Monday, October 31, 2016

(Reference) Looking Forward: The Huntress of The Hollow - RMN

(from RMN - Looking Forward: The Huntress of The Hollow by LordBlueRouge - October 31st 2016)

Over the last few of weeks, following its initial release, I noticed the rpgmaker2003 game "The Huntress of the Hollow" has been generating quite a bit of buzz; hovering on RMN's front page, often dropping down to the 8th spot, only to suddenly climb back up to 3rd or 2nd place.

Now normally, from past experience, we'd probably all chalk this phenomena up, to a semi-popular youtuber doing yet-another let's play of an rpgmaker2003 game.

But after carefully doing a quick google search, it becomes immediately apparent that only a handful of youtubers have actually done a let's play of "The Huntress of the Hollow".

...Either way, it's very unusual for a newly released rpgmaker2003 game to be generating such a large amount of buzz in such a short amount of time, shortly after it's release. But to be able to then, further generate that buzz consistently for 7 solid weeks straight afterwards? That's incredible.

So, rather than bitterly blame this curious occurrence, on some faulty RMN site algorithm, on this special edition of "Looking Back"...with special permission from Tau, I’ve decided to "Look Forward", by sitting down and interviewing the creator of "The Huntress of the Hollow” in order to see what I could learn from, what many consider to be the new face of rpgmaker2003 on RMN.


So tell me about yourself bleet. What is your background? What are your aspirations? What are you doing when you're not making rpgmaker games?

I'm a 24-year-old college student majoring in Japanese, hopefully planning to graduate by December of 2017. My hope is that I'll be able to teach English in Japan for a little while, but I have other options if that doesn't pan out. I kind of dislike talking about my aspirations career-wise, because I don't consider myself a "career" type of person. I simply want jobs that will allow me to do what I want to do.

Currently, I'm the Salon Coordinator of a hair salon. Working there allows me a lot of freedom in regards to how I dress and do my hair and makeup, which was kind of the initial draw for me, as the environment is actually very conductive and inspiring towards my artwork and other aspects of my life.

As a salon coordinator, I've had a lot of practice speaking professionally with clients, scheduling appointments, assisting cilents and staff with concerns, and maintaining healthy workplace relations between staff members, (professional socializing essentially lol), which I feel is vital to a language student, too!

As for hobbies and interests, I've been quite a serious artist and gamer since I was around the age of 5. I took art classes in junior high, mostly general art, drawing, sketching and sculpture, but since then, I've mostly been self-taught. All of it is hobby for me, but I view making games as just another way for me to express myself, like any other avenue of artistic potential. It all just kind of blends together and never leaves my mind haha.

While relatively short, "The Huntress of the Hollow" features multiple endings,
each with unique illustrations upon completion of each ending.
How were you first introduced to video games? Do you have any particular favourite games? Do you have any favourite genres?

I was first introduced to video games when my grandmother had bought an NES when I was a really little girl. But the first system I actually owned was a Nintendo 64, which I had to share with my sister, when I was like 5, maybe even a bit younger, but I really can't remember, haha!

I love horror a whole heck of a lot; when I was in fourth grade I decided one day that I would stop being afraid of scary things, and that was the day I fell in love with the horror genre. I had to wait about seven years before I could even get my hands on Silent Hill 3, the first horror game I would ever truly obsess over lol.

As for making Huntress, I actually got the inspiration to make it from a dream! Of course, the dream was entirely pink and was about being chased by a wolf/bear-like monster, so I decided to start with that. As for the genre of the game, I honestly wanted it to just be a quick story with rpg elements to keep it interesting. As I developed it, I added in the "horror/gore" aspects naturally, and without any sort of ulterior motive, and it just so happened to be a very cute kind of style, with some gore and body horror. I like mixing those contrasts up a lot!
While utilizing a combination of Photoshop and PaintTool SAI,
bleet is able create art assets and vibrant cutscenes in rpgmaker2003.

How did you first hear about rpgmaker?

