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“I died once.”

Vacant Sky is an RPG released in three episodes following the death and rebirth of Auria Edith, a small-town girl whose violent and unexpected death turns her world upside down. After her equally unexpected resurrection, Auria finds herself drawn into the heart of a mystery involving a cult of masked cultists who will stop at nothing to make her their goddess.

Features:
-Branching story and characterization
-Significantly alter the course of the story with your choices - including six endings
-Original soundtrack composed by Tarranon, featuring vocal tracks by Melody Yoo and Melanie Ehrlich
-8 playable characters (along with up to 6 guests)
-Customize Auria's stats and growth
-Select your own progression of skills to learn
-Interact with your party members to strengthen your relationship with them
-Unlock guest art title screens through sidequests

The game is split up into three releases.

Original version
Act I - Shadow and Ashes: Released March 16, 2009
Act II - Halo Locks: Released January 5, 2010
Act III - Angel of Justice: Released October 18, 2010

Complete Edition
Act I+ - Death & Rebirth: Released August 31, 2012
Act II+ - Night Zero: Released December 18, 2012
Act III - Angel of Justice: Coming soon!
Act III' - Our Eternity: Coming soon!

Latest Blog

Character Design Case Study: Mia

In this article, I’m going to discuss my process for developing and fleshing out characters. The example I’ll be using is Mia from Act II. There will be some mild spoilers for Acts I and II, so if you haven’t had the chance to play the game yet and intend to, be warned.



Mia is a character who first appears after the player completes their first major quest in Act II of Vacant Sky. She’s an interesting example because she wasn’t originally part of the story as I first envisioned it. Instead, she was introduced to fulfill a specific need I had in telling the story of Act II.

No Longer Human

Act II of Vacant Sky introduces the concept of an Archon, which is a person who has had another person’s soul grafted to theirs with magic. The exact mechanics of how they function are rather complicated, and I wanted to avoid inundating the player with exposition which they would probably forget. However, understanding what it means to be an Archon is crucial to following the story, so I needed some way to convey it to the player in a way they would engage with and care about.

I puzzled over this for a while when starting to write Act II, and eventually decided to illustrate rather than explain what an Archon is and what it means to live as one. To do that, I began to flesh out a character who would serve as a living embodiment of the concept of Archons.

I started by writing out the key ideas I needed to convey:


-Archons are (sometimes) immortal
-Archons can (sometimes) tap into supernatural powers
-Archons are unnatural
-Archons are prone to fits of ultra-violent rage
-The more an Archon taps into the power of their alternate persona, the more their state of mind deteriorates
-Archons and humans can’t coexist

The angle I decided to take was to have Mia serve as a snapshot of what Auria might look like in the near future. She’s a little older, more experienced, and most importantly, confident. At a time when Auria feels isolated and is struggling to find her place in the world, she encounters Mia, who has undergone many of the same hardships and seems to have everything figured out.

When the player first meets Mia, she is alone on the city streets at night, unkempt-looking, and astonishingly strong (having just single-handedly dispatched a group of thugs who had been harassing her). One of the first things she says to Auria after making sure that she’s unhurt is that she intends to follow the fleeing thugs to finish them off. When Auria demands to know how she can suggest such a thing, Mia is perplexed; to her, it’s the obvious thing to do: if someone’s causing you trouble, you should kill them to ensure they never bother you again.

Mia’s callous but rational thinking demonstrates her lack of respect for human life, a stark contrast from Auria’s idealism. Auria is appalled and afraid, unaware that later in the story, she’ll be required to make a very similar judgment call.

It’s clear from the first interaction with Mia that she lives outside of human society: she makes a distinction between herself and “them” when speaking and shows flagrant disregard for human laws and morality (she steals to eat and doesn’t bat an eye at killing someone when it’s convenient). She suggests that since they’re immortal, they have nothing to fear from humans, and that laws don’t apply to them; on the contrary, laws exist to protect humans from them.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

The introduction of Mia answers a key question on the player’s mind (what exactly is Auria?) but also suggests several more without directly asking them:

-How did Auria become an Archon? When did it happen?
-Why is Mia so convinced that Archons and humans are enemies?
-Does Auria’s mother know that she’s an Archon? Does she know something about what’s going on?

One of the best ways to manipulate the reader is to get them thinking about questions, because they’ll laser-focus in on those questions as they read/play in the hopes of finding answers. This is useful for two reasons: 1) it builds anticipation and 2) it allows you to manipulate expectations.

In this case, building anticipation was one of my key objectives, since the questions were all answered at the turning point of Act II, a major scene which I wanted to be one of the most shocking and memorable moments in the whole Contention saga. By teasing the player with a mixture of anticipation and dread, the mood was set for a grim revelation that would (hopefully) cause the player to feel the same shock and hopelessness as Auria.

The connection between Auria and Mia is key to Act II. Act II serves as a transition for Auria, putting her on track to become like Mia. So, one of the goals of Mia’s introduction was to suggest to the player what Auria would be like at the end of it, and to set the player up with the expectation that they would find out. This serves to indicate to the player what the conceit of the story is and helps to contextualize the events to follow.

Characterization Through Gameplay

One of the unique benefits of the game medium is the ability to convey subtext through a space that the player navigates. Act II of Vacant Sky introduces a day/night system where certain people and places are only available at certain times of day.

For most of the game, the nighttime segments are fairly useless: only one location can be accessed at night, no quests can be done at night, and all of the player’s party members are either at home or just outside. The streets are empty, too. There’s no one to talk to.

This changes in the intermission between major quests. Mia exclusively appears at night, establishing a dichotomy between herself and the rest of the cast. You can only find her when everyone else is gone, when you’re warned that it’s dangerous to go out alone. This serves to enhance Mia’s feeling of otherness, as she alone breaks the pattern that you’ve become accustomed to in playing the game.

As Mia is the only one who provides the player with direct answers about the mysteries of the story, the player is encouraged to be curious about her and anticipate each interaction with her. As it’s never explicitly stated when she’s around, this leads the player to go out into the night (in doing so, disobeying the advice of Auria’s friends - her anchors to human society) and seek her out. The player subconsciously directs Auria into becoming an entity who exists in the lonesome world of the night, just like the mysterious girl they’re pursuing.

The second time Auria meets Mia, she witnesses her Archon powers go out of control, nearly causing the death of one of her friends. This serves as a warning of what will happen if Auria begins relying on her Archon powers too much herself (foreshadowing the ill-fated finale of Act II). However, Auria’s Archon powers are extremely useful in combat and become even stronger as the game progresses. This encourages the player to act out Auria’s part: you’re warned that her powers are evil and dangerous, but they’re just so convenient and satisfying to use that you can’t help relying on them more and more.

In the last stretch of Act II, you finally get Mia in your party. Although it’s normally a rule of the game that everyone in your party is always the same level, an exception is made for Mia, who is always 3 levels higher than Auria. On top of that, her stat build will always be the perfect complement to Auria’s, making it so that the two of them form a brutally efficient team. Her role in battle reaffirms her role in the story as Auria’s closest ally and the one who’s most like her. With Mia at your side, you can take down anyone. You’re not afraid, even when you fight a group of five soldiers equipped with Counter. The easy triumph over enemies that had once been extremely difficult helps put the player in Auria’s head; for the first time, she feels safe and in control, able to do anything with Mia at her side.

