On April 1st, 2011, we released a short little visual novel called "My Magical Cosplay Cafe." The game was, in fact, intended to be a joke for April Fool's. We also made the game for NaNoRenO, so it was made within the time constraint of a month. Yesterday, we released an updated version with real CGs and a few small tweaks to the background art and text (nothing huge). Since the final release is out, I wanted to take a little bit of time to talk about the project. Do play it if you haven't yet. It won't take long.
Initially, I had no intention of participating in NaNoRenO. I was embroiled in writing Winter in Fairbrook and Kansei, along with Oneiro and hx2 whenever I could find the time, so adding another game to the list seemed like a really bad idea. However, I stalked the progress of NaNoRenO, watching as other people planned out their works. It was exciting to watch, but I swore I'd stay away. Two days into NaNo, my boyfriend casually joked "You know what would be the worst visual novel ever? A harem game where the guy is a chef at a cosplay cafe with a bunch of cute girls." The joke turned into a full blown discussion over what cliches and tropes would be included, and all the horrible character types we'd need, like the girl who looks 10, but is "really 18, I swear!" That's when I thought "Wouldn't it be funny if she really were 10, and you got arrested if you tried to pursue her?" That was all it took for me to decide that I really wanted to make this visual novel a reality.
I decided to make it a NaNo game so that I could purposely limit the scope of the game. Plus, April 1st seemed like the perfect release date. I'd already seen some of SaEun's work, and I knew she was looking for a project. I also loved her clothing designs, so I sent her a note, hoping she'd be interested. dkreuter had previously offered to compose music and I liked his sound, so I took him up on his offer as well. It took a few days, but our ragtag little team managed to pull together and over the month, we all worked hard to finish on time.
Initially, each ending was meant to be an independent "bad end," with no good end possible, but as I worked on it, bits of a plot began weaving themselves into the story. In the end, all the characters were related somehow and I had to write a true end to tie everything together. I also added a childhood promise to add a bit of heavy-handed foreshadowing. The night before the release, I was checking the text for grammar and spelling problems, when I added "Breakdance" as a menu option on the first menu purely on a whim. I had intended to remove it later, but for some reason, it struck me as funny, so I left it in. It seemed awfully lonely, so I added it to the rest of the menu options as well and threw in an extra ending for the sheer joy of it. Having an actual happy end (even though it had nothing to do with the plot) also made the product feel more final.
Responses to the final product have ranged from unrestrained laughter to blank confusion, which, I suppose, I was expecting. I had fun working on it, though. It was nice to do something incredibly silly as a little side project. Would I do it again? I don't know. I had a blast, but I think it would take another stroke of random silliness to really prompt me into doing another one. It's a year until April 1st rolls around again, though. That's plenty of time for inspiration to come knocking. Also, I think I'm going to be sad if I don't see any fanart of Takeshi breakdancing.