Devlog #2: She Came from Beyond Our World

Reader Advisory: This post contains spoilers for the Advent Heroes project. Read on only if you’re comfortable with advance knowledge of the story within.

First of all, please accept my apologies for the delay in releasing the second devlog, as I have been extremely busy with real life matters as well as the creation of scenarios for later parts of the game. Anyway, as I stated at the end of the previous devlog I was planning to go further into character development as it relates to another important location: the distant world of Runeria on which most of the events in Advent Heroes take place.

For the sake of story, the structure of Runeria is effectively planar in composition rather than the spherical structure of our world, and that planar structure also has a continuance so that once you get proper marine transport (which will be discussed at a much later date) you can approach a given location at the southernmost points on the map from the northernmost points, and in fact you will occasionally receive hints as to which approach is the quickest.

It is from here that Nefersia originates. I chose that name because of story reasons as well as for sake of lineage, as will be mentioned shortly. Nefersia, or “Neffie” to others, is a mana arts master, equivalent to a dark mage in other JRPG adventures. The naming is largely of a middle eastern nature in sound, not unlike Tutankhamen, Gaddafi, Cleopatra etc.; and as the game progresses, you’ll find out that she’s not the only one like her with such a name. And it is through her innate mana abilities that she is able to communicate across worlds to begin the process of divulging secrets that she cannot keep for too much longer as of when she makes the contact with Aiyumi, although in the latter case it initially sounds like the old “imagined friend” routine that you may be familiar with from growing up, but which turns out to be very real by the time the Mikuzi clan has arrived at their new home early on in the proceedings.

On a side note, this isn’t your typical fantasy world attire. Nefersia may be a mana arts master, but rather than go with the typical mage robes I went ahead and gave her the equivalent of a black tee with matching shorts and stockings in her youth, and what resembles a white blouse and denim jeans in her adult form. Part of this is because as an indie developer my resources are limited, so when designing the cutscenes in a layout tool called ComiPo I ended up relying on the base assets more than anything else (with the exception of a few small details such as the wheelchair described in the first devlog for which I did have to rely on external sources). Ultimately this also filtered down to her in-game sprite sheet as well, for the sake of design consistency:

Now one thing that you’ll notice is that Nefersia isn’t typical of a human character design. You may be familiar with the “four-eye freak” retort when dealing with someone who just started wearing glasses, but Nefersia is a four-ear freak! By consequence of matters she’s not allowed to know why, or who she once was, or any matter related to her differences from other people, but the prospect is still very evident. Especially since she also has a tail. An actual, biological tail – not unlike a beast, cat or common ape. In fact, Nefersia eventually realizes upon meeting a similar person early on in the proceedings that she may be connected to the same heritage, and that heritage is in fact of a half-beast origin. I won’t go into all of the specifics, but Nefersia may well be an outcast from her own lineage… and the reasons are very much a part of why she can’t know every single detail of what makes her as she is. In fact, she is hardly alone in this at all:

As I stated in the first devlog, the potential for advanced technological means of mitigating disability is a defining theme for Aiyumi, but just as much throughout Runeria as by consequence of Kagimu’s decision to give up her passion for sports to support Nefersia in exchange for safeguarding her deepest lost secrets until the appointed time the two worlds are increasingly similar in capability provisions both from a technological standpoint and in terms of ability mitigation. In fact, Kagimu has taken it to the next level by creating a version that works from outside the recipient’s body (as opposed to the hidden – and more deeply-integrated – version gifted to her sister). So it goes without saying that Nefersia will eventually find others like her who have been technologically encased by their own breed of biosupport integrations, and in some cases with even worse matters (such as soft heads requiring a full covering of their skullcaps with as much protection as their bodies – which is another real-world disability consequence for a number of severe mental disorders and in some cases an outright neural damage condition). Many of these individuals will also be seen with mitigative communication sensors clipped to their ears, not unlike that which was associated with Stephen Hawking but much smaller through the same advancements in neural research which features heavily in Aiyumi’s backstory.

I will end for now on that, however there is more to be said on the circumstances by which Aiyumi and Neffie meet for the first time, and what it means for both worlds and beyond. That prospect will be the focus of the next devlog, which hopefully shouldn’t take more than a month to release next time.