One Last Subversion

The final segment with Mia comes with one more departure from the patterns that the game has established. It takes place at twilight, the first time it’s been anything other than day or night. The track that plays in this section is “Last Night of Summer,” which previously played during the nighttime segment of Act I, a reminder that you’re still partially within the domain of the night.

The twilight of East Naven serves to illustrate that Auria (an entity of the day) and Mia (an entity of the night) have come together in the middle. The events of the game have dragged Auria toward Mia’s darkness, but at the same time, interacting with Auria, her first true friend, has pulled Mia out of the lonely emptiness of the night toward the domain of the day.

The twilight is calming, safe, and a little melancholy. There are people around, but the muted colors and somber music suggest that this isn’t quite the upbeat, welcoming world that the day normally is. It’s here, in the twilight, that Auria and Mia reach their resolve about what to do with their lives.

(The events of Act II’s finale, of course, wipe away the twilight and replace it with a fourth rendition of East Naven, barren and hopeless. The twilight period is never seen again in Act III: There can be no middle of the road.)

This was a little long-winded, but I thought I’d give an insight into how I develop characters and how I try to convey their characterization through the player’s interactions with the game. Hopefully, you found it interesting.

Posts

Sailerius
did someone say angels
3304
author=skylin05
The file extraction always freezes on me.

For which Act? Does it give a specific error? Also, which download link did you use?
Whoa. I've played the Act 1 and I'm downloading the Act II now. It's really cool, though the battles are all arranged not random encounters here. The Music is cool. Like it. I also noticed that the final battle in Act 1 (VS masked Auria) is pretty short but it was pretty much of a luck cuz, no random encounters to increase EXP and credits to buy items. The plot is cool. Are you planning on making the sequel? (Vol.2)
Sailerius
did someone say angels
3304
author=RayDarkAngel
Whoa. I've played the Act 1 and I'm downloading the Act II now. It's really cool, though the battles are all arranged not random encounters here. The Music is cool. Like it. I also noticed that the final battle in Act 1 (VS masked Auria) is pretty short but it was pretty much of a luck cuz, no random encounters to increase EXP and credits to buy items. The plot is cool. Are you planning on making the sequel? (Vol.2)

I'm glad you've enjoyed Act I. Act I is really outdated compared to the other two episodes, so you're really in for a pleasant surprise once you move on to Act II. The gameplay is far less luck-reliant now and the art, music, and storytelling improve significantly. Regarding a sequel, I certainly won't rule out the possibility.
Yeah, Act I seems much shorter compared to the others. The game steps up to being better than it was every time with a new Act. ^_^ Game never lets you down.

Hope to see a complete edition sometime this year and see the revamp.
Sailerius
did someone say angels
3304
author=xeilmach
Hope to see a complete edition sometime this year and see the revamp.

I sure hope to get it out this year, too. This term at school has been really hectic, but I plan to get some solid work done over spring break.
Hello! I'm one of Vacant Sky's numerous fans/players. Basically, I fell in love with it right from Act I, and I can't wait for more. I have a lengthy commentary/fan-gushing about the game. I won't call it a review since it's more 'gushing' than review. XDD Do you mind if I post it here? By the way, I'm one of those who registered just to review/comment/whatever. XDD
Sailerius
did someone say angels
3304
author=ashen_heaven
Hello! I'm one of Vacant Sky's numerous fans/players. Basically, I fell in love with it right from Act I, and I can't wait for more. I have a lengthy commentary/fan-gushing about the game. I won't call it a review since it's more 'gushing' than review. XDD Do you mind if I post it here? By the way, I'm one of those who registered just to review/comment/whatever. XDD
Go right ahead! I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the game so much. I'm looking for as much feedback as I can get right now so that I can make the Complete Edition as good as possible.
*This post is going to be SPOILER intensive...*
*And oh, this is going to be HILARIOUSLY LENGTHY...*
*Also, forgive the lack of coherence, grammar injustices and other things. I'm gushing XP...*

Hello there! I'm one of your Vacant Sky fans, having read about it in TVTropes then proceeded to download it. :3 I've become a devoted fan right from Act I. I've finished Act III a few days ago and nailed the Remission ending several hours after that. Yeah, I went into addict mode (entering my 23rd hour of playing time on my next...). I've even convinced a couple of my friends to play the game. Now we're a trio of Weapon fangirls. XD

I've played a few other RPG Maker games and I've got to say Vacant Sky is one of my favorites. Beautiful artwork, intriguing storyline, pretty cool battles...yep, I'm hooked. XD

On Act I:
Act I started slow, with all the mundane stuff I had to do, but I thought that this was the 'establishing' part. You know, driving home the point that Auria's life is normal and the players are being set up into the 'wham' part when her life turns upside-down...but yeah, it got pretty tiring soon enough. The stat mechanics was pretty wonky...it took me an hour or so to realize that I have to go back to the menu to spend stat points since I was thinking that stats grow at a set pace. Nevertheless, I knew that this urban fantasy fare is different from my usual bread-and-butter fantasy, so despite the wonkiness I went on.

On Act II:
Act II...whoa, can't remember much of Act II. It's been so long...but I think that's the time I got really used to the game and came to absolutely adore it. Gone was the wonky stat/skill mechanic from Act I and this time around, I actually have a degree of freedom with the world. Act I was pretty linear, and while Act II still felt pretty 'limited' (since it doesn't have much of the sidequests and other stuff that would 'color' the setting further), at least I don't have 'but thou must' painted across the game in red letters.

On Act III:
Yeah, the lengthy part. This one's still fresh in my mind. I haven't completed all the endings, but I have acquired the two main ones.

Act III...wooo, Act III. I love it, especially all the little things that get changed everytime you get an ending. Ones that got me are the part when you start a new cycle and the opening cutscene is different (in my game I first got Seri, then after Contention ending I got Laaik, and after Remission I got the weird meeting of judges cutscene. Still have to finish that game...are there any more after that?) as well as the opening/ending credits having subtle changes (ie Vel's appearance). After the changes, I'm desperate to know the plot more. I was especially happy that while the menu stops showing the number of experience points at level 30, I can still grind to...I dunno what the cap is, but I'm at level 42 now (am I overdoing it? XD) since I'm a level-grinder. Darxinger's quests struck me as odd (especially after I've mopped him to the ground - and we're talking about taking 'requests' from a maniac with a god complex) plot-wise, but at least it gave me an hour or two to kill before heading off to pound Ejaro's face in. I guess it also gave me a reason to visit previous locations, though I wished there are more 'new' locations. And oh, maybe a world map, just to visualize what Disparatus really looks like. If it feels too awkward, it doesn't need to be a gameplay mechanic. Maybe a map on a wall somewhere, or just even an artwork of it.

