The Many Faces of Waifus

This update was originally going to have more content, but the main feature I wanted for it took slightly longer than I had originally intended. Since I now refer to this game as a ‘waifu simulator’, I should explain that aside from being a free-roaming sandbox based upon living your day to day life as a Japanese high school student in an anime-inspired setting, the main focus of the game will be on deep simulated interactions with several datable heroines. As such, a large amount of focus will be dedicated to making these characters feel as detailed and believable in their environment as possible. One of the features I felt was really necessary and wanted to get implemented early on was to provide a better way of performing facial animation which does not rely on skeletal mesh bones. To this end, I’ve modified the Godot engine to allow for a new memory-efficient implementation of mesh morphing. This is an animation technique different from skeletal animation since it allows direct manipulation of the vertices. While not suitable for full character animation, it can be very effective for facial animation which is demonstrated here.

Collage

Godot actually already had an implementation of mesh morphing, but it was implemented in a way which was practically useless for the type of facial animation I’m attempting to do. This new system is actually based off my experiences of writing a parser and renderer for the popular Miku Miku Dance formats which stores only the vertices relevant to a particular mesh morph rather than attempting to copy the entire mesh as the Godot workflow originally did. My implementation also now uses index-based triangle optimization which originally had to be disabled for meshes utilizing morph support. This engine modification is still somewhat a proof of concept though, as it depends on a custom hacked version of the Collada format. I am currently undecided on how this workflow should be handled in the future, it could be through actual Collada extensions, a separate custom file format loaded alongside Collada, or maybe something completely different like OpenGEX if the specification supports this style of storing morphing information efficiently (it’s somewhat ambiguous to this effect). Autodesk’s FBX actually does support this style of storing morphing information, but it’s a locked-down proprietary format which, due to the lack of documentation, makes it hard to implement without incurring licensing problems.

I’ll have some more interesting updates out very soon now that this task is out of the way. I have actually had the great fortune to have met a very talented 3D modeller who is helping me out with creating new art for the game. Unfortunately, due to my focus on solving the particular technical issue described, I am unable to show off his work as of this update, but expect some exciting developments coming very soon.

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41 thoughts on “The Many Faces of Waifus

  1. Your game looks cool! I learned of your game from YandereDev he said you’re helping him! Will there be customisation for the protagonist?

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    1. Currently, the only plans for meaningful character customization will come in the form of a selection of ‘traits’ which influence certain gameplay and narrative outcomes. Examples of such traits could be ‘foreign exchange student’ or ‘perverted’ which would open up unique dialogue and story possibilities. Customization of the protagonists appearance is not currently planned, however it’s interesting that the feature described in this update could actually be employed as part of a fairly robust character creator by allowing you to modify facial features. I might reconsider this at some point in the future, but for now, the game is intended to be played from a first-person perspective, rendering the protagonist’s appearance largely irrelevant.

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  2. Ah THIS IS THE GAME I WANT FOR SO LONG AND FINALLY SOMEONE IS MAKING IT!!!!!
    Thank you! This looks Awesome so far, cant wait for an playable build!
    You Sir Just gained a new Fan :).
    Keep up the Good Work!

    I love it!
    Do you have a Date for your next update Progress?

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    1. Thank you for your support. I don’t have a specific date for when I update the blog as of yet. I try to make sure I have an update at least once a month, but I will aim for twice if possible. I tend to work more through feature milestones rather than date milestones, and some of the more technical stuff I do, while necessary, doesn’t always result in immediate things I can show off. Low-level engine optimizations are a good example of this.

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  3. It looks so cool! When it is done, I hope I can translate your game into Chinese and let more people to know!! Keep up your fantastic work :DD

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    1. The engine is unicode and IME compliant, so translations to Chinese are definitely possible, and I would always appreciate anyone’s efforts to bring this game into their own native language. At some point, I would also like to add dynamic glyph caching to the engine for even more complete CJK support.

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    2. Yo if you’re Traditional Chinese I’d love to do a Simplified Chinese translation as well
      been following this for quite some time, and the progress is absolutely stunning

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      1. It would be amazing if people are still interested in translating this game when it comes out. I have an early version of a scripting language similar to Ren’Py up and running, so it should be fairly simple for people who want to do their own translations.

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    1. Thank you, I’m actually going to be working on a new extension to the global illumination baker soon to try and sample ambient lighting directly from the skybox, which should result in significantly more naturalistic lighting required for places where the sun is not directly cast upon.

