Katy133 had a productive 2020. Between publishing two visual novels (including the award-winning Last Meal at Cafe Mori), starting a visual novel podcast, hosting a game jam, VTubing as a crime-solving cat, and speaking at Visual;Conference just last week, it’s fair to say that Katy is a staple of the visual novel world.
We caught up with Katy to chat about her journey as a visual novel developer, her inspirations, and her upcoming projects.
Tell us a little about your creative background. What mediums did you work in before making visual novels?
I was learning about animation before discovering visual novels, and before that, I tried out different mediums that were related to storytelling. I enjoyed (and still enjoy) writing short stories and drawing. Years ago, I liked making things with my hands like doing tiny papercrafts and sculpting. I also tried making several webcomics, but ended up not finishing them because they weren’t as enjoyable for me at the time. I also used RPG Maker before Ren’Py and even made a short fangame in RPG Maker.
How did you first start creating visual novels?
I started releasing visual novels in 2013 with The Journey of Ignorance. I wanted to tell stories and make animated shorts, but realized how long it would take to make each idea I had on my own. Then I discovered visual novels and the engines Visual Novelty and Ren’Py, and realized that I could try making a story using visual novels.
What achievements or moments in your VN career are your most proud of?
Every time I release a visual novel, I feel both nervous and excited. I think every VN that gets finished is an achievement, but in terms of particular highlights recently, I was very happy and proud of releasing Dear Devere on Steam. It was the first VN I released with voice acting and I had a great experience working with the voice actors. Another moment was winning second place in Spooktober for Last Meal at Cafe Mori. I’m really glad that the story resonated with so many people.
How did hosting a game jam affect your perspective as a creator?
It gave me the new experience of what it’s like hosting a game jam. Beforehand, I’d only entered jams, so finally seeing the other side of the mirror gave me a better understanding of how game jams are designed and organized, and all the work that you don’t get to see happening behind the scenes.
Once the jam ended, I started playing through the jam entries and had this growing, wonderful feeling seeing so many people create something great through a thing I helped set up. It’s a similar feeling I get when I have finished animating something. You start out with some instructions and then after a long amount of time has passed, you’re done and you get to watch something that feels like it’s been given a soul.
What games or creators in the game development sphere inspire you, and why?
The people on the DevTalk Discord server are a wonderful group of people whom I feel so lucky to have met. They’re very knowledgeable in what they do, and kind, and friendly. They made me feel welcome and I ended up learning so much from them and look forward to collaborating more with them. I’m very hermit-like, so it’s hard for me to find a group of people who I can relax with and have fun chatting with for long periods of time like this.
Wadjet Eye Games, for being so open about showing their development process. From YouTube videos of voice actors’ recording sessions, to work-in-progress screenshots of artwork, it’s really inspiring to see how a game is made. They also created Unavowed, which has become one of my favorite adventure games.
What advice would you like to offer people who are interested in creating their own visual novels?
Start small. Surround yourself with creators you like and look up to. And make lists that divide the work you need to do into manageable chunks.
Can you tell us a little about your upcoming projects?
I’m currently working on the artwork for Winning Hearts, an otome VN about professional wrestling. My friend Kristi (aka HusbandoGoddess) is the writer.
I’m also currently working on the outline for MaFAEa, an Irish myth-inspired VN about a villain protagonist who attempts to summon the fae (demon-like fairies) to obtain money and power. I’m the writer for it, with my friends Coda and NiA creating the character sprites and the backgrounds, respectively.
I also have had plans for an episodic detective VN called The Butler Detective. It would be my most ambitious project to date and include mechanics where you can gather clues and question suspects. On Twitch and YouTube, I’ve started VTubing as a cat named Tuski, who is dressed in a butler’s livery. Tuski is the player character in The Butler Detective, and VTubing as him has been helping to keep the project alive in my mind.
You can also read VN Game Den’s review for Katy’s visual novel, Last Meal at Cafe Mori, which won second place in the 2020 Spooktober VN Game Jam hosted by DevTalk+.