I first heard about rpgmaker 6 years ago when I was bored in my college dorm room. I was looking for a free indie game to play on my laptop and found Yume Nikki. In fact, it was the YNFG (yume nikki fangame) community on that motivated me to try out making a fangame myself. I do have old versions of my first yume nikki fangame available for download still.

Why rpgmaker2003?

What made me like RM2k3 so much were the 16bit graphics; as a child I played Super Mario Bros. and Pokemon and such, but I never got around to experiencing the more graphically advanced 16-bit games available for those systems. Growing up I was your stereotypical girl; I wasn't very interested in games like Metroid or Castlevania back then. So the amount of detail and versatility the 16-bit 2k3 engine offered graphics-wise, was in a size I was comfortable experimenting with in a way I never got to as a child, which is what made me pick it up.

I didn't choose rpgmaker2003 out of preference though, I chose it more out of necessity; 2003 was the rpgmaker engine of choice on back in 2010 to 2011. Yume Nikki and a vast majority of its well known Japanese fangames like .flow and Yume 2kki were all made with rpgmaker2000. The very tiny western Yume Nikki community managed to find an unofficial english translation of 2k3, bringing them as close to 2000 as possible, which allowed them to more closely emulate Yume Nikki in their fangames.

Other makers were plentiful, but you didn't have as much of a knowledge base with them as you did with 2003 in the YNFG community.

Nowadays, you can buy any maker you want, but I've been working with 2k3 for so long that I prefer to stick with it. I'll admit, it doesn't have the same amount of capability that newer makers have, and apparently it's a bit more difficult to work with, but after playing Mortis Ghost's OFF, I realized, there is still an incredible amount of capability with the program; there is still so much more you can do with it, there is still so much more you can learn and try with it. Rpgmaker2003 has a ton of potential I want to tap into, and I honestly don't plan on moving from it, now that an official english version has finally been released, I really love it actually.
Unlike traditional jrpgs “The Huntress of the Hollow” plays more like some of the best survivor horror games: items are sparse, so you'll want to avoid battles whenever possible, while hording Applebutter Pastries and Bubblemilk Teas, in order to stay alive.
How long did it take you to create "The Huntress and the Hollow"?

Not counting hiatus time, it took me probably a year to make the game. But it was in concept and development since 2014.

On a good day, I would go about my normal routine, usually working mornings from 10-6 or 8-3 and then when I got home, I would immediately plop down on my computer for hours, sometimes until 4 in the morning.

Whenever I'm in a game-making rut, I'll have half of my computer screen covered in photoshop, Sai, rpgmaker2003 and any notes or word documents including game brainstorming ideas. The other half will usually be a Youtube playlist of a favourite Let's Player playing on loop or something similar. Other times, it'll just be my art and music, or if I'm play testing it'll just be rpgmaker, because I can't deal with music/videos playing while I'm play testing my stuff.

I have one friend I talk to about my work a lot, she goes by moga/rose with me on tumblr, but you guys may know her as CARRIONBLUE on RMN, the creator of I'm scared of Girls. She was the one who picked the title of the Huntress for me.

As for endings and final stage planning, I wrote down a timeline of how the gameplay was to go, and also wrote down draft versions of the dialogue. While I was drafting the dialogue, I decided to throw in different endings, but how the endings would look and play out exactly, didn't happen until earlier this year.

Aside from that, I just worked on my game by my lonesome. My games are quite personal to me, and while I like to show off graphics to select audiences, I usually keep any other information secret from virtually everyone. Huntress from start to finish was conceptualized, created and tested by me.

While battle animations are limited in HOTH, Lenora's battle stance gradually changes,
appearing more confident as she acquires and wields an assortment of weaponry throughout the game.
Other than RMN, are there any other sites you frequently visit to help spread the word of your games?

I first started on, but that site is pretty much, yume nikki fangame-centric.

