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Behind the Scenes with Sentimental Trickster

Can you tell us a little about your background?
Before I started making Sentimental Trickster, I worked as an English teacher and a copywriter. Iím Polish, but Iíve always loved the English language. Some people say itís strange that I prefer to speak and write in English, but it just feels more natural to me. What defines me the most, though, is my love for manga and anime. Iím 30 years old and Iíve been watching anime since it was on TV. Yaoi is something I discovered a little bit later, in a series called Fushigi Yuugi. Iíve been captivated ever since. Still, itís not something I readily tell people since Poland is not a very tolerant country. Also, manga and anime are seen as very juvenile here. Even though my family never criticized my interests, they discouraged me from pursuing a professional career in this field. To tell you the truth, I didnít see such possibility either. I have one manga volume published, but I never expected it to bring me any financial gain.

When did you first have an idea for an original Visual Novel? And what made you decide to develop it?
The idea came to me a few months ago, when I got home from work one day and started thinking about the rest of my life. I realized that I didnít want to work for somebody else, but rather become independent. Also, while I enjoyed my copywriting job, I missed drawing. So, I thought I could combine the two. The idea of quitting my current job and risking so much scared me, but also gave me hope for a more fulfilling life. The final push was the success of visual novels on Kickstarter, especially yaoi and yuri titles. I thought that even if I worked alone, Iíd have a chance to receive funding.

Where did your characters come from? Were they inspired by people you know?
I wasnít thinking of any existing people when I was writing my characters. I was thinking of individuals I could fall in love with. Someone that would make me want to play every route to the very end. Realistically speaking, they are probably a mix of influences from many different anime/manga series Iíve seen. But I couldnít identify any particular anime characters. The only exception is the protagonist, Haru, as he was inspired a little bit by Aoba from DRAMAtical Murder.

Haru is an unusual uke. Did you want him to be something different than the typical?
Actually, the player will have a choice to play as seme or uke. When I was creating Haru, I wanted him to be like a real guy. Sure, he may look adorable, but heís not happy about it. He can worry about things and be awkward, but he can also tell you off if you push him too hard. Heís able to take care of himself. He knows how to fight, but dislikes violence. Overall, I wanted to create a character that would be difficult to pigeonhole.

How long did it take to develop the premise for Sentimental Trickster?
About a week or two. Once I decided that I wanted to make a visual novel, I had a very clear idea on the genre. I didnít feel confident enough to make my first visual novel a fantasy or sci-fi. I wanted it to play to my strengths. So I decided to create a comedy that still delves deep into human psychology. My manga series were always humorous and focused on the charactersí relationships.

How long did it take to complete the demo?
Since I had to learn Unity and the extension I chose to work in, the demo itself took about a month to make. The assets needed took about 5 months to make. It may seem like a long time, but I learned many new things in the process, including Blender, coloring backgrounds and cel-shading.

If it doesn't spoil anything, can you explain what Sentimental Trickster means?
At first it was meant to describe the main character. He was supposed to be sensitive but also play tricks on people. However, when I developed Haru and wrote his backstory, it wasnít logical to make him tease others this way anymore. But by this time I was quite attached to the title. When I thought more about it, I decided that it could describe life in general. Life can play tricks on you but also has its tender moments.

Will there be a sequel to Sentimental Trickster or will you create a whole new visual novel?
There definitely wonít be a sequel. The story ends conclusively and I feel that the characters deserve to live their lives happily (well, at least in the good ends). Next visual novel will be fantasy. Itíll be more challenging to make and I already have some ideas on the characters.

Will we see Haru and company in other media like webcomics or manga?
At this point, Iím not planning to make anything apart from the game. I guess it all depends on how popular these characters will become. If many players wish for something additional, Iíll consider it.

What advice to you have for artists who'd lie to follow in your footsteps?
Donít try to do everything at once. Game-making is a long process and youíll probably need to spend a lot of time learning new things. Donít rush. Remember to take a break once in a while. I know that time flies when youíre doing something you love, but you need to think about your health as well. Also, when things get difficult, think about the future. Think about all the people whoíll be happy to play your game. Think about all the praise and recognition youíll get. Imagine that youíre completely financially independent and wonít need to go to another job interview ever again. This should give you plenty of strength to carry on! ;