Akashicverse – 2013 Developer Interview

∀kashicverse - 2013 Developer Interview

This lengthy interview with the young developers behind the new doujin STG Akashicverse appeared in 2013 in game*spark. It covers all aspects of the game, and is a great introduction to those curious about Akashicverse or doujin STG generally. In fact, the interviewer considers Akashicverse the crowning achievement of doujin STG of the last 10 years, and the developers display their love of the genre proudly.

—Let’s start with a quick self-introduction.

Nicolai: I’m Nicolai of Endless Shirafu. I worked on the sub-programs, pixel art, music, sound effects, and game balancing. I also did the stage bullet patterns and enemy patterns. I was responsible for the majority of the overall game balancing, as well as most of the visuals you see.

hart: I’m hart. I did the main programming. I did the boss bullet patterns and created tools for the stage design.

—And who worked on the story and world of Akashicverse?

Nicolai: That was primarily done by LuCK, the representative of our doujin group. It was something we all contributed to in our various discussions, though.

—I see. LuCK, you’re Endless Shirafu’s representative?

LuCK: I’m LuCK version 2.

—Was there a version 1? (laughs)

LuCK: Version 1 was me in middle school. (laughs) Quite a ways back. I’m a mascot of sorts for Endless Shirafu. I mainly did the design/planning and backstory for Akashicverse. I created the characters, boss designs, and did some of the music and art.

—So if you guys were a traditional game company, LuCK would be the planner, hart would be the main programmer, and Nicolai was the artist?

Nicolai: That’s more or less right. There was a lot of overlap though.

Endless Shirafu. L-R: LuCK, hart, Nicolai.

—What do you all do outside of Endless Shirafu?

Nicolai: We’re all students at Chiba University.

—You mean you’re all currently enrolled?!

Nicolai: I’m enrolled in the Engineering program, and hart is a graduate student. LuCK is doing horticulture, I think?

LuCK: Yeah. Plants and vegetation.

—Wow, that’s really surprising. It’s not what I expected. (laughs) None of you are pursuing programming at school?

Nicolai: Nope.

—Then this is just a hobby for you?

hart: Endless Shirafu was originally formed as an offshoot of a college computer group we were a part of. We began learning programming in college. With a little over 4 years of programming experience, we made Akashicverse (our second completed title). We’re very happy to have had our second game be so well received.1

—That’s amazing! I’m surprised enough to hear you’re all students… but you only began programming once you joined this computer group in college?

hart: I had wanted to make a game before that, so I tried learning to program. But it wasn’t really a good time. Then I enrolled in college, and that computer group was there, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

—Is that how the three of you met?

Nicolai: Yeah. The group was called the “Chiba University Computer Researching Society.” They’ve been around for over 40 years.

—Wow, 40 years.

LuCK: Some of the older members of that group had released things at Comiket. Following their example, we thought we’d try to release something for Comiket too. The first games we made as Endless Shirafu were “Yuki no Shizuku“, a visual novel, and a STG called “Gustav“.

—I see. So what made the three of you decide to form your own doujin circle?

hart: I thought LuCK’s ideas were interesting, and wanted to see if we could make them into a game. At that stage we had the special moves idea in mind…

Gustav, an early STG effort from Endless Shirafu.

LuCK: And we had the idea for the player having just one life, and the system of a gauge that you’d refill by keeping the shield on/off.

hart: I’m sure others have thought of a game like this before, but I don’t think anyone had put it all together before. We didn’t know whether it would really be fun or not, so perhaps that’s why no one had done it yet.

Nicolai: When they had things planned out up to that point, I said, “hey, this looks cool… let me join you guys.” I had just finished working on the first chapter of a visual novel “Alone”, and I like the STG genre. Their concept looked really interesting too.

—Speaking of which, why did you guys decide to make a STG?

LuCK: We had planned to make one even before we began Alone. We wanted to test ourselves and see if we could make a single high-quality STG.

