By Diego Hernandez / July 17th, 2020
The visual novel developer interviews are back and today we have Thawing Feelings! This beautiful romance visual novel from ds-sans is now on Kickstarter and he needs your help. After previously working together for an interview on his last work, this writer kindly expresses his interest for a follow-up. The result is an 1,800+ word spectacle with lots of goodies for onlookers and fans alike. Everything from story to characters and even the naughty content. Operation Rainfall wishes ds-sans nothing but success during the month long battle that is a Kickstarter campaign. If you like what you see consider pledging for the game here, it’s only $7 for a copy! Furthermore, with enough help we can guarantee this game will receive even more art, an epilogue and even more erotic content. So what are you waiting for? Oh right, you’re probably still curious about what he has to say. Enjoy!
First of all, thank you for your time. I can’t imagine the amount of work you have with the campaign so close. I’m so happy to have you on the site again. There’ll be many questions as to the approach of the campaign and the game itself, but in the interest of time I ask you this: What has changed since we last spoke in December?
Not much, I would argue, at least not from a development perspective. I’ve been trying to push Chemically Bonded as much as possible since its release. Most of the big changes have come about in my personal life – starting my final year of university, dealing with various ups and downs and generally trying to do my best in all situations. We talked about my marketing strategy in the last interview, so I’d say that’s changed the most if anything. I want to give people a more serious look at my projects, while keeping that quirky nature about the way they’re presented for when it’s needed.
Now we have Thawing Feelings and the previews are breathtaking. Could you please take me back and tell me about how this game came to be? Perhaps any inspirations behind the setting and why the return to romance?
Thawing Feelings came about towards the end of February/beginning of March. I wanted to take some of the themes of Chemically Bonded further, but I was quite stripped for ideas until I began searching for artists and collaborators to work with on this new title. I think the biggest inspiration behind the setting came about from my own passion for Winter as a season, and my desire to further my work in the genre.
Romance is a big favorite of mine, not only as a staple of visual novels as a medium, but the ease of development when it comes to making a game like this. There’s more freedom, creatively and financially, to work with a variety of people, instead of having a setting which requires a large cast, a unique world, and various other aspects which require specific talents from specific people. If I were to say work on a sci-fi or fantasy project, I don’t feel that such a small cast would work and I would have to find artists capable of recreating a fictitious environment. That I see as requiring a bigger investment into those aspects, having more locations and a very personalized cast is something I can’t afford to do or manage at present.
I love setting my stories in ‘the real world’, to call it that, because I find it’s easier to connect with and romance is a big part in forming that connection between reader and characters/story.
Money is nice to have and spend, no doubt you’re doing a lot of it for this upcoming story. Let’s talk about the gorgeous art, a substantial upgrade from those that came before. What sort of aesthetics and the like were you focusing on that got both RyThae and kjkjmulo on the staff?
It is certainly great to hear that you like our artwork. I think RyThae and kjkjmulo’s work aptly suits what I’m after for the project. Their styles are very ‘warm’, if that makes sense, and I want that to be a suitable contrast with the ‘cooler’ user-interface and mature themes of the game as a whole.
I think my main focus shifted substantially the more the idea came together. At first, I wanted to maintain the style seen in Chemically Bonded, but the more the idea came together, the better I felt about having an aesthetic that sets Thawing Feelings apart.
While we’re talking about the art, it’s only fair we address the elephant in the room. Thawing Feelings will be the first ds-sans game with 18+ content. Many readers, myself included, wish to know how you’ll be approaching this new territory. May I ask what kind of research you’ve done for the project in this regard and what can fans expect?
To put it crudely, looking at other examples of 18+ scenes has been a good base point for my research. The biggest thing I want to tackle is having content which fans can appreciate, whilst maintaining a more sensual approach to the scenes as opposed to anything overtly pornographic in nature.
One of my first inspirations, Katawa Shoujo, did these scenes appropriately for the type of game I want to make with Thawing Feelings. I think RyThae’s art complements that desire as well, and I know that it’ll be something fans can enjoy too, along with our wonderful voice cast.
The voice acting was a crucial part in bringing the story of Chemically Bonded to emotional highs. With full English voice acting making a return in Thawing Feelings as well as notable actors Amber Barile (Naomi) and Yuliya Fae (Sae). What did you learn and how will you warm or break our hearts?
The biggest part of voice acting, I feel, is whether that voice suits the character you want to portray. While some people had differing opinions about the casting choices I made with Chemically Bonded, it’s still something I feel right about and that I’ll defend, along with taking that philosophy forward into Thawing Feelings.
