How Ristorante Amore was born

A story/timeline about how RisAmo came about… Some snippets from our discussions and whanot. Spoilers for the game follow! Beware of tl;dr!

Camille: I just got this really nutty idea for a VN xD Have to get it out of my system~

When you first play the VN, it seems like a typical cliché otome with three love interests: a tsundere, a yandere, and a really pretty guy who crossdresses sometimes. Each guy has two endings, one normal and one “best”/romantic.

After you beat the game at least once (it’s pretty short) it unlocks the real game. That is, a VN inside a VN. XD Turns out that when a girl/the heroine plays the game, the three guys are basically just reading from a script. They have their own personalities and depth beyond what’s shown in the otome game. When the game is turned off, they lead their own lives in that digital world. When the game is turned on again, they go back to following their script.

A lot of the scenes are them poking fun at the otome genre (the tsundere is like “Do girls really like it when a guy is so annoying and dishonest?? I feel like if I met a real guy like me, I’d want to punch him….”) and cultivating their own personal relationships.

Not sure if this part of the game would be very romantic… More about the three guys and their friendship. I was thinking it might either be BL or them going after the “heroine’s female friend characters”. Also had the thought of the heroine being sucked into the game or somehow witnessing their secret “lives” on accident one day. XD But somehow I feel like that would be less fun. I guess we could allow the guys to pursue both BL/hetero relationships to make things interesting. Probably would be only 2 female friends (otome games tend to be lacking in the female friends department) anyway.

This was back in November of last year: the very first idea for RisAmo just as it popped into my head! It’s kind of funny how different the final result ended up being. Now I regret that we didn’t have a cross-dressing character in there somewhere… Maybe in another game? ;D Anyway, after I brought it up, Auro thought it’d be a good idea for NaNoRenO. We ended up discussing things further and went with these concepts for the main cast:

Camille: I think three popular otome MC tropes are:

– the princely type
– the emo guy with a dark past
– the really energetic, happy go lucky guy

When you think of any otome game, it’s highly likely that it will have all three of these, at least. So we can take these and mess with them:

– the princely type -> actually a really strong guy who likes getting into fights; spends a lot of his time on hair and skincare (reluctantly) to keep up his looks “You think it’s easy taking care of this long, blonde hair?!”
– the emo guy with a dark past -> actually on great terms with his family, very optimistic, zen kind of guy who thinks you shouldn’t dwell on the past too much; spends a lot of his time reading manga and watching movies to figure out how “emo guys” are supposed to behave, but this depresses him “Why can’t these guys just get over themselves? ):”
– the really energetic guy -> actually really lazy, hates sports, hates moving around too much; as soon as the game is turned off, he’s gasping for breath and really tired from talking all :D :D-like and running around “I have to be everywhere in order to save the heroine… How am I supposed to keep up?!” (when you read shoujo manga and stuff, every time the heroine’s in trouble, the guy just magically appears but in reality he actually has to tail her and run great distances to find her XD and this tires him out)

Auro: I can imagine that if you had two female friends, one would be the popular and outgoing one and the other would be the shy one. And then we give them totally different personalities. I would love to have a shy sweet one really be super sarcastic. I love reading sarcastic characters XD They are too much fun. I can imagine the characters poking fun at her for acting all shy when she actually has a sharp tongue. She would have fantastic death stare and wouldn’t take shit from anyone. Not in the violent way, but more she stops being around them because they are not worth her time. I can imagine the popular girl getting on well with the guys on a friend level *brofist* I think to impress her you would have to work hard. She would probably go for a down to earth yet confident guy who will be a good partner (they kind of share the dominance). They would all get together and have a beer at the end of the day and bitch about their work lol.

So you can blame Auro for the bar scenes since they were her idea. We did veer somewhat off-topic at times during our discussions:

Camille: This makes me wonder which of the three guys should be the MC… Somehow I think it’d be good if it was the prince guy since he seems more active, but I wonder. XD What do you think?

Auro: I think the prince type too, mostly because I can imagine him being paired with everyone and it’s a too good of an opportunity to miss to have an MC like THAT. Plus, I think he would be the natural ‘leader’ of the group.

Camille: Which is funny because in these otome games, the prince type is usually one of the “supporting” guys. The emo/bad boy/jerk guy is always at the center of everything for some reason. xD Good for him getting to be the hero this time around!!