Nicolai: We thought it would build up our skills. The novel game we had made earlier, “Yuki no Shizuku,” was done entirely in C, and we didn’t make the script engine ourselves either.

hart: Yeah, and it had only been a few months since we even began learning to program.

LuCK: For me, I believe that the best way to build your skills is to actually create something.

—You said, “build your skills”, but what exactly do you mean? Building your programming skills, or your game design skills? It could mean many things I think.

Nicolai: Building our game creation skills… I think. (laughs)

LuCK: Yeah. When you want to make something you have all these ideas and things you want to express. But that alone isn’t enough; only by doing do you build your skills.

—So that was why you guys made a shmup, to hone your abilities?

hart / Nicolai: Well, that’s LuCK’s reason. (laughs)

—How about the two of you then?

Nicolai: In my case, I’ve always loved STG–from arcade games to, of course, doujins. It’s probably obvious to anyone at a glance, but we were hugely influenced by Hellsinker and RefRain, and Akashicverse contains several homages to them.

hart: I too wanted both to increase my programming skills and learn how games are made generally.

—We’ve heard from Nicolai, but what games do you and LuCK like?

hart: Basically, I like any game that is a “dynamic” game. I used to play a lot of RPGs. I also really love action games, but my skills suck so I’ve never cleared anything. (laughs)

LuCK: My favorite game is Shiren the Wanderer. I really like roguelikes and am interested in making one, but it looked kind of difficult and I didn’t have any ideas so I decided not to this go-around. I also love beatmania, and that influence probably comes out in Akashicverse.

—Ah, music games! Yeah, if you’re talking about Akashicverse you have to mention those. Do you like other music games too?

LuCK: I especially like beatmania. When I think back on it now, since entering college I haven’t really played many roguelikes. I spent a lot of time when I started college playing beatmania. I love music too, and beatmania expanded my tastes to hardcore techno.

—I think it’s actually very common for people to get into hardcore techno through music games. Now I’d like to ask some more in-depth questions about Akashicverse. The idea of using vs. fighting game commands seems simple enough, but where did the idea for one-hit==death come from?

Nicolai: I think LuCK didn’t like the idea of “lives.” (laughs)

LuCK: Yeah. Coming back to life after being shot down just seemed really stupid to me. In exchange I put a system where you have a certain amount of endurance. The idea for the wings came around the same time too. When the wings are closed you’re in a guard state and can take many shots, but when they’re open you run the risk of dying in one shot (but your gauge will refill more quickly). I wanted players to experience that risk-reward system, which seemed to me like it would be fun.

—That risk management system definitely is a key point to Akashicverse. Also, the “Antibody Defense” system, where bullets slow down, is something we’ve seen in previous STGs–like Espgaluda and its kakusei system.

LuCK: Right. I think that system is the result of us trying to combine bullet slowdown and a special move system into one game. We also hadn’t seen a game like that yet. The Antibody Defense system really flowed naturally from the whole special move idea.

The “Antibody Defense” system, during which special moves can be entered.

—I see! Entering a special command really would be a pain if bullets weren’t slowed down.

Nicolai: Yeah. Also, and this is something I think FTG players will understand, but I think there’s definitely a kind of enjoyment that comes from controlling your character, and learning to control him well. We wanted to bring that to a STG.

LuCK: Yeah, FTGs aren’t my forte, but I do love practicing combos. Even though I practice the combos over and over, I still never win any matches though. (laughs)

—It sounds like the experience you like in FTGs is the same that you enjoy in beatmania games. (laughs)

LuCK: That’s right! It’s definitely close to beatmania. And for Akashicverse we added special moves that are easy to execute, but if you try to do a stronger Method you’ll have to do something tough, like a shouryuuken or a 360-degree movement. hart and I had the core concept for the methods, and when Nicolai joined he changed the multiplier for each method, added a scoring system, and so on.

—The only STG I can think of that has that many kinds of attacks is Radiant Silvergun. That game has 8 different attacks, and Akashicverse too has 8 basic Methods. How did you come up with the different Methods?

