It was probably mentioned before that the game started out purely as a Person type social game. You went to people and completed their social links sorta at random. And while that was an awesome idea, it didn’t really make for a grand story. Still some ideas were born when we were still plotting things out there, and they managed to survive to the current game incarnation.
The first big thing (that we’ve already mentioned) is that there’s a decent chunk of story before anything pathlocks. Marisa has a lot to do with each character. Patchouli, Marisa and Reimu all play a big role in Marisa’s own story, and they aren’t going to disappear after Marisa makes her romantic decisions either. Flandre’s story on the other hand is a little more contained (and lethal) so those players with faint hearts can avoid that. Still she’ll make the occasional appearance even then.
The second thing that came out of the early planning stages is Stats. Events early in the story tie Marisa up for some time, so her skills are a little rusty at game start. Thus in addition to everything else, Marisa will have chances to work on her personal abilities. These will influence things from how well the inevitable danmaku fights go, to how fast she can loot Eientei.
Thirdly we have a hint service. Everyone’s favorite (or second favorite at least) satori, Koishi Komeiji, will happily give Marisa hints on how to improve her romantic standings (or survive the next day…). Of course she eats up time, but sometimes that’s a small price to pay. Koishi finds this whole situation hilarious and thus is glad to lend a hand.
Lastly we have the side stories. While they were initially designed as time sinks, they managed to intertwine themselves into the main plot enough so that they survived the shift to a more traditional style. Well most of them were twined into the main plot. One was just too funny to cut.
Anyway we’ll give a few more details about those as we go on. Hopefully you’ll be able to see some of them in action soon. We’ve got another musician and programmer working with us, and things are going smoothly (if always slower then we’d all like I’m sure )