Void Arena
I only appreciated the Void Arena recently, with the thrill of having to mop the floor with the previous bosses. While at first I was annoyed that I only had Auria in the fights, I quickly learned to adapt. I guess it's one of Vacant Sky's high points - brute strength (aka Attackattackattack) isn't advisable, even if I have high levels (I'm looking at you, Shadow Camulus! Darn your Regen and Lapoisim!). Since it's my usual style, I learned to...well, strategize, and it's refreshing (though, regrettably, I still can't shake off my 'hit it with blunt force until it dies' mentality). I've now come to appreciate the wonders of Charges, Lavir and the wonderful feeling of a Rend to Sorrows Vital Hit. And oh, please, please fix the error with the last boss! I'm curious as to how I'll fare against Darxinger...again. And I wonder why Archetype Auria isn't in the Void Arena... :3

Mag Mell
Mag Mell struck me as odd though. Laaik saying 'search within yourself' to find Worldweaver sounded...really weird. And then there's this...strange apparition-like Auria behind bars. I've been wondering if I could reach that area.

Yomi
Hmmm, strange place. Other than being the setting of one of the cutscenes, I'm wondering if it has another significance to the story.

On the Characters:
Auria
Actually, it's the story and the characters that really got me hooked. Auria's a wangsty snarker, but I can handle wangst tempered with snarks than overly idealistic idiots. In the course of Act I to Act III I saw her transformation from a wangsty self-absorbed snarker to a wangsty snarker who has to battle and embrace her own humanity. I even think she's a deconstruction of the changeling (normal girl ---> immortal being), just to show what kind of moral and psychological hulahoops a person like her has to go through. While there are times when she gets beaten into silence during verbal confrontations, I guess it's to show that she's not some battle-hardened, wise paragon - she's a confused, angry teenager. She's almost too obsessed with her quest to slice Ejaro to shreds, I realized that with all the weight on her mind, she's clinging to that one clear 'goal' she has. She's definitely a flawed person, but that's what I like about her.
Gameplay wise...well, since I have freedom with her stats, I made her into an offensive powerhouse. XD

Rayonne
On Ray...at first I didn't like Ray much, since he's the stock idiot adventurer who runs headfirst into trouble spouting friendship and courage. Then he kills Mia, who has a painful past and gameplay-wise an awesome character. It wasn't until late in Act II when he himself admitted that the stuff he does is pretty idiotic that I realized that hey, he's a deconstruction too. Idiots do idiot things, but sometimes idiotic things get it done. But only sometimes. He shows as to what degree an idealist (or 'nakama-centric', as anime tropes would have it) would fare in a cynical world. Ray's 'courage' clearly becomes 'recklessness' and while I'm not sure if the games made it clear he has learned his lesson, I like the way the later scenes pointed it out. I like it when he nearly bombs it again with the Gungnir spear and he gets put through the wringer with the Vel-pulse relic dilemma. It almost appears like a karmic laser.
In battle, half the time I want to reach out on the screen and whack Ray since he misses often! He got better in Act III, but whenever I get Seri or Weapon, I quickly ditch him out despite being one of the more defensive characters XP

Vel
Vel...I'll be honest, Vel is absolutely my least favorite character. She's...I'm sorry, but she's like a Mary Sue to me (well, at least at first). Sunny, happy, pretty, mildly flirty girl gets it on with the guy the main character likes. Said girl has fairly unusual powers which could grow so strong (granted, through outside interference) that it could disintegrate the leader of a feared cult. I suppose the only thing that felt 'right' with her presentation is that there's evidently something 'wrong' and 'fake' about her. I had a little change of heart after the revelations in Act III, but I feel like she never really 'spun off' to form her own character. I guess it was because the narration barely panned to her point of view. To me, she'll always be 'Ray's clingy girlfriend' rather than 'stoic dude who's pretty much Seri's shadow', 'gruff cop who's hiding personal life failures and shoots without sufficient questions' or 'knowledge-obsessed researcher with the social skills of a jerk'.
Gameplay-wise...ugh. I never actually used her. Seriously. I've used Blaise in mob control and Rien in one hell of a boss fight, but never Vel (unless it's placeholder job). It's not even about my dislike for the character. It's that she's mainly a support character and I dislike having to dedicate one whole slot for one who's main point is to spam buffs. Maybe if she gets to hit a little harder? More offensive skills? That's admittedly biased opinion though. I'll revise my opinion when I properly used her extensively in battle.

On the *gasp* Love Triangle
It's not that the Auria-Ray-Vel triangle angered me, it's just that Auria's sudden 'I want him to be happy' turn is SO sudden it's jarring. In Act II she's acting pretty much suspicious and hostile with Vel, and then in Act III she's willing to sacrifice lives and such to save her. Then in the Remission ending I get the vibes that Auria is projecting herself to Vel, since she wants her to live 'the life she never could'. While I could probably picture what really was going on in Auria's head, it appears...stilted in-game. Maybe because Vel and Auria didn't get much interaction by themselves. From what I saw in-game, Auria only cared about Vel was because she was projecting herself onto Vel or because Ray cares for her, not out of genuine friendly concern (unless...that's the point?). I dunno if it's part of Ray's character, but he says an awful lot of things that could be construed as having romantic feelings for Auria (edit: oops, saw the Remission path. Ray really, really likes mucking things up. And not thinking). Or maybe he's just bad with words. XD

Ray-Vel forms a large chunk of the plot and character development, but I dunno, it comes out as really...sappy and shallow...especially on Ray's part (he seems to spout off cliches). Vel's traumatic past puts a spin to it, but not that much. I don't support Auria-Ray (although I could see what Auria got her attracted to him), but it peeved me that Auria has to be the martyr for the two of them (yep, talking about Remission). Me: "Soooooo my main character, an immortal revenge-driven, sword-wielding force of destruction, kisses the bullet just so that this guy and his girlfriend become happy. Huh." Humanizing for Auria, but still, meh.

Blaise
Alright, I shall move on. XD Blaise...Blaise plays the 'gruff cop who's too dedicated to his job' fairly straight. I can almost foresee in Act I that he's going to reveal to have a horrible personal life later on in the game (affirmed). Not that it's a bad thing - he's among the more no-nonsense of the adults. Blaise's definitely more 'human' than the ridiculously objective and straight to the point Rien. Also, he subtly develops throughout the series, coming to care about the 'kids' under his care. The scene from the normal ending, where he adopts Vel, is heartwarming. The one in Remission with him pointing a gun at Rien (who's threatening to blast through Vanquish to put down Ray) also earns him sympathy points. Besides, he gets some pretty snazzy snarky lines. Gameplay-wise...well, I finally learned to appreciate him in Act III, with the mobs becoming common and access to powerful weapons, but his horrible defense and lack of the Guard reactions meant he would be sitting in the sidelines most of the time.

Vanquish
Vanquish has always been one of my favorite characters, both in gameplay (I prefer high-DEF characters) and story. He has a decent ATK too, although his ACC is wanting like Rayonne (at least, Vanquish rarely died in my game). The best thing is that he has mass healing spells! Plot-wise, his dialogue gets really lengthy and preachy at times, but I like how he acts as a sounding board and sort of pseudo-psychiatrist for Auria. Honestly, he's like the 'father' of the group. In a team of dysfunctional beings there's someone willing to become the 'moral and empathizing' - I guess he's one of the brighter spots. I get this feeling that there's more to Vanq's story than what he lets on though. He seems so darn wise and empathizing despite the injustices that happened to him it can be...jarring.

