Doki Doki Dollmaker made waves with a successful Kickstarter, reaching four tiers of its stretch goals. The currently available demo features Lyle, the player character, who copes with the stress of moving to a new town by creating dolls with a mysterious sewing kit. The dolls then come to life, setting into motion a charming romance with 8 possible endings.
We caught up with the creator of Doki Doki Dollmaker to discuss their inspirations behind the story, the process of creating a demo, and what we can look forward to in the upcoming full release.
How did you get started creating visual novels?
I’ve always been a huge fan of visual novels, so when I found out that it was possible to make my own, my passion for storytelling and character creation took over! I had zero programming experience going into it, but with the support of other developers online, I was able to bring my characters to life. Seeing everything come together is an indescribable experience for me – I’m so grateful for their support and am always learning.
What inspired you to create Doki Doki Dollmaker?
I designed characters with my brother back in high school, but when it came time to write the action-fantasy story we came up with, he bailed on me, haha! I wasn’t ready to take on a project of that scale alone, so I thought I’d write a simpler story with a smaller cast of characters that I could call my own. I had the concept doodled in notebooks for the longest time, but wasn’t sure where the story was headed. It wasn’t until many years later, when I learned of VN engines, that I began writing the story with the intention of it becoming a visual novel. Doki Doki Dollmaker is inspired by various stories that touched my heart, such as Fruits Basket, Saber Marionette J, and even Card Captor Sakura!
Can you tell us a little about the process of releasing a demo?
Don’t rush it! Although it’s common for demos to differ greatly from the final release, they are often your first and sometimes only opportunity to get people interested in your project. Test your demo before release. Testing will help prevent glitches, typos, grammatical errors, and coding errors, which will make for a better first impression. Even if you missed something, all feedback is valuable – good or bad! Use it to make your final release the best it can be!
How does the final product differ from your original idea? Were there any major changes?
I’d say the character designs went through the most changes. Hair styles, eye colors, and even body types were adjusted. Torin and Desifer were the most consistent overall. Two characters didn’t even make it into the story! Aside from that, the ending went unwritten for the longest time. I wanted the true ending to be happy without seeming forced or patched together; I couldn’t have written it without the support of my loved ones.
What achievements or milestones in your VN development career are you most proud of?
Aside from asset creation, I am a one-woman team and Doki Doki Dollmaker is my very first visual novel. I’m overjoyed that the Kickstarter campaign for the project was a success despite having no prior experience in game development. It couldn’t have happened without the community’s support, so thank you for believing in me, the artists, and the story. I hope the project exceeds your expectations!
Can you tell us a little about what fans have to look forward to in the full release of Doki Doki Dollmaker?
Doki Doki Dollmaker is a story about love, loss, family, and personal growth. It’s filled with colorful characters, wholesome moments, humor, and a bit of drama too. Fans can look forward to more one-on-one time with their favorite doll and loads of beautiful CGs with the full release. Also, thanks to Kickstarter stretch goals, we’re getting epilogues and a few custom backgrounds too! I hope you’ll continue to follow the project. ♥