Hello! It has been a long time since we saw each other on the open spaces of blogs. I think this misunderstanding needs to be corrected. I’ll start my next story with one simple thought. “Endless Summer” is an initially stillborn project. It should not have appeared in any form, for the result that you are seeing today, almost seven years after its release, is the result of the stubbornness of some of its authors. The desire to throw this heavy load on the shelves as soon as possible and go to conquer the peaks of the game industry with new projects, and not just the idea of ​​a fix to make a “dream game”. And although the idea to create from scratch a full-fledged ” eroge with mascots ” in the distant 2008 sounded pretty cool, stylish and youthful, there were many objective prerequisites not to do this in principle. But first things first.

Officially, many sources closely related to imageboards – such as Lurkmore and Noobtype – believe that the start of the development of “eroge with mascots” took place on May 14, 2008 in one of the threads on Ychan. However, the very idea of ​​making a visual novel about pioneers was walking among anonymous people much earlier, back in 2007. At the same time, work began on the Project Namae game, in which, presumably, the future co-authors and initiators of the “eroge with mascots” – Maxim Smolov , Artist-kun  and Lolbot… This project was closed very quickly for unknown reasons, but some developments, merged in 2009, make it clear to us: Namae and the next project from the Anonymous team have an extremely close connection, and therefore the implementation of such ideas remained a matter of time. Exactly until Artist-kun created a thread in the / b / section, that is, “Delirium”, to which he attached a picture of a popular Ychan mascot named Unyul-chan , where she appeared in a red dress with indexes brought together fingers.

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The description for the image reads:

which, of course, could not but cause a sharp reaction from the inhabitants of the image board and no less heated discussions of the idea of ​​the upcoming game. In online mode, several people began to come up with the first ideas for the plot, select characters among the mascots and possible locations in the virtual camp. There was no question about the engine in principle: the game was planned to be launched on the proven and, importantly, freely distributed Ren’Py, which, unlike the more narrowly focused bases produced by Typemoon and other Japanese companies, was freely customized. By May 16, 2008, discussions in the thread had dwindled, largely because the newly formed team, temporarily named the Erogame Project, had moved from the stuffy anonymous threads to the IRC chat. 

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Little is known about the first months of development. At some point, the project participants applied for the allocation of a separate closed section on Ychan, which would be devoted to the creative process, but the idea did not take off. From time to time, Artist-kun, the main artist and the ideological mastermind of the project, published in threads various pictures from the project and fragmentary information about the development status. On the 3rd August 2008, almost five months after the first discussions, the official profile of the Iichan-Eroge project appeared on the Blogspot platform. In the very first post, someone Sergey – most likely, this is the musician Sergey Eybog – posted a cry about the search for employees. At that time, “eroge with mascots” needed a screenwriter, a specialist in three-dimensional models and, of course, an artist. Well, and an additional composer, in case the main one has some kind of force majeure.

At that time, the development team consisted of actually three people, including Aybog and Artist-kun. The third was the then scriptwriter of the game, Slo-kun . In many ways, it was he who formed the first narrative developments of the future game, which were included in the earliest demo version, leaked in 2009. According to the old-timers of the project, everyone was seething with enthusiasm, and accordingly everyone knew how to make the perfect game. However, by the fall of 2008, the ranks of those wishing to participate in the creation of the “eroge with mascots” had noticeably thinned, many left the team. Among them was Slo-kun, who, however, quickly recovered. At the same time, together with the artist of locations Arseny Chebynkin  ( ArseniXC), Maxim Smolev, at that time already a well-known figure among the anonymous authors, joins the work. At least thanks to the birth of Dvach-chan . Plus, the authors of the eroge knew the artist’s weakness in front of the pioneer theme, and he did not mind working. On the one hand, the arrival of top artists helped to look more soberly at the upcoming work plan, which greatly increased the potential of the future game. On the other hand, the visual style of many people who were not involved in the development caused complaints that in the future the Erogame Project will come back to haunt.

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A friendly quartet begins a dense work on the pioneer eroge, not just in the rank of a tube story for a handful of anonymous, but a much more serious, massive and ambitious project. The script is slowly becoming overgrown with details, throwing vulgar jokes into the background, the list of graphics grows to fifty points, and the first ArseniXC backgrounds appear on the net especially for the project. A little later, the list of the main playable characters also becomes known: Ulyana , Slavia , Alisa , Lena and Julia… About the latter, the creator of the famous fan fiction in the circles of dwellers about “a cat girl from the South-Eastern Administrative District of Moscow” spoke out most openly. And although he did not really see the practical sense in using his heroine, he was glad to any initiative and wished the authors success. 