Serijala
Serijala is one of the more wonderful deconstructions among the cast, that of the rebellious princess and the martyr-idealist. Her speech to Auria in Remission's boat scene is one of the best I've seen. She was almost too noble and good in Act I and first half of II, where I get to know her background. Seri appeared to be a classic...then she runs the perception to the ground by showing just how low she was willing to go for her ideals. Then her plan blows up in her face. By the time she appears in Act III, still trying to be dignified despite her overwhelming losses and being initially hostile and wangsty towards Auria, I was really feeling for her. She was just so...desperate. I think it's a pretty good ironic echo/comeback that it's her friendship with Auria that gets her to back down - Auria always complained that Seri seems to be hiding stuff, being all good while keeping people at a distance. In gameplay I found her to be indispensable, since she makes the enemies' HP appear, and when she got Ran she just got more useful (via the Aki spells). I generally don't like low-DEF characters, but since her evasion/speed is very good, I could put up with it.

Zaqris
I have to say, I was cursing and raging at the start of Act III when I found out that Zaq had kicked the bucket. I wasn't one for magic-oriented characters, but his death came out of the blue. Then again, I'm torn between wanting to see the actual death scene and not seeing it...somehow, it feels all the more tragic that you don't see it, because you can't empathize with the situation and somehow it feels pointless. Zaqris ran the 'stoic guardian' a bit too straight, although I liked the vague state of the relationship between her and Seri. Do they or they don't? Moreover, the plight of Alibaas all the more became tragic and human when Zaq's backstory was elaborated. I think it made up for all the silent, stoic moments he had in Act I and II. Previously it was all about a war of economics, plots and ideals. Now it was also about brothers trying to be the best they could be for their parents and sisters crippled by bombs. While I feel that Zaq quitting life was a bit thrown in to pound Seri's despair deeper, it did make for good drama. In terms of gameplay I only used him in Act I and maybe in the early parts of Act II - magic was hard to replenish for me in the early games, and I've always liked brute force better XD.

Rien
Rien...oh boy, Rien. She's mad scientist/researcher turned up to the wazoo, while having the flair to be snarky about it. While her social skills is definitely wanting, the stuff she says are the most practical ones. It's like she's the walking embodiment of the bitter truth, or the breathing proof life in Disparatus is unfair in general. Once again I think she's a good subversion of the 'exposition' type of character. She is knowledgeable, but she is defintely NOT nice. I'm curious as to what part she plays in the whole scheme of things. Gameplay-wise I rarely used her, since I couldn't stand her poisoned status, and I don't like characters with low hitpoints (yeah, I'm for attrition battles). I did use her in the fight against Archetype Auria, where she proved her worth. Still, SP is such a difficult thing to replenish. XD

Mia
Mia is an awesome character in gameplay (yeah, hit 'em hard girl!), but honestly I don't quite...feel...for her. Maybe because I have seen my own share of socially awkward girls with tragic pasts in fiction. Nevertheless, it's interesting that she served both a positive and negative encouragement to Auria. On one hand, Auria got out of her wangsty episodes for a bit, learns to be a little proactive and generally have a goal in life (even if it's a nebulous one). Aaaand on the other hand, when Mia died Auria's whole worldview narrowed to 'skewer Ejaro', with 'skewer the Virad' and 'care for my companions' at the edges.

Laaik
Laaik got my inner fangirl raging. My first reaction was 'why is he married?!' XDD Fangirling and fan-preferred couple aside, he seems to be the most well-adjusted of the cast. He's a leader, a warrior, a husband...darn it, he hit the 'nice life' jackpot! Then again, this is Vacant Sky, and I doubt there's anyone among the cast who is, or who will be, left unscarred. His dreams at the start of a new cycle (PLEASE DIE is definitely chilling) got me piqued, and until now I'm wondering whether his past will be/was explored in Act III or somewhere else entirely. There's something about his character, other than the unexplored past, that strikes me as odd. I was thinking that he would take a more active role, being a country leader and all, but he's always in the background. The sudden increase of lines in the Bellemont temple episode was a bit jarring, and I have this feeling that it's an indicator of what's bothering him. Do I have to play the rest of the endings to find out what's the deal with Laaik? XD
In battle...for some reason, despite having good ACC, he ends up having missing the most D: Maybe I'm just unlucky. Also, while he's a good physical attacker with decent defense (I think he never died in my game, and I used him often), his skills are laaaaacking. His healing spells were useful during the long, long walks, but he never got any offensive skills, and I never quite figured out how to use the command skills in a strategy (yeah, I need to think more). He gets better once I equipped the phase rifle (wait, did I get that correctly?) on him, but that had been on a new game plus. XP

Weapon!
Yep, exclamation point. XD
And...of course...Weapon. I was positively squealing when I saw him at the end of the Return ending (during the credits)...then I was almost laughing my liver out when he joined the party. In a team of the morally ambiguous, Weapon's straight-out evilness (well, more like pervertedness) is...different. That, and well, gotta admit his design falls in the bishounen/pretty boy category. He's just so...entertaining. XDD Of course, he doesn't get any character development, being in his usual cocky, crazy self...but I was piqued with his...well, weapon. It's a 'weaver' sword just like Auria and Laaik's. Besides, why is he named 'Weapon', anyway? He just asks for a backstory. XD I was pretty confident about him in my team (at that time, Auria/Seri/Wep/Laaik), expecting that he'll be around when the final fight begins...then he lets his idiocy kick in and challenge the rest of the party. The first time it happened I was pretty much surprised, but he quieted down soon enough with three party members shutting him up. Then I realized that he got kicked out of the party...with the equips still on! I had to load the save at the start of the chapter to get them back...XD Auria said it best: it was weird. Nevertheless, even if the said fight established Wep/Auria (ahemfangirlahem), the whole 'kick Rayonne's ass' affair is a bit strange. I mean, isn't Sandarga aware of Wep's grudge against Rayonne and if so, why did she let Wep join instead of, I dunno, herself? It's just that it was supposed to be a team-up thing against Ejaro, and they send a relatively unreliable guy (let's face it, Wep doesn't have a stellar record against the party). I get the vibes that Sandarga just wants someone to spy on Auria or something. I was pretty much expecting for him and Laaik to interact, with Wep being labeled as an Orkan and what would Laaik have to say to an Orkan Virad punk...XD Besides, there's the Voidweaver sword too.

Gameplay-wise Wep's one of the more amazing characters in my book. Godly speed, nice abilities (can't get enough of Oblivion Eternal), good attack - he totally fits my team. Even with my high ACC Auria had difficulty hitting him in Void Arena. Good thing he has the defense of paper - it would've been hellish if he had high DEF as an enemy.

By the way, I LOVE Weapon's Corner at the endings. He's painting the fourth wall in garish, Weapon colors.