Nicolai / hart: We banged them out pretty quickly. (laughs)

LuCK: It was just a matter of putting different elements together, knowing we wanted a melee sword attack, etc. In addition to the familiar STG attacks of melee, bomb, and hyper, we also wanted to do a high-speed movement attack.

Nicolai / hart: That was a must-have. (laughs)

—And yet, a “high-speed movement attack” sounds exactly like the kind of thing you WOULDN’T normally see in a STG. (laughs)

hart: Well, there’s the Zero Shift attack from Zone of Enders.

Nicolai: And the Assault Armor attack from Armored Core: For Answer.

—The Method called “Attractant Other”, where you release a decoy, is also something you rarely see in a STG. When I played Akashicverse my first thought was “eh, putting out a decoy will be too much trouble”, but I actually ended up using it a lot.

hart: During the debugging of a stage, some of our acquaintances were saying Akashicverse is a “decoy game.” I guess because for most sections, if you can just get a decoy out, you’ll manage it one way or another. (laughs)

Nicolai: There’s the Eliminator method too. From the beginning we knew we wanted a mode where the player ship can become a boss, so we just went all-out on that.

Using a decoy with the Attractant Other Method.

—How did you end up balancing all these things in Akashicverse?

Nicolai: It was difficult. The Annihilator:Chase, Jaunted Driver, and Danger Prognosis methods were especially tough to balance.

LuCK: My initial idea for Danger Prognosis was to make it slow down the framerate, like the Crystal Hunter charge shot from Mega Man X2. However, from the get-go I was set on making Akashicverse a game that was synchronized with its music, so I had to abandon the idea of framerate slowdown.

hart: Originally Danger Prognosis was just an expansion of the Antibody Defense system, slowing down the bullets and allowing you to see their trajectories. A purely defensive Method. But just doing that was really weak and unhelpful, so we kept revising it and strengthening it, eventually adding things like bullet reflection.

—From my experience playing Akashicverse, I was able to make progress mainly with Annihilator:Chaser and Menace Rejector. And I’d use Banish Blast as an emergency bomb.

hart: We meant for Banish Blast to be an emergency escape, so it’s fine to use it that way. Earlier in the development Banish Blast had a much longer invincibility window, and it felt like you could just bombspam your way to victory…

LuCK: Yeah, it was too strong. You could win just by bombing and then point blanking the boss with your normal shot.

—Wasn’t it a nightmare figuring out how to balance all these different attacks though? Which to make stronger, which to make weaker…

LuCK/Nicolai/hart: Yes!!!

Nicolai: At first Annihilator:Chaser and Menace Rejector were way stronger. That’s why we lowered the gauge recovery while you’re using those Methods. Another thing we did was to lower the score multiplier when using powerful Methods.

—I see. Many of the Methods in Akashicverse pay homage to other games. Was that your doing, Nicolai?

Nicolai: Yeah, that was me. RefRain was my muse for attacks like Annihilator:Chaser. Menace Rejector is inspired by the hyper counter mode from Dodonpachi Daifukkatsu. Actually, it’s inspired by the hyper from a prototype version of Daifukkatsu, where the bullets were bounced back.

—Oh, there was an early version of DFK like that? When I first saw the movement of the bullets being turned back by Menace Rejector I was like, “what the hell, this is weirding me out.” (laughs)

Nicolai: Banish Blast was also an homage to the bomb in Chorensha68k.

—Hearing that name takes me back. (laughs)

Nicolai: I really love the bomb from that game. On visuals alone it won me over. Also, this probably goes without saying, but Eliminator was inspired by the B.O.S.S. mode in Senkou no Ronde.

LuCK: The Armored Core series and the world of From Software’s games were a big influence too.

hart: LuCK has a bad case of From Brain.2 (laughs)

No doubt laughing from the insane amount of STG references in Akashicverse.

—I see. Well, Akashicverse sure is packed to the brim with homages to other games.

LuCK: Also, if we’re going to talk about homages, you’ve got to mention stage 5.

hart: Before the Eliminator boss comes out in stage 5, where you’re being attacked by the small girl, there are a lot of references they asked me to program in.