Random fact # 1

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From the very beginning, the Volga sports and recreation camp in the Tver region was the prototype for in-game locations. According to some reports, one of the developers carved out a couple of days of free time, went there and took some pictures of the area, or just once upon a time visited the camp and took pictures of the neighborhood purely for himself. It is said that it was even the Artist-kun himself. The degree of meticulousness in terms of building locations is sometimes very impressive – what is the boat station alone, which looks much more picturesque against the backdrop of Arsenix than in real life. The only thing that still succumbed to adjustments was the location of residential and office buildings in the virtual version of the “Volga” … but this is so, little things.

Now, by the way, after the release of “Summer”, the camp is still in demand among fans of the novel: for example, every year at the end of May, the “Sovenok-fest” is held on its territory. The event, by the way, is so exciting and controversial that anonymous lawbreakers try to put a spoke in the wheels of its organizers every time. In 2019, they still managed to achieve their goal: the prosecutor’s office took up the festival and, in order to avoid trouble, strongly advised the camp administration to cancel the lease for enthusiasts, and they themselves – to change the venue.

The year 2008 for the Erogame Project ended on a high note – development has entered its usual pace, and some things seem to have begun to see more clearly. But next year, 2009, the first plums began. The fact is that since last summer, due to the closed nature of many development materials, a secret section was used for discussion and storage, provided personally by the chief moderator Ychan. However, for some time it was not encrypted in any way, which is why anyone could get access to it, as well as find the appropriate keys. What soon happened: the input data from the secret section “eroge” leaked to “Dvach” through the efforts of a certain Rat-kun . The developers suspected of what Sorka had done, one of the people who did not participate in the creative process in any way, but had access to the repository. There was an attempt to declassify his personal data, the response to this was the publication of the Erogame Project, ready at that time. Soon the attacker received a life ban on Ychan, although he did not admit his guilt. According to him, since the summer of 2008, there have been no significant developments in the development, and it rapidly rolled to a well-known place, and all authors who disagree with the policy were mercilessly hounded both by themselves and completely outsiders. However, the story with the drain hesitated, the “eroge” continued to be in the process of implementation, and a much larger number of random people began to follow the project.

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Presumably from the middle of 2009 to the end of 2011, the most active and fruitful period of the development of “eroge” begins. It is characterized by, in addition to the final formation of the visual appearance of the characters and their profiles, including the protagonist Semyon , increased staff turnover, as well as the acquisition of the permanent name of the project – “Endless Summer”. But first things first. While the main story was slowly moving in an understandable direction only to the authors, all kinds of spoilers appeared on the network, as well as small side projects, including the Victory Day holiday card. On July 26, 2009, the Erogame Project published composition 410, written by musician Michael Malkov , aka Between August and December, and later included in the BL soundtrack.

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Slowly but surely, development proceeded according to plan, and on January 1, 2010, an official demo version was released, which was received extremely warmly on the Internet. In the public release, the script was no longer used by Slo-kun, but by a new scriptwriter who replaced him. Abcb brought the plot closer to the denominator that, with some reworkings, formed the basis of the final release. A year later, the developers assured that the game was almost ready: most of the backgrounds and illustrations were implemented, the script was completed. Also, apparently, some beta testers were involved. Of course, all this was just a screen behind which a rather stormy drama was hidden, associated with the arrival of a second screenwriter on the team.

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Dreamtale , aka Anton Arkatov , according to colleagues – “ Erogeimovtsy”, Was distinguished by his assertiveness and a desire to prove his exceptional talent as a writer, what exactly … to put it mildly, he got the whole Erogame Project line-up at that time, and by a collective decision he was picked up to the main abcb at that time. On the hands of the authors had five game days of the main plot, it was close to the root of the characters, but not as fast as we would like. In parallel, Dreamtail made his debut with the Erogame Project, writing the lyrics for the 2011 Winter Tale Christmas card. Abcb, alas, at that time had already been excluded from the development of “Endless Summer”, which Anton used. He promised to implement the entire script in a couple of months, constantly urging other authors and interfering in their creative process. At some point, the development stalled completely – this was largely due to the 

Random fact # 2

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Despite the fact that Anton did not initiate the inclusion in the game of a character based on the popular Japanese virtual singer Hatsune Miku , he was the author of a small horror story about shooting in a camp and zombie Ulyanok, which later formed the basis of her “full” root. Yoroshkyone , by the way.

