Today’s post is an interview with Purin Productions about their visual novel, “Vision of Aurora Borealis.” The project has been successfully Greenlit and is very nearly fully-funded on Kickstarter (and has 20 days left to start hitting its stretch goals), so be sure to check it out (play the demo!) and give the project some support. A big thank you to Pudding321 for taking my questions, and best of luck to the team!
Synopsis: A young photographer travels to Iceland in search of the northern lights. There he meets a mysterious, hostile young girl who speaks about elves and curses. What is this curse? Who is she? Join them in an adventure on the barren lands filled with myths, nature, and love.
1. Well, the first question burning in my brain is, of course, who are you people and where do you come from? Put a little more delicately: who makes up Purin Productions, and how did you come together to make this game?
We are people from very diverse backgrounds, but who share a common passion for anime and Japanese visual novels. Purin Productions is the studio name that I came up with, and in a word I am the founder and sole member of the studio, since the people who are working with me are all contracted to this specific visual novel and not this studio. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe invertmouse is also the sole member of his studio.
I didn’t believe this project could pick up at such speed. I first talked to a Doujin artist about my idea of a visual novel, and she said it was great and decided to be our artist. When she had done the sprite arts, we basically used them as the main asset to recruit people. Our composer, from Fuwanovel forums, was among the early ones to join us. I used to be a light novel translator and had a friend who helped me with editing the image files of light novels. He was also interested in this project and helped out with the programming work. We still needed a background artist, so I put up a recruitment post on Lemma and got a quick response. We soon gathered a team of people who had their own talents and were motivated about this project.
2. Iceland. The second I saw “Iceland” I was pretty much sold. That’s a really cool and unique choice of location! Your Kickstarter page mentions that you recently traveled there and were enchanted by its sights and culture. Could you tell us a little more? What about it captured your imagination?
I went there with two friends during Easter. Snow has melted in most parts of Europe, so it was refreshing to see all the snow still piled up in Iceland. The air and water was clean, and there was no city hustle and bustle. It really felt nice staying there. We took day tours to see the nature in Iceland and night tours to catch the northern lights. Unfortunately the lights weren’t so strong while we visited so I only caught a weak glimpse. During our day tours, the tour guide would talk a lot about Icelandic myths mixed with her own interpretation. When we dropped by a bookstore in the capital city later on, I spotted a few books that talked about Icelandic fairy tales and spent some time reading them. I think these myths are really unique to the Iceland landscape, its climate and its people.
After my return, I decided to add a modern twist to the Icelandic fairy tale and pique others’ interest about it. I figured that for others to truly experience these Icelandic stories, they would need to see Icelandic nature and breath its fresh air. If I could, I would have bottled a jar of air in Iceland and brought it back for them…wait, actually there are bottles of Icelandic air being sold in Iceland…well, you get the idea. The visual novel, with its beautiful graphics and sound, occurred to me as a splendid medium for this purpose.
3. You have a little under three weeks left in your Kickstarter campaign and you’re already nearing your initial goal. That’s got to be a good feeling. Why do you think people are drawn to the game and supporting you like this? Why do you think people should support the project?
I think people are mainly attracted by our main female character sprite, Gryla, in the game. She is this mysterious, hostile, and perhaps a bit otherworldly elf that some of us, myself included, fantasize about. I really have to thank our artist for doing such a great job. I am also under the impression that people may like to see a visual novel turning a different direction than most of its predecessors. Even today some people regard OELVNs as only inferior, low-budget rip-offs of the Japanese ones. I guess this may be in part because of quite a number of OELVNs are created with the typical Japanese visual novel in mind—Japanese high school setting, characters with Japanese names, Japanese school uniforms, and even honourifics like senpai being inserted in the dialogue. While I really appreciate and enjoy these OELVNs, I think it is time to explore new possibilities in this medium. In fact I was first inspired by invertmouse’s latest project cursed sight because it was really unique in this medium.
I think people should support the project if they enjoy it—be it the graphics, the music, or the story. But if this project earns enough support, I think it will serve as a little example that can encourage other indie developers to experiment with different narrative and art styles in this medium, and then everyone can enjoy more and better games.
4. We have a lot of VN developers in our readership, and I think most of them would be interested in hearing from you about balancing life and VN development. How are you fitting the game into your schedule? I know that you and several team members are balancing work and college classes in addition to this project.
VN development is really a full-time commitment. It’s probably what I do when I wake up and before I sleep. Because our staff work in different timezones, I do my best to communicate and leave messages as soon as possible so we know what to do when other staff are not in front of the computer. It is really challenging, but we have a structured list of things to carry out that clarifies our goals, and we report progress as we finish each task so that everyone is on the same page.
I think it is important to understand that there are days the staff are preoccupied with other things. We solve this by planning things one step ahead, and as a result our progress is constant and rarely stunted.
5. Which of the game’s characters is your favorite (and why)?
Strictly speaking, there are only two main characters in the game, and I would definitely say it is Gryla. On the surface she presents a lot of hostility towards humans, but deep down she actually desires to be accepted and loved. I like how she isn’t wavered by other people who disdain her because she is an elf, but instead she gladly takes in their harsh comments and pretends she is living a life like any ordinary person. She even jokes about these elf remarks, even though it must have been painful for her to be reminded of her elf identity all the time.
Pudding321 – Project lead, Writer
Ashitaka93 – Programmer, Graphic Designer
Sakura Neko – Character Artist
Sendo – Background Artist
Lexyvil – Composer
Hitagi Tsundere – GUI Designer
Luna Chai – Promotion