LuCK: We added attacks that paid homage to the movement patterns of bosses in previous danmaku games.

Nicolai: It was like, “Put in a Gradius laser!” And the 滅 (metsu, “destruction”) kanji that cascade down the screen are a reference to the game “Appare Usappii!”

hart: The glowing rings that fly at you are Psyvariar, the lasers are from R-Type and Project[RepLiser]…

Nicolai: The wave attack from Darius, the hopping bullets from Toritatsu…

hart: The list goes on and on.

LuCK: By the way, what is that big fat blue laser from?

—Um, well guys, we could be here all day, so I’m going to just move ahead. (laughs) I want to ask about the stage and boss design too. I believe there are 5 main stages, and one extra stage, for 6 total.

hart: The boss bullet patterns were mainly done by me. Although on the 5th stage boss I got a lot of requests from Nicolai that I mixed in. When there was no particular guidance from him, I’d make up the bullet patterns myself, doing my best to match Nicolai’s overall vision (and trying not to go crazy at the same time). (laughs)

Nicolai: That’s right. I was the one who did all the details with synchronizing the bullet patterns with the music BPM.

LuCK: For the boss designs, I’d draw them myself first. The bosses all share certain motifs. Using those motifs, I’d try to finish the design with some imagery from nature: spiders, butterflies, boats, dragons, pterodactyls, etc.

—I see. So LuCK would first figure out a design concept for the bosses, and hart would then work on the bullet patterns.

hart: Yeah, and since LuCK did the graphics for the bosses he would point out things like “there are cannons here and here, so this boss can have these kind of attacks.”

—Did you have an overarching vision of the world of Akashicverse before you started the individual boss designs?

Nicolai: Yeah, call it Junior High Syndrome,3 but we created a super in-depth outline for the backstory of Akashicverse.

—So you had the so-called “setting sickness”,4 then?

Nicolai: Definitely, we had it. (laughs)

LuCK: It’s difficult deciding just how much backstory you should put into the game.

—You must have a lot of unreleased story material then. What kind of balancing/adjustments did you do for the enemy spawning and danmaku bullet patterns?

Nicolai: Well, you can use so many different Methods at the very start of the game that we knew it would be boring if we added enemies slowly, one at a time. So we decided to fill the screen with them. Also, at the time, Darius Burst AC had just been installed at our local game center, and the way the schools of fish would come on-screen, squirming about, looked really cool. That influenced us in Akashicverse. Anyway, from the very first stage the enemy attacks are fierce. We wanted brand new players to die within the first 5 seconds of the onslaught, because we wanted to let players know that you really do need to use the Methods if you want to survive.

—It definitely felt like I died over and over in the opening section. Also, you put a lot of effort into the presentation in Akashicverse as well. For example, in stage 2, the way the floral-patterned backgrounds swirl around and disappear.

Nicolai: Right, where the scenery is changing. At first leafs and plants are flowing at you, but then there’s a stream of letters and symbols. It’s just meaningless data meant to represent that you’re now in a desert… since Akashicverse takes place in a virtual world.

—I see. There were a lot of other background patterns I liked, too. I especially liked the parts where the music would synchronize with the backgrounds, like in stage 4, with the succession of bees. Something about that pattern was really fun, as was getting in close and killing the bees with the melee attack.

Nicolai: That section is also an homage, to stage 5 of Dodonpachi Daifukkatsu, the microchip stage.

LuCK: Ah, yeah, the way they move does remind me of that part.

“Bee wheels” in st4, an homage to the laser wheels in Dodonpachi Daifukkatsu

—Well, it’s a bit easier to dodge than the laser wheel section in Daifukkatsu.

Nicolai: Yeah, and the thing I was unsatisfied with in that part of DFK was that you couldn’t destroy the laser wheels. So I took a cue from Hellsinker, which had a system where if you killed the “Master” enemies, the “Slaves” would also disappear. If you just try to dodge the bees in Akashicverse it’s an impossible barrage, but if you get right up in the middle there and kill the head master bee then you’ll make it.

