So, early on, we talked about the design idea of multiple solutions. This is an idea whose popularity waxes and wanes in the RPG world. The common implementation nowadays is that you can probably choose the "good" or the "evil" solution to a quest, which changes who you're allied to and who you're fighting with, but you still get about the same number of battles in the same places. Nobody really wants to spend millions building a dungeon only for the player to have the option to bypass it completely and miss out on appreciating all that hard work.
Luckily, we're not spending millions. If you the player really want to skip the dungeons, you can click on that 'Give Up' button the second you get in there and whine to the teachers that you don't like dungeons and don't want to have to take your test. I have no idea why you would decide to do that. If you do it often enough, you'll fail out of school. But if you really, really want to? You can.
Let's take a look at a screenshot from one of those dungeon exams. Warning, slight spoilers possible.
So, there's a guy in the dungeons with you. He's in your way. What are you going to do about it? You could attack, if you wanted. Two of the spells set in the current quickbar will do damage - Crush and Burn Magic (which only works on a fellow spellcaster, but it not only damages the target, it lowers the target's MP! Which will make it harder for him to return the favor.) You could cast Fear and make him run away, and hope that he runs the direction you're not planning on going. You could cast Push to shove him into a different cell on the dungeon map. You could Blind him, which will make it much more difficult for him to navigate or to target you with attacks. You could Blind yourself, which would be a completely nonsensical thing to do... unless he had some manner of gaze attack that you needed to protect yourself from. Did did we mention that he's a spellcaster too? So he might be planning to unload all sorts of things onto you... including teleporting you halfway across the dungeon. Maybe you should cast one of the spells that blocks other spells! If you've learned those. Maybe you should teleport him. Maybe you should glue his feet to the floor. There's a spell for that!
Of course, you could try talking to him, which is how we got to the menu options you see in the middle of the screen. (Many players will not realize that talking is a possibility!) And from here we have even more options for dealing with him. Will these blatant attempts at bribery succeed?
Or you could ignore him completely and walk past him! Is that a smart thing to do? Dunno, but you could try...
It's all about choices. Maybe you want to romance your shy roommate. Maybe you want to lead her on and then break her heart. (Why would you do that?) Maybe you want to convince her to start a conspiracy to take over the world. Hey, why not?
Maybe you prefer getting it on with troublesome demon boys. Who am I to judge? (That's the PC on the left, and the demon boy on the right. If you get to this scene, it probably won't be the same for you, because the PC, as we've mentioned, is customizable. She might look quite different. Your choice!)
Okay, I admit it. I don't want people missing too much of my available content either. That's why I dance around like this trying to make sure people know that there are tons of options out there and go looking for them!
Progress-wise, the story is over 100,000 words and the plot is written up to Spring Break. Some quite dramatic events that I can't spoil here have happened recently, and only one month of school remains. The final artwork for the May Day ball is coming together, and the game may be fully playable within a month. Maybe.
Also, we will be staffing a booth at Fanime in the Bay Area at the end of May, where you might be able to pick up hard copies of this or other games.