If you’ve ever browsed itch.io’s catalogue of story games, chances are you’ve come across one or more of npckc‘s 30 published titles. Self-described on her Patreon as a creator of “cute story games,” her myriad of games includes one night, hot springs, a pet shop after dark, and her latest game, 湯圓 [tong jyun].
We caught up with npckc to chat about her process, her game development career, and her interest in developing for different platforms.
Tell us a bit about your creative background. Did you work in any other mediums prior to developing games?
I didn’t really do much creative stuff before making games, unless writing a lot of fanfic in my teens counts. I do play piano too, but that’s about it!
How did you begin developing games?
It’s always something I’ve been interested in since I played games ever since I was a kid. I can’t remember exactly how I found itch.io, but I did, and I saw all the little games on it and I wanted to make one too… so I did! I think the first game I released on itch.io was this one (titled you have to go to work) using bitsy, which I really recommend for anyone who wants to try making a little playable thing.
What achievements or milestones in your game development career are you most proud of?
I’m really proud of releasing the spring trilogy (the first game is one night, hot springs), because it’s the first time I actually created a sequel to anything. Usually my games are standalone, but I managed to make three games all in the same world.
That said though, I’m honestly just really proud of myself every time I release a game because I always feel so nervous about releases. I always think I could do more and make the game better – honestly, I think 50% of the work of making a game is actually releasing it and letting go.
Your games span a range of platforms, including PC, Android, Gameboy, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox, and even physical cards. Can you tell us a bit about your interest in developing for different mediums, and any challenges that come with porting a game?
I think developing for different platforms for digital is not actually that different in practice. For Ren’Py, for example, by default you can port to Windows, Linux, Mac, iOS, and Android (though for iOS you need to have a Mac to do so). In my case, since my games are not very taxing on CPUs or anything, I don’t need to do anything in particular to make them run better on consoles either. One thing I do keep in mind is making sure text size is big enough for all screen sizes, since something that looks fine on your PC may not look fine on a smartphone screen.
For physical though, it’s a whole other world. The way stuff is displayed on a screen feels very different when displayed on a card, and you are limited by a lot more – physical space, manufacturing costs, no retakes (since once you print, that’s it) . . . There’s also just something much more gratifying about actually holding something you made in your hand, rather than a digital thing you release on the internet.
What advice would you like to offer people who are interested in creating visual novels or interactive fiction?
You can do it! But do it now! Don’t put it off. Don’t just say “I wish I could make a visual novel” or “I want to write a story” – saying that isn’t going to put you any closer to your goal.
I see a lot of people who end up saying they want to make stuff for years but never actually sitting down even once to try to do it. If you really want to make something, sit your butt down and get it done. It doesn’t matter if it’s rough. It doesn’t matter if it’s bad. Just make something, finish it, and let it out into the world.
Visual novels and interactive fiction are very fortunate as genres because they have great free tools that you can easily pick up even on a fairly lo-spec computer. I recommend Twine for interactive fiction and Ren’Py for visual novels.
(Also, keep scope small! Better to release a small game than never release a big game.)
Can you tell us a little about your upcoming projects?
I’m actually releasing a small game as part of an anthology at the end of this week! It’s a little pocket of conversations over time. I hope you will all enjoy it!
[Author’s note: A Wheel Without a View by npckc is now available as part of Indiepocalypse Issue #14.]