Behind the Scenes with NomnomNami

Behind the Scenes with NomnomNami

NomnomNami is an indie game developer, webtoon creator, and composer that focuses on cute queer content. NomnomNami has released several games including First Kiss at a Spooky Soiree, Contract Demon, Starry Flowers, and her tears were my light that we listed in our Top 10 Visual Novels That’ll Make You Cry.

We sat down with NomnomNami to talk about her inspirations, game jams, and future projects people can look forward to. 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you began creating visual novels?

hi, i’m nami, and i love drawing cute things! i actually got into making visual novels through fangames… my burning love for disgaea carried me through learning ren’py, and once i was familiar with that, it opened the floodgates for creating original VNs! i pretty much haven’t stopped ever since.

Your games have a very particular style. What is the inspiration behind these cutesy games?

my main aesthetic inspiration is the Disgaea series, but Okage: Shadow King and Katamari have been huge influences on me as well. i really love colorful worlds full of eccentric characters having a good time! it’s nice when there’s a bit of darkness, too–i think i’ve caught a lot of people off guard by giving my cute characters extremely realistic struggles and feelings.

One of the aspects your games are known for is featuring positive queer representation. What prompted this to be a focal point for your games? As a developer, do you find this to be an important representation to explore in games?

 i think one of the main reasons i’m so compelled to write canonically queer characters is because i got tired of other media consistently falling short in those areas. like, there are so many pairings that are so well-written and obviously in love, that just NEVER gets explored within their series. i want to make stories where a regular plot is unfolding, but queer characters are at the center of it being queer as heck! as a gay asexual demigirl, there’s a lot of subjects i can tackle with confidence–and for identities i’m not as familiar with, i have friends i can count on for feedback. i’m always trying to learn. many people have told me that my games helped them figure out their gender or sexuality, which is proof enough to me that telling these kinds of stories is SO important.

You have quite a few visual novels out currently. Is there one you like more than the rest?

at the moment the answer definitely has to be Starry Flowers, because it’s my best love story <3 but her tears were my light and BAD END THEATER are the two games i’m most proud of in a mechanical sense.

Can you expand upon some of the mechanical aspects of “her tears were my light and BAD END THEATER” that you’re particularly proud of?

both titles have unique mechanics that you don’t see very often, probably because they’d be difficult to scale into larger games… for example, in her tears were my light you play as the personification of time. timeloop plots are fairly common in VNs, but in this one you can use ren’py’s rollback feature to scroll back through the dialogue, then forward again into a new story branch. because the loop itself is so small and easy to grasp, people don’t mind starting from the beginning and seeing what changes each time–i think it’s the same for BAD END THEATER. in that one, you control the actions of multiple characters in one timeline. all your choices as the various characters create a domino effect that takes the plot in different (tragic) directions each time! building a story that way made me feel really smart, haha. it took a long time to puzzle out, so when people have fun playing through it, i feel like my effort didn’t go to waste. both games are the type of project i’d be confident showing to anyone and saying “look at this cool thing i put together!!”

You’ve participated in a game jam before. Can you tell us what your experience was working on a game in a small time frame?

i’ve done NaNoRenO and Yuri Game Jam a couple times each–jams are extremely good motivators for me! i think i work best under a self-imposed deadline. the limitation gets me to think about what type of story can realistically be finished in a month, and seeing it all come together so quickly is incredibly satisfying! i’ve only really been working on larger games recently, so i’ve been itching to get back to doing a quick jam game… we’ll see how I feel next march!

What are some key differences you notice about working on larger games as opposed to smaller more contained games for jams?

 larger games take exponentially longer to finish… you would think that doubling the word count would double production time, but it’s more like quadrupling it. for jam games, it’s easy to finish them all in one shot (because that’s the goal of a jam, really), but i can’t work on a longer game from start to finish without getting tired and switching to a new project partway through. i like being able to take breaks though, because it gives the game some room to evolve! like, when the foundation settles into place it’s easier to see where to move forward. i can’t envision a large project all at once, but i can at least build it piece by piece!

 Do you have any advice for people wanting to participate in a game jam?

please just jump in and do it! if there’s something you don’t know how to do, use stock assets! just make something you can finish, and don’t worry about it being good. no one’s first game is a masterpiece! if you wanna make games, this is your excuse to start!

You don’t only develop games, you work on music and web comics as well. Can you tell us a bit about your other projects?

i used to draw comics before i started making games, so doing a webcomic came very easily to me! it only updates occasionally, but another piece of candy features a lot of characters from my VNs, and gives me a chance to tell mini-stories that i wouldn’t be able to fit in a game otherwise. as for music, i started learning FL studio back in 2015… i had basically no experience in music production, but i always wanted to make songs, and finally found the courage to try. i mostly make music for my own games, but more recently i’ve gotten into Synthesizer V (similar to vocaloid), so i can tell stories through songs, too!

Is there one creative outlet you prefer over another?

drawing has always been my main hobby, so i tend toward that first. when i’m burnt out from drawing too much, i switch to writing scripts or music. my brain just wants to keep making stuff–i think that’s why i ended up learning all these different skills!

Are you working on any projects currently that VN Game Den readers can look forward to?

yes! i’m always juggling a lot of projects, but the biggest one is Syrup 2: Candy Alchemy RPG. i’m hoping to release it sometime next year if i can find the time!

If you want to learn more about NomnomNami’s projects you can follow her on Twitter and download her games on itch.io!
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