Day two of PAX Australia was also a pretty hectic day, and we were lucky enough to get an opportunity to speak to some fantastic indie developers. One that we’d like to highlight is Tina from Cotton Candy Cyanide, as we discussed their new game Quantum Suicide.
Check out the video below for the interview, or if you’re unable to watch it, you can read the transcript further down…
David: Hello, I’m David from Switchaboo and I am joined here today with Tina from Cotton Candy Cyanide, an indie development team from Melbourne?
Tina: Uh no, originally we are from the Gold Coast but we are currently located in Osaka, Japan.
David: Oh wow, that’s amazing! So Cotton Candy Cyanide currently have a visual novel game called Quantum Suicide that is set in space. So please, tell us more about it.
Tina: In Quantum Suicide, you get to choose as to whether you want to play as a boy or a girl in a spaceship that is multi-generational. So you are born on a ship, you’ll die on a ship, and your mission is to court and romance a character, procreate and pass your skill set on. However, after a ship has taken damage, the AI system has glitched and it now making you play a game against the crew every week to determine a loser, and then that loser is executed.
David: Wow! That sounds a little Danganronpa-esque.
David: So when I looked at the Kickstarter, I also noticed that there was a Ever 17 and Zero Escape feel to it.
Tina: Yeah! So the reason why this actually started being was that I had just finished playing the Danganronpa series and the Zero Escape series, and then I tried to Google games with similar content and themes and I couldn’t find any, so I got really sad. So I thought that I can either be sad or I can fix the problem, so that’s how I started making Quantum Suicide because I wanted another title that was similar.
David: So what was it about those games that you wanted to convey to people? What was it that captured you in the first place?
Tina: I really really enjoy the type of puzzles and the batsu-game element, so you’re playing a game but it will cost you your life if you do it wrong.
David: So the high stakes style.
Tina: Yeah, I enjoy the high stakes! And I also enjoy getting really attached to characters and then because they might die, you feel as though you need every minute with them, and when they do die you’re like, “Nooooo!” So I really like getting emotionally attached to characters and then they get killed.
David & Tina: (Laughs)
David: Oh, you’re one of those people! So in Quantum Suicide I found that you can play as both males and females which is actually quite unusual for a visual novel, but you do see it in games like Fire Emblem. Can you comment as to what your responses have been towards this?
Tina: So the way that it is laid out is that you actually at the beginning of the game pick at the beginning of the game whether you want to play as a boy or a girl, and then there’s seven characters in the game (three men, three women and the AI system herself), but they actually have their own sexual preferences, and depending on whether you picked a boy or a girl will depend on how they react to you. So that effects whether they are likely to save you in games if they’re romantically interested or whether they’re happy to throw you out of an air lock, for instance. So it was kind of more so to do with navigating relationships, because I love otome and dating games, and I really hate to know that I know that there is a way to win. So if I really want that person, I know that I just have to say the right things, whereas I really like the idea of being friendzoned, because that’s how it works in real-life. So you can get to the end of the game, you can solve all the problems, you can confess your love to the person you love that’s still alive and they can just be like, “I like you as a friend.”
David: Oh wow, that’s very unusual for a visual novel!
Tina: Yeah so some people have not been very happy with that and think that they should be allowed to have the person they want, but that’s not how it works.
David: Yeah, that’s not real-life.
Tina: Yeah, the character is a character in themself and I feel that their own bit of agency that if they’re not interested in you, I don’t care what you say you’re not getting that (laughs).
David: That’s definitely a unique take on a visual novel. You don’t really see that in any visual novel.
Tina: No. So some people have not received it well (laughs), but I’m just like, “this is yet another situation where you’re not going to get what you want, because I’m not changing it.” (laughs).
David: Yeah who cares what other people want, this is your visual novel and you can do what you like (laughs)! I think something that a lot of people will appreciate is that there is full voice acting in native Japanese, so could you tell us a little bit about the voice actors and what’s going on with that aspect?
