“Yuki, it’s almost time to go…”
“Alright, just give me a minute to finish checking out.”
After Yuki walked out of the airport mall with bags full of gifts for family and friends, she asked with a worried expression.
“We aren’t late, are we?”
“We should be able to board the terminal bus if we leave now.”
I grabbed several of her shopping bags and hurriedly rushed to the terminal with Yuki following closely behind. In the end, we were able to board the bus with a dangerous 1 minute margin.
“Hah… Hah… What a relief, I thought we were going to miss the plane.”
“Yeah. Getting up late this morning almost spiraled into a disaster for us…”
“Hmph… Who bothered me last night so I couldn’t sleep…”
Uh... Who was that…
Yuki pretended to ignore me for a moment before breaking into a grin after meeting my eyes. Below her smiling face was a small necklace hanging on her neck. That was the commemorative key chain that couples often bought from the Namsan trail.
“Are you really going to wear that?”
“You were supposed to leave that behind…”
“But I still want to keep it with me. I’ll unlock the key if we ever happen to break up.”
“Is that what you say the day after we started dating?”
As I gave her a playful tap on her forehead, she stuck her tongue out.
“Yeah, you’re right. Sorry.”
After walking with her to the airport lounge, I handed her the plane ticket and opened my mouth.
“You’ll be fine by yourself now, right?”
“Of course I will.”
“Make sure to give me a call after you land.”
I wanted to board the same plane with her if circumstances would allow it, but traveling by train from Tokyo where Yuki lived to Kyoto was very inefficient, so I decided to send her off to the Narita airport before me.
“Thank you for bringing me along with you.”
“What are you saying? I never even gave you a proper tour.”
“Then you can show me around the next time.”
“Yeah, let’s do that.”
The next day.
In the middle of looking through my work documents at my desk, I heard a light knock followed by Morita poking his head through the door. Morita greeted me with a bright smile on his face; his demeanor underwent a 180 shift from when I had last talked with him;
“Director Kang, how was your trip?”
“Everything went well. Ah… you came at the perfect time. I wanted to have a meal with you before I left.”
In response, Morita scratched his head with an awkward expression and spoke.
“I thought you were going to show me some concept illustrations after your trip.”
Morita was showing an incredible amount of interest since my new game was themed around young school girls. He had already made his mind up about leaving Mintendo at this month’s end.
There were many who felt disappointed at Morita’s decision to leave, but only a handful had tried to talk him out of leaving. The reason for that was Mintendo was simply overflowing with game developers.
In a culture where all the attention was focused on growing household titles like Super Marigee, Donkey Kom, The Legend of Kirin, etc… opportunities for Mortia to do what he was born to do, creating visuals of beautiful, fully developed girls (or undeveloped), were sparse. And Morita understood this better than anyone else.
“We should eat together since it’s almost time for lunch. I’ll show you the documents then.”
“Ah, of course,~!!”
A while later.
As I was stepping out of the headquarters building along with Morita, a familiar voice rang out from behind us.
“Oii!! Morita!! Director Kang~!!”
Hayashi was running towards us from the main lobby.
“I was heading to your office when I heard that you left for lunch, so…”
“Would you like to join us?”
“Of course. I also have something to tell you, Director Kang.”
I could feel a sense of determination from Hayashi who was fixing his glasses after that frantic run.
“What? You’re also going to quit!?”
Morita’s startled cry rang around the small interior of the ramen shop near the company where I frequented.
“Quiet!! You fool, there could be other employees here.”
“Ah, I’m sorry. I was shocked… So you’re moving to Pentagon Soft as well?”
Hayashi looked over at me and asked.
“Director Kang, do you still have an opening for me there?”
“Of course. You can come over anytime you want. But I must ask, what made you change your mind? Last week you said it was too early for you.”
“That’s… I realized I would never be able to be promoted to head my own project as long as Mr. Shige was above me.”
Hayashi continued as he turned his gaze to Morita.
“This man over here was the only one I could connect with; we had such a great time building Psychic Battle together. I felt that I would have no one else in the company after he left.”