Auro: That’s cause he is usually too nice to be interesting (that’s why I kind of like Azuma in La Corda D’Oro, it made him waaaaaay more interesting). You need a little bit of conflict and personality there. I don’t know why the emo/jerk guy is always a favourite. I generally dislike them. I usually go for the funny sweet guy because they usually care more and aren’t likely to depress the hell out of me.

Camille: The thing with the emo/jerk guy is just that it’s so overdone. Without fail, the story goes like this:

– jerk is mean to you because he is depressed and wants to push everyone away
– jerk falls in love with you and is MEANER to you because he ~doesn’t want to hurt you~ or some crap like that
– you finally get together, but he’s still kinda mean because he doesn’t know how to treat you
– that thing he was depressed about comes back to bite him and he pushes you away by being EVEN MORE MEAN
– you cling to him so much that he eventually gives in and somehow you live happily ever after

You can see it coming from a mile away and it’s just incredibly annoying to me. I never like those emo/jerk guys in otome games. ): I usually go for the more peculiar side characters.

Auro: Plus, why would anyone put up with that crap? Why in god’s name would you want to be around someone who is mean to you! It comes across as such a bad case of… I don’t know… female reliance or something. The heroine just turns out to be clingy and that.

Camille: I understand people have issues sometimes but when a guy treats you like crap 24/7, the answer is not to cling to him, lol. The answer is to dump his sorry butt and find someone who will treat you right. :|

Auro: Exactly! Surely there can be a dark past thing going on without a guy being emo about it. What about the one who is extra nice to make up for it so people won’t leave him? Or the guy who acts like he has a reason to be all moody, but doesn’t really? The normal line is just too typical. Have you played DA2? Fenris was kind of like that.

Camille: OH MY GOD, FENRIS. I wanted so much to like him. Really, I did. I tried really hard, too. BUT AUUUUGH HE WAS JUST SO ANNOYING. T_T Actually I disliked all of the DA2 characters that were dateable. (Anders was just barely tolerable at times) The ones you couldn’t date ended up being the most interesting. :|

Auro: Haha, I felt like that too. I didn’t completely hate them all, and some of the banter was fun to listen to, but there was an awful lot of eye rolling going on and I really wanted some more aggressive choices at certain points to slap some sense into the characters. That point where Fenris sleeps with you AND THEN BREAKS UP WITH YOU really really made me want an option of “ D:< *throw him out window*”

Camille: I would’ve loved a “throw Fenris out the window” option. xD Come on, Hawke!

After coming up with the characters’ basic personalities and histories, we came up with their names. Pierre and Angelina were the easiest. Ethan could have been Edward, but Auro objected. Liam also could have been James. Laura’s name was the hardest… We thought about naming her Chloe or Madison, but ultimately settled on Laura.

The synopsis and name of the game followed:

Camille: “Lily Kingston has just graduated from college and is trying to find a new job! Lost and alone, she’s helped out by her uncle, who is the owner of a fancy Italian restaurant. She begins working there as a waitress even though she has no experience. Clumsy and yet endearing, she tries hard at her new job and is often helped by her attractive male co-workers… Could one of them win her heart or will their secrets threaten a budding relationship…?”

Wow, that is quite possibly some of the most cliché couple of sentences that I’ve ever written.

Omg I just. Pierre. I love that name. XD I can just see him beating people up and his enemies screeching “Curse you Pierreeeeeeeee!!” And then he just goes home and drinks beer while watching TV. xD

OMG “Ristorante Amore” (or something along those lines) should be the name of the game. It would be hilariously cliche and awesome.

Auro: Why do I feel so evil planning this >:D The synopsis sounds spot on and Pierre is just… so good lol. I can imagine Pierre saying something snarky to Laura and her turning around going ‘What was that, Pierreeeeee?~’ I bet he would hate that name with every fibre of his being.

Ristorante Amore is so win! I can imagine it written across the screen in that cursive writing, maybe a couple love hearts thrown in for good measure hahahaha.

