Camille answers some burning RisAmo questions
Please do not read this post if you haven’t beaten the game, as you will be utterly and horribly spoiled and it won’t be much fun for you to play RisAmo afterwards. :C There’s an interesting LP of the game going on now that you might want to check out if you’ve been on the fence about playing it… I believe they’re holding a vote on what to do in the post-prologue now. Auro and I are very amusedly watching the whole thing from a distance because that’s what we do. :D I’m also working busily on The Elevator, so that should probably be out today or tomorrow depending on how much sleep I’m willing to forego. I’m doing a fairly rough version just to present to my class first, but of course we’ll polish it up before releasing it to the general public.
Anyway, I’m going to be answering some RisAmo general, plot, and character-related questions that I’ve heard from people… Either through reviews, poll responses, or otherwise. Or ones I made up and just feel like talking about. So hopefully this gives people some more understanding of what went on in the story and answers some things that have been nagging at the backs of their minds. Feel free to contact either of us if you have more questions.
1. Did you and Auro make this game simply to troll otome game players? Was it supposed to be an April Fool’s Joke? Are you saying people who like “generic otome games” are stupid?
Did we want to troll people? Sure. We cackle maniacally at our computer screens whenever we see people get to the plot twist and respond with something along the lines of “WHAT?!?!” But we’re not saying that all generic otome games are stupid and that anyone who enjoys them are idiots. There are elements of romantic comedies that both of us find disturbing (blatant misogyny, mary sues everywhere, and bad decisions made by pretty much all characters), but these things are supposed to be a guilty pleasure that you don’t think about too much. Just because you like the stuffy Mr. Darcy kind of characters in otome games doesn’t mean you want your actual real life significant other to treat you like crap. I purchase and play a lot of otome games both in English and Japanese–I’ve played every Starry Sky game that’s been released and I think that franchise is the pinnacle of generic otome game. Yet I still enjoy the Starry Sky games a lot. So no, we don’t think otome fans are stupid; we ourselves are both otome fans and it’s otome games that got us into making VNs to begin with. We just wanted people to consider another point of view a little bit, to challenge their ways of thinking, and possibly also surprise them. (I think we at least succeeded at the last part across the board) Still, I don’t think of our game as an April Fool’s Joke because that would be saying that Ethan’s issue with not wanting to be a burden, Angelina’s uncertainty about her place in society, Liam’s deep–and yet also dark–feelings for his best friend, and Laura’s inferiority complex are also jokes… And even if the characters are fictional, I think those stories are as real as you or me.
2. Are you aware of the fact that Erewhon is an anagram for “nowhere”?
Yes, indeed. It wasn’t really meant to be symbolism or anything, though I suppose people can interpret things however they want.
3. Josh is a really boring name! Why is Pierre the only one with a fake name? Why did you choose the name “Josh”?
I’m sorry you think his name is boring. :C In order to play up the generic angle, we picked all of the characters’ names from the top 100 most-used baby names in America. Pierre’s the only one with a fake name because the rest of the names work just fine. However, the producers needed a princely French character and “Josh” is not a very princely French name–so they changed it and instructed his co-workers to even refer to him as Pierre in their off-hours. No wonder it stuck after a year!
4. Why is the prologue so long? And why do you call the other part the “post-prologue”?
Well, I actually tried to make the prologue as short as possible and some people already thought it seemed rushed. I don’t think I could have written it to be any shorter without the romantic elements seeming totally fake. For the post-prologue… Some have suggested we simply call it “the real game”, but somehow that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I suppose the prologue isn’t really canon, but it’s still part of the game. It’s 20,000 words of stuff and to dismiss it all as unnecessary/fake feels wrong. I think during development, we personally differentiated between the two versions of each character by saying “This scene is where post!Ethan interacts with…” so after a while it just stuck. So there’s not really a deeper meaning to it, that’s just the way it is.
5. So what did Josh say to Ethan when he drunk-dialed him?
Mostly dirty jokes and asking Ethan to come over and help him finish the rest of the beer. Though he slurred his words a lot, so Ethan couldn’t even really understand him half the time. As you might have noticed, Ethan’s an innocent soul, so he was really embarrassed–both for himself and for Josh–about the phone call.
6. So Josh has been acting in otome games for a long time, right? How did the players not notice him being in multiple games? What other characters has Josh played in the past?
Hahaha well. Look up the character Hibiki from the otome game Hanaoni and tell me he’s not the exact same character as Kazama from Hakuouki. And how many dark-haired guys with glasses do we have in otome games? We were making a subtle poke at how characters get reused a lot. I hope it’s obvious that the boys’ fake personalities were based on the three most common love interest tropes, as well. (the prince, the jock, and the megane) Josh has played a number of different characters ranging from an actual prince, to the popular guy at school, to a tortured artist. He’s also actually played a delinquent once and enjoyed that role since he basically got to be himself. He did a lot of high school games until he hit the age of 20 and started looking a bit too old to be a high schooler. But for the most part, thanks to his nice blonde hair and blue eyes, Josh has played the popular, princely kind of character in a lot of different games.
