Anomalis is an indie otome company founded in October 2016, over the last year and bit they’ve begun work on two incredible games. These games are ‘An Otaku’s Guide to Santa’s Reindeer‘, and ‘Signed and Sealed with a Kiss‘. I recently was in contact with this amazing company, and chatted to three team members about their dating sim journey and what it’s like being a developer. A super big thank you to Jackie (Co-founder & Programmer), Ashe (Lead Writer & Director) and Maddy (Audio and VA Director) for answering all my questions!
Make sure to check out my review of the ‘An Otaku’s Guide to Santa’s Reindeer’ demo over here!
What first got you into Otome Games?
Maddy – In 6th grade, I stumbled upon an ad for Voltage’s “My Forged Wedding”. I kind of fell into a spiral after that. It wasn’t my first game, since I refused to pay to play (at first), but I started exploring other mobile otome games and eventually PC ones… And now I’m garbage!!
Ashe – I watched a lot of reverse harem anime and found out they were based on games. They never seemed to translate well to a linear story though so I wanted to play them and see what it was all about. I am a little embarrassed to say which anime made me want to play otome but maybe if you get the reference linked to my name in SSWK you will find out.
Jackie – One year, I got really sick, and I happened to have a copy of Sweet Fuse sitting around that I’d found cheap at EB Games a few months prior. I didn’t have anything better to do and couldn’t stomach a game that required too much action on my part, so I started playing it, and that’s when I got hooked.
With 9 Romaceable characters in ‘An Otaku’s Guide to Santa’s Reindeer’, how do you create such diverse personalities?
It’s a lot easier making lots of characters unique rather than having only two. You haven’t got the luxury of being too broad because their are so many and we have to be very specific about their different traits. For example, Donder is flirty, but he’s the outgoing and bold type of flirty. He isn’t an elegant or regal flirt like Dancer or even Prancer. So, having all these different personalities interacting all the time really helped to keep in check their similarities and differences. Bringing out the best and… sometimes the worst in all of them.
A big plus was having multiple writers, since we had multiple perspectives to help develop when writing the demo, which is where they were really solidified.
In ‘Signed and Sealed with a Kiss’, players get to influence their bae’s ‘type’, ranging from Prince to Bad Boy. Which one’s route was the funnest to write and/or design?
A team favorite is Fashionista. He was the last concept to be decided on and we were really surprised by how well his sprite turned out. It’s funny because for a long time we didn’t know what to do with his route because he was the last to be drafted. All the ideas, we had were in other routes but then it sort of clicked and it was a lot of fun. He is the sweetest boyfriend of them all and we know he isn’t the standard type that people generally go for but we are really excited to see what people think of all his… umm traits.
Without giving too much away, which characters had your favourite good ending and most heart-breaking bad ending?
We’re still working on “An Otaku’s Guide to Santa’s Reindeer” routes so we can’t really say much yet but thanks to all the comments on our survey we have a very good idea about what endings our fans would like to see. Are they going to get it??? Hmm… maybe… we can be a little cruel to our characters but we hope to make some really emotional endings.
As for “Signed and Sealed”, some of our team think Thrillseeker has a REALLY cute good ending. As for most heartbreaking bad ending… Ugh, ALL of them have pretty tragic endings but I guess the Prince really takes the cake in our eyes. Then again fashionista’s bad ending concludes his story in a way that completely goes against everything MC was trying to do and we really love that one too.
With SSWK there has been a lot of freedom for a lot of different endings so we’ve really enjoyed writing pages and pages of possibilities. It’s too bad we can’t include them all.
What kind of guy would like to see more of in Otome games?
Maddy – I’m pretty sure this goes for the majority, but I love characters who may seem to only follow their stereotypical personality, but are actually way deeper than that. I love it when characters give a reason as to why they are who they are. It makes the story way more engaging. As for regular stereotyping, though, I’m a sucker for the baby-faces or the childhood friend type characters.
Ashe – Thicc thighs, chubby waist those that make me double take [Semi… sorta totally serious]. Anywho, a lot of my favourite types get pretty decent amount of attention but I suppose more mature looking characters and ones with different aesthetics – more punks and goths, please.
Beyond the kind of guys, I would love to see characters families more. One of the best parts about writing for AOGTSR is how the reindeers are are all just one weird family…
Jackie M. – Crossdressers/fashionable guys, like the Fashionista in SSWK.
What advice do you have to anyone who wants to start developing their own games?
I think we can all agree on that the most important thing is to know that it is a big commitment so you’d better be in it for the long run.
Before you even start, decide what you, as an individual, can bring to the table and work at building that skill up. It’s not enough to just be the ideas guy. You better be ready to take on a variety of different roles and responsibilities, especially if you are the project lead.
Make sure you’re taking it seriously before recruiting other people to your project, there is nothing worse than a project falling apart and wasting everyone’s time and effort. Make sure you have discussed your expectations and make a clear plan before starting. Don’t just plan your game but make a plan for your budget, marketing, project timeline and staff. There is so much planning that goes into game dev and it shouldn’t skipped… ever… EVER.
Sorry, we got really serious there for a moment but don’t be intimidated by that! Once you get into the groove of things, it can be a lot of fun~
Bit of cheeky question, but what kind of games do you hope to develop in the future?
This is perhaps our biggest motivation, since we have so many aspirations for Anomalis and can’t wait to see them all realised.
We’ve started laying the foundations of a lot of these aspirations with SSWK. One of them is incorporating more gameplay and creating a more interactive experience. Also, since all our MC’s have been female so far, we haven’t had a lot of opportunity to explore Boy love games but that is certainly something we’d love to try our hand at. SSWK can have a BL story depending on the MC’s gender but we’d love to create something focusing just on BL.
And… Perhaps this is a little strange, but we would like to try creating more games with adult content. We’ve started this move with creation of Anomalis Pre and our game ‘Signed and Sealed with a Kiss’ but it is definitely something we aim to do more of in the future.
How can fans help support you and your games?
There are actually four ways! (… this is going to be long, sorry. )
We know a lot of our fans cannot financially support us, but by showing your support on social media you help spread the word of our games. Sharing posts, writing reviews, recording LPs, sending comments, fanart, AND FEEDBACK!!! Feedback is super important – we can’t improve on our games if we don’t know what you think about them.
We are only able to make free to play games thanks to our dedicated and talented artists, writers, programmers, designers, voice actors and translators. We love it when our fans support the ventures of team outside of Anomalis. Please support us by commissioning our artists, reading and commenting on our writers FF & stories, hiring our programmers, playing our members other games, ect.
As mentioned before, our free to play games rely on our team volunteering their time and juggling game dev and IRL commitments so a super easy way for our fans to support us is to be patient with us. We are all trying our best but some months are harder than others.
Finally, and most obviously, by joining us. We are only able to create our games by having a team of talented people who want to contribute to making high quality free to play visual novels. If you are able to volunteer your talents to help us then we would love to hear from you.
If you would like to contact us, Tumblr (@anomalis) is a great place to communicate with us or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you again to the Anomalis team for the interview! Remember to check out their free demos over at Itch.Io!