YNK ZERO Devblog 3: How Zero Almost Wasn’t in ZERO

Did you know that ZERO‘s titular character almost wasn’t even in the game? It’s true!

Hello, world! Lucas Chasteen here, author and developer of Yugure no Kagami ZERO and the VNgen visual novel engine it runs on. Recently, development crossed an interesting milestone that reminded me of what a journey the word ‘zero’ has been on in relation to Yugure no Kagami.

 

Starting From Zero

Way back in 2014, work began on constructing the mythology and lore that would lay the foundation for YNK. I had many discussions with Sean Robinson, the series’ co-creator, about possible stories to tell within this fictional universe we’d created—some of them wildly different from each other. The intention wasn’t to construct a single timeline of canon events, but to allow each story to reinvent itself around a common set of rules. The challenge, then, was coming up with the best way to introduce those rules to first-time players (which at this point is everyone). The result is Yugure no Kagami: The Mirror of Dusk—however, it wasn’t always subtitled this way. At first, “Yugure no Kagami: Zero” was chosen to indicate the game would serve as the entry point for all future works based on the same lore. That’s right: the mainline entry nearly had the name of the prequel, and not because of a key protagonist’s name. The reasons ‘zero’ was dropped as the subtitle for the main game are many, but suffice it to say that for the introductory game in the series, it made sense to use a translation of the Japanese title (“Yugure no Kagami”) to emphasize the cornerstone of the lore it’s based on (“The Mirror of Dusk”).

So when did ‘zero’ come back into play? Well, as teased on the official mini-site, Yugure no Kagami: The Mirror of Dusk is a massive tale anticipated to span over 30 hours to experience it all. After all, not only does it have the task of introducing the core mythology and lore, but also establishing its own characters and histories. With so much ground to cover, it wasn’t practical to answer every question raised within the main plot line even if such answers existed internally. Spinning these answers off into a separate short story was a no-brainer. It would provide a public demo of sorts, as well as lay a technical foundation within the engine written specifically for YNK. As an author, I also enjoy giving my readers something extra to enjoy to ease out of the experience of finishing a major story.

 

Breakthrough

Yugure no Kagami ZERO was born, but still its titular character was nowhere to be found! At this point, ‘zero’ was merely a reference to the prequel nature of the product instead. The short story Daybreak was written to fill in the gaps from the main story, but still something was missing. As a demo, Daybreak only represents half of what makes Yugure no Kagami, Yugure no Kagami. It’s the human side of an urban fantasy tale incorporating both natural and supernatural elements. What about the latter?

After much deliberation, the perfect solution was found right within Mirror itself: a certain event of in-universe history that is referenced countless times, but not depicted considering it takes place centuries in the past. A good rule of thumb in creative writing is “show, don’t tell”. Providing backstory is fine, but infodumping should always be avoided, and there’s no question that merely “telling” doesn’t have the same emotional impact as “showing” too. A second short story was added to ZERO dubbed Nightfall, giving a taste of events from the alternate perspective of a character coincidentally named… Zero.

The titular Zero, as seen in the game’s logo and main menu

Despite being a late addition to the prequel, Zero is a very important and fascinating character well deserving of a series subtitle. She is a “warrior of light”, but not in the way you might expect, and I believe her responses to the role she’s been given will resonate with many players when the game launches later this Winter.

As for that “interesting milestone”? I’m pleased to announce that Nightfall‘s script has just been completed and will be entering the editing and implementation phase shortly. I’m incredibly excited to finally round out this massive tale and bring you the first—and second!—chapter in Yugure no Kagami ZERO!

 

Want to help make Yugure no Kagami ZERO a reality?

I’m a believer in sustainable development. While Kickstarter campaigns have brought many wonderful products to life, these types of crowd-funding campaigns create an unhealthy economy where products are only profitable before they release and not after. As such, Yugure no Kagami is being developed consciously and intentionally to work within its limits. However, those limits don’t have to exist! With the support of a strong community, anything is possible. If anything you read to day excites you about the future of Yugure no Kagami and VNgen, please take a moment to consider supporting XGASOFT on Patreon in exchange for our humble gratitude and exclusive rewards!

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