7. How does the “love energy” thing work? Does all of Erewhon’s energy come from otome games?
If you’ve seen the movie “Monsters, Inc.”, it’s sort of like that. I didn’t put much thought into the actual scientific processes, but if you look at the picture of the planet, you’ll see this pink glow to it… That’s the love energy surrounding the planet. It forms like a second atmosphere that protects the planet from its dying sun. Anything that makes people fall in love contributes to the energy supply. Of course, plenty of people fall in love all on their own, too. I wasn’t very clear in the writing, but no, otome games are not the sole source of the planet’s power. Considering how niche the fandom is, I don’t think the planet would do very well on that alone. Josh has a few friends who work in the eroge sector and they reaaaally don’t enjoy it. Josh gets annoyed enough just talking to a fake person all day.
8. Why does nobody seem to care that Josh beat that guy half to death?
Well, it doesn’t come up all that often in the story, but Josh used to be a real delinquent. He tries to keep his temper in check most of the time now, but he can fly into a rage whenever the people he cares about get hurt. So let’s just say that that wasn’t the first time something like that has happened. Liam and Ethan have known Josh for years, so something like that doesn’t bother them as much as it probably should. And the guy had enough energy to get up and run off, so he wasn’t that hurt. Of course, Josh did get his pay docked so that they could pay the guy damages and some hush money (behind the scenes), but he’s on contract and is a very in-demand game actor, so of course they’re not going to fire him over that. Who would play Pierre if they did?
9. What happens to Liam and Josh after Liam’s friendship/bad ending?
I like to think that Josh and Liam both end up happy even after this happens. Maybe a few years down the line, once it doesn’t hurt so much anymore, Liam can come back and be friends with Josh again. Do I think they can ever be best friends again? No. You don’t simply get over a deep, 10-year one-sided love… But Liam is strong and confident enough that I think he can eventually be happy with someone else and in the end, he’s just happy to see Josh happy. In all the post-prologue routes, Liam quits his job (as a waiter/busser) at Ristorante. I think that this is his way of distancing himself from Josh. So even though he is a little obsessed with Josh and very much in love with him, he doesn’t cause trouble once Josh goes for other people. He even helps out on the Josh/Ethan route. The bad ending is just a worst-case scenario where he has already quit, but Josh is still being insensitive/oblivious and clinging to him “because they’re best friends”. Liam, knowing that they can’t be together the way he wants and hurt by this, finally ends things instead of just fading out of view slowly. I imagine he would need a very long time to himself after that because he’s normally the type that just laughs things off instead of showing how he really feels. The bad ending is probably the most genuine/honest you ever see Liam in the entire game. Josh would also need a long time to get over it, but he’s naturally more optimistic, so I think it would be much easier for him. So yeah, the bad ending is just terrible for Liam. It pained me to write it and I’m glad (and yet also sad) that so many people have responded to it like they have.
10. Did you mean for Ethan’s post-prologue path to mirror his prologue path?
If you notice, there are quite a few parallels between the prologue and post-prologue in terms of scenes and dialogues. For example, Ethan gets sick in both of his routes basically due to studying too much. However, the aftermath and the reasons surrounding his illnesses are different. I guess I was trying to show that while most rom-com scenes draw from real life to a degree, there’s definitely a way of doing things that makes it a bit more touching and a bit less cheesy. Though honestly, I think the post-prologue routes are quite cheesy in their own ways… In my head, all of the friendship endings are canon and then Josh develops his feelings for one of his friends later. So if we did do an extension/sequel, all the routes would be sequels to their respective friendship endings, I think. (like Starry Sky ~after Autumn~)
11. So Liam is explicitly stated as being gay. Is Josh gay? How about the other characters?
Actually, Liam is 100% Josh-sexual. I don’t think he’d ever truly be able to fall in love with anybody else. That’s just the way it is. Josh is the type that doesn’t really care about a person’s gender, so he’s definitely more of a pansexual. If he likes someone, he likes them–plain and simple. Ethan is bi, but leans more towards girls in general. He likes Josh, but wouldn’t be terribly heartbroken to be rejected… He’d get on with it after not too long. Moving right along, Laura is straight and Angelina is also gender-blind/pansexual. In fact, I can totally see Angelina settling down with another woman and rejecting societal norms for females completely.
12. What other ideas did you have that didn’t make it into the game?
Gah. If I could have managed it in a month, the post-prologue would have been twice as long. I feel like things were really rushed and I wasn’t 100% satisfied with how Angelina’s route turned out, for example. The routes I wrote first, to me, are fresher than the ones I wrote towards the end of the month. I would’ve loved to include more scenes with just the five of them hanging out and being friends. Originally, the post-prologue wasn’t supposed to have any romance at all, so I thought up several scenes of them talking in the pub or watching movies at Josh’s apartment or messing around at Ristorante. Sadly, all that was thrown out the window and I cut things down to the bare minimum that I could hope to accomplish within the month. We toyed with the idea of a story where a Lily* player gets sucked into the game and has to get to know the characters all over again. Or Lily* being a robot. Or Laura being the main character. I wanted to talk more about the other planets and have some more sci-fi elements, but again we were constrained by the time limit. Well, hopefully you can look forward to some more interesting things in our later projects.