Tina: When we first started, we wanted it in English with Japanese voice acting because as Australians, we are very much Dubs VS Subs. So we thought that would be great but once we started the Kickstarter and got a bit of an American following, they wanted English voice acting. So now we actually have both, we have English voice acting and Japanese voice acting. So the Japanese voice actors are all professional voice actors from a Japanese website that does voice acting. So I sent scripts along with a bit of direction and then they sent me all the files and I did all the sound engineering. And that’s the same with the Americans because I’m not in America (laughs), so I found and hired a whole bunch of American voice actors and they all sent me their files and I did the same thing. So that way when you play the game, you can pick whichever one you want. So you can either hear it in Japanese and hear it in English or you can hear and read it in English – your choice.
David: Especially since you’re doing a lot of this stuff remotely by the sounds of it, as you have voice actors doing different scenes but they’re not next to each other when they’re doing them, was that hard for you guys?
Tina: Sometimes it’s a bit hard, but what I do is I give them the full script so that they can read through and get the feeling of the scene and then a lot of times they’ll record the line a few different ways and I can pick the one I like. But if I don’t like any of them, I can actually tell them how I want it to sound and they’ll just rerecord it and send it to me. So, all of my voice actors have been absolutely delightful.
David: Are there any big names that we know or are they smaller indie voice actors?
Tina: Yeah mostly smaller indie actors. I think if you actually have a go at it and listen to it, you’ll be quite happy. I feel like I’ve tried very hard to have a high production of quality level and that is also with the voice acting. So I’ve only picked the best (Laughs).
David: (Laughs) Well I look forward to playing the game with English subtitles and Japanese voice acting!
David: I’m a very subbed person, what about you?
Tina: I’m subbed, of course (Laughs).
David: So we actually talked to Route 59, the guys doing Necrobarista, and it’s really cool to see so many developers doing more visual novels from the west. Do you have any comment on how the visual novel scene is currently doing in the west after we were discussing Telltale before?
Tina: I think as a community as a whole, we are absolutely delightful (Laughs). Like everyone I’ve met, including the guys behind Necrobarista at Route 59, I’ve also met the people behind Long Live the Queen and stuff like that, they were really great as well. Just the communities we have, there is very little toxicity, it’s so wonderful! Quantum Suicide had to get on production hold for almost a year with no date for a pickup again but everyone was so supportive and they were all just sending their best wishes and asking if there was anything they could do to help. So I think we’re only going to get bigger, we’re so welcoming and everyone is so happy just to be here.
David: Well that’s actually something that I wanted to touch upon with the community that you guys have built. I understand that Cotton Candy Cyanide did a Kickstarter initially. That Kickstarter didn’t do so well but then the second Kickstarter did really well. Can you tell us a little about that?
Tina: So we made a mistake of launching our Kickstarter campaign in December the first time, and it actually finished a few days before Christmas. And of course, that’s when everyone has to pay their money and people were just not in a position to do it, so that was a logistical mistake on my part. We had got about 700 people following the game at that point and we had not done any kind of anything at that point. For instance, I don’t have any previous games, I just pretty much went out there and went, “Help me, please!”
Tina & David: (Laughs)
Tina: And then we actually got quite a big following from the original Kickstarter, and so people were asking us to try again and I was like, “look, I’ll give it a month; I’ll come back with a new page and an updated page; I’ll give it a few extra add-ons,” because people were asking for merchandise, and I was like, “What? Why? There’s not even a game that exists yet, how do you want merchandise?” and it was absolutely mind-blowing what people actually wanted. So when we came back a month later, all of our backers from the first Kickstarter that failed came back and we were funded within the first few days I think because we had so many people come in as an influx. For the first Kickstarter, we fell short. We were looking for $30,000 and we came at about $25,000. But the second Kickstarter, once our PayPal donations were open, we made about $70,000.
David: Oh wow, good job!
Tina: Everyone came back in droves and it was absolutely amazing!
David: What was your first reaction, were you touched by the support?
Tina: Well as soon as it actually clicked over and it said ‘Congratulations, you’ve made the minimum,’ I cried my eyes out (Laughs). I cried everywhere and I actually drew a really terrible picture of what I looked like of me crying and put it up as an update and people were like, “Please tell me you are not doing any of the art in this game” (Laughs). And yeah, so it was absolutely amazing!
David: That’s incredible! I’m glad that Quantum Suicide is well funded and it sounds like you guys at Cotton Candy Cyanide had to overcome many obstacles before you reached success, much like the characters in your game, I imagine.
