Until a few days ago when Twitch.tv updated its List Of Prohibited Games, most people had likely not heard of Yandere Simulator. When Yandere Dev, the developer and creator behind the game, broke the news on Twitter about his game being banned from streaming, Yandere Simulator was suddenly front page news on the internet for millions of people.
Last week, I reached out to Yandere Dev by e-mail and he granted us an interview. In the ensuing flurry of e-mails back and forth, we discussed topics ranging from what Yandere Simulator is, how the game originated, about the development of the game, what the problems with Twitch.tv mean for his title, and what lies in store for the future.
You can find out more about Yandere Simulator at Yandere Dev’s Game Development Blog, on his YouTube Channel, and by following him on Twitter. You can also download the latest debug build to try out the latest version of the game for yourself, and help support Yandere Dev’s efforts on Patreon.
Interview by Quentin H. A special thank you to Scott MacDonald for help with vetting the questions.
Operation Rainfall: What is the basic plot behind Yandere Simulator and where did the game’s name come from?
Yandere Dev: The most simple way to describe the premise of the game would be to say that “The protagonist has fallen in love with a boy, and must prevent other girls from stealing that boy’s heart.” To be more specific, the protagonist is a broken person who has no capacity for remorse, guilt, or mercy, and she is willing to do absolutely anything – even commit murder – to prevent the boy from falling in love with another girl.
Imagine being unable to see color, unable to hear music, and unable to feel warmth…and then meeting a person who brings all of these things into your life with their presence alone. You’d only feel alive in their company, and you’d feel dead without them. In short, that’s how the protagonist feels about the boy she loves, and why she’s willing to do anything to keep him away from other girls.
The “psycho girl who kills because of love” character archetype is popular in Japan, where it has been given the name “Yandere”. One day, on a message board, I casually proposed the idea of a game where the protagonist is a yandere girl. I jokingly described this game as a “Yandere Simulator” I never gave the game a proper name, so “Yandere Simulator” inadvertently became the game’s official title.
OR: If you were to classify this game in a particular genre, what would it be and why? Do you feel like you are accomplishing that goal?
YD: My original intention was to develop a “social stealth” game – a game about committing crimes in broad daylight while disguising yourself as an innocent person. In the current build of the game, there is currently very little gameplay that I would classify as traditional “stealth” gameplay, although there are many social mechanics, such as complimenting others, apologizing for your behavior, spreading rumors, doing favors, making friends, joining clubs, and so on.
I feel as though it’s too early to say whether or not Yandere Simulator is accomplishing the goal that I originally wanted it to accomplish, because it’s missing too many of the features required for the gameplay to match my original vision.
OR: When did you begin development on the title and what platform(s) are you planning on releasing the final product for?
YD: Development on Yandere Simulator began in April 2014. Originally, I never intended to release the game for any platforms other than PC. I suppose that, once the PC version of the game is released, I might look into the possibility of bringing the game to other platforms…but it’s honestly not a very high priority to me.
OR: The debug build of the game includes a lot of references to anime that include both tropes (for example, you can walk around with a piece of toast in your mouth) and characters (you can play as “Saitama” from One-Punch Man as an easter egg). What anime series do you consider to have had an influence the game and how did they have an impact?
YD: I don’t feel as though Yandere Simulator was heavily influenced by any specific anime in particular; instead, I would say that I’ve been influenced by anime in general. Yandere Sim contains a lot of popular anime concepts and clichés, but it doesn’t really draw most of its content or ideas from one source, or from a specific set of sources.
I don’t think that it’s necessary for the player to root for the protagonist. I don’t think that a protagonist has to be likable or relatable. A protagonist simply needs to be an avatar that acts out the player’s decisions.
OR: What are some other influences besides anime that has impacted your game and how did they impact the ongoing development and creation of Yandere Simulator?
YD: 90% of Yandere Simulator’s design was determined within the first month of the game’s development, when it was discussed frequently on a high-traffic message board. Since then, I’ve basically just been building the game that was described back in those old discussion threads from April 2014. Since then, I’ve added a few new concepts to the game that weren’t part of the original design – such as the cassette tapes that provide backstory, and the guidance counselor who doles out punishments for your actions – but most of the game’s development has simply been spent sticking to the plan decided upon back in April 2014.
In terms of game design, Yandere Simulator’s greatest influences are the Hitman series, the Persona series, and Rockstar’s Bully.
OR: What are some of the biggest challenges of creating a game by yourself that the average person might not realize or know about?
YD: This is a difficult question to answer, because I’m not sure how typical or atypical my personal experiences have been.
In my case, I’ve established a twice-a-month update schedule. If I were to stop updating twice per month, I would receive complaints and accusations of laziness. At this point in the game’s development, the only features that remain to be implemented are extremely complex features that require weeks to implement properly. In order to keep up my twice-a-month update schedule, I have to literally work every waking moment from the moment I sleep until the moment I fall asleep, with absolutely no spare time for anime, video games, or any of the hobbies that I once enjoyed.
At any point in time that I’m doing absolutely anything other than working on the game, zero progress is being made on the game. Many people can’t comprehend this idea, and send me pointless correspondence such as “Hi, how are you?” while not realizing that by distracting me from working on the game, they are actively sabotaging the game’s development. This is extremely frustrating.
OR: Yandere-Chan, as you said at one point, “is a monster” and is “incapable of feeling remorse”. How do you get players to both root for such an evil character and make her story to win Senpai’s love compelling without compromising her psychopathic tendencies?
YD: I don’t think that it’s necessary for the player to root for the protagonist. I don’t think that a protagonist has to be likable or relatable. A protagonist simply needs to be an avatar that acts out the player’s decisions. The player is fully welcome to eliminate rivals using non-lethal methods, meaning that the protagonist is only a monster or a psychopath if the player wants her to be. The protagonist is an empty vessel who is a reflection of the player’s desires.