Amber and Yuliya are both extremely capable actresses and I hope to be able to showcase the best of their talents with both emotional heights and quirky scenarios. A big aspect that brings these scenes together is the cohesion of all pieces in tandem. Art, writing, music and especially voice acting. The final scenes of Chemically Bonded were some of my favorite to write because of this and the outstanding effort of our cast.
The characters are a huge part of what makes a ds-sans game truly special. Ceri, Kiyoko, Naomi and now Marie and Ayami. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I personally find these two to be your most beautiful characters yet. Please take us through the process of coming up with these two new characters in terms of personality and bringing them to life through RyThae’s art. How pleased are you at the result?
I’d say coming up with new characters is one of the most difficult, yet enjoyable, parts of the planning process. With Ayami and Marie, I had experimented with a few designs which I ultimately felt didn’t suit the direction their characters began to take. I had initially planned Ayami having more ‘punky’ visuals, while Marie would’ve come across as a lot more reserved and ‘bookworm’-like. That wasn’t an approach I wanted to continue pursuing.
The process of creating a character, for me, involves a lot of research into the visuals I want before prescribing them a personality. Searching through Google Images, seeing what’s popular, and using my own tastes as guidelines is something that I do a lot during the character creation process. After that, it’s a matter of seeing what works best for the story. I normally define a plot by the characters, as opposed to doing it the other way around.
My goal for Ayami and Marie is to make them likable, but realistic. I think RyThae’s art does well in capturing that, making the heroines relatable yet stunning as well. I’m fully pleased at the result and I want these characters, and the story itself, to be at the peak of what I can present to readers.
Speaking of characters, in our last interview, you’re on record for saying you’d love to bring Kiyoko and Naomi back for a cameo within a future story. For the fanatics at home holding their breath, will we see Naomi and Kiyoko again in Thawing Feelings with new art?
I wouldn’t get your hopes up just yet. While it would be nice to include them in some shape or form, I also feel it would be nice to break away from past works and create something new without the inclusion of older characters. I think that’s another thing that’s changed about my vision since then.
Of course, if it’s something that people want, then it’s something I’d be happy to fulfill that any way I can. As we’ve already got two of our previous VAs on board, Naomi (Amber) and Sae (Yuliya), then it’s not an impossible thing to imagine some form of appearance happening.
Of course all of this is subject to getting funded. This is a very high quality project, but it’s within a sea of other hopefuls. What did you learn from the Chemically Bonded campaign and others that followed to make sure this campaign gets as many eyes and dollars as possible?
I think the lessons I learnt from Chemically Bonded’s campaign come from hindsight more than anything else. At the time, I felt like I was doing everything I could to promote the project and get us to our goal, but in retrospect, there are a lot of things I could’ve done differently.
My marketing back then was a lot more ‘personal’, rather than ‘businesslike’. While I still like to be myself every now and then, my tactic now is to be a lot more professional in my visuals and posts about my projects.
Another aspect I’ve improved on is Kickstarter rewards. At the time of Chemically Bonded’s campaign, I was reluctant to include many physical rewards due to my inexperience in producing things like that. Whereas now, we’re offering keychains/charms, dakimakuras and the usual goodies now that I have the experience in getting them produced and shipped affordably. I hope these offerings, as well as the obvious inclusion of R18 material, will get more people to support us this time around.
This isn’t your first Kickstarter rodeo, but I imagine the stress might be equal, if not more, than the last time. For industry newcomers, what steps have you taken to manage the emotions over the course of the next month? How often do you find yourself looking at the page?
I think this time around, I’m a lot more confident in the campaign. It’ll still be checking the campaign multiple times a day, but in terms of emotional management, I have a bigger network of people supporting me and cheering me on, so I feel it’ll be something I can cope with better than before.
We’re finally at the end and there’s really only one question left. Is there anything you’d like to say to curious onlookers, potential backers, and your fans alike about the game and campaign?
It’s always a pleasure speaking to you. I think the biggest thing I want to say to onlookers and potential backers is to give us a shot. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished in this industry and introducing new people to my works is always a great pleasure.
As for fans, this time around, I’d like for them to know that I want Thawing Feelings to be my magnum opus. If anything, Chemically Bonded was a trial run for what’s to come. I need to know what worked and what didn’t in order to make better visual novels in the future, and I think Thawing Feelings will be that starting point.
That’s the end of the interview. Once again please consider pledging to Thawing Feelings on Kickstarter and following our good friend ds-sans on Twitter. Please come back for more information on everything Thawing Feelings. Have a great day everyone!
Chemically Bondedds-sansEnglish Visual NovelevnKickstarterThawing Feelingsvisual novelVN