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  4. Nico nico niiiii! Always love Nico ❤
    Some questions…
    1. When do you expect and early-build version to come out?
    2. As we all saw, you included characters from some different anime, will this be the same for the game or you won't for copyright reasons?
    3. Where can i donate :3 ?

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    1. While it might be a while before a build can be released which gives a semi-accurate representation of the game’s overall mechanics, I am working towards a little environmental showcase demo which will allow you to explore the layout of the school, but it will not feature any gameplay to speak of. To do this, I still need to solve some rather glaring technical issues and would like to improve the quality of the art assets before releasing anything, but this is the goal I’m working towards right now. Beyond that, I will try to release some new builds showcasing new graphics and gameplay features as they are integrated.

      The full game will not feature any copyrighted characters to speak of. The video featuring Nico was just used as a technical demonstration for my new mesh morphing technique since I’m still in the early phase of creating an original rigged models for the game. However, I would like to make it possible to retain the ability for end-users to be able to import third-party characters from Miku Miku Dance, ect., allowing you to easily introduce many popular characters for your own personal use as mods.

      I really appreciate the gesture, but I’m currently not accepting donations as of yet. At some point in the future, when the game is a bit more substantial, I may consider opening a means for people who wish to support the project financially, but it feels very wrong to even consider accepting money from anyone when the project is still in a highly embryonic proof-of-concept phase.

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  5. Quite one of these look a pit off. ;pp
    the third one from the left on the top row has been a thing going with those teeth that I just can’t put a finger on.

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    1. Yeah, the model I used here to demonstrate the feature was probably not the best choice in retrospect, since it was not equipped with as many morph tracks as other similar models. The dodgy look on the third image is probably a combination of the low-resolution and the fact that this model has visible teeth.

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  6. Hi !
    Your project is seriously wonderful !
    You definitely have my total support !
    Your ideas are wonderful and it looks like the ways you’re planning to implement them are great too !
    Just keep up the good work 😉 and you’ll be sure that I’ll be one of your biggest fans 😀

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  7. I wonder…what if this took place in the same school as Yandere-chan?

    AND YOU’RE SENPAI

    WAHT A TWIST

    Jokes aside, will definitely keep my eye on this. Gotta cool down from all the bloodlust from YanSim somehow right?

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    1. You know, if this is something people really want, I might have a word with creator of Yandere Simulator about an actual cross-promotional thing someday, maybe something like what the Hotline Miami and Payday teams did. I’m not promising anything, though.

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  8. This looks like a very amazing project. I love both dating sims and the 3D Japanese school life introduced to me by Yandere-simulator and this seems like a beautiful mix of the two. Will follow and you have all my support.

    Just a few questions to get a better idea of the project.
    So by using non copywritten character’s do you mean you will have original characters?
    How many different girls do you plan to add? I imagine you would want to hit some/all of the base stereotypes you might see in anime/VN.
    The personality feature sounds very interesting! Will we see a mix of personalities? Like maybe pick two traits (Of course being unable to pick opposing traits) then they will affect the outcome? (Although if you have a lot of traits mixing that will make a very large amount of rewriting stories and possiblities for one person to script) So might we still see the traditional choosing our answers alongside a single personality trait or something?
    How much free roam will we have around school and places featured outside of school?
    And lastly Will there be many mini-games featured or interesting dynamic choices? Of course there will be the ability to freely move anywhere and do what you want. But I mean I remember when playing the visual novel Da-Capo one of my favorite features was being able to set my alarm clock for when I would wake up every morning oddly enough lol. It was small but really interesting. Then of course in Everlasting Summer there is a point where you have to play a fully functional card game to progress the plot. Maybe each club could have its own minigames?

    That was a few more questions than a few. Sorry Q_Q But I am really excited about what I have seen so far! I look forward to more whichever way you choose to take things!

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    1. Thank you, I’ll attempt to answer your questions that best I can. First of all, the characters featured in the final game will all be original creations; the videos shown so far a simply for demonstration purposes. You will, however, be able to add pre-existing characters through modding fairly easily. As of now, there are currently only two datable heroines planned for the initial release, and this is somewhat reflecting the spirit of the Love Plus series which only has three heroines, but trades-off the amount of characters for much more unique dialogue and more extensive characterization. In general though, I’m mostly trying to set myself reasonable and achievable goals so that the game will actually be able to get made in the first place, but that’s not to say there will only ever be two heroines. I intend to continue to updating it with new characters introduced in further updates if people continue to support the project; I already have a further two characters in the early stages of planning with the intention of them being added at a later date. My approach right now is focus on building the foundation.

