One thing that I’ve always loved about the EVN Community is how partnerships are formed. Even bad games takes months, if not years, to go from concept to final product and the different members of a team aren’t necessarily sitting in the same room every day. So the connections that form the foundation run a bit deeper than you can put a dollar amount on, otherwise the various teams that make up this community wouldn’t get done. I haven’t completely figured it out yet, but I know beyond the creativity and talent we have here, the Power of Teamwork ( for a lack of better words), is something that we should not only be proud of, but new creators looking to form a partnership to create an EVN should try to learn from.
I knew when I planned out these April Interviews I wanted to talk to a team everyone here has seen in action, but may not know much about. Like another very productive partnership, the artist and the writer are from two different sides of the world: KittyKatStarGal from Canada and Deji from Chile. But the divide only seems to make their team stronger…I’ll have to make a note of that for further research. Both work together not only for Winter Wolves, but under their own initiative to create one of my Most Anticipated EVNs for 2014: Autumn’s Journey. I hope you guys have fun reading the Interview! I did!
VNs Now: So I hope you don’t mind, but I must start this off with a very familiar question; how did this wonderful partnership come about?
KittyKatStarGal: I originally followed Deji on Twitter not long after I started working for Winter Wolves. When the previous artist for Spirited Heart 2 quit and Deji took over, we talked a bit. We didn’t solidify our partnership until she brought up NaNo ’13 and asked if I’d like to collaborate with her. I practically squealed when I read the email, then I got all anxious. I almost declined, since I was worried she wouldn’t enjoy working with me, but I decided to go for it anyway. And now here we are!
Deji: What she said xD She started stal- I mean following me on Twitter, I had no idea who this person talking to me was (back then I still didn’t really engage in many conversations with people I didn’t know on Twitter), but she seemed nice. We started talking back and forth, I learned she was working for WW, and we kind of clicked. She commissioned me a couple of times, we talked about the chance of making an archaeology VN (now C-14 😀 ) and eventually I e-mailed her saying “You, me, NaNo 2013!”. And I’m really glad she said yes <3
VNs Now: Creating and maintaining a professional relationship like yours is difficult enough without being in different hemispheres. What do you think it is about your partnership that makes it work as well as it does?
Kitty: It helps that we’re like-minded in so many ways. We clicked together since day one, and we have a lot of fun brainstorming, coming up with characters or a premise. We also work out our differences, we’re willing to compromise and we always support each other. I want Deji to enjoy the projects we’re working on together. We made some promises to each other that Deji elaborated in her answer, and so far it’s been going great.
Deji: We also care about our friendship a lot, more than our work relationship; we have sworn that if we ever have any problems working together, friendship comes first! We also don’t nag each other about work much, we just try our best to be supportive and encourage each other (:
Also, as an artist that spends 99% of her drawing time drawing for other people’s stories and ideas, I’m really happy to have a partner who has fun creating things together and where I can feel I actually have ownership of the characters and stories we’re making since their conception. Not that I don’t eventually form my own head canons and feel attachment to other people’s characters when I work for them! But this partnership is particularly special to me in that regard 🙂
VNs Now: Okay, let’s get to the games! Autumn’s Journey is, if my memory services born from Deji’s fictional universe Ishtera. It has come a very long way since it was announced last year and all of us (me) are curious about where development is for it now. So, how it’s coming along? Is it too soon to announce a release date?
Kitty: The game has been pretty much done since the March deadline last year, so it’s true when people say the final polish takes the longest! (In this case it was 2 more CGs and backgrounds.) The only thing left is the animated opening, but I’m not sure when it’ll be completed so there is no release date in mind yet.
Deji: *Raises hand * AJ not being done yet is MY fault 100% xD;
I really wanted an animated Opening for it (it’s been my dream for AGES to have animated characters of mine) and the rest of the team were really supportive on that. Right now I should be working on redrawing and inking the animated frames after the raw animation was completed. Another team-mate is in charge of coloring, and I’ll also be doing some simple BGs for it. It may take a couple more months at least ^^; I’m sorry for the super long wait, everybody :’D
VNs Now: Much of what we know about the plot is fairly vague, but it looks to be centered on one race of beings trying to learn more about another race of beings. Without pulling back the curtain too far, what can you tell us about the story?
Kitty: Unfortunately, since it’s a very short game (it was written within the one-month deadline), any more pulling on the curtain would probably reveal too much. We’ll do our best to get the game out though! (There’s knights and dragons, always a good thing.)
Deji: We didn’t want to make a huge game, even if we had extra time to keep adding to it (I just kept adding art-wise :’) ) But basically it’s just a light-hearted story about similarities and differences between the races and the individual characters during their time together and the bonds formed between them.
