Jeremy Miler: It feels good.
VNs Now: I promised myself I would ask this early on so we can focus on your actual games, but one thing Dischan has developed that puts it apart from other EVN groups is your visual novel engine: DisMAE. What went into its development and will it ever be seen used outside of your group?
Miller: DisMAE was developed entirely by Guy-kun over the course of a few months in order to port Juniper’s Knot to iOS. I feel I should point out that the engine is probably not as impressive as you may imagine, as there is still a lot of hard-coding involved in the porting process, particularly for the user interface. That being said, what Guy-kun accomplished in a short period of time is certainly impressive in my opinion. He did a great job, and Juniper’s Knot has had a lot of success on the App Store.
Unfortunately, Guy-kun has since decided to stop working on the engine, so I think it’s very doubtful it will be used in the near future by either us or any other developers. We are looking for an iOS developer to replace him, but we haven’t had any luck yet.
Dani: It’s been very surprising. None of us expected Juniper’s Knot to do as well as it has. In fact, I was originally against its development since I thought we should be focusing on Cradle Song and it wouldn’t have been a good use of our time. Boy, was I wrong. We’ve never publicly released this statistic before, but Juniper’s Knot has been downloaded over 120, 000 times since its release. Most of these downloads have come from the App Store, unsurprisingly.
It’s been a weird sort of success though. Despite the fact that a lot of people downloaded and enjoyed the game, it doesn’t seem like too many of them took the time to look us up afterward. This means that despite Juniper’s Knot’s considerable success, we haven’t seen as great an increase in general popularity as you might expect.
Dani: I wouldn’t say that we had any particular inspiration, rather I think the issue of poverty just happened to be on our minds. This was likely due to the economic inequality protests going on in America and abroad at the time. In particular I think I was influenced by the events in Greece. I read a lot about their economic trouble before and while developing Dysfunctional Systems, specifically concerning the anti-austerity protests that took place. I guess it all just ended up bleeding into our work.
Dani: Episode 2 will be primarily about Winter’s “Earth”: her society, her school, her classmates, and herself. It will have a more relaxed pacing and will place a higher focus on player agency. A common question people have after playing the first episode is “What is Winter’s world like? Is it really a utopia?” Well, you’ll be able to discern that for yourselves when Episode 2 is released.
VNs Now: Something others have criticized and I found personally enjoyable was the choice system in Episode 1. Compared to other visual novels it is very minimal but it uses a system visual novels aren’t known for. Can you go into detail on how player choices will impact the story in later episodes when there are so few choices that doesn’t directly affect the game?
Miller: The profile system we’ve implemented for the Dysfunctional Systems series enables us to save every choice the player makes. Even choices which appear meaningless in the context of a single episode can have repercussions down the line. Basically, things are more complicated than just which choices cause a major branch within that episode. Character growth also plays a large part in Dysfunctional Systems, so even if a choice doesn’t seem to change the outcome on a large scale, it can certainly affect the characters involved in it.
Miller: We’ve learned a lot from the release of the first episode of Dysfunctional Systems, and it’s caused us to reconsider some aspects of Cradle Song. Particularly from the perspective of attempting to create a self-sufficient business. As such, Cradle Song has entered, quite frankly, a state of flux. We’re experimenting with a lot of different ideas now, and the Cradle Song we end up moving forward with might not be the Cradle Song we or anyone else expected. Luckily though, we never released that much information on Cradle Song to begin with, so any change that may occur is unlikely to bother anyone. That being said, I can’t say precisely how Cradle Song might change, or even if it will. We’ll be sure to let our fans know when things solidify.
Miller: Yes. Something may be happening with regards to Juniper’s Knot soon. It’s not a visual or kinetic novel though. It’s something people might consider a bit more ambitious than that, which is why I don’t particularly want to get people too excited until we’re a bit further down the line.
VNs Now: Jeremy thank you so much for your time. We can’t wait to see what you guys do next!
Miller: Thank you as well. I hope that we exceed your expectations.
Keep an eye out for the latest Dischan works at their website here!