—I see. Yeah, using the melee attack there is the most effective. I realized it while I was playing too.

Nicolai: For each section there’s an optimum Method to use. I mean for clearing, of course… for scoring high it’s another matter.

hart: Another clear example of that is the first attack of the st4 boss, where the lasers are spinning around. If you use Danger Prognosis it’s easy to dodge.

—You’ve mentioned this a few times already, but it sounds like you spent a lot a time and energy synchronizing the music with the progression of the game.

LuCK: Music is the lifeblood of games! Truly. Games are a combination of music and action. When I make music that’s what I think anyway… although when I’ve shared just the music I’ve made with people, it hasn’t been received very well.

Nicolai: We’ve put out music CDs for Comitia before, but hardly anyone has paid attention when it’s just the music.

LuCK: Yeah, people would say things like “Is there a video for this?” From what they were saying it sounded like they wanted more than just music, like a cute CD jacket or a music video to go along with it. We learned then how hard it is to release music by itself, so we decided to combine it in a game.

—That sounds a lot like ZUN and Touhou Project. He wanted people to listen to his music so he made a game. STG was a natural choice then.

Nicolai / LuCK: Yeah.

—I think music has a special place in STG, distinct from other genres. You can combine the music with the stage progression so that the player gets to hear the full track. In RPGs the music loops and you don’t have that kind of control.

Nicolai: Definitely, a seamless integration of music and gameplay is easiest to do in forced scroll games like STG. But I should also say that adding the stages to the music was pretty much a 100% indulgence on our part. We had the music all composed first, then we added backgrounds and did the enemy placement.

Stage 1 theme from the Akashicverse OST.

—The music came first?

Nicolai: Yeah, for most of it.

—That’s amazing.

hart: For the boss patterns, too, we had the music composed first. We left ourselves little instructions like “this part here should have this bullet pattern.”

—I see. I actually think that music is more important for STGs than for other games. “The appeal of STG is the synchronization of music and gameplay”… I think this is a given for STG fans, but I’m not sure if this aspect is understood very well by other players.

Nicolai: Yeah. That’s why, from the start, we decided not to aim for a non-STG fanbase. We figured that people who had played doujin STGs like Hellsinker and RefRain would think Akashicverse looked similar, but find out it’s totally different when they played it.

—Yeah, people who have played lots of doujin STGs in the last 10 years probably see Akashicverse and are like, “I get it!” But there aren’t many people like that. (laughs) Personally, I think it would be great if, thanks to their experience with Akashicverse, people took a second look at doujin STGs since 2000. So many really good games have come out.

Nicolai: Yeah, I agree.

LuCK: Thinking along those lines, we added all the homages to Akashicverse, hoping it would reach a wider audience–not just for those who play STGs, but for people who play a lot of games in general.

—It’s really amazing that you were able to include all these elements: special moves, the wing system, synchronized music, and still end up with a very polished final product. Were there any radical changes to the system along the way, or did the final version pretty much follow your initial concept?

hart: Yeah. In order to make the game appeal to a wider audience, we took the one-hit-one-death concept and divided the game into two difficulties accordingly. So in the easy mode, you can withstand multiple hits. As for the Method system, at first we were worried it would scare people off from the game. But it turned out that players being able to choose their own Method style was one of the fun parts of Akashicverse. Some players only use Jaunted Driver the whole game, while others would only use decoys.

LuCK: Scoreplayers mainly ended up using Danger Prognosis over and over.

Nicolai: Yeah. We set the score multiplier very high for Danger Prognosis, and it only takes 4 gauge, so we were thinking it would be really useful for scoring. Eliminator has the highest score multiplier. When designing it, we realized the importance of finding out where to use it for maximum gain. Using the Eliminator during a zako rush, not on difficult boss bullet patterns, is a central aspect of scoreplay in Akashicverse.