You can get a lot of great feedback from users there since posts remain anonymous by default, which allows users to be much more open and critical. However, game threads can get derailed, which has happened to me a couple times, but overall the users there much prefer to stay on topic. Exposure-wise, uboachan isn't necessarily the best place to go now, because from what I've heard it's been lacking in traffic lately, but if creating a yume nikki fan game is you goal, it's still the best place to start.

RMN is new to me, but I already enjoy it a lot. The site is really fair with the way it advertises everyone's games, and I guess you know if you've hit it big if you stay on the buzz page! I don't participate very much on the forums unless I have a problem I just can't seem to figure out, but it seems to be an awesome community! I love the critique I've gotten too, and while tumblr is ridiculously informal, RMN has a sort of professional-ish veneer that I deeply enjoy.

For most of my time working on my games and exposure-wise though, I've been using tumblr.

When I first started my devblog I pretty much started by liking any posts about my game I could find, posting about my games, thanking people for playing mine, and actively talking to players (which I still love to do)...doing a lot of legwork pretty much!

The only problems with tumblr that I've seen so far, is that it's harder to find stuff now that the tag/system has changed, and the community, while active, might be a bit tougher for new developers to get into. It's hard to find things like tutorials or help if you run into trouble while developing your game. You also need to be pretty active to retain followers and interest - and interest in games dies quickly on tumblr if you leave them stagnant for too long or if they're not what's trending.

However the rpgmaker/indie game dev community seems to be VERY vibrant and full of positive vibes, so tumblr is a great place to start and have a fancy headquarters for your games.

Even now, I still participate in the YNFG community on tumblr, and I've been very careful to make sure my name and all my games are easily traceable back to myself.

Just the other day, a person who remembered me from the time I was first on Uboachan (6 years ago!) messaged me about finding my new games and being surprised by my progress, so that makes me happy I didn't give up the ghost, when my first game didn't seem to stick well with the community I was a part of lol.
How do you feel, when a game you worked really hard on, isn't getting the reception you feel it deserves?

I had a friend once who would often get upset because they weren't getting the visible reception they wanted from their game, and it got really nasty for them. They ended up deleting their tumblr, disappearing from the community, and regrettably there was even a bit of bad blood that formed between us because of this.

I feel a lack of reception is always a bit nerve-wracking, but I also feel we're often looking in the wrong places when that happens. For a short time I was on edge because Huntress wasn't getting a lot of comments, reviews, artwork or anything in terms of reception. But once I rechecked the number of downloads, re-read posts I made on tumblr and how many views I was getting, It made me realize what kind of reception I was going to receive from these sites. Not only that, but having access to other statistics services such as, statcounter or flagcounter, helps give you a better idea of how much your game is actually performing on the public level.

So, all I can say advice-wise, is this: All you can do is focus on yourself and improving your work. Be healthy about comparing your games to others that have been well received. Work on your passions, promote when you can, be kind to the people who show interest in your games. Make yourself easy to track between platforms if necessary, and never ever stop updating people on your work even if you feel like it's falling on deaf ears.

Because even when people aren't commenting or reviewing your game, they are still watching, they are still listening, they are still downloading your game - your game may still actually be getting a reception, you're just not looking in the right places.
In an interesting twist; the game's musical tone and color palette continually shifts, as you journey further and
further away from your village, "the Hollow".

Do you have any future games planned?

Now that Huntress is done, I intend to go back to the two games I was originally working on before; The Looking Glass and Fleshchild.

The Looking Glass was a YNFG that I'm elevating to its own standalone game. It starred a high school girl who could explore other worlds through her mirror and it had hints of drama and darker themes in the original game. I'll admit, it sounds VERY generic; there are so many games about "high school girl does things" but I can't just let it go. The remake will be heavily inspired by Silent Hill, but also have lighter elements.

bleet's rpgmaker2003 game, The Looking Glass

Fleshchild is my "big hit" within the YNFG community I'm in. It's about a little eldritch monster thing called "Vis" who awakens and is sent to collect human body parts by its parent, and when I mean body parts, I mean the player actually kills people to get them. Vis goes out at night to collect parts and sleeps during the day, the dreams being explorable to a certain extent and filled with cosmetic outfits/looks the player can equip. The game isn't actually horror, just weird and guro-y. It's closer to Yume Nikki in general gameplay but it has light puzzle elements and a plot narrated by notes, newspapers, and certain NPCs. The events of the game are divided into little chapters.

