By Diego Hernandez / August 20th, 2020
Crowdfunding season is upon us and today I have the very special Serial Lover. This special project comes at the hand of just one individual. However, this is a solo project unlike anything I’ve seen in my time covering visual novels. Picture this: rhythm game dating simulator. It sounds pretty cool already, but what about if we make all your romance options serial killers? Yup, we’re going crazy for this one. Nothing like romancing someone that’ll most likely kill you if you do anything out of the ordinary, am I right? They currently have a Kickstarter campaign running until September 4th. While at the time of writing they’ve already achieved their goals, they have a lot of stretch goals to meet. If you’re curious, try out the demo and if you love what you see, back the game! It only takes $8 to get the game. Enjoy the interview!
There are many outstanding developers within this community. They’re all making stories that’ll leave you either crying, curl up in a ball in fear, or maybe overflowing from pure lust. However, I haven’t met one that intends to make me fall in love with serial killers. Who’s this brilliant individual leading the Serial Lover development?
I like to go by Slip! As much as I’d like to create stories with such depth- well, actually, I probably shouldn’t speak too soon. There will definitely be quite a few moments in Serial Lover that will tug at your heart strings. But, I will admit, I may be a bit mad. I like to introduce a bit of chaos and experimentation into both my projects and my development process. A bit of madness keeps things interesting.
This game is outrageous in the best ways imaginable. My mini-review of the demo is up on your Kickstarter page, so you understand how I feel about it. But, in addition to all of that love, I’m exceedingly curious. How did something as beautifully chaotic as Serial Lover come to life?
Serial Lover originally stemmed from the very simple concept of making a game about anime girls. I have a bad habit of taking something not-so-deep, and turning it into something significantly bigger in scope. It’s not too bad though, as I’m a bit of a workaholic.
Because I’m big on gameplay, I knew that I wanted to introduce some sort of mini-game to challenge players, and I felt that a rhythm game was the perfect fit. Not only are rhythm games popular in the anime community, but they also seem to have a universal appeal, while also having an emotional and expressive side to them. As for the serial killers, I knew that I wanted some kind of familiar theme to tie the characters together. I knew that people would be less interested in entirely original characters, but I figured if I could introduce familiarity, they would get an idea of the characters right away. I suppose the simple answer to your question is brainstorming and research! But also a lot of drive. I wouldn’t be able to invest so much time into the project if I wasn’t as passionate about it.
Sometimes that perfect idea doesn’t always come around on the first try. Many pieces of paper can end up in trash cans and word drafts end up in recycling bins. With this information, can you tell me anything about the drafts that came before the final product? Did anything from those early versions survive and why serial killers?
To be perfectly honest, I don’t think too much has changed. There were some parts in the writing that I had to rewrite a few times to get the right tone and message. While it is a bit of a comedic game, I still want to create a distinct feel and atmosphere. Another thing that’s changed is that Teddy was originally intended to be the face of the game. Since then, I’ve decided that the game wouldn’t have one face, but would instead appeal to different demographics using the whole cast. Although, Andria is certainly an attention grabber, so I like to use her visuals for a lot of the promotion.
I’d say I don’t like to change my designs too often, unless it’s necessary. When I make a decision, it’s usually after several iterations of design and consideration, so making changes later into the project can throw off the balance at times.
As for the serial killers, I had recently noticed the popularity of serial killers in the media at the time, especially on YouTube and Netflix. I thought that would be an interesting concept to work with. I think there’s a lot of entertaining connotations and expectations with being introduced to a game about genderbent serial killers. And then there’s also the shock value – which reminded me of something like Katawa Shoujo, which did quite well regardless of its questionable premise.
On that note, the game is more of a parody of serial killers, rather than being historically accurate to the individuals themselves. While there are certainly similarities, I didn’t care to put too much focus on the actual killers, but rather the concept of them. It also grants me more liberty for their designs and backstories by twisting key facts about them into characters of my own.
I’m no marketing expert by any means but even I can tell that a lot of people love the music and the characters. Can you enlighten us on the design process behind the characters and offer a glimpse as to where these funky beats come from? Who and what are the inspirations?
For sure! The design process can be quite fun. I suppose I’ll start with how the characters came to be. I first start by brainstorming different archetypes that may have interesting chemistry together, but are also diverse enough to appeal to different audiences. Admittedly, I didn’t have a whole lot of diversity to work with for famous serial killers, but I was able to nail down a few key anime tropes that I could then form into fleshed out characters.
Rather than starting with the killers, I actually chose them second and assigned them to the different archetypes. Some people have already pointed out that not all the archetypes are the best fit for some of the killers, but like I said, they’re more of parodies. After that, I did a lot of research into fashion and potential hairstyles, which will be included in the digital concept art book, by the way. I’m certainly not a fashion expert, but that’s what research is for! Once I settled on a final concept for each character, it was just a matter of fleshing out their personalities more over time.
As for the music, the approach is pretty similar. I start by deciding which genres or existing songs could be associated with each killer, then I analyze and break down what it is about them that makes them distinct and immersive. I’d say I have a diverse taste in music, so I like to play with different genres and appeal to different audiences with each track – while still embracing the themes of the game and its overall atmosphere. As for inspirations, I usually take direct reference from existing songs or artists and apply my own creative spin.
