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I Choose Paradise

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A member registered Jun 05, 2019 · View creator page →

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In Last Meal at Cafe Mori, you play as a bartender working at a cafe at the end of the world. Both playful and thoughtful, the game was well-received and placed second in the Spooktober Jam. A notable feature of the game is the voice-acted cast for the patrons of the cafe, whose personalities are charming, wacky, and at points, bittersweet. Katy, the creator, is now hosting the Winter VN Jam.

I caught up with Katy to look back on her creative process in making Last Meal for Cafe Mori. 

How did you get involved with the Spooktober VN jam?

I'm active in the DevTalk server, which announced the jam, so that's how I discovered it.

How did you meet the other members of your team, and how did you choose them for this project?

I had worked with Mike, Chintsy, Kristi, and Lunaterra previously on the VN Dear Devere and wanted to work with them again.

Tavian and I met through a VN webinar. I worked with him before on a cover song and he voiced that he'd enjoy collaborating with me again.

Coda is a friend I met through DevTalk. We're already collaborating on another project (which meant I knew I enjoy working with her), so I really hoped that she would be available during September to voice the witch.

Cody I met when he was hosting several Jackbox games. His voice has a strong energy and I wrote Jack with Cody in mind.

Emma posted in DevTalk saying that she was looking to collaborate. I listened to her demo reel and saw that she would be a good fit with the Gargoyle.

Speck, Feinerine, Resurrected Hobbyist, and Claudia approached me after I made a post looking for a programmer and playtester.

How did you come up with the concept for Last Meal at Cafe Mori? 

I think Cafe Mori came from a bunch of inspirations. Discworld's characterization of Death, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, a visual novel I played from NaNoRenO 2020 called Cafe in the Clouds, and various "bartender sim" games.

But I think the biggest influence was a 1998 film called After Life, a very quiet, thoughtful film, which posed the question, what memory would you want to keep forever?

How did the final version of Last Meal at Cafe Mori differ from your original concept?

In the original concept, I had an idea for a wererat character, but ended up cutting them and combining them with the Gargoyle to scale down the game.

The artwork also ended up less thickpaint-y than I had pictured it in my head. I wish I had had more time to practice the art style, but my laptop's drive broke a week or so before Spooktober, leaving me to use pen and paper concept art while looking for a replacement and trying to recover backups of my projects, including concept stuff I had done for Spooktober.

What was the most challenging aspect of this project for you?

I think the most challenging part for me would be audio editing. It's a task that I can't do while listening to a podcast or video, which I enjoy doing.

What takeaways or insights can you share from your experience making Last Meal at Cafe Mori?

It's okay to make a story that is bittersweet and has problems the main character can't fix.

What can you tell us about your future projects? 

Currently, I'm working on collaborative visual novel projects. One is Winning Hearts, an otome game about professional wrestling. Kristi is the writer.

Another is MaFAEa, a supernatural story about a villainous protagonist who tries to make deals with the fae in Ireland and meets the Dullahan. Coda and NiA are the character and background artist, respectively.

And the third is a Frankenstein adventure game that's set in an alternate timeline from the original book. I've never made an adventure game before and would love to, as they're very nostalgic to me.

In the further future, I'd really love to make The Butler Detective, an episodic detective game where you solve different cases with each episode.

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Play Last Meal at Cafe Mori for free on itch.io, and follow Katy on twitter for updates on her future projects!

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Hi all! I posted this in the discord, but wanted to post here as well for maximum visibility!

I thought it might be fun to make a silly, memey visual novel for the jam! Think "Hatoful Boyfriend" or the tank dating sim! 

About Me: Hello! I've produced, written, and coded several visual novels with various teams, mostly for game jams. Feel free to go to my profile and check out my past games, or click here to check out my most recent game! I'm very familiar with Ren'py and am pretty confident we could knock out a silly, short, and fun VN that would give the Yogs a good laugh.

