If you’re a lover of Otome Games, then you know the struggles us otoge-lovers go through when we discover an amazing one – only to find out that it isn’t localised.
We all have our own ideas on what makes the perfect otome game but unfortunately, its much harder in practice – especially in the West where we don’t have the luxury of a multi-millionaire company with hundreds of staff to work on coding, art and writing.
So I love to find and cover western-created otome games as they are not only made by fellow otome lovers, but are helping to fill out the huge otome hole in our hearts.
One group who are making their own trail in the industry is Delusional Inc, a small team of developers who created Agent of Love, a josei romance and mystery visual novel.
I had the pleasure of reviewing their game, Agent of Love, a josei mystery novel and their first ever release. As they have just released a new character update for it, I thought it would be a good time to interview them so that we can get to know our fellow otome lovers and find out how their journey as game developers started.
So, without further ado:
Who is the team behind Delusional Inc? Tell us about yourselves.
Delusional currently consists of a small team of 3:
Yunni Goder – Producer/Writer
Eva Vee – Producer/Writer
Chris Goder – Director/Programmer
We started as a couple of delusional women who wanted to write their own Otome Visual Novels and roped a husband into programming one for them and the 3 of us banded together to develop and produce Josei Otome Visual Novels, starting with Agent Of Love.
Delusional is independent and self funded, which means other than sales from our games, we’ve invested our own funds into the studio to pay for our expenses. This also means that it is something that we’ve only been able to work on in our spare time as most of us have full time jobs and families to care for.
What motivated you to start creating Visual Novels?
We originally bonded through our love of Otome games. We would read the stories that were available in the otome market and would write character analysis and share the pros and cons of the stories we’ve read together. It was only when one of our mothers piped up and suggested we should make our own did we seriously consider it.
Why the Josei genre in particular?
Since we were raised in the 70s and 80s, we ourselves are past the high school romance stage. As adult women, we believe there are a lot of real-life issues that we should cover and write about. These include complicated themes that could be triggering for some people, but we hope that by reading about them, our readers will be more aware and feel less stigmatised by it.
How did you come up with the stories? Were there any particular inspirations or did it just come to you?
The stories we write are inspired by a mixture of stories we’ve heard, read or seen from movies, books, news articles, scientific journals, as well as our own personal experiences that we’ve intertwined and combined to give the stories a more natural and realistic feeling.
For example, when writing about Ryosei mother’s funeral scene, these were written from the heart when one of us lost our mother from breast cancer during the middle of game development. Another is Shiro’s amnesia scenes, which were referenced from one of our sons, who has ongoing memory issues due to non-epileptic seizures caused by Functional Neurological Disorder (FND). And the stalkers descriptions in Chapter 1 of Ayumu Kitagawa’s route were based on news articles and the real extent people go through to harass their favourite idols.
Agent of Love is set in Tokyo and features a Japanese cast. Was there a reason why you chose this instead of a Western setting?
We chose Japan as the basis of our story for numerous reasons, but most importantly because of their conservativeness.
Even though Delusional is based in Sydney, Australia, we are women born in the 70s and 80s with an Asian family background. The social expectations and culture that we experienced and lived through was also very conservative. So, by setting Agent Of Love in Japan, we are able to expose MC to the same pressures that we ourselves experienced and struggled with when we were growing up.
Through our stories we hope to inform our readers of the era and allow them to be able to read and experience a world that is different to their own and yet still relate and empathise with because the issues and themes that we cover could still happen to anyone anywhere in the world.
Some players have a problem with Hajime’s route, as it touches upon themes that they find to be uncomfortable. Is there a message you are trying to convey through his story?
Dr Hajime Fukuyama’s route is quite a complex story and he himself is a complex character. There are various dark themes that we cover which can be confronting and triggering for some people. However, these are also themes that could happen to anyone in real life. Having the incident written as a story, our readers can see it all unfold and witness the repercussions of such an incident.
By the end of Hajime’s story, we wanted our readers to have the knowledge and ability to protect themselves from difficult situations and to gather their courage to be brave and strong, because they need to be the one to take the first step forward towards solving their problems and choosing their own happy endings.
Then there is Hajime himself. He is a character that was moulded from his own experiences with his own problems that he must overcome. He was written with the Japanese idiom “馬鹿は死ななきゃ治らない。 in mind. Which translates to “Unless an idiot dies, he won’t be cured.”. Or “Only death will cure a fool” which denotes the incurable nature of ignorance. So he’s a very cynical character due to his own past experiences of being betrayed.
