I am incredibly proud of this piece–perhaps one of the best I’ve ever written. If it leads to new awareness in the industry, I’ll be happy.
Land of the Lustrous has proven to be a sleeper hit of the Fall 2017 season, with its beautiful melding of CG and traditional art, creative direction, likable characters, and penchant for cliffhangers. It also made minor waves by deciding to refer to almost the entire cast with neutral “they/them” pronouns. In an industry that has historically elected to choose binary pronouns for characters who aren’t gendered or are gendered ambiguously in the original text, this marks a small but important—and most crucially, conscious—shift.
At this point I’m sure you’ve all heard what’s going on with Patreon. If not, here’s the shortest of short rundowns: the change in operating procedure means that patrons now pay an additional processing fee when donating, meaning a $1 donation is really going to be more like $1.38.
That begins to level out for larger donations, but for small sites like me–who don’t have gated content and really just use the modest, kind donations of readers to keep the internet paid–it means losing a good chunk of income as people quite understandably have to pare down and think of their own finances.
Patreon was always something of a wonky fit. It meant that folks could donate a dollar a month in an easy set-it-and-forget-it model, but it was never quite right for the commissions (you request the subject, I write about it!) that have always been the actual payment model for the site.
With that in mind, I wanted to seek your opinion on a few options I’m considering going forward. Whatever decision happens, I want to stress that there will be no gated content. Explanations for the poll choices are under the cut. Thanks, y’all!
The late 2000s saw a boom in western dating sims — now adults, developers who’d been influenced by Japanese visual novels, eroge, and dating sims began making their own forays into the genre. Given the explosive success of Dream Daddy and the romance elements of latter day Bioware games, it might be hard for younger gamers to imagine how niche the market was less than ten years ago. Barring a few translations by small companies like JAST USA (which started in 1996 and primarily focused on pornographic titles), the bulk of the VN genre was shared peer-to-peer or sold at convention booths.
Hanako Games (founded in 2003) was one of the oldest indie developers to take elements of this style, usually incorporating them with “raising game” (focusing on the development of the player character’s stats), RPG, or adventure game elements. They developed their first dating sim in 2008 with Summer Session and ventured into the otome game model with 2010’s Date Warp. The team continued to develop and experiment within their chosen genre, and 2011 saw the release of Magical Diary, one of the company’s most narratively thoughtful if visually unremarkable games.