As a mindless Null, you're unable to perceive this figure. We use they/them when talking about unknown people in the third person.
First look at your savior as Rell introduces herself.
Depiction of Gabriel's story and the loss of his powers and life.
Final image of Rell holding her lance with a bisexual flag attached to the tip. The flag uses the red and blue of Summoner's Rift.
When we explored different voice lines by the different League champions, Rell's reference to finding other champions Sett, Ekko, Seraphine, and Leona attractive stood out to us as a young adult exploring their sexuality. Representation is important for young adults and having these voice lines in the game made us feel seen and validated. We wanted other people to be more aware of these voice lines as one of the few queer League of Legends champions, and to understand the trauma of a young girl growing up in the brutal war nation of Noxus.
What it does
This is a visual novel exploring Rell's backstory from her perspective as a biracial, bisexual young adult. She helps the player, will kill the player if provoked, and talks about her trauma having to harm her friends. Players will expect to see descriptions of violence, correct pronoun usage, and cool art. Rell talks about her attraction to male and female characters but does not identify herself as straight or gay. As an adolescent, Rell is still exploring her sexual identity and does not explicitly come out as bi. Your role as the player is to provide validation of Rell's trauma and her identity as an emerging adult.
How we built it
The script was written by Sarah Kangastone with feedback from Seaney Shell and Dorina Melegh in Google Documents. Sarah drew graphics in Adobe Photoshop using a mouse. Seaney utilized Ren'Py to put the script and graphics together in a playable format.
To play the visual novel
Please download the version best suited to your computer from the Itch.io or GitHub links below. Unzip the file, and open IronChoices.exe (not the 32 version). Enjoy!
Challenges we ran into
It was challenging to schedule times for the team to meet up and communicate needs and goals for the project. On future projects we would meet on day 1 and delegate tasks. Having an organization tracker will help a lot! We were unable to find inspiration for Noxus backgrounds. A lot of the Noxus background content relates to huge structures. We wanted Rell to be traveling to kill her abusers and felt that having trees on a grassy background was more effective than a city, so we followed a Bob Ross tutorial using darker ominous tones with the highlight of yellow to show Rell's optimistic future. We struggled to find a software to create the visual novel. We realized early on we would be unable to program the game itself. Originally we tried Novelty, but there was insufficient documentation to guide our project. We also explored some paid visual novel software, but we were unable to budget a $60 Steam program.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are really proud being able to show off a completed visual novel game in such a short timeframe. It contains elements of Bob Ross backgrounds, mixed mediums including playdoh, and a 2 page Google document of script. We are very proud of the playdoh portion, having had shape and smash 6 effigies of the best esports team mascot ever, Blue, breaking our heart and bringing emotional tears to our eyes after each take. We're really proud of the idea to incorporate Summoner's Rift colors, and references to the League of Legends game by recreating the bi flag using the SR red and blue and ending the story talking about combatting the violence of the blue and red sides. The dichotomy of wanting to accept both sides references Rell's bisexuality. Rell does not see herself as being gay or straight, but instead tells the player that she is not ready to decide, something that other bisexual people have identified in their own lives.
What we learned
Working as a team is hard! It is challenging to find times to meet when coordinating a team of people. One thing we plan on doing next time is going over expectations and availabilities so we are better able break up the tasks. Ren'Py was not that challenging to learn from a computer scientist perspective. It is similar to Python and those who have used Python should be able to pick it up fairly. From the perspective of a non-CS major, the tutorials and documentation are good for Ren'Py, and it is easy to make a basic visual novel from it. The real friends are the ones you make during that hackathon that you don't have to fight and leave for Null.
What's next for Iron Choices: Rell's Story Visual Novel
Rell is a resilient young woman. Once she has completed her revenge mission, she deserves to have a life where she can explore her sexual identity. We want to explore more ways of validating this young woman's experiences and see where she goes on her journey in life. We wanted to create more drawings of Rell's different expressions to convey her feelings. While Rell Angry is a hilarious picture, it minimizes her emotions and does not do her justice. There are also more opportunities for mixed mediums, especially metal etchings, to help convey Rell's story. We want to include more voice lines from Rell and possibly even add voice acting to the original script.