Welcome to our very first devlog!
Since it is our first one, we thought we'd bring you up to speed on what this project is and how this project came to be before we start elaborating on more recent updates.
Of Sense and Soul is a slice of life historical romance visual novel that centers on the meeting and diverging of the lives of our protagonists, Hugo Brooks, a 27 year old editorialist and Seamus Charkham, a 23 year old man of means.
Playing as either of the two, players will make choices to change the direction of not just Hugo and Seamus' relationship but also their lives and relationships to their friends and family.
There are currently two planned character routes, with six total endings and an epilogue route to be unlocked after two specific endings have been found.
This was, at first, a project conceived out of sheer hubris.
The story saw its beginnings in 2016, when we came together and thought it would be great to combine our respective skills of writing and art into a webcomic to, and to quote, "CONQUER THE INTERNET"! It didn't take long for us to land on the idea of a historical romance after that.
An episode from a podcast by the name of The Allusionist was an early inspiration, through their discussion about the Victorian Lonely Hearts ad. This cemented the premise and setting of our story.
The appearances of our main characters were also decided on in almost the same breath. For a short while, they were dubbed "glasses nerd" and "redhead". They would meet, fall in love, and live happily ever after… which, in hindsight was an extremely idyllic, naive approach. Still, we chugged ahead in producing our introductory chapter.
Published under the title of Green Carnations (after the flower popularized by Oscar Wilde and his Decadent contemporaries in the very late Victorian era) the webcomic quickly revealed some issues with our approach— namely, that it had been too hasty. Although it had proven that we could band together and create something as a team, the story was sparse and woefully under-researched.
Art from the first iteration of this project, Green Carnations
It was back to the drawing board. With the pressures of school and our personal lives, however, the project was put on the back-burner for two and a half years save some research, brainstorming, and doodling. It was only in November of 2018 that, when Ingrid became inspired by other games she had played, she suggested we convert the story to a visual novel format.
The possibilities to be explored with the visual novel format breathed new life into the ways we could tell our characters' story— we began to ask, what would it be like if they made decisions for themselves, and how would their story change depending on who was in the driver's seat?
Whose lives are hidden behind the veneer of history, and what would it be like to step into the Victorians' shoes?
Now that we're better equipped to handle the tasks of researching, interpreting, and depicting
the Victorian era and our story within it, we've returned to this story with newfound passion!
Our Progress Thus Far
Most of our work up to this point has been in the researching and brainstorming for this project.
Since 2016, we've been steadily conducting research into the Victorian times in all areas, but particularly the realm of daily life in the 1870s for people of all classes and occupations. Now, we're going into more of the specifics of cultural and social history. Topics such as cultural movements, entertainment, social etiquette, fashion, language, fashion, and of course homosexuality are things we haven't yet fully explored, but are important for the realism of our setting.
Alongside outlining the story and researching, we've also been in the process of developing items for the game, including game mechanics, GUI elements, backgrounds, and sprites.