An upcoming choose-your-own-adventure visual novel is on the horizon called Dragon Dating Simulator. It's as much a comedy as it is a serious take on the interspecies romance angle. Oh yeah, and there's even a murder-mystery to round it all out.
Dragon Dating Simulator is currently on IndieGoGo, with lead designer M.B. Saunders seeking €8,000 to finish development.
The game sees a group of humans traveling to a distant land in a cultural exchange program with dragons. Players will be able to romance a total of four dragons, two male and two female.
The concept of the game really took me by surprise and I had to find out a bit more about the project and the developer, so I tossed a questions the way of M.B. Saunders. You can check out the exchange below.
Gaming Blend: I have to ask: beyond the stereotype usually associated with dragons [which is one of the reasons why dragons were chosen as the creature of focus for Dragon Dating Simulator], why a dating simulator about dragons?
M.B.: Wanting to break out of the stereotypes was one of my main reasons why I picked dragons in particular. Of course there is an impossibly large number of subjects we could have made this about as soon as we decided "anything goes", but as a fan of fantasy, I recognize the universal appeal of dragons in general and as a symbol even beyond that genre. I suppose in that way the game is just my way of putting my own spin on them.
Gaming Blend: I suppose most people may be able to easily get over a dragon dating simulator, but the real shocker here is the story surrounding an interspecies relationship with a dragon. Was this for the giggles, or was it to tackle a different way to approach the way people view relationships and the ideas of establishing an emotional connection.. even with a different species?
M.B.: I think most people would expect the game to be nothing more than a comedy or parody on the genre based on the title and premise alone, but there is a lot more going on than that, even if I have to admit the title for the game was chosen in part to incite such a reaction. The relationships will be treated candidly, though, so players who will go into the game just for giggles will be in for a surprise, despite the comedic elements. The story will also become very serious at times, so for us the challenge will be to get even those players to become emotionally attached to the characters to the point that the story and the events that unfold affect them. In this way the game might lead to players seeing things a little differently.
Gaming Blend: I'm curious about the whole dragon romance angle... was this something that has become popular within a certain community of gamers/comic book fans/novelists or was it something you just came up with on your own?
M.B.: Interspecies romance itself isn't a new idea. It goes so far that it's been featured in mainstream media, though not nearly as prominently as we do in our game. There have even been other visual novels that have approached this subject in different ways. Dragon romance in particular, though, doesn't seem to be particularly well-represented in media so far (though the exception of Dragon and Donkey in Shrek comes to mind), which for me is only an additional reason to feature them, as I wanted to do something new and not just rehash ideas that have already been done time and time again.
Gaming Blend: On your author page it's mentioned that Dragon Dating Simulator is your first commercial game, but it’s not your first game. What other titles did you work on that haven't been released to the public?
M.B.: I have been part of Game Jams before, a challenge in which individuals or teams attempt to create a working game in a very short amount of time, such as a weekend. There was also the whole RPG Maker phase in younger years, where many people probably know what I'm talking about. Besides those, they have mostly been very small and personal projects of varying genres, such as RPGs and puzzle games. I have even dabbled in text adventures before.
Gaming Blend: Have there been any other specific visual novels that helped inspire Dragon Dating Simulator?
M.B.: Probably all of them. Sadly, the visual novel genre in general isn't very popular in the west (even if the recent success of Sekai Project's kickstarter for the translation of CLANNAD might be a reason to evaluate that statement), so there is a large number of titles that are never translated. The few that are and those that interested me enough to actually play them all probably have influenced me one way or another. For example, the Zero Escape series was one of the very rare times a video game managed to impress me by the sheer quality of how well written the story was.
There is also Hatoful Boyfriend to which I have no doubt my game will most often be compared to. I am now glad that I only managed to play it after I came up with the rough outline of Dragon Dating Simulator's story, as despite the mild disappointment in that the relationships in Hatoful Boyfriend never really go anywhere, its BBL route expands the story in such a great and memorable way that if I merely tried to imitate it, I doubt I would be able to surpass it.
Besides the somewhat similar premise, I can say that I have a different approach in how and where the story in Dragon Dating Simulator will go compared to Hatoful Boyfriend's story, so even fans of Hatoful Boyfriend's bizarreness will be in for something new. Other visual novels that feature interspecies romance, such as Paca Plus, I can't really comment on since I haven't played them.
Gaming Blend: If the IndieGoGo for the game is successful are you planning on bringing the game to Steam Greenlight or expanding the brand to make additional sequels or spin-offs in other genres, perhaps?
M.B.: I would love to get Dragon Dating Simulator on Steam one way or another. This is something that has been on my mind since I started working on the project. Greenlight itself seems to be changing recently and I don't know if it will still be around by the time the game releases, but you can bet we will consider all possible avenues to make a release of this game on Steam possible.
I would love to continue working on visual novels, so a sequel or spinoff is certainly a possibility, as are realizing other ideas for visual novels I have. As for other genres, maybe a little less so. This is one of those things where we will just have to wait and see.
(Huge thanks to M.B. Saunders for answering the questions about Dragon Dating Simulator. You can learn more about the game over on the IndieGoGo page)