VNs Now: To my understanding, the focus of Autumn’s Journey is developing friendships rather than purely romantic relationships. I know one of you stated you wanted to see more games focusing on romantic friendships rather than just romance. So, for goofs like me, can you describe what a visual novel focused on romantic friendship would look like? And since we’re on the subject, how does that affect how we’ll be playing the game?
Deji: Since AJ is a very short game, we didn’t really explore friendship that much… I mean, it doesn’t really have “friendship” routes, as you’d expect. I’d say it’s more about learning about each other and bonding over that. Now, I imagine a game with romantic friendships would go pretty much like that, with just some extra fluffy romantic stuff, sans the romantic drama and sexual tension usually present in traditional romantic stories; focusing on the “doing the best for the person you love to be happy” part of romantic love rather than they “couple in their own lovey-dovey world” side of it.
Kitty: Like Deji says, when I think about the focus on romantic friendship, I imagine a nice blend of friendship and romance elements, but without the sexual tension. There are no romantic friendships in AJ, but I hope it’ll give you an idea of what you might see in future projects.
VNs Now: As I mentioned earlier, Autumn’s Journey was born from an entire fictional universe. Does that mean we can expect more games from you guys set in this universe?
Kitty: We already have some sketches and concept art for the sequel, including a few new characters.
Deji: Oh God, why are you showing that ugly sketch!! xD
We have brainstormed about the sequel on and off for almost a year now, but we decided we wouldn’t touch it until AJ was done. As Kitty said, we love Atelier and Tales of games, so we’d love to make something like that, though it depends on time, budget and skills when the time comes, haha. The universe of Ishtera is huge and I’d love to drag Kitty to work on more of it in the future if possible, between working on other projects we have in mind.
Kitty: ‘Drag’ she says, I’m totally a willing participant. =)
VNs Now: You both are on the team of C-14 Dating: an otome game set on an archaeological dig. Can you tell us how THAT idea game about and if you have any favorite characters yet?
Kitty: I participated in some archaeology digs in Europe, and always found it fascinating. I thought it’d be a fun setting to explore, and I haven’t seen it in otome games yet.
C-14 Dating started off as a “oh I’d like to see an archaeology game” wish I tweeted out, then Deji pounced on it saying she’d draw for it. I decided to actively go for it. I worked on the setting/storyboard then presented it to Winter Wolves. I never imagined it’d get to development stage. I have to thank Riva from Winter Wolves for supporting this project, Deji for drawing it, and Arowana for editing/coding. They’re the best. =) As for favourite characters… it’s honestly hard to pick one. Probably Hendrik, who is the geologist, and Rosemarie, who is the expert knapper on the archaeology team.
Deji: My family always kept me interested in old history and old artifacts since I was a kid. I love museums with a passion and I’ve always thought archaeology to be a really fascinating subject, so when Kitty mentioned sometime on twitter she’d like to see a game like that, I immediately said “I’LL DRAW IT!”.
As for favourite characters, we’re both biased towards Hendrik and Rosemarie, apparently xD
VNs Now: You both have been a vital part of this community for a while now. A lot of projects are being Greenlit on Steam and finding success with crowd-funding. Is there anything you’ve seen so far that you like and what do you think it’ll lead to for the EVN community?
Kitty: I’m probably out of the loop for a lot of Greenlit/crowd-funded projects, but I’m looking forward to games like Backstage Pass, Icebound, Destiny Fails Us, and Dysfunctional Systems episode 2. There also seems to be a space opera trend going, and I’m always up for more sci-fi stories.
I think it’ll lead to more people being exposed to visual novels and also gather interest from people who specialize in other media such as web comics. Starfighter is a web comic that recently has a kickstarter to create a visual novel version to bridge old and new fans. I’m interested in and hoping to see more people from different backgrounds (novels, scripts, comics, and the We Are Müesli group that gave us Cave! Cave! Deus Videt! ) bring their skills and visions to the VN table. I have a feeling in the next few years we will see a lot of creativity.
Deji: I have to admit I’m more of a lurker than anything else, and I’m always looking more at the “pretty arts” side of things than really playing the games, so I don’t really have an insightful reply to this ^^;
However, I’m *really* happy to see VNs getting more visible, and I think this will lead to more people trying the medium to tell their stories, either as full VNs, dating-sims or hybrids, and that’s always a great thing 🙂
VNs Now: As your personal projects are released, is there anything you would want people to take away from your work?
Kitty: That I hope people have fun playing the games as much as we have working on them. ^_^
Deji: I second what Kitty said! And I’ll add I ‘d like people to “feel” things when reading and looking at what we do. Not a point-of-view-altering or feels-shattering experience, we don’t aspire to that much, but a nice, hopefully warm, fleeting moment that brings a little smile to your face would be more than enough.
VNs Now: Thanks guys. Good luck to you!
Kitty: Likewise! Thank you for the interview, we both had fun.
Deji: Thanks a lot for interviewing us!