By Diego Hernandez / December 18th, 2019
In a year with great visual novels aplenty, Chemically Bonded shows up just in time. After two years of waiting, a meme becomes reality. Furthermore, it’s as wonderful as one can imagine. I have many questions regarding the project. As a result, I sent a direct message to the developer asking for a interview. This is the result, please enjoy and stay tuned for our review.
We always want to give an opportunity for the developer to introduce themselves to new readers. Who are you?
I’m ds-sans! I’m a visual novel developer (as if that wasn’t apparent already) from the UK. I mainly work on romance VNs or UI/Logo design for other projects.
On a bit of a personal level, I’m a 20 year old guy currently doing a masters degree in geography. I wouldn’t really say there’s anything else that interesting about me. It’s clear enough that I have a passion for Anime/Japanese media and I’ve always tried to replicate that in my VNs as opposed to having a more Western style like other developers.
In an interview with Far2Close, you gave details surrounding your beginnings as a visual novel developer. In addition, you also spoke of your inspirations that would not only spark certain games but your pursuit of becoming a developer. May I ask what was that journey of trial and error like on your way to becoming who you are today?
The journey of trial and error was quite a tough one. I had aspirations of becoming a developer at 14, though realistically that was destined to fail from the get-go. To give myself credit, I did get quite far with getting a friend to do a bit of concept art and beginning the rough beginnings of a story (which I later adapted into Lost Impressions), but I think it was a learning lesson in itself which sparked the road to becoming a dev. If I hadn’t had that one experience of failure, I wouldn’t have wanted to give it another shot further down the line. I guess in a way it’s its own success.
In terms of more recent experiences, I think that I’ve learned to do what works best in a given moment instead of staying stuck on a final goal. Chemically Bonded had a lot of compromises over the two year development cycle. One such thing being a fully fledged, interactive phone because I got too lazy to add it in. I think there’s a fun in being able to reshape a project as it goes on though. There are plenty of things I added to Chemically Bonded that I wouldn’t have thought of doing when I started.
We can’t talk about Chemically Bonded without addressing the games that came before it. Lost Impressions and Sounds of Her Love are games I’m sure you hold dear to your heart. Speaking of the heart, all these titles have their own twist on romance. Could you tell us about your exploration of the genre that led to the creation of these endeavors?
Romance is a genre I’ve always been very passionate about. It’ll certainly be a different experience trying other ones out in the future. It all really started by playing the VNs that inspired me to make my own, all of them were heavily romantic in nature and I wanted to pursue that with my own stories. Very similarly, a lot of the anime I first began watching were also quite romantic in nature too. I’d say it’s a very versatile genre, you don’t have to do much world building or exposition to pull off heart-wrenching and engaging stories which is ultimately what I strive to produce.
I wouldn’t really say that Lost Impressions was much of a romantic story however, in hindsight, I wish I could rework that and it’s something I’m thinking of redoing in the future. Sounds of Her Love was my first real in-depth attempt of the genre, and from what the reviews say about it, I think I did pretty well.
After a couple of years of hard work in development it’s finally a reality. Chemically Bonded is now officially released. After following the journey alongside you on Twitter, I must ask – does it feel real yet?
I wouldn’t actually say it does. It still feels like a dream! While our release didn’t go as I thought it would, I’m still really happy it’s finally out there and I’m looking forward to hearing more of what people think of it.
Two years is certainly a long time and over that period I’ve changed a lot as a person too. I was quite afraid of making a commercial VN at first, but now that it’s finally out I’m confident in my skills to keep doing what I love and exploring new opportunities.
I love a lot of things about you, ds-sans. Among those things is your marketing strategy for Chemically Bonded. What led to taking a more comedic approach to introducing your audience to an incredibly gripping romantic read?
I find my offbeat approach to marketing quite fun and enjoyable, which is probably why I started to skew towards those sort of posts quite heavily. I initially started very conventionally up until the start of 2018, making regular ‘update’ posts and taking quite a flavorless approach to my marketing and PR. However, as I started to experiment with different approaches to marketing Chemically Bonded, I found that people seemed to enjoy more memetic content, even if they had little idea of what the game was actually about.
I don’t think that approach will change anytime soon. I think people expect that from me now and I’ve created my own brand of visual novel marketing which I really enjoy.