If you're interested, hit me up! Looking for an artist (or multiple!), a programmer (Python/Ren'py experience preferred but honestly Ren'py is extremely simple!), a sound designer, and whoever else wants to help out! A bigger team would allow us to accomplish more in 48 hours, so don't hesitate to reach out.

Beginners welcome : )

Hi all! We were thinking of selling stickers of a popular character from our game on storenvy.com, and were just wondering if it's okay it's advertise that on our game page. 

Our games are all free, and we honestly just want to make stickers and get them to people - it's not really for profit. Charging a few dollars per sticker is the only way we're able to send people the stickers.

If anyone can link any examples of other game pages that advertise merch, we'd greatly appreciate it!

Thanks. 

WereHouse stands out as one of the more cheerful entries to the Spooktober jam. You play as a human who gets roped into organizing a haunted house with three actual monsters, each of whom is charming, fun, and, if you play your cards right, maybe interested in dating you. Featuring a high level of polish and a lengthy script with three separate routes, it's obvious that this is not the team's first rodeo. I caught up with Madi (aka timepatches), the project lead, to get some insight into the process of creating WereHouse. 

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How did you get involved with the Spooktober VN jam?

Pretty sure I saw either a twitter ad or a Lemmasoft post, and then checked out the details in the Devtalk+ discord server. I'm a chronic lurker in big servers (I find them really intimidating), so I'd never really been active in Devtalk+ before, but it was really nice to be in the jam chat, and the community made me feel really encouraged to actually participate.

How did you meet the other members of your team, and how did you choose them for this project?

The entire team for WereHouse is people I've worked with before! I try not to do that too often since it's nice to work with new people, but I must admit it was really fun to have a team full of friends, and I wanted to make sure the team was people I was familiar with so that I could trust everybody to get things done in time for the deadline.

Jane (writer) and Shar (CGs) have worked with me before on my upcoming release DemiDato, I've commissioned the sprite artist Devin for a lot of D&D and character art in the past, and the other writer Megan is an IRL friend who I've written with for years (though she's new to VNs!)

(Credit: inkymaw)

How did you come up with the concept for WereHouse? 

I come up with my best ideas when I should be sleeping, and WereHouse was no exception! I was skimming the Halloween Wikipedia article before bed for jam ideas, and spotted the section about haunted houses (as well as the part about barmbrack cakes, which made its way into WH's last scene). Then the concept pretty much exploded into my head fully formed as soon as I shut my eyes. Was way too excited to sleep after that, so by 5am I had an outline, Morag and Dori's character ideas, and a list of team members I wanted to invite ^^'

How did the final version of WereHouse differ from your original concept?

It's not that far off the concept to be honest! Part of that is due to scope, for sure - since WereHouse is pretty big for a game jam game, we simply didn't have much room to deviate.

The game is pretty much just as I imagined it in the concept stages, though it did turn out WAY longer than I expected. (The route I wrote for the game is the longest by far, and I wrote the common route, so this is absolutely my fault haha)

What was the most challenging aspect of this project for you?

Probably a tie between managing a team for a jam (I've participated in game jams before, but only solo) and actually getting the script written and directed in time. The sprite directing in particular was pretty down to the wire, since we were still writing during the last week of the jam, oops ^^

(Credit: _yapsharlene)

What takeaways or insights can you share from your experience making WereHouse?

OUTLINES. I tend to write more by the seat of my pants, with a pretty spartan outline, but in a jam when you have very limited time, it's worth it to be more prescriptive in your outlines, particularly when you're writing with other people (and especially since outlines can be written prejam).

Also, just a small thing, but I used a program called Q10 to write in for the latter half (I usually write straight into Google Docs). It helped a lot to eliminate distractions, has an inbuilt sprint timer (so handy), and the extra little nuggets of dopamine from the little typewriter noises it makes as you write made a huge difference, haha.

I'd been struggling to actually join another game jam since I wrote When Aster Falls for Maximum Monster Month in 2018, so this jam has really put some wind back into my sails as a writer, and as a producer.

What can you tell us about your future projects? 

