Please note that this post assumes you’ve played through the game at least once. Potential spoilers will be left unmarked.
I love writing off-the-wall and crazy characters, they’re just so much fun. Streaming-chan might be the character I had the most fun writing scenes for.
And since today’s her birthday (August 8th), let’s go through what went into making her, shall we?
Two of VA-11 Hall-A’s characters saw their birth when we asked for feedback online in the earliest post-prototype stages. One was Streaming-chan, and the other… we’ll leave as a surprise for now.
Streaming-chan came from a post that suggested a few ideas at once, one of them was “girl that streams her life”, as for the rest… hell if I remember.
Of course, just streaming wasn’t fun enough, it was the perfect chance to make her the obnoxious kind of streamer. Streaming-chan is what happens when you take a video content creator and they start acting in real life the way they act on their videos, when their personas no longer obey the lines between fake and real (or the lines of personal space for that matter) and the world reacts to that.
But this loud and brash girl actually brought with her an interesting question: What makes someone be like that? What drives Nicole Chen to throw away all semblance of common sense for the sake of her viewer count? She could’ve just been crazy… but that’d be no fun. So, like with Alma, we took what we made and asked ourselves what makes someone be like that.
Like many things in the game, the inspiration for this came from personal experience.
I’ve been writing since I was 14, before that I just fantasized a lot and wanted to be a comic artist. Death on the Nile and Les Miserables started a passion for reading that had been dulled by all the flavor of the month young adult books around that time, and made me realize novels were just as good a medium for my ideas. However, I wrote mostly for myself, the few times I tried to get someone to read what I wrote they either didn’t (accepting my prints out of courtesy) or teased me about it.
Fast forward 4 or so years. I was sitting in a Cyber Cafe and I sent Kiririn a short “game” I wrote in Ren’Py and… he liked it! Not only did someone actually read what I wrote, they liked it! The surging impulse to write I felt that day is still moving me today.
And Streaming-chan is pretty similar, the persona we see her enforce is the version of herself she wants to be, an ideal backed up by viewers that genuinely like her or just lust after her. She streams herself 24/7 because it helps her being someone she has always wanted to be, do things she wouldn’t otherwise do and take risks because she know there’s a mass of people behind screens cheering for her.
Something interesting about Streaming-chan is that her sprite is quite the busywork as far as code goes.
VA-11 Hall-A’s sprites are usually composed of: A base, a face, a blink animation, and the lip animation. Streaming-chan adds a couple of extras to this mix.
- The webcam on her cap is an extra component that works at intervals like the blinking.
- Once she appears she creates an object that overrides and disables the jukebox to make her song start playing… you have no idea of the amount of headaches this caused me.
- She creates an object dedicated to throwing random lines in waves of words.
Actually, let’s take the chance to explain how the word waves work.
The word waves are classified by the kind of reaction they’re supposed to evoke. There’s a “Yes!” wave, a “No!” wave, a “BOOOOOO!” wave and so forth. Each kind of wave has two objects: a “controller”, and a “word object”.
When a wave comes up, it creates a “controller”. This controller creates a random number of “word objects” and then destroys itself. Each word object upon being generated would get: a random font size, a random speed, a random position, and a random string. They cross the screen and get destroyed offscreen.
In hindsight, I could’ve made one object for all the reactions… but like we mentioned on an earlier article, time (and experience) was not a thing we had.
The only exception to how this works is the random text that will appear regardless, that controller doesn’t get destroyed until Streaming-chan is out of the scene and also has an extra condition that changes the text for a particular scene with Dorothy.
The different font size on each wave of words are separate font resources, each with a different size. Because Game Maker is silly like that and it can’t resize fonts on the fly without shitting the bed.
Another notable thing about Streaming-chan is that her sections are the ones with the less revisions. In fact, I remember I had the initial draft for her first appearance surprisingly fast and she saw little to no revision outside of editing.
Here’s a couple of closing thoughts about Streaming-chan:
The first is that I’d love to explore in the future how she is when the cameras are off, how the real Nicole Chen is when the spotlight isn’t on her.
The other thought is something that came to mind when coming up with her inner workings: Validation is a scary thing. Let me give another example:
My dad used to be a music teacher. At one point he was finding the job dull and thought about how he would make more money and be better off working on his recording studio, but having been a teacher for 20 years he found it hard to quit…
…but then, during a class a kid told him “What are you doing here? I don’t want you here!”. Said kid was infamous as a pint-sized shitshow, but it gave my dad that last push he needed to quit and go a different way. He wasn’t even mad at the kid, he just thought “Yeah, what am I doing here?”.
But that made me think how scary that was, how a random comment with no real ill intent behind it pushed him to quit his job… how a well-placed random comment on the internet can push someone to follow through with the dangerous thoughts they might’ve had for a while.
Words are scarily powerful, they can heal as much as they can kill. Use them carefully, and stay safe.