Your detailed writing is sure to grab people’s attention straight from the get-go. Certainly did for me, at least. However, voice acting gives your words life. Can you describe to me what finding and working with your biggest voice cast yet has been like?
Working with VAs is the best part of being a developer, in my opinion. It was great to work with talents like N i i and Amber Barile for the lead girls and others like Taylor Faye (Nyanners) and WaifuruOwO for the side characters too. Of course, there’s a lot of challenges when working with a large cast, but I think the overall result is worth it.
Finding our cast was done through casting calls for the most part. In all honesty, our first casting call was pretty biased from the start. I already had the idea of hiring N i i amd Amber for the parts, but of course I did review all the applications in a professional manner (there were certainly some who almost made the cut instead). Working with everyone was a really enjoyable experience, hearing the characters come to life and developing a working relationship (and in some cases serious friendships) with the cast.
We also had a few issues in which we had to fire and replace one of the side characters (Sae) VA’s, but I think our choice of hiring Taylor in her stead really paid off and I’m happy to have had the chance to work with such a talented cast.
Let’s get technical, shall we? The conflict in Chemically Bonded is a very intricate scenario. Furthermore, it requires a very thoughtful approach to get to its resolution. My question to you is: What was the specific inspiration for the idea of discovering the cause of this tension between damsels?
The idea itself developed from quite a silly and lackluster conflict between the two girls. Originally, Kiyoko had spilled a drink on Naomi and that’s what caused her to be angry, but they soon became friends. I came up with the idea of having them be ex-friends after thinking of ways to add a realistic depth to the story. A lot of those ideas (particularly in the endings of the game) came from my own experiences, twisted and applied in a way that would suit the story and the tone of the game. I think that that choice ultimately paid off. I wanted there to be an air of mystery around Kiyoko and Naomi’s history.
Life is known to provide several difficult choices throughout its course. The games that can accurately depict this are the ones that stick with you for a long time. The choices in your latest release are no joke. What made you think about Chemically Bonded’s unconventional choices?
I wanted to present players with more realistic choices throughout the game. Similar to the girls’ histories, I wanted the game to be as realistic as it could be whilst still being interesting, unique and fun. Particularly towards the end of the game, I wanted to make the player’s opinions on each girl change over time (particularly Naomi, as she was introduced as more of an antagonist than anything).
One thing I can truly appreciate from all your works are your characters. Bringing back Ceri will certainly make a lot of fans of your catalog very happy. We might not know what the future holds, but will you consider bringing Kiyoko and Naomi with you, albeit briefly, to future projects?
Yep! I’d love to bring Kiyoko and Naomi back for more in the future. I’ve had ideas of sequels, DLCs and more in regards to Chemically Bonded, but whether they happen or not, I’d certainly like to bring them back as a cameo or even just a reference in future projects.
Kiyoko and Naomi are really special characters for me. Most of my growth as a developer came from Chemically Bonded, be that experience or recognition, and they certainly have a place in my heart (even if they’re not real).
The end of the road. I hope you liked all the questions I’ve asked thus far. Let’s end it on, hopefully, a high note. What’s next for ds-sans? Do you have anything to reveal, promote, or say to fans new and old? Regardless, thank you for even considering answering my questions and have a great 2020.
I’ve really enjoyed the questions! I’m not sure what’s next for me. I’m taking a break from my own projects to work with other devs, including being the lead writer for Syntactic Sugar and UI artist for a lot of other EVNs.
When I do have a new project to share, I want to share it with a bang. I always strive to out-perform myself and I want to make my fourth VN even more special than CB. Right now that seems like a task, but it’s certainly something I’m looking forward to. I can’t thank my fans enough for helping me reach where I am now, and I hope to give back to them a lot more in future projects and continuing to give people fun experiences with VNs.
Right now though, I’m active on LoveVN and I’ll continue to play a big part in the scene throughout my break.
I h-hope you have a g-good 2020 t-too.
There you have it, please check out Chemically Bonded on Steam today and follow ds-sans on Twitter!
CBChemically BondedDEVGRU-Pds-sansevnInterviewLILost ImpressionsromanceSOHLSounds of Her Lovevisual novelVN