Apart from DemiDato: Monster Dating Show, which should be coming out relatively soon (we're still working on art assets before the final push to a release date), I'm noodling with a few ideas for projects - hopefully the next one will be longer than anything I've done so far, with more gameplay mechanics, but that's all I'll say for now ;)

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Play WereHouse for free on itch.io, and follow Madi on Twitter for updates on her future projects! 

(Credit: inkymaw)

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If you've been following the Spooktober jam, you've probably dropped into TundraFlame's Twitch stream at some point. One of the unique elements to this game jam has been the incentives for streamers to participate, allowing the entirety of October for streamers to get a slot on the official streaming schedule or to submit a recording for one of the many prizes. Tundraflame, having streamed Spooktober jam games every day in October so far, has become a beloved member of the community and an expert at bringing creepy visual novels to life. 

I caught up with TundraFlame to chat about his participation in the jam and to look back at the many games he's played so far. 

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How did you get involved with the Spooktober VN jam? 

My manager happens to be personal friends with a developer participating in the jam and wanted to get me in to stream the games once he found out about the streamer portion of the jam. I read up on it and jumped at the chance to be a part of the event. 

When and why did you decide to stream all of the jam games? 

At first it was sort of a pipe dream. 28 games in 30 days. Then the deadline was extended and the number of games jumped to 45. At that point I realized it would be difficult, but possible to still do and my doubt showed a little but I wanted to rise to the challenge. Then I played Fishy on day 2. I was hooked. How could such an amazing game be made in 30 days? Then it became a "need" rather than a want or a challenge. 

What has surprised you the most about the jam games you've played so far? 

Almost all of them have the polish and feel of games that took months, yet they all took less than 30 days. It's one thing to make a good visual novel, it's another to make a great visual novel, with deep themes and story elements, original music, and sometimes even voice acting, all from the ground up, in such a short time limit. 

Having played a significant portion of the games, what advice would you offer to future Spooktober jam developers? 

Don't be afraid to ask for help. The only games I've found that I had issues getting through were games that could have easily been fixed with a quick once or twice over by a second pair of eyes to check for simple bugs and/or grammar spelling mistakes. Even if you want to challenge yourself to make the entire game by yourself, you should really consider an editor for spelling and grammar. Even the best authors on the planet have them, and there's a reason for that. 

What has been the most rewarding part of streaming for the Spooktober VN jam? 

Meeting and interacting with others who share a love for the visual novel medium. I'd even go so far as to count some among my list of friends. Maybe during the next game jam that DevTalk runs I can participate as more than just a streamer after the fact. I'd love that opportunity. 

What are your streaming plans for the future? 

I stream every single night at 8pm eastern, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. November will be a full month since Robotics;Notes and its sequel just released, plus I still have to finish the Heaven's Feel route in Fate Stay/Night, so those three will keep me preoccupied, probably into the new year. 

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Follow TundraFlame on Twitch to catch his Spooktober streams, and follow him on Twitter for updates on his streaming schedule!

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Devil's Door is a horror visual novel set in the charmingly terrifying town of Marbrooke. It features an ensemble cast of creepy characters, brought to life by a team of seven voice actors. I talked to the solo dev, Yamyolks, about their background, their process, and how the heck they managed to produce a fully voice acted visual novel in under a month. 

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How did you get involved with the Spooktober VN jam?

Spooktober was the first jam I’d ever participated in, while looking for a chance for a collaborative visual novel project through Lemma Soft forums.

How did you come up with the concept for Devil's Door, and how did the final version of the game differ from the original concept?

Originally, the concept was based on a classic trick or treat system - only that everyone at the door were real monsters. It was meant to be a very cute and light run through a town filled with vampires, dullahans, and devils.

Devil’s Door then expanded to a horror drama as I invested more time in certain characters and the stakes were raised in terms of plot while a darker tale began to unfold.

How did your background in art and storyboarding affect your process?

The best part about creating a visual novel is designing the characters - and that’s where lots of my energy went to during this process. I also imagined it closer to a movie than a book so adding in animated accents were a must. 

