GB Patch gave us Cove Holden, and for that we are forever grateful.
For those confused by the above sentence, some context: GB Patch is known for their various published titles on both Steam and Itch.io, most notably their hit visual novel Our Life: Beginnings and Always, which serves as the first entry to the Our Life series. Released in November of 2020, Our Life introduced us to our collective visual novel boyfriend (and soon-to-be husband), Cove Holden, but also stands out for its innovative take on customization. An Indie Megabooth PAX 2020 selection as well as the (as of today) 134th highest-rated app on Steam, Our Life has been making waves since its release.
Behind all these titles is GB, the founder and lead developer of GB Patch. Since founding GB Patch in 2015, GB has worn many hats; she’s been involved in writing, programming, hiring, running the social media pages & crowdfunding campaigns, and coming up with concepts for their various titles.
We caught up with GB to talk about her visual novel career, the development process for Our Life, and the future of our relationship with Cove Holden.
Tell us a little about your creative background. How did you get started creating visual novels?
I originally got into VNs after trying to find more games that had multiple endings. It always astounded me when an RPG or what have you included an alternate version to the conclusion. So, naturally, I got super into VNs as soon as I stumbled on that genre. I made my own for the first time as a way to play around with Harvest Moon fan characters I created, aha. But I’ve kept making them since.
How was the concept of Our Life: Beginnings and Always created?
It was simply based on me wanting a VN where you truly got to grow up with the LI. Everything else fell into place around that goal.
How did you create the character of Cove? Were there any differences between your concept for Cove vs Cove in the final version?
Cove as a character concept was created to work with all the different features/themes/aesthetics of the game. He had to be certain ways in order to fit with everything else planned for the project. So, initially, he was pretty hollow. It was a puzzle to imagine how someone with all these practicality requirements could come off like a natural person. But I was able to start fleshing him out more/getting invested in him by focusing on my favorite parts of character development- what makes them difficult/flawed, haha. From there his development over the years all began to flow into place.
Can you tell us anything about possible DLC where you can marry Cove?
There will be a wedding DLC that lets you plan and then experience your wedding with Cove. You’ll get to pick the location for the ceremony and venue, plan what types of events are included, help pick out outfits for other characters/Cove or leave it up to them, and all that. It’ll cost $2.99USD and will hopefully be out this summer, around the same time as the normal Step 4 Epilogue comes out. Derek and Baxter won’t get marriage DLC, though, unfortunately. At least, we’re not currently planning on it.
How does the creation process of a romance/slice of live VN, like Our Life, differ from the creation process of a horror VN, like Lake of Voices?
For me, there’s a definitely different headspace I’ve gotta be in. Almost all your thinking, priorities, goals, and intentions are different if you’re aiming for fear over sentimentality or vice versa. But my process of working on/putting together the VN is the same. It’s effective for me regardless of genre.
Can you talk a bit about prioritizing inclusivity in the character customization in Our Life?
Our Life has no real story for the MC. It was all about the concept of just growing up. After thinking up all these structural elements with the Moments and Steps and stuff I ended up not even being able even decide if Cove and the MC should immediately hit it off as kids or if they should be wary of each other and then grow closer as time went on. I knew it’d be hard to get people invested in something that’s aiming to sentimental and nostalgic and I worried a lot about making the wrong choice for people.
Then, of course, the obvious answer came – the player could pick that themselves. And if they were going to control the relationship, why not other things too? It made all the loose ends come together and was something we probably should’ve thought of sooner. But once I finally realized the game could simply be customizable, we started trying work it into as many aspects as we could, without things getting so large the game wouldn’t ever be done, haha. Giving people a lovely experience is what we had hoped for and the concept of letting them make the experience themselves was the final piece in completing the puzzle.
What achievements or moments in your VN career are your most proud of?
There are a lot! Back when you had to go through Steam Greenlight to get on the platform and we had projects make it past the process, releasing our first commercial game/getting our first sales, a fan Discord being made for our games, being able to attend PAX East to feature the Our Life demo as part of the Indie Megabooth Visual Novel Reading Room, and more. It’s been amazing what’s happened over the years.
What advice would you like to offer people who are interested in creating their own visual novels?
Don’t feel guilty spending money on hiring help if you really want to make a VN, even if it’s a free project. VN making can be a hobby like anything else; playing video games means buying them, painting requires getting supplies, hiking often has travelling expenses, etc. If it’s what’s going to make you happy and fill your days with purpose, but you can’t find free assets/unpaid volunteers for stuff you can’t do than maybe try doing what you can get done for free while saving up for the other assets. Just make sure to carefully vet whoever you hire if you do work with a freelancer.
Also, take heart in the fact that you’re probably not reinventing the wheel. There are resources and people out there that can explain how to do things. It might seem daunting, but it’s been done before- and it can be done again by you. I’d also highly recommend keeping your first game as small as possible. Good luck aspiring devs out there!
Can you tell us a little about your upcoming projects? What can fans look forward to next from GB Patch?
Our main upcoming project is Our Life: Now & Forever! It’s the second game in the Our Life franchise. It’ll have all the best features of Our Life: Beginnings & Always but with a new cast, setting, and story, plus two main love interests and various improvements to the gameplay. I hope players will look forward to it ❤