Danger Prognosis, which slows down bullets and lets you see their trajectories.

LuCK: People have been putting up some crazy scores in Score Attack mode. The top level players have far surpassed those of us who were involved in making and playtesting Akashicverse. Even with scoreplay, I don’t think any of the Methods are completely useless. You can probably scratch out a clear with just a couple though.

One of our original concepts for Akashicverse was that the way to enjoy the game would not be fixed. To me, a game is like a tool, a means. So I want players to be able to freely utilize those tools and enjoy the game as they see fit. We made a variety of Methods so that it’d be fun no matter what your playstyle–be it be going for a clear, scoreplay, or shibari play.5 Finally, even if you can’t clear the game, we worked to create a game concept where you could still enjoy the world of Akashicverse.

—Well, if you’re just going for a clear, I don’t think the game is too hard.

LuCK: True. If you avoid doing any flashy stuff you should be ok. But showing off and doing all the cool moves is one of this game’s features…

—That sounds similar to Roman Cancel combos in fighting games.

Nicolai: Yeah, it’s a similar mentality. When making Akashicverse, everything was suffused with that youthful bravado, and making the Methods look cool was very important to us.

LuCK: The ostentatious names of the Methods reflect that too. Our initial plans even called for flashy cut-scenes.

—There’s a lot about the story we haven’t talked about yet, but could you briefly explain the world and story of Akashicverse?

Nicolai: Briefly? In a word… love conquers all! (laughs)

LuCK: Love may win in the end, but we haven’t put out the whole story yet. I’ve actually been thinking about a sequel. If we do make a sequel, it will be a kind of side-story to the main scenario of this game, which, as it is now, has a lot of plot holes. There is a whole backstory, but I don’t talk about it. I’d rather have players’ imaginations complete the picture. As for the general world of Akashicverse, it involves various lifeforms that originally lived in a world close to ours and have since migrated to a virtual world.

—Is there any connection to LuCK’s horticultural studies there?

Nicolai: Ah! There are some major connections. He’s studying genetics at college, so it’s connected to that. To be honest, the core of the system was inspired by horticulture. The wings and so on.

LuCK: Yeah. The wings are actually supposed to bring to mind photosynthesis.

—Ah, when you open the wings and collect energy. The cover design image also has a floral motif.

Nicolai: The cover art is actually a huge spoiler. I started drawing it about two months before we began making Akashicverse, but it has a lot of elements in it. I wanted to try and express the world of Akashicverse in that picture.

—When you look at the visuals in Akashicverse as whole, too, it’s a very unusual design. For example, you used a 2D graphics style, but it’s all matte, metallic colors.

Nicolai: To a certain extent that’s just my own style, but I was also influenced by a variety of things, including western music videos and 3D art. Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s games REZ and Child of Eden were also influences.

—I see. There are lots of science fiction themed STGs with that metallic design. But Akasicverse has a more abstract, flat design that I would call very modern. I understand you also made the font that appears in the game menus?

Nicolai: Yeah, I made it myself from scratch. It’s no particular aesthetic thing of my own, I just realized that fonts are a key part of making a game feel unified.

The handmade, distinctive font and UI for Akashicverse.

—I think STG fans will understand that.

Nicolai: If you manage to capture the essence of a game in a font, it can express the whole world of the game in itself. Apologies for bringing up Hellsinker again, but that game’s font is very special. Once you’ve seen it, if you see it again, even at just a glance, you’ll think of Hellsinker.

—That’s true. So Nicolai, you did the font and the menu design. You also handled the music for Akashicverse?

Nicolai: I’d been listening to a lot of mixture rock6 and drum and bass, so the music has that feel. I also like songs with a dark atmosphere, but I try to give it a catchy beat.

LuCK: There are also some songs by me in there, in a hardcore techno style. Stuff like the stage 5 track, at 250bpm.

Nicolai: Also, the first and second stage boss themes were a collaboration between me and LuCK.

—The first track that really left an impression on me personally was the second boss theme, during the final section. The way the bullet patterns merged with the music BPM, and would start and stop, was really fresh and cool. Was that LuCK’s composition?