Ejaro
Ejaro...I dunno, but for me the whole 'mana vampire' genocide thing going on with him sounded a bit too rushed. Maybe it's just my personal bias talking, but I was, "So you ruin people's lives by implanting them demons, mind-control people and generally act shady because you have a grudge against humanity for killing your people. Suuuure." The whole 'mana vampire' thing had been around ever since Act II with Vel, but its relationship with Ejaro just...seemed to pop out of the thin air in Act III. I don't get a lot of sympathy for the Viridians - sure, I understand their situation's pretty bad, but still. It's like the whole deal was contrived to put Auria in another moral dilemma. It doesn't help that the whole situation got laid out in an infodump of sorts prior to the final battle and I, as the player, couldn't connect with Ejaro's cause. Unless, of course, that's the point - as the player is not Ejaro, Auria (and the player) cannot empathize with him. Instead of a horrible mangled feeling of being a genocidal monster, the players is merely vaguely disturbed (and we're supposed to feel bad about ourselves for being 'vaguely disturbed' over casually killing millions). However, if the 'revive the Viridian people' plot was to make players feel genuinely strained about the choices before them, then the scenario falls short of making the players feel they care. Perhaps it's because the only Viridian I saw is Ejaro, and he's not the best person to base a whole culture on. Maybe if the 'Ejaro's just avenging/reviving his people' connection had been foreshadowed a bit earlier? Some scenes showing just how horrible it is to let the Viridians kick it? Besides, how the heck did Ejaro manage to survive the Viridian genocide anyway?

Darxinger
I actually appreciate this villain. For someone who has a god complex or something approximating it, the man sure is affable. And hey, he's not a dirty coward either. Despite my mental image of him being a slightly greasy and immensely creepy middle-aged guy (unless you say otherwise XDD ahembishounenahem), he sure projects a 'cultured and evil' aura about him. A decadent one, but at least he's aware of what he is. The 'Darxinger assignment', while useful, are a little 'out there' though, since it felt really weird taking orders from a creepy guy who wants your firstborn child. Maybe I'm just asking for a better justification in taking those missions XP I get a feeling he'll hang around for later installments.

Sandarga
Sandaga strikes me as a mix of Rien and Darxinger, only that she has more social skills than the former and is less creepy than the latter. I think it's due to her that the Virad hasn't devolved into a Team Rocket-esque group of helpless grunts XD I have a feeling that she is more than what she lets on, and that she's with the Virad because she has her own goals. All in all, it's good to see villains who aren't 'I'm evil, arr'. Or at least, 'I'm evil, but I'm classy about it'.

Bugs and Whatnot:
Urm, I really bad at noticing bugs, mostly because I'm more focused on the characters and the story. I guess most of these would've been noted by earlier, more alert players.
This is really, reaaally minor, but I noticed that when you use items, the numbers at the sides appear to...stack over...until you leave the menu. Also, a friend pointed out to me that apparently there are a few squares in Viadahn where you can walk past the railings or something to that effect. Also, during a new game plus, it gets a little amusing whenever you reach the 'save Vel' arc and Rayonne thanks you for saving Vel and making it up by going to Bellemont...before you even save her.

One of my pet peeves is spelling, and I've spotted a few throughout my gameplay...but I can't remember them anymore D: There's one in Rien's dialogue in Act III, in the Remission path, but I can't remember what word or in which instance it happened. Urgh, sorry for not being really helpful in there. Just...please double-check the script?

Random:
* The Maladorr story is begging for a prequel. XD The infodump is rather...tedious to remember; maybe a more interactive way of revealing it would be okay? Even a short game/segment would do, I guess?
* You mentioned in a previous post that Kasch's coming back. One of the questions I have about his character is this: how did he got those demons back in Act I?
*What's up with Blaise asking about the Burandas in Act III? Am I missing out something?
*How many sigils are there and what are they for? I've seen two, somewhere I've read there were three or four (can't remember), and that there's one in Bellemont. But I can't find the Bellemont sigil...D:
*Rayonne's 'high school dream sequence' is good AU stuff (although the highschool AU is overdone to death, I just can't help but muse). Maybe a (relatively more) lighthearted parallel universe. Just for kicks. XD
*Despite being the bad guys, I'm curious as to how the Virad will fare with Vastale gone. And oh, Virad vs Blackguards. XDD
*What happened with Auria's mom? And her best friend?
*Is there a story behind Archetype Auria's appearance in the Maladorr mansion other than being a creepy bonus boss?
*By the way, I love the 'turn order bar' at the right side of the screen. It's very, very, very useful. :D
*Do the cutscenes/intro/credits change with every ending? For some reason, I'm really averse with bad endings, but if if acquiring them will make me understand the plot more, then I'll grit my teeth and let my party kiss badassery goodbye. XD
*When the complete edition comes out, do I have to replay the whole game? Is there a way that a save from the previous standalone release games would be carried over? (looks at her party XP)
*Since there's a volume 1, I guess there's a volume 2? Are you going to continue Cadenza and Vagrant Blood?
*I've seen the poll in your DA account (I've yet to choose though). Gotta say I'm excited about the prospect of an expanded Vacant Sky world!

All in all, what I say is: this is an awesome series, and thank you for spending time and effort in creating it! Keep on it! This fan is sure to be around!

PS. I registered here just to comment/gush/review. Erm, am I in the wrong venue? :|
PS spore. And oh, my friends and I have fanfics. Maybe a fanart or two later. XD EDIT of spore: I have a fanart. XD
PS bloom. Adding stuff to your game's TVTropes page XD
Sailerius
did someone say angels
3304
Oh wow, you weren't kidding. I really enjoy reading your thoughts and reactions, so thanks much for posting them! Hearing what people thought of the story and characters helps me gauge how effective I was at conveying my intentions, so it helps me figure out what I need to work on. I have to say, you picked up on quite a few things that most other people missed, so kudos to you! Let me reply to a few parts-

and after Remission I got the weird meeting of judges cutscene. Still have to finish that game...are there any more after that?
Nope, in Contention, those are the only three intros. The scene with the judges is a reward for completing the two main endings and gives a tiny bit of insight into what's to come.

And oh, maybe a world map, just to visualize what Disparatus really looks like. If it feels too awkward, it doesn't need to be a gameplay mechanic. Maybe a map on a wall somewhere, or just even an artwork of it.
Duly noted. That's something I've been on the fence about, so I'll work on putting it into the Complete Edition.

I've now come to appreciate the wonders of Charges, Lavir and the wonderful feeling of a Rend to Sorrows Vital Hit[/quoteAnd oh, please, please fix the error with the last boss! I'm curious as to how I'll fare against Darxinger...again. And I wonder why Archetype Auria isn't in the Void Arena... :3
Ahahaha, yeah... that was a really embarrassing bug when I found out about it. I heard someone report it and I thought, "really?! no way!" Sure enough, when I opened up the game, it was bugged (and easy to fix >_>). Act III reached the point where the amount of optional content was so huge that it was inevitable that some things got glossed over. Archetype AURIA isn't in the Void Arena because she was added after the Void Arena was finished. >_>

On Auria-
I'm glad to hear you liked her. I knew from the start that she would be a very polarizing character, but I decided I would rather have a colorful protagonist who some people would hate than a bland one that everyone would be okay with. My intention was for you to understand and respect the choices she made, even if you didn't particularly like her.