No matter what the reasons he came up with were, he was following his friend in the end…
But this was actually a great opportunity for me. I knew I would be able to work with these two without any problems.
“Then, since you two seemed to have made up your minds, shall we get started?”
I took out the concept illustrations from my bag and placed them on the table. Although there were only ten pages, Morita snatched the pictures away as soon as he laid his eyes upon them. Hayashi also looked over at the illustrations.
“ ‘A journey without me?’ Don’t you think the title is a bit depressing?”
I answered with a grin as I sipped on a warm cup of green tea.
“Look at the illustration first.”
Hayashi looked back at the illustration plans and subsequently widened his eyes in confusion.
“Director Kang, there seems to be several dozen background images and character configurations. I don’t think the current specs of the Mintendo hardware can support this level, with or without a specialty chip…”
Morita also chimed in with his own opinion.
“The… the background looks like it was modeled after the city of Tokyo. Could the family console really support details this specific? On top of that, although it would be easy to physically draw the images out, generating the pixel graphics will take several weeks at a conservative estimate.”
As expected, these two professionals were able to discern the key points after a cursory scan of the plan. But they haven’t seen the important page yet…
“Did you guys take a look at the platform concept?”
The duo tilted their heads in confusion as I pointed to the page.
“SFC…? It’s the first time I’ve heard of it.”
“It’s an acronym I came up with this morning. It stands for the super family computer. I plan to launch ‘A journey without me’ as the launching title for a new generation of Mintendo consoles.
Hypothetically speaking, if one person in a relationship was dying, who would feel the most pain?
The person leaving their loved one alone and departing from this world>
Or the person who is left?
‘The central theme for ‘A journey without me’ will be based around this seemingly simple hypothetical question.’
Although the specific plots weren’t written yet, I would describe ‘A journey without me’ as being more focused towards the visual effects and the creativity of the illustrator rather than a full on dating simulator.
Amongst the three female characters in the game, only one would make it to the end. The game itself would be divided into three drastically different storylines depending on the choices of the user.
The first scenario was that before the ending scene where one of the lovers would pass away, a heroine would be predetermined depending on the big and small events that occurred early on. The second scenario was that after the death of two the female characters, the main character would be left with the last remaining girl and live happily ever after. And the final scenario involved the death of the player. After that…
‘The highlight of ‘A journey without me’ will be the third scenario.’
After the character controlled by the user dies, they would be able to experience the game through the eyes of their lover. The accumulation of the “memories” gathered throughout the game would determine the nuanced reactions of the girl.
“Director Kang, this story line is a little too…”
Morita’s eyes were moist after merely reading the script. Hayashi also seemed to be effected as he blinked multiple times and furiously turned the pages.
You… you… shouldn’t be taking your feelings out on the paper.
In the end, Hayashi was forced to covertly wipe his eyes under his glasses.
“So what do you guys think?”
Morita who was drying his eyes with a tissue asked a question in return.
“Director Kang, who wrote these scenarios.”
“Why? You don’t like it?”
“Not at all. I think this game will be an instant hit if the plot lines develop according to the blueprint. But the time it would take the write various events for the three heroines, make changes to the appearances of the characters because the game plays out over the course of a few years and create a glum visual effect for the ending of the final scene would… Huup! In addition, making changes to the background to account for the passage of time… Ahh!!!”
His face turned ashen as he envisioned the amount of work that laid ahead for this project. As for me, I was sipping on my cup of green tea as I asked Morita a question.
“Don’t worry. We have plenty of time, so we can really create a top quality game without hurry. You said you would love to create pixelated girls until the day you die.”
“What I meant was… Director Kang, that’s…”
“I will grant you your wish, Mr. Morita.”
I let out a smirk and turned my attention towards Hayashi who was in the middle of thinking about the tasks he would be in charge of.
Compared to other games, generating pixel art for graphic novel games was easy. There weren’t any on-hit effects to worry about like in a shooting game, and a combat A.I for enemy soldiers wasn’t needed.
It was about whether we could match the storyline with the appropriate images depending on the choice of the user.
Although, the time it would take to fine tune the number of different scenarios from ‘A journey without me’ would be staggering…