LuCK: Nicolai and I actually had another person help us with the second boss music. With his help, the three of us hunkered down and finished it. We knew we wanted to do the whole start-stop thing, so we did our best. In some music games the scrolling speeds up and stops according to the tempo. I had been wanting to add that element to a STG. Here it’s the movement of the bullet patterns that changes in step with the music.

hart: That part is coded so that the bullets are drawn in sync with the frames of music, so even if there’s slowdown, it will stay synchronized. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get replay functionality going for various reasons. (laughs)

—If people see that awesome section of the stage 2 boss, I think it will really pique their interest in Akashicverse. Personally, I think your game is the most interesting of what I would call the “doujin movement” of the last decade. I know you guys started from a college doujin circle, and I think you’ve participated and Comiket and met with other doujin groups. How has that experience been?

Nicolai: After Comiket, there was a drinking party that some of the other STG doujin circles were doing, and they invited us. We talked all sorts of things, and it was really inspiring and fun. Though sometimes the conversation got too deep and we younglings couldn’t keep up. (laughs) People were talking about 90s doujin games and stuff like that.

—By the way, are there any upcoming games from this summer’s Comiket that have got your attention?

hart: I haven’t checked everything yet, but of the finished titles, I’m looking forward to Tenjou no Tempest. It’s a Touhou-world action game, by the venerable LION HEART doujin circle of 10 years experience.

Nicolai: It’s an action game, but the effects look awesome. Super stylish.

The stage 2 boss, with bullet patterns tightly synchronized to the music.

—I see. And do you have any plans to release Akashicverse overseas?

Nicolai: We have been thinking about an English version. I’d like to do it if we can. There’s a lot of text to translate, but when I’ve searched for our game online, I’ve seen a lot of English-speaking players deciphering the game.

—When you look at the STG genre, I think there are actually a lot of English-speaking players. And they’re really passionate players. Naturally, they’ve even played some doujin STG.

LuCK: We aren’t really thinking about profit. If it means more people get to play Akashicverse, we’d love to release it there.

hart: To a creator there’s no greater joy than having as many people as possible play your game.

—Finally, are you planning to release anything at Comiket this summer yourselves?

LuCK: A soundtrack, arrange album, and mini-game. We’ll also release a special version of Akashicverse, something we’ve messed around with the settings a bit on.

hart: It’ll probably destroy the balance of the game, but hey, it’s a special version. How will it turn out? We haven’t made it yet, so I don’t know…

Nicolai: You can think of it as an “official derivative work.”

hart: Lately I’ve been going crazy making mini-games. Mini-games, yes, mini-games…

—Does this mean you’ll be working on a sequel to Akashicverse after Comiket then?

LuCK: Well…

Nicolai: For the moment we haven’t done any concrete thinking about a sequel. As a group, we each want to make some little mini-games on our own. After that we’ll probably start thinking about doing another big project.

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  1. Technically, Endless Shirafu has released a visual novel and STG titled Gustav below, so Akashicverse would be their third work. However, Gustav was completed with much assistance from the Chiba Computer Science group, so they apparently consider Akashicverse to be their second game.

  2. In Japanese, there’s an actual meme/pop culture term for people who are obsessed with From Software’s various game worlds, and get lost in fanfiction/speculation/etc.

  3. “Junior High Syndrome” or “Junior High Sickness” is a Japanese phrase that refers to awkward, overcompensatory bravado and angst associated with puberty and junior high.

  4. “Setting Sickness,” or settei-chuu is an internet-derived phrase in Japanese, and refers to someone who fleshes out, in insane detail, setting/backstory (of an original or existing work) at the expense of the actual story itself. They may then want to share it with you on a message board.

  5. “shibari” means limitations, and “shibari play” means to artificially impose limitations on yourself when playing, such as never using a Method, never using the Antibody Field, etc.

  6. Mixture rock is a Japanese term, usually referring to some mixture of rock and rap.

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