Vel is, well, not what I hoped she would be at the start of the project. Tangent time! Originally, Contention was planned to span seven or eight acts. After Act II, Auria left the party for an act and there was an entire episode devoted to the other characters (especially Ray, Vel, Blaise, and Vanquish). On top of that, there was an entire act about learning about Ejaro's and Halo Locks's history before you ever actually encountered him. I had planned to build him up throughout the story. Then, after Act I came out, we did some talking and decided to severely slim down the game. The problem was that Act I was already out. That meant that fitting in all of the necessary plot points (the Orkans, the Virad, Zezzorah, the Blackguards, Ejaro, and so on) would require basically marginalizing everything that wasn't directly related to the core story. Vel and Vanquish got hit hard by this. They had a lot of development that unfortunately had to be cut. The biggest disappointment about Vel is that she never had a chance in the spotlight. Originally, there were extensive segments where you played as Ray, Seri, and Vel. Seri's segment got compressed into the end of Act II and Ray's sort of got woven in, but there wasn't really a fair chance to give Vel the attention she deserved. Ah well.

Fortunately, some of Vel's lost scenes will be restored in one of the new ending routes in the Complete Edition.

It's not that the Auria-Ray-Vel triangle angered me, it's just that Auria's sudden 'I want him to be happy' turn is SO sudden it's jarring.
Can you tell I had to compress a subplot? XD
What I was going for there is that after Act II, Auria (maybe subconsciously) decided that she didn't have long to live. The mood I was going for in pre-Halo Locks Act III is that Auria was tying up loose ends and mending bridges with people before she set off on her journey into hell without the intention of coming back.

Maybe because Vel and Auria didn't get much interaction by themselves.
Actually, that's not a bad idea at all.

Ray-Vel forms a large chunk of the plot and character development, but I dunno, it comes out as really...sappy and shallow...especially on Ray's part (he seems to spout off cliches).
That is intentional. Their relationship is founded entirely on a fabrication (Ejaro's coercing Vel into being infatuated with Rayonne regardless of any reason to the contrary). Rayonne, a frustrated farmboy of no real significance who just can't get the attention of the girl he likes, is totally blown off his shoes by this very pretty blonde who thinks he's the best thing in the world. Had it not been for Ejaro's intercession, they never would have ended up together - for better or for worse.

but it peeved me that Auria has to be the martyr for the two of them (yep, talking about Remission).
Concern for Ray and Vel was not the number one thing on Auria's mind, although it was a factor. In Remission, Vel starts to remind Auria of Mia; she sees the same isolation and detachment from humanity that Mia suffered from. In a way, Auria wants to save Vel to make up for failing to save Mia. She also sees that Ray might be able to help her heal and become reintegrated back into society (like she hoped to do for Mia). And there's also the fact that Auria in Act III is seeking a way to rest in peace; as long as she continues to exist, she will continue to serve as a threat to the world. She would rather be allowed to rest in peace than to have to live an unending life of isolation and vigilance.

Vanquish has always been one of my favorite characters
That was a big surprise to hear. I actually regret keeping Vanquish in the game from time to time since all of the plots he was important to were cut, making him kind of just exist (although as you mention, he does serve an important role in the team once Seri leaves -- he makes a better Seri than Seri). Act III kind of hints at his history with Frank Jones and Blaise, but it was never able to become relevant due to its being tangent to the plot.

I'm really glad you liked Seri! Of the characters in Contention, she and Auria were my favorites to write. She's meant to be a foil to Auria, with Act III showing how the two of them react differently to personal loss. (Un)fortunately for her, there's a long road ahead of her before she'll be able to rest...

My first reaction was 'why is he married?!'
So was Rayonne's mom's. =P

Fangirling and fan-preferred couple aside
Wait, what couple?! XD

Then again, this is Vacant Sky, and I doubt there's anyone among the cast who is, or who will be, left unscarred.
What about Frank Jones?

He gets better once I equipped the phase rifle (wait, did I get that correctly?)
Yes. Entertain the thought, if you will, of someone dual-wielding a greatsword and beam rifle in combat.

Interestingly enough, Laaik was not originally going to be a party member (well, he was, and then he wasn't). He was always intended to be a part of the story, but his subplot (like everyone's) was cut out. Since I thought it was a travesty to cut him entirely, I decided after Act II to work him back in as a party member. You can still see shards of his and Meridian's subplot, which will hopefully be expanded upon at a later date.

I mean, isn't Sandarga aware of Wep's grudge against Rayonne and if so, why did she let Wep join instead of, I dunno, herself?
Sandarga doesn't like to get her hands dirty. She knew she could count on him not screwing up if it meant he got to chase around a group of girls and kill things.

On Ejaro-
That was the biggest tragedy of compressing the plot; there was basically NOWHERE for me to put in the Viridian/Halo Locks build up. I will be addressing this in the Complete Edition.

Besides, how the heck did Ejaro manage to survive the Viridian genocide anyway?
Good question. Stay tuned for the Complete Edition.

On Darxinger-
He was also meant to have a more prominent role originally. Originally, there was a whole side story where you controlled Meridian, Laaik, and another character who was cut entirely in a conflict against Darxinger that expanded upon the Blackguards. He's such a fun character that I couldn't cut him out entirely, so I worked him into Act III.

The Maladorr story is begging for a prequel. XD The infodump is rather...tedious to remember; maybe a more interactive way of revealing it would be okay? Even a short game/segment would do, I guess?
Duly noted! Thanks for the suggestion.

You mentioned in a previous post that Kasch's coming back. One of the questions I have about his character is this: how did he got those demons back in Act I?
You mean Act II? It's a mystery! ...Since I'm not just telling you, you can probably guess that means it'll be important later on, huh?

What's up with Blaise asking about the Burandas in Act III? Am I missing out something?
Man, you're good at this...

How many sigils are there and what are they for? I've seen two, somewhere I've read there were three or four (can't remember), and that there's one in Bellemont. But I can't find the Bellemont sigil...D:
There are four and they unlock a new ability for Auria. One is in Halo Locks, one is in Maladorr Manor, one is on Raphael's Garden, and one is in Bellemont (south of the main gate and...to the east, I believe).

Rayonne's 'high school dream sequence' is good AU stuff (although the highschool AU is overdone to death, I just can't help but muse). Maybe a (relatively more) lighthearted parallel universe. Just for kicks. XD
That sounds like something the fandom would cook up. XD

*Do the cutscenes/intro/credits change with every ending? For some reason, I'm really averse with bad endings, but if if acquiring them will make me understand the plot more, then I'll grit my teeth and let my party kiss badassery goodbye. XD
They only change as you finish the main endings. There is one bad ending I recommend that you get, though: turning down Ray when he asks for your help saving Vel.

*When the complete edition comes out, do I have to replay the whole game? Is there a way that a save from the previous standalone release games would be carried over? (looks at her party XP)
You will have to replay the whole game, (un)fortunately. The game is so different that there's no way that saves will carry over. Also, you will want to replay it--a lot of new things are being explained and Act I has been completely redone. On top of that, Act II now has two alternate endings that unlock new scenarios in Act III.

