Indieview #10: Saber, Game Developer
Welcome to the tenth week of Indieview! Indieview is an interview series where I speak with a special guest who works on personal or business projects related to games, whether they’re an artist, a composer, a streamer, a writer, or otherwise.
Saber has just launched his very first Kickstarter, for the adult dating sim game FluvStruck, but you might also know him from #DatingSimSaturday where he shares other new and upcoming independent dating sim projects! FluvStruck has a demo out right now, so you should give it a go, then come back to read more about what makes the game special.
Mitch: What inspired you to create FluvStruck? Other than your love for anime girls, of course.
Saber: My inspiration for creating FluvStruck mostly came from my own manga, I had been writing multiple stories for many years and I realised that VN’s and dating sims are unique, interactive and fun ways to tell a story and experience it in a creative way.
Mitch: Ooh, it’s great to see it come to fruition via FluvStruck! That said, I’d love to see some of the original work in an artbook or something! The team has members from all over the world. How did you all come together to work on FluvStruck?
Saber: Reaching out; it’s probably the most important part of getting the right people together, reaching out can be scary to some, but if you don’t try — you’ll never know! Our team is very diverse and even despite timezones, we manage to work amazingly well together.
Mitch: Why the title ‘FluvStruck’? I assume it’s a play on Lovestruck, but I’d love to hear more about it from you.
Saber: FluvStruck’s title is indeed a play on words for “Love struck”, however Fluv we’ve used almost like Flux, a form of residue of mana or magic, in our case — the game revolves around Yuna’s obsession with power and Fluv is what you gather from successful romantic encounters!
Mitch: How did the design for each girl come about? They’re all very distinct — is it possible they’re based on yours and the team’s personal preferences?
Saber: Yuna has been totally copied over from her original design from my manga, I had many commissions of her and how she changed over the years, most of the other girls were also copied over from previous designs, however the outfits and hairstyles are very slightly different, our character designer worked very hard on getting them together!
Mitch: Okay, before we continue on, who is your favourite girl in the game? I imagine Yuna is the fan-favourite at the moment…
Saber: It’s so hard to choose between them as they’re all lovely in their own way! If I had to choose just one, I would probably have to say Yuna, due to how much time I’ve spent writing about her, she has been the same original character from the manga all the way up to today, on the outside you have her teasing, sarcastic attitude but there’s a lot more going on beneath the surface.
Mitch: You’ve got some incredible voice talent working on this! Can you tell me more about the audition and selection process? (and thanks for including voice-acting!)
Saber: I am so grateful to have such a wide variety of voice talent on this game, they’re all incredible and truly bring the characters to life. We held auditions through twitter and had a lot of people contact us, we then took the time to listen to all the auditions thoroughly and decide who’d fit best for what voice (if they were auditioning for one or multiple characters).
Mitch: There are a lot of comparisons to HuniePop, which you’ve mentioned yourself on Kickstarter, with it being a match-3 adult dating sim. How does FluvStruck differentiate itself from HuniePop?
Saber: Our game specifically plays around the experience of dating and life as a whole. Working a job to pay for gifts, dates and various other items. You have to manage your time effectively or suffer the consequences of missing your planned date. You travel between locations on a map freely, attend events that are location based like a festival. You spend a lot more time interacting with the girls, learning about what troubles them, and eventually become an important person in their lives. All of the girls eventually interact with each other and depending on who you talk to, you’ll learn about how their own stories entwine.
Mitch: What has reception to the demo been like? It’s quite a meaty demo — when I expected it to end, it would carry on! My only complaint is that I want to play the full game now!
Saber: It seems that everyone so far has loved the demo! which I’m incredibly happy about, we’ve been constantly working on it and will be updating it again soon! We’ve received a lot of great feedback which we are taking on board as we proceed with development!
Mitch: So, you play as a romantic novelist. Will we get to see a story of sorts based on our choices at the end of the game?
Saber: There will indeed be a log/record feature in the game that acts like a retelling of events. This will likely be shown as a book/diary so you’ll have that progress of feeling like you’re achieving your dream of becoming an author.
Mitch: I love the sound of that. Can’t wait to see what I did wrong, ah! Are there any downfalls to pursuing several relationships at once? And are you able to pursue all relationships in one playthrough?