The thoughts we tried to raise with his character is:
- How well do you really know a person?
- How well do you know your friends?
- How well do you know your enemies?
- Do not judge a book by its cover
- Perspective is everything and the truth will be revealed in His POV.
Does the team have a particular favourite character?
They’re all our favourite because they’re all our creations that we poured our heart into.
Were there any unexpected obstacles you encountered while developing the game?
Unexpectedly, even though there are a lot of harem romance games already released for men, we had a man tell us we should not make Otome games because it distorts a woman’s expectations of real men, which is quite hypocritical and untrue.
There is nothing to distort because it’s common knowledge that what most women want is a man who they can trust to be honest, always be there for them to lean on for support and confide in.
However, please note that not all men are this negative. Most of the men we came across are supportive and appreciate the amount of effort it took for us to develop our own game.
Because Agent Of Love is our first app, we had several programming designs and obstacles to overcome. We tried to keep our design as easy to program and simple to use as possible, but it still took time to plan it all out – which is why the first instance of the game was released roughly 2-3yrs after start of development.
On the reader’s side we have surprisingly received multiple negative and 1* reviews and ratings due to the game being a paid app or it’s not in the reader’s native language.
I think a lot of game developers can relate to this problem.
Firstly, we’d like to address that on Steam, the game is marked as “Free to Play” not “Free” and the mobile versions of the game lists the In-App Purchases available. We chose this format so that Agent of Love can be downloaded to give the player a “demo” to our game before any purchase is made. The game is sold like many other major Otome games on the market.
Secondly, the reality of writing a novel is that it costs blood, sweat, tears, time and money. Developing a game costs even more so. Translating it? Extensive visual novels like ours that’s currently sitting at 200,000+ words can easily double or triple the cost for every language translated. And it’s probably hard to believe but most indie game developers don’t make enough money on their games to survive on it.
So for the readers reading this, if there’s a game you like, please buy it and support your developers. And for those who have bought our game, from the depths of our heart we thank you for your emotional and financial support without which we wouldn’t have been able to make it this far.
Are there any Visual Novels or games that the team has drawn inspiration from when it comes to creating your games?
We grew up in the era of classic JRPG titles such as Final Fantasy and Phantasy Star with their massive worldbuilding and long, in-depth stories that spanned generations. Other games that we enjoyed ranged from The Legend of Zelda, Secret of Mana, Armored Core, Battlefield, Generals, Dragon Age and Mass Effect.
We were also avid Voltage Inc players and loved their older stories such as Love Letter from Thief X, My Sweet Bodyguard and In Your Arms Tonight. We also liked the historical Otomate releases that were translated by Solmare including Scarlet Fate, its sequel Seasons of Love, Demon’s Bond and Eternal Vows.
We would love to develop games along a similar vein, but as a small Indie developer we’re restricted by budget and time factors. So for now, we’ll take it one step at a time and complete what is achievable and within our means and abilities.
For anyone wanting to create a Visual Novel, what do you feel are the most important when creating one?
Grit, time and money.
Grit because creating any creative work requires motivation and perseverance. The hardest thing for anyone to do when they start something, is to finish it. Agent Of Love was first conceived in 2014 and it is now 2020 so it’s a long ongoing project.
Time. You need to allocate time for it. Especially if you’re juggling work, family, friends etc. like us, it’s important to stick to a regular routine. Creating a visual novel may be a hobby to some, but it should still be treated as work, work that you enjoy and can be proud of.
Money. Anything that you cannot do, you need to outsource and pay for. It’s better to pay for someone’s services and compensate them appropriately for their time. If you don’t have enough, then save. Save until you can afford to pay for it.
What are your plans after completing Agent of Love?
We already have other games in development independently and collaboratively with others.
We can also reveal that we’ve just signed our composer Hideyuki Shima-San for another song But more information on our projects at a later date~~~
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to have this interview! Is there anything you’d like to say to all the current and future players of your games?
The development of Agent of Love has been a wild and wonderful journey and allowed us to get to know and meet so many amazing people. Thank you so much for sticking by us all these years and we’re glad to confirm that Kouhei Takeuchi’s route is already in the works and we hope to release him sometime next year!
A huge thank you to Delusional Inc for taking the time to answer our questions!
We love to see developers who pour their love and time into their creations and to hear about the thought process that goes into it. Hopefully this will allow you to understand the developers and support them so they can continue bringing great quality games to us!