      Meaningful mixing of personality traits is likely not going to happen very often due to, as you imagined, the amount of exponentially multiplying writing complexity. The way it is intended to be handled when reflecting personality traits in dialogue is likely to be context-sensitive most of the time, employing dialogue relevant to a particular personality trait when contextually appropriate, but there may be rare instance where a unique piece of dialogue can be triggered by possessing more than one personality trait. I haven’t yet talked about how the choice system in dialogue is going to work, since it’s intended to be a little bit different from conventional visual novel-style choice systems and would probably be easier to show than describe, but I will say that personality traits will likely play a role in this system.

      The scope of free-roaming will vary depending on the location. The school is likely to be fully explorable, but other locations may vary from an entire district to a single room. Other locations will mostly consist of shops, entertainment spots, ect.

      I would definitely be interested in possibly doing some minigames for Galatea. And yes, I am specifically interested in introducing new gameplay associated with the various clubs you can join, but in general, I would like to introduce new gameplay elements in such a way that they feel more like extensions of the base game rather than completely self-contained experiences, just as a means of providing a more holistic design experience. One example I would love to do at some point would be a political sim based on trying to become the next student council president which would feed into pre-existing student simulation systems, but I might also want to do more conventional minigames like a simple rhythm game for karaoke and the music club.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I apologize if you’ve been overwhelmed with the influx of questions–I’ll try and keep mine brief!

    How do you plan on designing the player’s interactions with characters beyond the romantic interests? An advantage of a tradition visual novel is that the author can restrict the player to conversing solely with plot-relevant characters, thereby concentrating resources on developing the main cast. However, since this is more open-world, how will you handle attempts by the player to talk with other students? Will your classmates simply have generic dialogue options? Will there be specific students whom you can befriend? What about the heroines–will they have friends?

    I’m by no means requesting these features; I don’t want to inflame your massive workload even further! I was just curious about your ideas for socialization, since it seems like placing the player in an open environment could require a lot of addition writing for all the dialogue.

    Anyway, as a fan of romantic visual novels and dating sims, I’m definitely looking forward to this game. Best wishes and Godspeed!

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    1. Thank you for being so considerate. For the most part, any dialogue with characters who are not part of the more developed group of girls whom you can actually date and form deeper relationships with will have significantly simplified forms of interaction. I’m still actually undecided how best to handle this aspect of the game, because they were not originally going to be in the first draft of the design and neither was freeroaming; it was originally going to play more like a traditional dating sim being entirely menu-driven and abstracting a lot of things. What might happen is they may either have generic dialogue responses like you said or interacting with them will prompt you into a generic ‘spend time with your classmates’ option, which will consume time, but will feed into a general reputation system. Being well-liked by your classmates may help you break the ice with the actual named characters, and having a bad reputation will have the opposite effect and make your character more stressed. While they won’t have unique developed dialogue, I would still like them to all be tracked as part of the game’s world simulation, but I can’t say for certain right now how deep this mechanic will end up being. I would potentially like to add more named characters whom you can befriend with unique dialogue and storylines, but this is a low priory feature right now.

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  10. I don’t have much of an idea of how difficult this would be to get to happen since I don’t personally do any development with Oculus, but this looks like it’d be really fun to play using an Oculus VR helmet.

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    1. VR is something I have thought about, but the reason I haven’t talked that much about it is because I have literally never tried any VR headsets before, so I can’t speak with a lot of authority on the matter. It seems like an obvious choice though.

      Aside from simply not owning one, one of the main problems with VR right now is the somewhat fragmented mess it has already gotten itself into. The VR headset you’re talking about, the Oculus Rift, I have a lot of problems with because I feel they deliberately misled a lot of developers with how open the platform was going to be. The engine I’m using does not currently have any VR support, and for developers not using Unity, I have heard that there have been a great deal of headaches caused with trying to integrate support for their SDKs into native code, and improving matters in this area is something Oculus themselves have stated is not a priority for them (along with Mac OSX and Linux support). There are of course alternatives starting to appear with pushes for open standards, but the whole VR space is such a young fragmented mess right now that I would actually like to wait for it to mature a bit more before I commit to a full VR plan. It will likely happen someday, because I know a complete VR waifu sim is something people have been demanding for years now.

