Today’s post is an interview with Weeev about their visual novel, “Purrfectly Ever After.” The project has 8 days left in its Kickstarter campaign and still needs ~$1700AUD to hit its goal, so please check out the game and leave a pledge if you like what you see! They could also use your vote over on Steam Greenlight! A big thank you to the team for taking my questions, and best of luck!Synopsis: The heroine is a cat in a retro-futuristic world who loves good food and, with her fellow animal friends, is willing to do anything for it. Namely, stealing. She also happens to be the gang leader. Their activities disturbed the lives of people in the city to the point that the authorities decided to take action. One day, her best friend is taken hostage in hopes of luring her out. Taking the bait, she goes ahead of the pack to rescue him, meeting with a few good souls who saved her from trouble along the way. After the rescue mission, she realizes that her selfishness of stealing food has brought harm upon her friends and thus she decides to disband the group. To earn food honestly, she wishes to become a human. Her prayers were answered by an unseeming Fairy Godfather on one condition – that she would never steal again. With her immediate agreement, she is turned human. Now, as a newly-turned human, all she needs to do is find her bearings in this brave new world. And who better to help her than those who saved her earlier on?
1. Tell us a little about Weeev. Who are you and how did you come together?
In late 2014, I was looking for a partner to work on a visual novel when I met Lun through a mutual friend. We hit it off immediately with Ace Attorney and how I want to make a game and how he can contribute to it. Lun is an industrial expert in developing mobile apps. One of the app he did recently was a gaming app, not just any games that we know of, but the type that involves monetary betting and securities. I, on the other hand is a regional creative lead for a multi-brand company and I provide creative guide lines, inspirations and approvals for our partners. Both of us decided to form Weeev with Lun heading the game programming and me covering writing, directing and producing projects for Weeev. Although both of us are working for others full time, we hope that one day we could fulfil our dreams in making visual novels as our job.
Weeev is actually a homophone with the word, Weave. The core games that we make as a company are essentially visual novels and we encourage players to weave a story of their choice base on the game’s theme. Our aim is to be on par with the likes of other otome game giants such as Voltage, Otomate and Rejet and strive to provide the best storyline, artwork and most importantly, experience to their players. We want the players to gasp at a plot twist, smile at a sweet moment, and ultimately we want to touch player’s heart with our stories. Weeev’s maiden game is geared towards the female audience but we plan to expand to more genres in future when we manage to build a bigger team.
2. I think we should pay attention to the very first sentence in the game’s description: “The heroine is a cat in a retro-futuristic world who loves good food and, with her fellow animal friends, is willing to do anything for it.” I laughed the first time I read that – there’s a lot going on in that sentence! I’ve just got to ask: what is a “retro-futuristic” world, and why a cat?
Good that we got your attention! And you are not the first person to ask about the term ‘retrofuturism’ and probably not the last.
As a start, let me quote from Wikipedia, “Retrofuturism is a trend in the creative arts showing the influence of depictions of the future produced in an earlier era. Characterized by a blend of old-fashioned retro styles with futuristic technology, retrofuturism explores the themes of tension between past and future, and between the alienating and empowering effects of technology.”
Imagine a futuristic world told in the mind of someone in the 80s. How would they portray the future? How would technology influence the future? A good example would be the setting in the movie, ‘Back from the Future’. The setting of a retrofuturistic world can be ambiguous and juxtaposed. On top of that, we also throw in bits an pieces of oriental culture. The world of Purrfectly Ever After is perfectly imperfect. It’s a playground where we experiment traditions and cultural influence with futuristic elements and technologies as we build stories around this setting. It’s a free world where we are not bound by any of the current norms. This may sound like something that is too complicated for a first project but I’ve always liked this style and no doubt this is the style that I want to work on when we first started this project. But so far, we have been getting positive reviews with our graphics, so it’s all good!
As for cat as star, as I was visualizing the retrofuturistic world, I was thinking how would I want to build this world? What would be a good subject to build on? What is that thing that is fun but at the same time acceptable to the players? As I was thinking all of these, my cat came by and gave me a nudge. And the rest was history…
3. Where did the game’s plot come from? Any particular inspirations?
It was a juxtapose of a few ideas. The first of course is my cat. I’ve always imagine what if my cat could talk to me instead. And from there I would visualize him to be a human and the type of personality he would have etc. So yea I guess you could say that the plot idea starts from my cat. I continue to expand the possibilities of being a cat, to see the world in the eyes of a cat. I ask a lot of questions to myself during the incubation of the project like how would I react and feel as a cat? What about a glutton cat? A connoisseur cat maybe? And of course the protagonist’s personality influences the course of action and story flow, which brings to the next point…
I have always wanted a strong, empowering female lead. This is one thing that set us apart from most of the Japanese otome games. Due to culture differences, the Japanese centric otome games have few such characters and whenever I play an otome game, I would be fantasizing for the protagonist to be more vocal, to have stronger characteristics etc. So I incorporated all my inner wants into the protagonist in Purrfectly Ever After and this will be the core essence of the protagonists in future Weeev titles as well. In fact, the next project in the pipeline is about a self-esteem and empowerment, which we will discuss next time.
4. Who is your favorite character? Why them?
Each and everyone of them(romance-able guys) are crafted with a certain criteria that I like in a guy so I can’t really decide on one! It’s just so hard! But if I were to really choose one, it would probably be Cassian. He has a certain mischievousness in him that I would like to see expanding in his story. He is also quite a seductive character. With that alluring voice, I’m already daydreaming on the possible steamy scenes that might happen ^///^.
5. I thought it was really cool to see an iOS demo. I think it surprises some players to learn that there’s actually a pretty strong market for otome games on both iOS and Android. Has mobile always been part of the game’s rollout plan, or did it come up later (once development had made some progress)?
I started playing otome game on consoles like Nintendo DS, PSP and now on smartphones. To me, otome games should be portable. I would like to keep my games close to heart so I could play them whenever I want, wherever I want. They are suppose to be my companion. So from the start, my idea of doing an otome game has always been on smartphone as the technology now allows us to switch from consoles to smartphones, which is something that a lot of us rely on now. And having a game as an app is also very accessible and convenient.
We have only been thinking about releasing the game on mobile until our Kickstarter campaign is launched. We started to receive feedbacks for a PC release. At that time, we realized that in a lot of countries, PC is still the preferred gaming platform for VNs. After discussing with Lun, we decided to give it a try since we are also developing for Android. So exporting the game to PC is totally viable. With popular demand, we expanded another distribution channel on the PC platform.