We ended up giving Pierre his “real” name later, but the corniness of the name Pierre still stands. After this, we pretty much put the idea away and continued working on BCM until mid-February when we decided to pull up this idea and start thinking about it again in preparation for NaNoRenO’s start in March. We came up with these basic descriptions for each character:

– Prince / Pierre Beaumont
(23 years old) Pierre is the cliché princely love interest. His game persona is very nice, angelic, and calm. He seems to never get angry and never has a mean thing to say to Lily. His real personality, however, is the complete opposite. He’s actually a chain-smoking delinquent type who has a hot temper and is quick to take offense. When Lily is not around, he constantly starts fights with rude patrons or with drunks on the street and such. Acting as his game persona is very stressful for him as a result because his natural reactions would be to yell at the heroine and berate her for all of her mistakes. In order to keep up his beautiful hair and skin, he has to wake up at 4AM to start his skin and haircare routines, which further adds to his resentment of the game heroine when she’s not actually around. Pierre is very justice-minded and hates people/things that are unfair or dishonest. Though he may complain a lot and argue with them, he cares a lot for his friends Ethan and Liam and would go to great lengths to ensure their well-being.

– Energetic Guy / Liam Tennyson
(23 years old) Liam is the cliché jock love interest. His game persona is energetic, lively, and upbeat. He can always be found running around and is the guy that does all the heavy lifting and whatnot at the restaurant. Liam may act a little dim, but it’s obvious he cares about Lily and supports her. Once again, his real personality is the complete opposite. Liam is extremely lazy, selfish, and fairly apathetic about things that don’t directly pertain to him. He is truly strong and athletic, but when the game’s turned off, he will do just the bare minimum to keep up his muscle tone and spend the rest of his time lazing around playing videogames. He’s also very intelligent and only pretends to be ditzy. He is the type that gets bored easily and once he’s made a decision, he can’t be swayed, especially if people are trying to get him to do something that requires him to move. Liam has been friends with Pierre since their childhood, so he knows Pierre’s personality very well. As a result, he often mooches off of Pierre and takes advantage of his friend’s kindness in minor ways for his own benefit.

– Emo Guy / Ethan Merton
(21 years old) Rounding out the male trio is Ethan, the cliché tsundere love interest. His game persona is quiet, angsty, and quite rude to the heroine. It’s assumed, however, that deep down he actually loves the Lily and his rough exterior is just a way to keep himself from falling in love because of his sad past rife with betrayal. In reality, of course, Ethan is actually the lone nice guy of the group and his sad past was completely fabricated for the game. He is very well-adjusted and struggles with understanding/portraying the “tsundere” trope as he’s the type that prefers to be honest and upfront with people. (though politely) He is a genuine nice guy who is used to being the mediator between Liam and Pierre. Because the two of them have such strong personalities compared to his, it’s a running joke that Ethan’s real persona is too plain in comparison, but he is a necessary part of the group that helps keeps the peace.

– Popular Girl / Angelina Adams
(23 years old) In the game, Angelina is the antagonizing female patron. She comes from a rich family and often comes to the restaurant in order to hit on Pierre, her prince. She is rich, sophisticated, and popular–seemingly everything that Lily is not. In reality, Angelina–simply “Lina” to the rest of the cast–is a sensible and practical person as well as a hard worker. When the game is turned off, she actually works at the restaurant as the accountant. In these instances, she appears more plainly, honestly not caring for make-up or fashions much at all like her fake persona does. She prefers not to stand out and is actually quite shy. In order to speak haughtily and viciously to the heroine, Lina has to listen to self-help confidence CDs every night, as she is naturally less confrontational than she appears. Despite how she acts in the fake game routes, she (at first) professes that she has no interest in Pierre at all since they’ve known each other for years.

– Shy Girl / Laura Baker
(21 years old) In the game, Laura is the other waitress on staff and is extremely shy. She is almost as clumsy as Lily and is Lily’s only real friend in the game. She also harbors a crush on Liam, however, loving him for his upbeat and outgoing personality that helped her when she was going through hard times. In reality, she has no romantic interest in Liam because they’re actually cousins. She was picked for this role after drawing lots with some other girls around her age. She tried to refuse, but was forced to take the role. Luckily her fake persona is shy and so she never actually acts on her “feelings” for Liam at any time. She and her cousin actually often fight (mostly over his laziness and inability to do anything) and barely get along at all. Laura has a very strong, independent personality unlike how she appears in the game and has great coordination. She is a second degree black belt in taekwondo and an amazing cook. She greatly dislikes people who are useless or don’t try to help themselves.