Saber: Yes! there are multiple consequences for pursuing all relationships, if you’re not careful about what you say or do. This also can affect your job in-game too so consequences are definitely present. At this current moment, we do not know whether we’ll allow full cast dating in one playthrough, although it’s very likely by doing certain things or by being caught in a certain way — you’ll be locked out of girls who are upset or don’t support your decision to cheat on them.
Mitch: Very interesting, I like the depth that this would add. I can never cheat on people in a game… Can you tell me a little more about the art and music direction for FluvStruck, and the atmosphere you want to create?
Saber: Easy on the eyes and ears is the easiest way to explain this! FluvStruck’s atmosphere is supposed to feel soft, but deep — the backgrounds are beautifully designed by Velinquent who worked on Doki Doki Literature Club’s own scenes. We’ve got a semi-modern, soft style that makes the sprites, UI, music and background pop so you feel immersed when talking to these cute anime girls.
Mitch: What differences are there in the gender you choose?
Saber: There will be differences in choosing one gender over the other, you’ll likely receive certain different dialogues, some scenes may differ and CG’s hopefully will have an alternative version to them.
Mitch: Tell me more about the 18+ content in the game!
Saber: The 18+ content is visually received as images through the phone in-game, you’ll be receiving selfies of girls in interesting situations, or through sending you that nude you’ve been hoping to see. Later in the relationships you develop with the girls, you’ll eventually come to get really into the 18+ content with a sexual encounter, after you learn what a girl desires, you may better your chances at pleasuring her in the future.
Mitch: Goodness! I won’t let my mother see. At the time of writing, you’re over halfway funded with a whole 24 days to go! How has it been launching your first Kickstarter?
Saber: It’s been crazy, it’s been honestly mad. I can’t believe how much support we’ve received, it’s been exciting and stressful and I love it. This community is wonderful and full of creators and players who enjoy helping each other. I’ve only had the pleasure to truly immerse myself in this community by starting this game and Kickstarter, so I can’t thank everyone enough for this chance.
Mitch: The visual novel community truly is incredible and kind. There are several stretch goals, primarily adding new routes and characters to date and socialise with. Obviously, it would be ideal that the goals will be met during the Kickstarter, but are there any plans for potential paid DLC if not all goals are met? And perhaps an artbook with some of your earlier manga work which has been used as inspiration for FluvStruck?
Saber: We are likely to add DLC items into the game, whether cosmetic, girls, routes and we were also discussing the idea of a gender-bend type DLC that may be interesting for adding more variety to the existing game. There will be an artbook, although purely digital, this will mostly include timelines of concepts and how things got to where it is now, alongside some old manga idea drafts that were early inspiration for the game.
Mitch: Ooh, count me in! I’m ready to see what you and the team cook up. What advice do you have for people who want to create their own dating sim?
Saber: Just do it. The biggest hurdle is confidence, you feel like you can’t do it because you’re new to it, but reach out to people, talk to your friends — find others who want to achieve the same thing as you. Working together, working alone — you always have a way, if you want something hard enough, you’ll always find a way! Just remember that even if you have a great team, you need a great idea so I recommend starting out by getting an interesting story down, concept or gameplay change that’ll bring you closer to your own dream. Take lots of inspiration, I hope that maybe someday FluvStruck will be your inspiration!
Mitch: Where are the best places for people to find you and updates on FluvStruck?
Saber: Twitter and Kickstarter are our main points of contact! Kickstarter includes all the links you’d need too, whether Steam or Discord.
Mitch: Anyone or anything you’d like to give a shout out to? Go ahead!
Saber: I’d love to give a huge shoutout to this entire community for being absolutely amazing and supportive of each other, every dev and player wants to make and enjoy games together, it’s a very interactive and relaxing environment full of new experiences. LoveVN, Dimitri from LoveSick Darlings and Slip from Serial Lover have all been incredible friends to us, so please do support them on their servers, games and websites!
Not to mention, how happy I am to have been given the chance to do this interview with Mitchell Lineham! Thank you very much!
Mitch: Thank you for talking with me about FluvStruck! To readers, remember you can download the demo right now!
I hope you’ve enjoyed Indieview #10 with Saber. I’ll be back with another Indieview in the near future, so thanks for reading, and I hope to see you all again soon!