Since there's a volume 1, I guess there's a volume 2? Are you going to continue Cadenza and Vagrant Blood?
I'd certainly like to see volume 2 to made. As long as I have awesome teammates (especially artists) who want to help out, I'll continue pushing to continue the story. Vagrant Blood is probably never going to be finished (seriously, it sucks), but I do plan to resurrect Cadenza.

All in all, what I say is: this is an awesome series, and thank you for spending time and effort in creating it! Keep on it! This fan is sure to be around!
Thanks so much for the kind words! Hearing how much people enjoy it is really inspiring!

PS. I registered here just to comment/gush/review. Erm, am I in the wrong venue? :|
No, go right ahead. XD This game profile's here for public discussion of the game.

PS spore. And oh, my friends and I have fanfics. Maybe a fanart or two later. XD EDIT of spore: I have a fanart. XD
Oh dear. Please share! XD
I'm happy to be of any help to a great game, even if it consists of me embarrassingly gushing like there's no tomorrow. XD

Nope, in Contention, those are the only three intros. The scene with the judges is a reward for completing the two main endings and gives a tiny bit of insight into what's to come.
Great, I'm psyched up! :D

Archetype AURIA isn't in the Void Arena because she was added after the Void Arena was finished.
I'm curious about her existence. It sets off a few plot bunnies in my head XD. Will she be in the Void Arena? Gameplay-wise, I think she's one tough cookie with raisins. When I first encountered her, I almost swore my head off when I saw her 5k regen. One of the reasons I overleveled myself to death was that I could take her on with my usual 'hit it with blunt force until it dies' tricks. :D

Tangent time! Originally, Contention was planned to span seven or eight acts. After Act II, Auria left the party for an act and there was an entire episode devoted to the other characters (especially Ray, Vel, Blaise, and Vanquish). On top of that, there was an entire act about learning about Ejaro's and Halo Locks's history before you ever actually encountered him. I had planned to build him up throughout the story. Then, after Act I came out, we did some talking and decided to severely slim down the game. The problem was that Act I was already out. That meant that fitting in all of the necessary plot points (the Orkans, the Virad, Zezzorah, the Blackguards, Ejaro, and so on) would require basically marginalizing everything that wasn't directly related to the core story. Vel and Vanquish got hit hard by this. They had a lot of development that unfortunately had to be cut. The biggest disappointment about Vel is that she never had a chance in the spotlight. Originally, there were extensive segments where you played as Ray, Seri, and Vel. Seri's segment got compressed into the end of Act II and Ray's sort of got woven in, but there wasn't really a fair chance to give Vel the attention she deserved. Ah well.
Ugggh, I feel sad and pained about the plot cuts D: No, seriously. I guess those are the bits that can be expanded in non-RPG media? Now I get why Vanq felt as though there's more to him than the conversation choices, as well as the Orkans and their surprisingly detailed religion and history. Speaking of Seri's Act II adventures...I forgot to say this in the previous post, but the last part of Act II felt rather rushed. It was as though everything happened in a couple of days. XP It's like a lot of things were crammed in. Back then I couldn't quite decide whether it was due to time/storytelling constraints or an attempt to 'speed up' the narrative to give it a sense of urgency. It...played out more like an extensive, interactive cutscene. D:

What I was going for there is that after Act II, Auria (maybe subconsciously) decided that she didn't have long to live. The mood I was going for in pre-Halo Locks Act III is that Auria was tying up loose ends and mending bridges with people before she set off on her journey into hell without the intention of coming back.
I'd say I got the mood. XD I did notice that she's relatively more willing to interact with teammates (if the numerous conversation choices with every party member are to be believed). The 'I don't have long to liiiiive' mentality is especially evident in Remission, by the way. Excellent work on that (although I still disliked that ending...XP)

That is intentional. Their relationship is founded entirely on a fabrication (Ejaro's coercing Vel into being infatuated with Rayonne regardless of any reason to the contrary). Rayonne, a frustrated farmboy of no real significance who just can't get the attention of the girl he likes, is totally blown off his shoes by this very pretty blonde who thinks he's the best thing in the world. Had it not been for Ejaro's intercession, they never would have ended up together - for better or for worse.
Hmmm, taken that way, everything becomes a bit more perfect. It becomes a good deconstruction of 'love at first sight' as well, since their near-obsession with each other becomes a tad creepy when you realize that a) Vel was practically ordered to be in love with a virtual stranger and b) one realizes that Ray is one frustrated sod who sought refuge in the arms of a virtual stranger because he can't score with the one who's with him. D: The endings suggest that despite the strange circumstances their love is real, but personally I have doubts over their relationship. And no, this isn't about me being annoyed with the two of them. It's just that whatever had happened, their relationship was based on a mind-control order and the other's frustrations. Moreover, 'Remission' showed that it wasn't their love that saved them, it was Auria (well, in my view at least). I guess their relationship has to weather through a lot to make it believable.

Concern for Ray and Vel was not the number one thing on Auria's mind, although it was a factor. In Remission, Vel starts to remind Auria of Mia; she sees the same isolation and detachment from humanity that Mia suffered from. In a way, Auria wants to save Vel to make up for failing to save Mia. She also sees that Ray might be able to help her heal and become reintegrated back into society (like she hoped to do for Mia). And there's also the fact that Auria in Act III is seeking a way to rest in peace; as long as she continues to exist, she will continue to serve as a threat to the world. She would rather be allowed to rest in peace than to have to live an unending life of isolation and vigilance.
I guess I got what the ending was trying to say now that an explanation's here. Personally the game showed more of Auria's 'RIP wish' and unvoiced frustration of being unable to live out a normal life rather than her thinking of Vel as Mia. The problem with the latter is that Act II made a good show of Auria bonding with Mia; Vel didn't have the same privilege even in Act III.

That was a big surprise to hear. I actually regret keeping Vanquish in the game from time to time since all of the plots he was important to were cut, making him kind of just exist (although as you mention, he does serve an important role in the team once Seri leaves -- he makes a better Seri than Seri). Act III kind of hints at his history with Frank Jones and Blaise, but it was never able to become relevant due to its being tangent to the plot.
Aw, Vanq's plot got axed. DX I'm curious as to what kind of experiences Vanq went through since he emerged from them with his personal values and creeds relatively untarnished. I liked Vanq for being someone the players could relate in terms of morality and choices; or at the very least, to the kind of morality and choices most RPG heroes should have. Love! Justice! Mercy! And although he makes them lengthy, he doesn't make them sound really cheesy. XD

I'm really glad you liked Seri! Of the characters in Contention, she and Auria were my favorites to write. She's meant to be a foil to Auria, with Act III showing how the two of them react differently to personal loss. (Un)fortunately for her, there's a long road ahead of her before she'll be able to rest...
Oh Seri, the world's not through with you XP Now that you've mentioned it, I now see the contrast between her and Auria. Auria can be rude, unrefined, snarky, a Leeroy Jenkins and explosive (during crunch times); Seri is a diplomat, calm, dignified, distant and a planner. Auria is a cynical realist and Seri an idealist; Auria responded with a roaring rampage of revenge homing on Ejaro at Mia's death while Seri quietly planned and quietly despaired her final plan for world betterment. Neither came off psychologically and emotionally unharmed in their escapades. Excellent writing you have there! :D

Wait, what couple?! XD
Laaik/Auria. That's why I was agonizing over his married state (that, and well. Darn it, Meridian's lucky!) XD I get the vibes that he hits it off with Auria and I was thinking that the girl needs someone to talk to without getting all awkward (ie Blaise killed her, Rayonne is all over Vel, Rien's social skills are magnificently inept, Vanq's acting like a moral guardian, etc). XD Darn it, must curb fangirl tendencies.