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  11. This project reminds me of Love Plus (for Nintendo DS), and the “three girls” dynamic makes me wonder if you’re getting inspiration from it or it’s just a concept that works. If you haven’t played it, I don’t mean to encourage piracy, but it’s pretty easy to get an emulator, a ROM and an English patch. It might be an useful source for making the plot (though your game clearly seems open ended).
    I personally don’t dig the fast paced movement of the girls, but maybe that’s just me. I’m used to other type of animations. Anyway, I’m not a patrion, so no vote for me.
    I read a comment around here about having a secret level where you would play as Yandere Simulator’s Sempai. That would be the greatest easter egg ever!

    Good luck with your project, and hope we get a taste of it soon!

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    1. Love Plus has been a huge inspiration for me, and I actually cite it as an inspiration on my first post. Things like the real-time mechanics and the focus on deep immersion through very well-realised and realistic characters and writing are things I attribute directly to that game. A lot of design direction I’m taking for Galatea is both informed by how much I enjoyed that game, as well as frustrations over the feeling that the greater potential of the concepts were not being fully harnessed. I really appreciated its approach to a more minimalist representation of interpersonal relationships without distracting meters and metagame elements, but there were also relics of the older Tokimeki Memorial series which seemed to clash with this ideology. One example would be representing the mood of the girl through an icon rather than through body language, or how repetitious, disconnected, and abstract the skinship mechanics felt at times, resulting in a lot of player fatigue during the dates despite how enjoyable it was to spend time with the girls.

      I’m interested to hear more of your thoughts on animation as I’m not sure if you’re talking about the animation I’ve shown off or the ones used in Love Plus. If you’re talking about Love Plus, it’s a rather interesting case since despite using anime-styled character, I believe it was all motion-captured by real-life actresses. I personally like the style, but I could understand why it might be jarring for some people. If it’s the animation shown off in the video, this was simply a third-party animation created for MMD which I was using to test a new feature. The game itself will likely feature much more nuanced animation.

      I’m afraid I still can’t promise anything regarding a crossover. It hasn’t been discussed, and it’s just a random consideration right now.

      By the way, for the record, Rinko is objectively best girl. (:

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    1. Not at all. I’m legitimately sorry it’s taking so long for a proper update. Rest assured, the game is still actively being worked on, but the reason I’m hesitent to update is that not all of the features I’ve been working on, while nessecary, are all that presentable or interesting. Things like new movement physics for the character, native scaling and rotation for user interfaces, a multi-threaded resource loader, and the first iteration of a working parser/lexer. The two big features coming for the next update are a vastly expanded school with tons of new art assets and places to explore, and another I want to keep as a bit of a surprise which will become an integral part of the game mechanics.

      Again, I’m sorry for the lack of updates, and I hope people won’t lose interest during dry patches like this.

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      1. Oh it’s fine, take as long as you need. These things can’t be rushed.

        And don’t worry about people losing interest. YanSim was like this in the beginning. And look at it now!

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  12. Its good to see you are still around. But most people check posts, not comments. From a post standpoint this game seems a little behind. I understand the issue of boring your readers, but keeping them updated is what keeps them there. I almost forgot this was here actually, but luckily it is getting placed under the blog’s tab on my bookmark bar now :3

    What I would suggest if you are unable to talk about the specifics of the games progress because it is all technical jargon, then I would talk about the concepts your game is looking to implement. You can go on and on about theories and ideas and asking questions for how you think the game should go, and it would still manage to keep readers interested without really putting out any progress reports. Now you don’t want to go TOO long with this, but it is good filler in-between the times that you can release more meaningful progress updates. I would say you should try to update this blog once a month at the very least.

    Add pictures as well as while most readers don’t understand technical doo-dads and thingie-ma-jiggers, everyone can look at a picture and go “Oh man that is cool, looks like he is making progress.”

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    1. Yeah, having read what you said, I think you’re right. I’m currently preparing what I’ve got so far. Although it’s not quite as polished as I’d initially hoped, it should at least give people an insight into what’s been focused on over the past month. The primary reason for not showing the main focus of this update, the school, is due to the workflow I’ve adopted. Although the school I’ve built is modular, I actually build it all out in my modelling package, and bring it all into the game engine in one go, at which point a slow, ardious (and currently slightly buggy) offline baking process is applied for indirect lighting which limits my ability to iterate fast on how the environment will actually look in the final game, and makes it difficult to even get screenshots of how it will look ingame until it’s mostly all in place; it’s much more efficent as it stands to attempt to build as much of it as possible in one go and bring it all in at once, but that unfortunately means I can’t show it off as much as I would like to. However, now I am currently bringing it all in-engine, so an update should be inbound in the next fews days. As well as showing off the school, I’ll talk about some of the lesser notable features which have been worked on and where I’m hoping the project can go from here.

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