What was the most challenging aspect of this project for you?

By far, learning to implement voice acting was the most challenging part of the whole project. I’d never done it before or even played very much with audio and thus didn’t realize the amount of hours of listening to takes, splicing and snipping files, and inputting them in their correct positions would take.

Devil's Door is completely voice acted. Why did you choose to use voice actors, and how did you select them? How does using this level of voice actors change your process in making a visual novel?

Originally, I only planned to have the main monster voiced at all! But then as more and more skilled voice actors came on the project to lend their time, I realized it would be best to have the full game voiced. In fitting dialogue with audio, I even redid some sprites to match the energy that my fantastic voice actors put forth!

What did you learn from your experience making Devil's Door?

The lessons I’ve learned from completing Devil’s Door are invaluable. It is my first finished project and to imagine so much work was done in a month is insane to me. More than anything, I realized the importance of maintaining balance and a good schedule on a project so as to not run yourself into the dirt on crunch time.

What can you tell us about your future projects? 

I have a visual novel I’d been working on early this year that will be given a huge makeover with everything I’ve recently learned. Rebranded as “These Wicked Schemes”, it’s a passion project for which I aim to turn into a full fledged, fully voiced, and partially animated journey through a land full of magic and wonder. My dream is to one day push forth a funding campaign that will grant “These Wicked Schemes” the opportunity to become a grand project many will be able to enjoy and return to time and time again.

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Play Devil's Door for free on itch.io, and follow Yamyolks on Twitter for updates on future projects!

LOL yeah, we've had super varied times in terms of story. Reading it out loud definitely lengthens the playtime. Maybe I should bump that up to 30 minutes? I've seen people blast through in 10, so I'm trying not to overpromise. Anyway, thanks so much for doing a playthrough! We're happy that people are enjoying it! : ) 

Aww, thanks! : ) If it's any consolation, there are no jumpscares! 

Thank you friend! We put a lot of love into this game, and we're super happy that people are enjoying it. <3

Wow, thanks so much! The art is super good, Kayla slayed!!! And yeah, it's been fun to see different people's reactions to sea creatures. Some people were like "I love the ocean! I don't find this scary at all!" and then one streamer was like "SEA MONSTERS ARE MY ONLY FEAR" so it's been a ride! XD Thanks for playing : ) 

This game is great! One of my favorites in the bundle for racial justice. I've spent a lot of time in it, and since no one's mentioned it, I'd like to shoutout the easter egg that I recently discovered after playing for a while. ; )

https://i-choose-paradise.itch.io/flourish We'd like to submit our game! : D 

Hi all! I'm looking to join or form a team for the jam! I'm a game writer, but have also produced & programmed my past few games. Check out my latest here! https://i-choose-paradise.itch.io/flourish

I'd love join forces with an artist to make a funny visual novel! I also got sound covered, have a few composer/game sound design friends. 

Alternately, I'm happy to jump on board as a writer or support production person if any programmers out there would like to take point. 

Good jamming, everyone! : ) 

AWWWW thanks! We put our hearts into this : ) 

Ah okay, understood. Does itch.io send out 1099s? I remember getting a 1099 from Spreadshirt for the $13 I made uploading my designs back in the day. 

Will check with local laws about taxes. I live in CA and have paid ~25-30% on a 1099 before, but that was for a full-time living wage. I think the percentage should be less on a small amount. 

Thanks! 

How does tax work with itch.io payouts (using the 'collected by itch.io, paid later' method)? Does itch.io take tax from the payouts before I receive it, or should I set aside money from the payouts to pay in taxes next year? If it's the latter, how should I determine how much to save for taxes? For example, if my current payout is $100, how much should I set aside for taxes? 

Context: I live in the U.S., and I doubt I'll make over $400 on itch.io this year. 


Thanks!

awww thanks! yeah it really has all the emotions : , ) we did our best! and yep, the art is incredible - Kayla killed it.