The first part of the game that was really finished was actually the UI, which we left up to Lazcht as usual. She finished it all pretty quickly since we had a deadline to work with. Auro and I tweaked the PSDs by passing them back and forth (kind of like design tennis) until we were happy with them. This was something we worked on continuously throughout the first week and a half or so of NaNoRenO. Auro handled all of the character designs herself, which she already detailed in another post. This was also the one and only time we’ve had a real disagreement, which was on whether or not Liam should have facial hair. XD But we’re both boring compromisers, so rather than us butting heads over it, Liam ended up with stubble some of the time.

I started writing the story outlines on the last day in February, but in Australia it was March 1st, so that’s what we went with… 8D To start out, I created flowcharts for each route that basically looked like this (click to enlarge):

I was discussing some things with Carosene and Kura at this time, too, and I think it was one of them that proposed the tagline: “Find the Italian restaurant dreamboat of your dreams!” It ended up being shortened to “Find the dreamboat of your dreams!” and stuck onto the website layout. I had a lot of trouble writing the prologue routes because of how cheesy and illogical they were at times:

“Ethan and I aren’t exactly on the best terms, but that’s all the more reason why I should seek him out. If we could just get to know each other better, I’m sure he’d come to like me.”

“I know that deep down, he’s a kind person. He could have said much worse things to me than he has.”

Camille: Lily logic… “Well he hasn’t stabbed me or spit on me yet, so he must be a pretty nice guy!”

Auro: Awww, Lily and your… soft headed logic.

At some point in the middle of me writing the prologue common scenes (before the route split-off), Auro finished the logo. As I continued writing the prologue, she finished the sprites on March 8th. I finished writing the prologue on March 9th. A big part of the dynamic between Auro and me is our friendly competition and mutual inspiration. Whenever she sends me a sketch or something, it’s very inspiring and makes me want to work hard so that my efforts don’t lag behind hers. From what I understand, she works pretty much the same way, so I’m often sending her snippets of scenes and script for her to read and be inspired by. So yeah, I finished the prologue shortly after she finished the sprites.

Camille: I’m working on this scene right now: I’m sure you can tell exactly where I am based on this screencap and the outline. XD I’ve never written something like this before, so it’s kind of fun. Somehow Pierre didn’t end up being as belligerent as I expected, but I guess it’s unrealistic for him to be rude and violent all the time.

Auro: Oh lol XD I am so looking forward to those scenes!

Auro finished the BGs on about March 15th and I finished the post-prologue common scenes (before the route split-off) on the 22nd. YOU MIGHT BE ABLE TO SEE THE PROBLEM NOW… This left me with a little over a week to finish writing all four post-prologue character routes AND code sprites/BGs/transitions/etc AND test everything… It was also around this time that we had to finish a trailer for BCM to send in to be shown at a Japanese convention, so Auro had to draw brand new artwork for that, I had to put in fixed-up sprites and re-code them so that they’d look nicer for the video, and lots of other things… Somehow we managed to finish the trailer on time and get back to work on RisAmo before too much time was lost, though.

We spent the last week-ish doing CGs and finishing writing. Because I wasn’t sure of the exact content of all the ending scenes, I let Auro draw whatever she wanted for the final CGs and I resolved to write ending scenes around them instead of the other way around. She ended up using the idea of “four different kinds of kisses” inspired by a kiss meme floating around DeviantArt/Pixiv.

Camille: Anyway, you know what the characters are like. XD Whatever you draw, I’ll be able to write a scene around it somehow.

