Mushroomallow is a visual novel game studio that has recently released their debut game, EDDA Cafe on both the PC and mobile platforms. We had the pleasure of taking a look at the demo! You can read our review of it here. They’ve also developed Kohana for the 2021 Spooktober VN Jam!
Mushroomallow is made up of four team members: Mori (the team leader), Nami (the team’s writer), MadScientist (the UI designer and ren’py scripter), and Clover Zero (the editor).
We got to sit down with Mori and MadScientist to talk about the formation of Mushroomallow, EDDA Cafe’s recent success, and what VN Game Den readers can look forward to!
Tell us a bit about yourselves and how you got into game development!
This is the team leader (Mori) speaking.
We’re a team of 4, and I think 3 out of 4 of us were directly involved in game development before our debut game, EDDA Cafe. I work in game dev and multimedia industry as a 2D artist so game development is not a foreign topic for me. Our writer, Nami, has been involved in the making of an RPG game years ago as a writer, and MadScientist is an active member of the VN community and has shared her skill on many visual novels as UI artist and scripter. Our editor, CloverZero, hadn’t gotten involved in any game development before, but has always been interested in VNs and its development, even tried it out a few years ago.
MadScientist: I’ve been dabbling in the visual novel world since 2019 as a solo dev on ALLBLACK Phase 1, but recently gained interest to join as a collaborator in a seasonal visual novel jam event. I feel that I could improve my skill significantly that way and finishing a title in a short time awakens a great sense of accomplishment within myself.
How was Mushroomallow formed?
Mori: As a team, I feel that each of us work together nicely and we decided that it’ll be awesome to make games together again in the future. So to accommodate that, we formed a team. I think it’s a good move because branding and marketing is easier when we have a studio name to present to the public.
Why did you choose the name Mushroomallow?
Mori: It sounds soft, sweet, and cute. Everyone likes it, and it also aligns with the type of games we want to make.
MadScientist: Mori even drew a cute logo for it!
What other ideas did you guys come up with before settling on EDDA Cafe? On that note, what made you go with EDDA Cafe?
Mori: I discussed the idea with Nami, our writer, before, and she decided to write something uncommon about valentine. I believe most people associate Valentine’s Day with love confessions, chocolates, sweets, lovers, and such. However, Nami wanted a story focusing on people’s love in ordinary life with a little bit of magic. People’s love can be shown in many forms and we decided with an idea, “what will you do if you get a second chance in your life to make up for something in the past?”.
But, it wasn’t something that just popped out instantly. She read a novel titled ‘Before the Coffee Gets Cold’ by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, about a magic cafe that can bring their customers to the past and change or relieve them of their biggest regret in their life. So, we were inspired by that and made EDDA Cafe, but with our own magic.
In conclusion, this idea is something different from what I expected at first, and Nami asked me to make something out of the box, so we ended up with EDDA Cafe. The response for this game is also something unexpected for us. We’re glad and happy to see that many people enjoy EDDA Cafe.
Do you mind walking us through the creative process, with the writing, music, and art respectively?
MadScientist: I even included the references to some custom code I’ve used. It’s easy to understand even for a beginner (and fake programmer) like myself. Go check it out!
Is there one aspect of the development process that the team found collectively rewarding?
Mori: It’s the collaboration with other devs for me. You always learn something new from them. The knowledge they shared with you and your experience with them will help you in your future development. It also makes me happy whenever we finally have a playable build, although it doesn’t last long because soon after, you’ll find out there are a lot of things to fix.
MadScientist: When the first prototype is finished and I can go yeaaaah! I can rest! (but not always the case XD). As Mori said, there’ll be TONS of things to fix after the first prototype is built. We do some marketing too on Twitter and it’s very rewarding if we get a lot of engagement in our posts.
You made the original version of EDDA Cafe for Valentines VN Jam. What were some limitations that you needed to overcome? How were you able to do that?