There is no logical connection between Semyon’s original adventures and what is happening in fanfiction, but the readers were imbued with an atmosphere of suspense and horror, moreover, the disclosures of Miku , or rather Masha, as a character, did not see. Therefore, when the mass craze for the modding of “Endless Summer” began, many authors began to focus in their stories on revealing the character and biography of the aquamarine angel before the events indicated in the game’s lore. The most striking examples of modifications about Miku are “Seven Days of Summer”, “Rolls, Kefir and Rock and Roll”, “Pioneer without the Original” and “Alternative Root Miku for the Original Scenario”.

Throughout 2012, “Endless Summer” was at a snail’s pace of creation. That summer, there was one strange incident that, one might say, disorientated those who still believed in the imminent release of the novel. At one of the thematic exhibitions, “Tya-no-yu”, a group of unidentified persons handed out physical media that allegedly contained the final version of “Summer”. However, when trying to install it on a computer, the lucky owners received a dangerous virus that killed the system instead of the “eroge with mascots”. A little later, the Erogame Project released a post on their blog with a call not to be provoked and not to take CDs from strangers on the street. The story faded out rather quickly, but it was all just the calm before the storm.

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Towards the very end of the development of “Leta”, rumors began to appear on the imageboard of “Ychan” that the game was almost 100% ready. A little later, Dreamtale himself confirmed them, saying that he had a fully completed project script in his hands, for which a couple of pictures were missing. A short video demonstration of the text was carried out, from which it became clear that it was based on approximately the same composition that was present in the demo version of 2010. On the one hand, it was impossible not to rejoice at the imminent release of the long-term construction. On the other hand, few people suspected the environment in which the last year of development proceeded. It can be characterized by general fatigue from the project, constant disputes, crunches and a serious deterioration of relations within the “erogean” collective. Last but not least, the culprit of these events was Arkatov,

In the fall of 2013, he committed a blatant fraud in his impunity, replacing wallets on the main page of the project’s blog. Instead of the common ones that belonged to the entire team, for some time Arkatov’s personal details were present there, which the former members of the Erogame Project spoke about in more detail a year and a half after the release of “Endless Summer”. It was not immediately possible to notice the substitution, but it was too late to raise a scandal – in November 2013, the novel was supposed to be released.

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Another situation, which forced the release of the game to be postponed for almost two months, was associated with the artist Olga Korsakova , who was at that time in the rank of observer , aka Orica… The girl was dissatisfied with the quality of the illustrations by Maxim Smolev. According to her, the latter draws extremely crookedly – they say, it is useless to publish with such art anywhere – and therefore she offered, including Dreamtail, her help in reworking graphics. If Anton gave his consent to the corrections, then Maxim himself, who was not informed, but learned about Orica’s plans through tenth hands, was extremely angry with this. So much so that on November 5, being in an already tense relationship with his development colleagues, he leaked an almost finished version of the novel into open access, accusing the writer of what had happened. Based on the message of Maxim, which has been deleted to date, Arkatov actually seized power in the team and put pressure on unwanted participants. A little later, by mid-November, the conflict was settled, and Smolev,

Orica, meanwhile, was already actively reworking Smolev’s art, creating a blog for the development of an “unofficial graphics patch”. It is ironic that the patch was being prepared for an unreleased game, but there was already something to compare with. The patch became available on the same day as the story itself, although for many reasons, including the November release, its release was postponed several times, since many aspects had to be corrected in the script, code and graphics. At first, the release date sounded like “December thirteenth,” but then was pushed back to the twenty-first. So, at the end of 2013, the novel “Endless Summer” in a fully finished form was released.

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There were few differences from version 1.0, which marked the assembly of the game merged by Smolyov: at least one more ending was added and general edits were made to the text. In addition to the novel, there was a Creative Commons license, which allowed the free use of the constituent parts of the original work and the creation of their own content based on them for non-commercial purposes. Of course, this measure did not greatly prevent lovers of profit from ignoring such legal norms, but sometimes this led to really serious consequences – for example, the conflict between Dreamtail and Smolev over the idea of ​​selling stickers on VK for “Endless Summer” in VK led to the removal of the game from Steam on several days due to copyright infringement.

So, the short story came out, the developers breathed a sigh of relief – and this, perhaps, could put an end to it. However, the year 2014 has come, and Dreamtale proudly announced its future plans. The name Soviet Games, invented exclusively for the publication of Summer, was given to its scriptwriter, who at that time had big plans to support the game. The rest of the authors rejected this idea and did not report anything concrete about further projects for about a year. All organizational activities moved from the imageboard to the social network VKontakte, Anton Arkatov tried on the screen of a new pseudonym inspired by the famous anime – Rita Tainakova , aka Ritochka or Ritan – willingly answered the readers’ questions, which gave rise to a bunch of local memes like “It won’t be long to wait” and “25+”, and also announced the start of the translation of BL into English.

