2 posts a song he's been working on. The OST track is a remix of that piano sample, which was provided to us by one of our artists, Sleepy. Quest also got a new choice branch in one of his calls that addresses something he's allergic to - let us know if you find it!
Finally, Xyx. The big, new, juicy route. One of the reasons we originally said he'll have a game for otojam 2022 was because we did actually mean that at the time. But, a couple weeks after the launch of BP, I realized I didn't want to be tied to making only BP games for the foreseeable future - so, I nixed that plan and we decided to instead release an Xyx route, just as a 2021 holiday surprise instead. Can't go back on promises to Xyx, right? A highlight of the Xyx route is, of course, the server zine, which was handled and assembled by our editor, Allie Vera. Giant kudos to them for pulling it all together in time.
The development of the Xyx route was a difficult one for a variety of reasons. I think our team felt a lot of pressure from the unexpected success of BP, and we really wanted to be sure we put out something that would make people excited to download BP again. Based on the initial reactions, we've all breathed a sigh of relief from how happy y'all are. Thanks a million, gamers. Make sure you send a few thank yous to the Xyx writers, Destini Islands and Allie Vera, as well as our Xyx VA, Mike Young. They've definitely earned some high praise for the work they put in.
SIDE CHARACTERS + OST
We added voices for the side characters - did you catch that? You'll see some of the text chat lines have a small icon beneath them now. Click them to hear some fun new VA work from people on our QA, OST, and fanart teams. These were mostly people who, once again, had zero VA experience and just wanted to try it out for fun. They did a great job.
Our OST also got a boost, with five tracks added. Like I mentioned, one of them is that Two2 track that plays during the Quest route, and another is "Rakes of Kildare" from the Toaster route. The last three can be found sprinkled throughout the whole game. A cool thing Orpheo did this time around was add little voice samples from our QA team to the new tracks (and I think he even put me on the track "LET'S GOOOO"). Just some more of that excellent collaborative energy.
PROGRAMMING + ART
FBE overhauled many things, including the entire way the chat system works (which includes the bot-requests channel). This arguably took the most time and was done with the goal of eventually releasing the discord engine out to the renpy community, which, uh, means it needed to be understandable to people that weren't me LOL. I'm hoping to release that out sometime in early 2022 after I clean it up and simplify some more. Another redo was the menu GUI - we scrapped the default renpy look for a more customized computer-sim feel. Despite all the extra QA time from that (LOL) I think it was worth it, since it makes the game look a little more cohesive and immersive.
A ton of other minor things changed that aren't worth getting into re: how the game runs and how things look, but I'm sure fans of the base game will be able to pick up on some of those here and there (like those new emotes Basil made!). One of the bigger things is, of course, the art rehaul for all of the boys. I wasn't going to originally re-do all of the art, but when I realized my art style had improved since launch and that Xyx just looked better than the other boys, I just said fuck it and updated it all. I understand that the change might upset some people, but I think it was for the best. If you miss the original look, we've kept the original game up on the itch page for ya.
DONATIONS + SUPPORT
I make games for fun and as a hobby, and am unlikely to accept payment or donations anytime soon. I appreciate the sentiment behind people wanting to donate, however, and I love that you all have enjoyed Blooming Panic so much that you want to support us.
So! In the spirit of the holidays, here are some charities you can donate to with the funds that you would have sent to me. They could use it a hell of a lot more than I can. I've selected one that corresponds with each boy, in case you'd like to donate to one that aligns with your favorite. Note that most of these are US based, so don't feel limited to this list of course if you'd like to donate elsewhere!
Nightowl's selected charity is Foster Care to Success. They try to help foster kids pay for college, among other things.
Quest's selected charity is My Stuff Bags Foundation. They try to provide comfort and aid to children who are rescued from abusive situations.
Toaster's selected charity is Eye to Eye. They assist students with learning disabilities and those facing similar challenges with overcoming obstacles in the classroom.
Xyx's selected charity is Animal Legal Defense Fund. They work in the courts to try to protect the rights of animals.
BP has been a project about the joy of collaboration from start to finish. I have found that, while I have a vision, others can color in that vision in ways I would never have considered and make it a million times better. I don't regret a single choice we made during the development process and I adore everyone who contributed a piece of themselves to the project.
There was a point in the past few months where it became very difficult for me to work on the game due to several real life things outside of anyone's control, and I am eternally grateful to my team that put forward some amazing work and endless support through it all. Because of them, we got a complete game out before Christmas that I'm proud of and can look back at with fonder memories than I might have otherwise. The world of BP is all about warm communities, accepting change, and feeling like you belong somewhere, and the BP development team pillared those themes when I and others struggled. I cannot thank them enough. (You can read more about my intense gratitude towards my team in my initial devlog after launch here. )
But, in particular, I have to give a small shout out to Allie Vera. They really pulled through on helping with things they didn't need to when they saw I was struggling, and that means the world to me. Thanks, from the bottom of my heart.
We wanted to leave the game with a more polished feel as our goodbye to the project, so please enjoy BP:FBE to your heart's content. FBE is the last update BP will receive, but it won't be the last project for the team. We hope to see you again soon.
Thank you for playing <3
PS: Try re-downloading the update. We may or may not have patched in a special version of the BP theme song to the main menu. If you wait a bit you'll hear it. I promise it's worth your time. Totally. Definitely.