Invertmouse Interview: Cursed Sight

I Interviewed Marcus Lam of InvertMouse about his latest Visual Novel ‘Cursed Sight’ which is currently undergoing funding through Kickstarter. InvertMouse’s previous games include UnhackUnhack: Destruction, and Without Within.

How did you get into visual novels?

From a young age, I have set myself a goal to become a novelist. Then, during college in 2005, I wanted to put together a graphic novel for an assignment. I did some research on what was out there, and that was when I discovered the visual novel genre. Thank you insani.org!

What are your favorite visual novels?

Narcissu was my first visual novel and remains my favorite to this day. If I had picked a different title for my first experience, perhaps I would be pursuing something completely different right now. Say, being an NBA player (no.jpg). Ever17, Utawarerumono and ONE ~Kagayaku Kisetsu e~ also rank quite highly on my list.

How important do you think alternate endings are in a visual novel?

I read and wrote traditional novels long before I knew what VNs were, so I have no issues with linear games. Always happy to hear what the players want, though!

What inspired you to make ‘Cursed Sight’?

In my previous titles, some players have raised that my stories clashed with the gameplay. For Cursed Sight, I wanted to focus solely on telling the story. That was the format I grew up with, anyway. I wished I could make up some story about seeing a veil wearing girl in a dream or something, but in reality, game development is work.

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How much time do you spend working on this project?
I have a full time job, so I get up early (4-5am) every morning to sneak in some work before heading to the office. After coming home, I would clock in another hour or so before calling it a night. Weekends are when I go all out, but I also try and unwind a little on Sundays.
What tools have you used to create this visual novel?
I am using Ren’Py to create Cursed Sight, with help from programmer Kyle Tyner. For illustrations (Tooaya) and music (Efe Tozan), I will use Photoshop and Audacity respectively if anything comes up.
What techniques do you use to make us relate to the characters in the story?
I cut the strings from the characters and let them do as they see fit. It is all about them. I just happen to be the one typing up their stories.
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How important is the use of music in a visual novel to set the scene?
The Narcissu series really moved me, and I know that soundtrack had a lot to do with it. Yeah, its pretty important!
What has been the biggest challenge during this project?
A visual novel involves less programming than a game project. However, the longer script more than makes up for that workload. Having to write and edit for months on end can be a test of patience. While the pieces are falling in place, I admit I am often clouded by doubt and insecurities.
How do you organize the team and manage your time developing the game?
Our team is quite small so we have no complex systems in place. We just aim to communicate frequently and succinctly. I am grateful everyone has been so professional. It allows us all to focus on our assigned duties.
You’ve worked on other visual novels before can you tell us what that was like?
When you develop a game for the first time, you might realize just how tedious the process really is. Then, once you release the project, you will discover how much a lot of things can hurt. Sure, you learn new techniques through every project, but I think there is plenty to gain from the emotional experiences as well.
What have you have learnt from working on visual novels in the past?
Never hesitate to seek help when you need it. Plenty of people made fun of my drawings back in the days. It hurt, but now, I want to say thank you for pushing me into making a change.
What effect do you think crow funding platforms like KickStarter have had on visual novel development?
Back in my college days, before Kickstarter existed, I funded my own projects. To be honest, I am a little jealous–if only I was born later! Really, though, Kickstarter gives creators a chance to turn their dreams into potential careers. I am thankful to everyone for supporting my efforts so far.
Where do you think the medium is heading in the future?
I am not really smart enough to make any predictions! In recent months, I have seen plenty of open minded people experiencing visual novels for the first time. A lot of them ended up enjoying it, so I hope to see this trend continue into the future.

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