Abroad, the game was not received as warmly as it was during the demo version, nevertheless, the community on the territory of the former USSR was actively developing and growing exponentially. In the summer of 2014, the soundtrack “Summer” appeared on iTunes, a little earlier the “alternative ending” of Alice’s root was released, and by the end of the year – the first and only DLC “The Story of a Pioneer”, which added to the game an attempt to romanticize the minor character of the original, librarian Eugene… During the same period, Dreamtail submits an application to post the novel in the Steam online store by going through the Greenlight service. In fact, it was one of the first Russian visual novels that managed to overcome this watershed. On Steam, the game has been available since November 19, 2014 in Russian and English, from the same date and the massive obsession with “Leta” among Russian-speaking users begins. Over time, the game script was translated into Japanese, Chinese, Latvian, Italian and Spanish, but this is, however, a completely different story …

Here we are all discussing the development of BL, listing the dates in chronological order and mentioning in passing its main creators, but we have never hinted at its plot, as well as the reasons for such rapid popularity. Most likely, you already know about the history of each root and about all the problems of the story told in “Leta” (and if not, you can read, for example, here ), so let’s dive into the analysis of the last point in more detail.

The first reason why “Endless Summer” took off in its time is the setting . Many of the readers still remember those times when the spirit of friendship and mutual assistance reigned in the air, and the wind proudly carried the sounds of the pioneer bugle, which summoned whole detachments for lunch according to the schedule. Of course, the story of Semyon in “The Owl” turned out to be extremely close to those who were not in the camps or did not find the pioneer aesthetics in them. The facelessness of the protagonist and the absence of a sane background allowed readers to draw parallels between his life and their own. In fact, the virtual pioneer camp gives a chance to rethink something not only for Semyon, but also for you and me. I’m sure someone has thought about this at least once.

There is also an assumption that the popularity of “Summer” is due to the free distribution model of the game. Hence the second factor follows – the enthusiasm of the authors. Erogame Project has been making a dream game for about five years without any budget. Another question is that they had the opportunity to make it even better, but even in their current capacity, the developers were able to prove that everything is possible in our life. Even just sit down and create your own project from scratch, guided only by naked enthusiasm and not abandoning it in especially difficult moments. And thousands of faces really sat down – someone wanted to make modifications, someone started writing music, someone woke up with a desire to sew a pioneer uniform and wigs for cosplaying their favorite characters. Someone decided to start their own game, which soon bore fruit, but as a result, the chance of reaching the release is usually small,

Graphics and music also contributed to the popularity of the novel. Composers Sergei Eybog and Michael Malkov did a great job, it was in the epoch of “chian-eroge” that they showed their maximum as musicians, although even then they had many projects behind them. BL became another milestone for them and in many ways helped to seriously expand their portfolio – Malkov is currently actively working on games by the Moonworks studio, founded by the former co-authors of Leta, and Aybog, in addition, is no less fruitfully collaborating with indie authors. One of the latest releases with his participation was the role-playing game Pathfinder, where Sergey was mainly responsible for sound design.

Artists have also found their creative niche long ago. Arseny Chebynkin, whose delightful backgrounds contributed to the unique atmosphere of the utopian camp from the alternative USSR, is now mostly known abroad. However, this omission does not prevent him from actively helping in the development of the novels Love, Money, Rock-n-Roll by drawing detailed backgrounds. Sometimes even animated. Maxim Smolev, who had a hand in a significant part of the illustrations of the cult eroge, works on comics and his own short stories. The artist-kun, in fact, laid the foundation of this whole story, is now working on various art for projects of the Moonworks studio.

Two more factors that cannot be ignored are the openness and accessibility of the Ren’Py engine, as well as, in principle, the fact that the spontaneously formed Leta fandom helped many young and talented authors find their niche, gain the first loyal audience, and significantly improve creative skills. Hundreds of artists, having gone through the epic of motley art with pioneers, went to work for outsourcing in large projects or began to paint for foreign customers. Mod writers grew into major scriptwriters, game designers of their own game universes, and even bloggers. There are many such examples. But we will talk about this, most likely, another time, because today our excursion into the history of the development of “Endless Summer” is over … Play good games, go to your dream to the end and remember that patience and work will grind everything.

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Source : The Verge

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