Mori: I think it’s just that we didn’t have enough time even though we tried our best to manage the game’s scope. We didn’t manage to submit the full version of the game at the jam’s deadline, so we had to compromise by submitting half of the game at that moment. And afterwards, when things were slowing down, we took a breather while developing the other half of the game and polished the build as much as we could.
Did you ever expect EDDA Cafe to get as popular as it has? Has the popularity of the game impacted you in any way?
Mori: The popularity of EDDA Cafe is a very pleasant surprise. It’s especially well-received in the mobile games market (in Google Playstore) despite being developed mainly for PC. Thanks to that, we got a few nominations and were also chosen as Jury’s Honorable Mention at 2021 Asia Games Awards. Some publishers asked us if we have commercial games that they can publish, but unfortunately we had to turn them down because we only had EDDA Cafe at that time.
On the other hand, I feel that people put a lot of expectations on us because of how well we did on our first game.
MadScientist: I myself have no such expectation so it’s very surprising when we found a lot of people playing it and uploading it on YouTube. A lot of them also played the mobile version, as Mori said. It encourages us to make a better visual novel in the future.
What aspect of the game do you think draws people to EDDA Cafe?
Mori: I think the visual is aesthetically unique and pleasant and that’s what draws people’s attention at first. Then comes the soft but bittersweet music, and when people are finally willing to sit down to read the story, they find that “Hey, it’s actually not bad,” (I’m being humble, I think the story of EDDA Cafe is quite good. Good job Nami!). Some people commented that they’re touched by the story and even shared their love experience and how they could relate to the story after they played the game. So in the case of EDDA Cafe, I assume that people came because of the visuals, and stayed because the story is relatable.
MadScientist: Same as Mori. I think the pastel color palette really works like a charm. A lot of people also said they enjoyed the melancholic music that fits the theme.
Do you all have any advice for fellow developers and people looking to get into game development?
Mori: I think the common problem of new devs is not knowing how much work it is to finish a game. Everything looks doable at the start, but when you actually start the development, you’ll find out right away how many things you have to do before your game finally takes shape, and even more to finish and ship it.
So, just like everyone else has said, start small. If you’re not sure how small a small game is, find some games to use as reference and ask around more-experienced devs whether your game is doable within a certain amount of time, and ask yourself if you can do it with your current skill (unless you plan on paying someone to make your game). If the answer is not, then most likely your game is too big.
MadScientist: First ask yourself, why did you want to develop a game? To become famous? To get rich? Or just to have fun? Once you have an answer you can start deciding the direction you want to go in. Obviously, they will have a different approach. But like every project, start small, do not get over ambitious, and be ready for a lot of failures/not meeting expectations. It’s all part of the process. I also can’t stress enough the importance of having supportive community like DevTalk server on Discord. Interact (and be nice) with the others, seeking some helpful advice and don’t be afraid to promote your work to the community.
Do you have any additional advice for people attempting a game jam for the first time?
- Your number one goal is to finish the game.
- Keep your game small and manageable. Use every resource you can find to make the development easier and faster.
- Plan ahead what you’re going to make and let your team know.
- Ask for help or just stop and rest when things get overwhelming.
- It isn’t worth getting burned out. Your well-being should always be your priority.
- If you think you’ll be busy by the time of the jam, don’t force yourself to join, unless you’re absolutely sure you can handle the workload.
- You don’t get paid to do jam, so just enjoy the process.
MadScientist: I agree with Mori. Knowing your strength and limiting the scope is the key. If you’re unsure about what could be done by yourself or if you feel overwhelmed, it never hurts to ask for somebody else’s help. (Becoming a solo dev is a nightmare for me! Hahaha)
What’s next for Team Mushroomallow?
Mori: I personally would love to try our hands on commercial games. We still need to discuss the timing and availability of everyone, but hopefully it’s something that we can realize in 2022. Other than that, we definitely want to join more jams if possible.
MadScientist: I feel the same. Other than that, and it might be a tall order, I’d be really delighted if we could export our commercial games to another platform like Switch.