Auro: Hmmhmm, I can think on it and do some research. I think I have a pretty good idea for what to do for Angelina (though that might change completely once I start drawing) so I’ll see. I would like to maybe do a kiss scene for one of the guys for practice as well, but I’ll have to see about that too. I’ll have a better idea once I start and I’ll keep them on a similar level of intimacy (maybe) that suits the characters. It will be good to do some romance scenes <3

Camille: Yeah, it’s important that CGs match the characters and aren’t just romantic for the sake of romantic. Everyone expresses love and affection in different ways. :3 I’m sure once you start sketching things, you’ll kind of get the hang of how these characters look best. XD

I wrote the post-prologue routes in this order: Ethan (finished writing on the 25th) -> Angelina (finished on the 28th) -> Liam (finished on the 30th) -> Laura (finished on the 31st at around 2PM) The hardest part of this whole process was writing Liam’s friendship ending… We discussed it a bit when I first outlined it:

Auro: Oh, and for Liam’s route, I wouldn’t worry too much. Maybe he is just one of those people were you are either just friends or you are lovers. There isn’t a close friend status. And that’s fine, some people are like that. Liam especially seem like that sort of person since he doesn’t go half way. If he liked Josh he would either have to be with him, or not be with him.

Camille: Yep, that’s what I thought, too. D: So I figured wrapping it up with “BUT WE’LL STILL BE BFFS FOREVER” wouldn’t feel right. So he’s the only one that has a bad end per se… Well, more like bittersweet. I hope the bad end is still something people want to see, though, because I think it reveals a lot about Liam, too. D:

Auro: I would want to see it! I thought it was really cute in a sad way ;_; But still awesome.

And then came actually writing it:

Camille: Now I have to get depressed and write the other ending. :C Oh Liam… You get to see a very different side of his personality in the other ending, so it’s sad, but also very telling… ;_; Have to try not to tear up while writing it.

Auro: I demand everyone get it. It’s sad, but at the same time so awesome and I love Liam in that one the most! Him with a sad smile and walking away ;_; I MUST DRAW THAT ONE DAY!

Camille: Oh gosh I think I really will cry if you draw it. You should do one of those nice gradient sketches for it…. WHY AM I ASKING YOU TO DO THIS? ;_; Noooo….

I CAN’T WITH THIS SCENE OMG. ;_____________; Not even done yet and I’m filled with these sad feelings. LIAAAAAAM… ;______;

Auro: Wait just a couple more moments >:D

[ Auro sends me the sketch ]

Camille: How did you even manage to draw that at work?! I’M CRYING RIGHT NOW. I HATE THIS STUPID SCENE. T_____T

Auro: I’m drawing for work anyway and I was being sneaky >:) I HAD to do it, you know.

Camille: Well I just pasted the scene in docs so now it’s your turn to be sucker-punched. >:C

Auro: ;__________________________; To infinity. Awwwwwwwwww, it’s so sadddddddddddddd. Still my favorite, but it’s so sadddddddddd. Poor Liam, I’ll always love you.

Camille: ;________; Indeed…. LIAM…….. Our poor baby……. ;_________;

Auro: You did such an amazing job on it too. You are very good at breaking their hearts, I must say. But it’s such a powerful scene.

Camille: These are the kinds of scenes I excel at, even if it hurts me to write them. XD; I mean, look at BCM. BCM is pretty much an exercise in writing this kind of scene over and over.

Auro: haha, that’s true. They get death scenes and everything. BCM will be like that scene but 1000 fold. OMG… I’m going to be so sad ;_; And yet happy at the same time. This is going to be a weird combination.

(aren’t you all so excited for BCM now?)

So Auro finished the CGs shortly before I finished the writing and then she also did the chibi images on the last day, as well. I spent my time from 2PM on the 31st to about 3AM on April 1st coding in sprites, coding the bonus menu, and checking the game for bugs. That was 13 hours straight of working on RisAmo when I only got up to use the bathroom or make myself some more tea to stay awake. I compiled and uploaded the games to our server and thus, RisAmo was complete.

About a week after the release, once I was sure there weren’t any more bugs that hadn’t already been reported, I released a version 1.1 to fix typos and small bugs. (still didn’t catch ’em all, but I don’t think there’s enough to warrant a new version at this point) It was shortly after this that we were contacted by Desura, so I had to re-compile everything (made DMG and installer EXE files and what not) and then the game was released on Desura on April the 16th. Aside from Auro and I making a bit of fanservicey stuff for the people in the LP thread, we haven’t really touched the game since then, having thrown ourselves at The Elevator and then gotten back to work on BCM. Still, it was a very fun ride that taught us both a lot about making (and finishing) VNs. Hopefully we can apply all this knowledge to our future work and continue our wonderful partnership and friendship making VNs. :3 Thanks for reading this far!

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