Matthew Vimislik, known online by his handle “Vimi,” stands out among visual novel creators for his bold, comic book-inspired art style. Despite having only two published visual novels (King of the Cul-de-sac and “Oh, Terry!”), their high level of polish, unique programming elements, and overall electrifying confidence make it clear that Vimi is far from a newcomer to game design.
We caught up with Vimi to talk about his extensive background, his creative process, and his upcoming visual novel.
Tell us a bit about your creative background, and what mediums you worked in prior to developing visual novels.
It’s a bit of a winding road! I was a comic book artist who became a children’s book illustrator, who started illustrating & writing interactive books for iPads and kindles, which led to a full time studio video game job, which gave me the experience to start solo developing my own projects.
How did you begin creating visual novels?
I originally wanted to make a digital comic, but early in the process I decided I didn’t want the panels to just APPEAR, I wanted them to SWOOSH and SNAP into place, or sliiiiiide in, depending on the mood I was trying to present.
After I found a way to implement that in HTML5, I thought, “Well, while I’m at it, maybe I can add some branching paths?”
And after I started putting that together in Twine, I thought, “Well I GOTTA put some short minigames in here…”
By the time I had a really solid grasp of what I wanted and found an engine to make it in, Ren’py, I basically fit the definition of a Visual Novel.
How does illustrating for print differ from illustrating for visual novels?
Not a lot of difference!
I use a LOT of animation and motion in my visual novel, but ultimately, I still rely on having strong key visuals that I can snap to – strong composition, exciting poses, and interesting framing, the same qualities of a good, traditional print illustration.
Were there any changes in your game development process between King of The Cul-De-Sac and Oh, Terry!
King of the Cul-de-sac didn’t really have a “process.” I was constantly inventing, testing, reinventing, redesigning, and compromising.
Meanwhile, “Oh, Terry!” was a game design victory dance! I knew how to streamline my production, kept the scope low, and I took the chance to test some simple design solutions I came up with, but never implemented, late in KotC’s production.
What games or creators in the game development sphere inspire you, and why?
Florence, published by Annapurna, was something that really stuck out to me. Florence did everything gameplay-wise that I wanted to accomplish with KotC, but did it gracefully and refined. It’s a sturdy house made of ludonarrative bricks, and I will spend the rest of my life stealing ideas from it like a thief in the night.
What advice would you like to offer people who are interested in creating their own visual novels?
Have fun while doing it! It’s the journey, not the destination, baby! Fully explore your ideas, take risks, make bold decisions, and stay entertained by your own work!
Can you tell us about your upcoming projects?
I’m currently working on Tomb Gamer, a kinetic visual novel about a gamer waking up as a mummy in a hyper capitalist hellscape! I’m really excited to work on this one, because along with the same comic presentation and short minigames, I’m adding in exploration segments, where your character physically walks around areas to talk and interact with people, and I’m using tons of Live2d animations to make the characters and world feel more alive!