Hello everyone! Today we had a chance to sit down with Taosym of Lupiesoft to discuss the upcoming release of Mutiny and its first DLC! Read on to learn more about the series and their plans for it, the history of their studio, and some of their plans for the future!
Kouryuu: Hello, and thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to talk about this for us and our fans. We’re glad to have you here with us. Would you like to give a brief introduction for our readers?
Taosym: Hi, I’m Taosym, lead artist and owner/producer at Lupiesoft, I do most of the art for our games including Sprites, BGs, CGs, UI and more. Although recently we’ve been working with new artists as our games get bigger and bigger.
Lupiesoft is an independant developer mostly developing Visual Novels and other media, we’re one of the older VN developers that are still working today. We ran a Kickstarter for Dizzy Hearts 5 years ago, and since then we’ve had our fair share of bumps in the road, but we’re currently developing it & Mutiny!!, and running two different teams, alongside providing updates/DLC for our recent titles like The Reject Demon: Toko, The Menagerie and of course Mutiny!!
Kouryuu: So Lupiesoft has been around as a developer for a while now, but could you tell us about your studio for those still unfamiliar with you? Whose idea was it to found Lupiesoft and how did you guys get started?
Taosym: Lupiesoft started 6 years ago when it was just me and our main writer working on Dizzy Hearts. We’ve seen people come and go, but we’ve had a stable set of people in Lupiesoft dedicated to telling these stories—stories which are often a bit queer and eccentric written by some very queer and eccentric folks.
Overall Lupiesoft is about telling stories people wouldn’t really consider ‘safe’ stories to tell. We began on Lemmasoft and then eventually became more independent as our audience formed around us, attracted to the types of stories we were telling.
Kouryuu: So the alternative couplings often featured in your games are something studio’s specifically focused on? What made you all decide to focus your brand on that?
Taosym: It was what we liked honestly, and I didn’t see any developer doing that sort of thing. Games like The Menagerie, Toko, The Mutiny!! are games other VN developers would probably be scared of doing and are probably strange with more ‘out-there’ settings and premises. It is probably because we take gigantic risks that other developers probably wouldn’t, and we have a reputation for the oddness of our settings that I think attracts the fanbase we have.
Kouryuu: Speaking of Menagerie and Toko, a lot of your releases thus far have been fairly short, something not uncommon for Original English games, but the ideas behind them tend to be grand. Could you tell us a little bit about what’s it like to develop indie visual novels? Do you feel satisfied with the releases you’ve made thus far? Were there some regrets or things you wish could’ve done under different circumstances?
Taosym: We’ve always wanted to develop big titles like Fate/Stay Night or Muv-Luv—games that push closer to or over the 1 million words mark. Maybe we’re way too far from that sort of reality. Those are big, epic games though, and we’ve tried to do what we can with what we had. A huge criticism of our early games is that they are too ambitious for the size of game they are. Toko feels right as a prelude, but Menagerie was a ‘complete’ story, and it’s fairly short on that front, with some endings that feel earned and others not so earned.
Our regrets mainly focus on Dizzy Hearts, and it’s too soon to talk about some of our development problems with that game, but we’ve had to struggle to keep afloat until we could really dig into development. We put our faith in writers who’ve left the project cold (flaking freelancers is something that is common in the EVN scene), and it’s really made us examine how and who we do business with. Overall though I see these regrets as teaching moments for us, and I believe they’ve made us better.
Kouryuu: Now Mutiny!!, which is coming to MangaGamer next week, is different from those previous releases. This game is your studio’s first lengthy title, with the story length and CG count rivaling that of Japanese visual novels like Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome or Funbag Fantasy. What brought about this new title?
Taosym: A big issue we’ve faced as developers has been funding. Outside of the first Kickstarter we’ve been mostly self funded, but also with additional funding sources from places like MangaGamer. Mutiny!! was our first game where we were able to put down a sizeable amount of our own capital and also have funding to match, which allowed us to do much more with our game.
Until Mutiny!! we’ve only been a team of around 3 people, and one of those was directing, writing, editing and programming. It led to heavy crunch periods, sleepless nights, and phenomenal amounts of stress. Mutiny!! changed that paradigm by showing we could make a great game, and deliver it on a timely turnaround if we had the proper funding. The Stargazers took a year to develop for us, and a lot of the issues were funding/morale driven, while Mutiny!! took five months to make, and was five times longer than The Stargazers.
It proved not only to us, but to our fans, that we can make a great game that sells incredibly well and is very well received critically.
Kouryuu: What were some of the challenges you faced at Lupiesoft while working on a game to Mutiny!!‘s scale? What are some things you and your team learned or picked up from the experience?
Taosym: The biggest tools we had going into Mutiny!! were organization and budget. By lining things up properly and giving our freelancing partners what their work was worth it allowed them to dedicate their time to Mutiny!! more freely, morale was higher as a result and it significantly increased development turn around. It demonstrated to us that our main bottlenecks have been largely due to lack of funding.
Kouryuu: Are there any plans to do more with the Mutiny!! Universe?
Taosym: There’s a lot planned for Mutiny!! it’s different from Toko, Menagerie, or Dizzy Hearts in that the story isn’t a conclusive one. It’s broken up into adventures. You start off trying to pay off this debt that has been forced onto the main character, Grace Barnett by the flaky former captain of a pirate ship. Grace rebrands as treasure hunters and they go off to do actual work. It’s a story, hilariously enough, about a prostitute who teaches a crew of failures how to be a proper crew.
The next story is what happens when that crew finally gels together. So we have several new adventures planned for Mutiny!! It’s a game that will receive many updates over the years that add to and develop the story even more. We’ll be adding more character routes and adventures while also developing future titles.
Kouryuu: Speaking of new adventures, Mutiny!! Will come bundled with its first DLC add-on when it’s released on MangaGamer, so could you tell us some about this first expansion? What new content can players look forward to that wasn’t previously in the base game?
Taosym: Due to Mutiny!!’s sheer size, there was a limit to just how much content we could produce in five months. The first DLC is going to be adding a couple more character routes to the base game; this includes romance and sex scenes primarily.
We’re very excited about the next actual ‘story’ DLC, which is being written even as we speak. All new content, backgrounds, characters, and CGs. Picking up right where the base game left off.
Kouryuu: Anything you want to share about your ideas and plans for the future?
We are currently also working on Dizzy Hearts using our own funding, separate from Mutiny!!. It’s actually a great opportunity for us as most of Mutiny!! dev team have completed their work on Dizzy Hearts. Dizzy Hearts will be developed this fall and winter, and release early next year.
After that we have more The Reject Demon: Toko chapters and the Pippistrelli & Omara DLC for The Menagerie which we announced last year. We’re planning that next year The Menagerie will get a remaster/extended story, and set the stage for more stories in the Dizzy Hearts universe.
Kouryuu: And lastly, any final words for our readers?
We hope you’ll check out Mutiny!! coming to MangaGamer and Steam this fall, and try out the all new Dizzy Hearts demo coming this Fall, and that you’ll enjoy these weird games of ours!
Kouryuu: Well, once again, thank you all for taking the time out of your busy schedules to be with us today, and thank you to all the readers who’ve enjoyed this interview.
Lupiesoft’s Mutiny!! Will be available on MangaGamer next Friday, October 20th, so be sure