David & Tina: (Laughs)
Tina: If they live that long.
David: So could you tell us a bit more about the story of the game. Are we expecting a lot of romance? Horror? Comedy? What kind of game is it?
Tina: It’s like a psychological thriller, but it is very lighthearted in places. I enjoy that even in bad situations, you need to have a sense of humour. So there’s a lot of one-liners here and there that should, well I hope, make you chuckle. Even when things are getting really tense and then someone says something. For example, there are times that the AI system is saying that we’re going to kill everyone and everyone is going to die, and your friends have already died, and then she’ll be like, “I was lonely,” but then one of the characters will say, “Oh, but you have us as friends now,” because he’s so oblivious and kind that he forgets that she’s murdering everyone. So then one of the other characters just backhands him and says, “what? Are you in this moment?” So, there are things like that that even when it gets super tense, I try to rake it back in a bit.
David: That sounds great! It sounds like it’s going to be heavy and lighthearted at the same time.
Tina: Yeah, I don’t want you guys to be taken away and just being sad. Even if things go wrong, I still want people to see the happiness that can still happen. Even if you are going to die and you only have a few hours, you might as well crack a joke.
David & Tina: (Laughs)
Tina: What’s the worst thing that’s going to come? Nothing, we’ve already been sentenced to death.
David: Or do they really die, I mean it’s Quantum Suicide, so… do they do or do they not?
Tina: Ohh, well you’ll have to play the game to find out
David: Are there big elements of science into the plot what with quantum physics?
Tina: Yeah, yep! In the actual game, I have a tablet computer system where you can actually go and look up things. So I’ve got very simple explanations of things such as what an event horizon is, what time dilation is because all of that stuff plays apart in the storyline of Quantum Suicide and I’ve tried to make it recongisable and understandable.
David: So the people who played the game Stein’s Gate would love this kind of stuff.
Tina: Yeah! Because I really enjoy for example, in Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward, all of that is based on real science. You can look up the people that they’re saying, they’re all actual accredited papers. So I really like the idea of taking a fictional narrative and basing it off of possibilities that could actually happen within science theory. So I’ve read a lot (Laughs).
David: Was it hard to understand all of the scientific concepts?
Tina: Yeah, some of it is a bit harder to assess, so I’m just looking at the teaching primary school children quantum mechanics so I can better understand it.
David: In terms of the music style, can you tell us a bit about that? I noticed that the opening had the Vocaloid side of it.
Tina: Yeah, the game itself has an original soundtrack of approximately 12 titles but the piano pieces, like the opening and closing, is more atmospheric and kind of sci-fi sounding for the background. We actually licensed Serviio, so very much like Vocaloid, from a Japanese artist that we were just impressed with the song and the lyrics were perfect with our game. So we were like, “Please?” and they replied saying “Oh my god yes, we’d love to do your video,” and I was like, “YES!” It was made in heaven, it all kind of just came together. The actual soundtrack had that as well as piano pieces and also the more very Symphonica techno-like sci-fi sound that is just ambiance and tension music kind of stuff that you’ll find in the game.
David: That’s interesting! It sort of verges on gentle piano to hardcore electronic.
Tina: Yeah, there was actually one song that was like, “This should be in Crypt of the Necrodancer,” it’s so pumping.
David: So is there anything that you’d like to say to everyone watching this video?
Tina: Um, I think you should give it a go (laughs).
David: And how would anyone watching this video follow you guys if they wanted to keep track of this project?
Tina: The best place for us is Twitter. We’re just @cottoncandycn. That’s where we do most of our updates but if you just go to our website cottoncandycyanide.com, you’ll find all the links to our social media.
David: Awesome! And when can we expect Quantum Suicide on Nintendo Switch?
Tina: We are currently working on the build for Nintendo Switch now. So fingers crossed if everything goes well, hopefully by the end of next year. But we should have Steam out within the next six months.
David: So if you like Dangonronpa, if you like Zero Escape, then Quantum Suicide is a visual novel that you’ll probably also like. So thank you very much, I hope it all goes well.
Tina: Thank you so much!
What do you think of Quantum Suicide? Will you be checking it out when it comes to Nintendo Switch? Let us know in the Comments section below.
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