I started making Fleshchild because I wanted to make a game that was truly about all the things and aesthetics that I like (guro, gore, body horror, cute stuff, dolls, etc).

Those two are the first rpgmaker games I ever made and I've let them sit unfinished for a very long time as I experimented with other ideas. I do have a bunch of other game ideas I want to do, but those two are going to be my focus for a while.
Any words of wisdom for other rpgmaker developers on RMN or just in general?

Don't give up. Don't be upset if you can only work a little bit at a time. Some days I would work on Huntress for hours, other days I would make a single object in a chipset or sketch something in my notepad and then play video games all day. Any progress is good progress and you should be happy if you get anything done whatsoever.

Sharing your progress is a good way to keep up motivation, along with talking to anyone who's willing to ask questions. You keep the game at the forefront of your activities that way, and that's what made me double down and finish Huntress.

I used to say that sharing any progress is a trick and you'll get gratification without results, which is still true to an extent, but hell you gotta do something to motivate you to keep working and a lot of the time sharing progress helped me with that.
Where can people reach you for more info?

**Primary Contact** Devblog:
RMN Profile:

So bleet, what do games mean to you?

Bahahaha I feel kinda silly answering something like this but, I'll have to agree with Mr. Tajiri.

For me, games are a lifestyle. Ever since I was a little girl video games have been a central part of me. It's because of video games that I began drawing as a kid, even!

At best, they're pieces of art that you can directly and intimately interact with. They let you explore things you never could in real life, tackle concepts and art styles and just…I could go on forever, I love video games, dude!

I'll be an old lady on my deathbed playing games with my grandkids, and if I died in the middle of playing a videogame I would die happy, lol.

Finally, what does rpgmaker mean to you?

I'm very VERY thankful that rpgmaker exists. I never realized how massive a community there was for it. I've considered trying game maker and unity, but my cheapo laptop can't even run games on those engines very well, so I suppose one of the reasons why I've continued to use rpgmaker is ease of use too. It's a wonderful platform to get into and even though it isn't true coding like C++ or python, I think it's a great starting point and capable of making really unique games on its own.

Rpgmaker has been like, a catalyst for my artwork; If it weren't for rpgmaker, I probably don't think I would be creating art again.

Like, my other game, Fleshchild has cutscenes similar to Huntress, but when it was first released, the cutscenes were all very simple, cartoony, and monochrome; but it was really hard to tell what was going on in each panel:
After a while though, my skill with my tablet and SAI grew, so I released an updated version with more understandable art:
I'm so grateful for that, because for years I was hardly making any art at all and it killed me. Rpgmaker allowed me to explore art in a way I never could before, and it's wicked cool that my art becomes an interactive experience as well.

Like, people are playing my games because they like my art. My games are literally my artwork, the graphics are 100% made by me; people play my artwork, enjoy my artwork and even make fan art of my artwork.

They say my game is beautiful, they say my artwork is beautiful - I always wanted to hear that 
and experience that as a doofy teenager on deviantart, and now I'm getting it, and I love it. It wouldn't have been possible without rpgmaker.
Special thanks to Tau for laying the ground work for this article with his Looking Back series.

Special thanks to Marrend for revisions.

Very special thank you to Blindmind, (the creator of Beloved Rapture) for encouraging me to go forward with this interview.

and a very special thank you to the very lovely and incredibly talented bleet, whom this interview would not be possible without.

Please let me know what you guys think in the comments below.

Everyone, please check out The Huntress and The Hollow. The future of rpgmaker2003 looks awfully bright.
09/09/2016 - release
to October 28th 2016
7 weeks on front page

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