For example, Edwina’s track is heavily inspired by Loneliest Girl from the anime Carole and Tuesday. Andria’s track on the other hand, was inspired by a few different EDM artists, as well as the Theme for Scanty & Kneesocks from the anime Panty and Stocking. Having different genres to work with is great, but having songs that directly inspire the emotion you’re going for can be really exciting and motivating. It’s also really fun to learn how to make these kinds of tracks. While I do have a history of making music, I’ve never been able to experiment as much as I have with this project.
On the subject of marketing, you have an insanely well-done promotional video. I’m talking about Serial Killers Build a Castle. Now that we went through the history of the game’s development, a couple questions surface. What was it like creating the video with so much talent involved? Furthermore, how did you feel seeing it all come to life and the reception afterwards?
It was certainly a new experience! I’ve created voiced animations before, but I’ve never worked with professional voice actors until now. I think there was quite a bit of luck involved in getting the talent I did, as I’m still very inexperienced in the field – but I’m very appreciative of it. To be honest, I was pretty worn out after releasing the animation, because I had been working on it for two months straight, and I was worried how people would feel about it. I was both excited and anxious about it for some time after release, but it ended up having quite a positive reception, and in the end I think it was worth it. If I release another, I’d like to one-up it!
As of the time of writing these questions, your campaign reached its goal with a whole 23 days left to spare. On behalf of the entire Operation Rainfall staff, congratulations! You still have some work to do because of the stretch goals, so how will you approach the coming weeks? Furthermore, how are you feeling emotionally?
Thanks! It happened much faster than expected. It’s crazy really. I’m extremely relieved, but will continue promoting until the last day. However, I have shifted my focus a bit more towards preparing for the end of the campaign by planning reward fulfillment and establishing the Serial Lover community. I’d like to hit a few stretch goals before the end of the campaign, but I’m also very grateful to have hit the base goal. At first it was hard to process; milestones were being hit so suddenly, and I was even struggling to keep up with progress updates, but now that I’ve finally begun to catch up and things are going more smoothly, it’s quite amazing.
Naturally, if one aims to seduce anyone it means things are going to get a bit naughty. Serial Lover will have an 18+ patch at the time of release. May I ask that you humor us of the lewd culture and tell us what we can expect once we hit play with the patch installed? Any particular fetishes or maybe something akin to HuniePop’s bedroom variant in the music game?
The 18+ patch will be more of an uncensored version of the game. Admittedly, it probably won’t be quite as explicit as some of the HuniePop CGs, but they do play on scenarios quite a bit. You may not get kinky fetishes, but you can expect some fantasy-like, or suggestive scenes that get your blood pumping. I’d say a good amount of the tension comes from the characters themselves and how you end up with them. I had considered having the killers’ clothing come off while playing the rhythm game, but I haven’t decided just yet. Maybe in some cases? It would definitely be a bit distracting, but maybe that’s part of the fun.
For the last few questions, I like to take a step back and talk to developers about the struggles they may face. It’s been an unbelievable ride from conception to actually getting base funding. However, I’m sure it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. What are some of the struggles that plagued your development and what advice do you have for others starting out?
I think that a lot of my struggles have been a bit more personal. Because it’s a solo project, I don’t have to worry as much about conflict or complications amongst team members, but it also means that I have to take full accountability for the entirety of the project. Physically, it’s taken a toll on my sleep and diet to ensure deadlines are met, but it can also take a toll on my mental health at times. I consider myself to be quite resilient, as I’ve had to learn the hard way to make sure my life is in some sort of balance, but a lot of the challenges I’ve faced with this project are also new to me.
I’ve spent a lot of time worrying about how people will interpret the game, because I’ve never cared enough to promote anything previously. I actually had to ask people “How the hell do you post on Reddit?” because I’m not used to putting myself out there like that. I think my advice to others is that if you want to do something, just figure out what you need to do, and do it. I’m sure you’ll have to step out of your comfort zone at some points, and it can be scary, but if you realize that you’ll grow from it, then do it! It’ll be easier the next time. Just be careful not to overdo it, be realistic in your goals. Also don’t expect to succeed – consider that to be icing on the cake. And get more sleep than I do, seriously.
Making video games is not all negative, I’m sure you’ve had your fair share of good ones too. That being said, what’s been the best part of making a game like Serial Lover?
I enjoy quite a lot of the aspects of making Serial Lover, but I’d say my favourite part is making the music. I’m able to kind of zone out and just focus on expressing emotions through the compositions. I’ve always wanted to make music more seriously, but I always need a project to motivate me to improve on a skill, so I’m glad I chose to make a rhythm game. I also get really excited when I hear a song and think “I wanna make something like this for Serial Lover.” I do like producing the art, writing, and tech, but I think the music gives a different kind of reward.
It’s been a long ride, but we’re finally at the end. Is there anything you’d like to say to curious onlookers, backers, and everyone in between or on the outside about your project?
I’d like to say thank you to the fans, supporters, backers, and friends of the project! The Kickstarter campaign ends on September 4th, 2020, so if you’re interested in backing the project, check out the Kickstarter before then! We have a maid catgirl reward tier! Other than that, I’m looking forward to showing you all what’s in store.
English Visual NovelevnKickstarterSerial LoverSlipvisual novelVN