What about Frank Jones?
Well, he did get kidnapped by a frighteningly determined Alibaas Virad woman and thrown into the water during the Remission ending XD Frank Jones is a special man. XD Seriously though, what's taking him so long about that assassin? I guess it's part of his comical ineptitude?

Yes. Entertain the thought, if you will, of someone dual-wielding a greatsword and beam rifle in combat.

Interestingly enough, Laaik was not originally going to be a party member (well, he was, and then he wasn't). He was always intended to be a part of the story, but his subplot (like everyone's) was cut out. Since I thought it was a travesty to cut him entirely, I decided after Act II to work him back in as a party member. You can still see shards of his and Meridian's subplot, which will hopefully be expanded upon at a later date.
I actually had a mental image of Laaik summoning Auraweaver for close combat (since it's related to a magical sword that you can *literally* apparently find within yourself, it's not farfetched to imagine that it can dissolve and reappear at will) and then having it dissolve while whipping out a snazzy beam rifle for long-distance badassery. Man, I must draw that someday! :D
Yeah, I thought that Laaik's story was sort of 'hanging there'. His connection to the story was tenuous at best, being introduced in the third act, although the 'shards' you mentioned gave a not-so-happy background for the guy and his wife. Nevertheless, I like his addition as a party member; the skills may be lacking, but he's a solid hitter. Here's hoping that their story would be touched upon; the 'Laaik intro' was genuinely chilling for me.

Sandarga doesn't like to get her hands dirty. She knew she could count on him not screwing up if it meant he got to chase around a group of girls and kill things.
Very Sandarga-like. Strangely enough, Wep did screw it up in Remission; I wonder what her reaction would be like, or if she foresee that all along...wait, I guess she did. It's her power. XD

On Darxinger-
He was also meant to have a more prominent role originally. Originally, there was a whole side story where you controlled Meridian, Laaik, and another character who was cut entirely in a conflict against Darxinger that expanded upon the Blackguards. He's such a fun character that I couldn't cut him out entirely, so I worked him into Act III.
I would seriously, *seriously* love to see this. I guess that's the reason why Laaik didn't tag along in the 'save Vel, get pulse relic' quest. XD The Virad as bad guys were fleshed out, but the Blackguards felt like a bigger, meaner yet nebulous baddies. Nevertheless, Darxinger managed to be interesting in one segment and several side missions, within a single act - that's saying something.

That sounds like something the fandom would cook up. XD
Hm, must suggest the AU to fellow fans... :3

You will have to replay the whole game, (un)fortunately. The game is so different that there's no way that saves will carry over. Also, you will want to replay it--a lot of new things are being explained and Act I has been completely redone. On top of that, Act II now has two alternate endings that unlock new scenarios in Act III.
With all the new stuff in it, I guess I wouldn't mind. :D Anyways, it also means I can level-grind to the wazoo again! Yes, I'm really fond of overleveling... :D

I'd certainly like to see volume 2 to made. As long as I have awesome teammates (especially artists) who want to help out, I'll continue pushing to continue the story. Vagrant Blood is probably never going to be finished (seriously, it sucks), but I do plan to resurrect Cadenza.
I guess it's a 'Sorry Weapon, your game is a no-go'. XD I think a visual novel would be a great way to expand the series, and perhaps as a way to pick up on the plot shavings on the cutting room floor. :D

Oh dear. Please share! XD
Will post in DA and give the link XD I just have to fix my account there first. XDD I have a weird feeling that the first entries would be mostly Vacant Sky fanart. XDD EDIT: It's in http://purkles.deviantart.com

Sorry if it's another lengthy post from me! :P
Sailerius
did someone say angels
3304
Will she be in the Void Arena? Gameplay-wise, I think she's one tough cookie with raisins. When I first encountered her, I almost swore my head off when I saw her 5k regen. One of the reasons I overleveled myself to death was that I could take her on with my usual 'hit it with blunt force until it dies' tricks. :D

I can't say for sure whether or not she'll be in the Void Arena. It depends on how many others I have to add. She was added in originally because I realized that there were no tough optional bosses whom you fought with a full party and I wanted to give players an enemy they could throw everything at.

Speaking of Seri's Act II adventures...I forgot to say this in the previous post, but the last part of Act II felt rather rushed. It was as though everything happened in a couple of days. XP

Yeah, it was kind of rushed, but there was a lot of stuff that need to be covered. It was meant to feel tense and like a continuous stream of events. That freakin' cutscene...it took me 50 hours during Christmas week to get it just right.

I think a visual novel would be a great way to expand the series, and perhaps as a way to pick up on the plot shavings on the cutting room floor. :D

I've definitely entertained the thought (I've always wanted to write a visual novel), but I'm a writer/programmer -- without an artist to team up with, it won't get off the ground. XD

Will post in DA and give the link XD I just have to fix my account there first. XDD I have a weird feeling that the first entries would be mostly Vacant Sky fanart. XDD EDIT: It's in http://purkles.deviantart.com

Sorry if it's another lengthy post from me! :P

Nothing to be sorry for. XD And they look great, keep it up~
So what is this "Judges I'm hearing about? I just cleared the game on the two main endings.

----SPOILERS----

Like when she dies alone & the one with her friends that come on top.

Why didn't I get the Judges?

Wait, that reminds me. I never got a New Cycle after that ending. So maybe it wasn't a main ending?
Sailerius
did someone say angels
3304
That sounds like you got the Relinquish ending, which is not one of the main endings. The other main ending is Remission. To get Remission, talk to Rayonne on a New Cycle after saving Vel.
Thank you so much. I was wondering what I did wrong. I shall do that now.
Disregard this comment. I found out.
I'm a little stuck. What do I do after I obtain Gungnir? I talked to everyone in the town and I've gathered information talking to his mother, but can't find her brother anywhere in town. :x
Sailerius
did someone say angels
3304
author=allocer
I'm a little stuck. What do I do after I obtain Gungnir? I talked to everyone in the town and I've gathered information talking to his mother, but can't find her brother anywhere in town. :x

Head back to Svaneholm.
Were you supposed to get the Judges scene when you complete the two main endings? I just finished Remission and never got it. All I got was Weapon talking about how he should be in the sequel. xD
Sailerius
did someone say angels
3304
author=allocer
Were you supposed to get the Judges scene when you complete the two main endings? I just finished Remission and never got it. All I got was Weapon talking about how he should be in the sequel. xD

Start a New Cycle and you'll see it.