∀kashicverse - 2013 Developer Interview
This short interview with Endless Shirafu, the doujin group behind Akashicverse, serves as a short companion to the longer game*spark interview. Although much of the same ground is covered in better detail there, some information found only here includes the origin of their group name and the Akashicverse title.
—Please introduce yourselves.
LuCK: I mainly worked on the planning and design for Akashicverse. I also made the mascot for our doujin group Endless Shirafu.
Nicolai: I worked on game design and the music.
hart: I handled the programming.
—How did you form your doujin group, Endless Shirafu?
Nicolai: In college we were all working on a visual novel game, but I wanted to make a game that would get people’s attention. When I was in the middle of working on the visual novel game “Alone”, LuCK approached me and said he wanted to make a STG.
LuCK: I’d had this idea for a new STG, and I’d worked out the details with hart.
hart: As we fleshed out the details of the game, I worked on refining my programming skills. Then we added Nicolai, and Endless Shirafu as you see it today was formed.
Nicolai: Then I started getting a clear image of the game, and from there we began filling out the world and the game mechanics.
—What are your favorite STGs?
LuCK: R-Type series.
Nicolai: Dodonpachi Daifukkatsu Black Label, Battle Garegga, Radiant Silvergun, Ikaruga.
hart: The Touhou series.
—How did you come up with the name “Endless Shirafu”, by the way?
Nicolai: We went drinking one night with our college doujin group, and one of the members didn’t drink, saying “Ore wa endless de shirafu dakara.”1 It cracked us up, and the words sounded cool together too, so we decided to name our group Endless Shirafu.
—If you were all working on a visual novel then, what made you decide to create a STG?
LuCK: There was a time when I played a lot of STGs, and I had friends who had made STG games. So there was a sense of rivalry there too.
Nicolai: Our first title for the game was “Akashic Clod”, but the image didn’t fit somehow. Thinking about what words would work, we all had the image of space in our minds, and the word “universe” sounded nice. So the game became “Akashicverse.”
—The shield and “Methods” special move system really stand out in Akashicverse.
LuCK: Those two ideas had been there from the beginning. We were trying to figure out how you could implement a special moves system into a STG. We realized that if you could slow the bullets down near your ship you’d have time to input the move, and that led us to develop the Antibody Field system.
hart: I spent two weeks coding a rough version of the game, and the Methods special move system was added then too. I think anyone could have come up with the idea though, of adding special moves to a STG.
Nicolai: I think simple is best in STGs. I worried that if we made the system too complex, we’d end up excluding a lot of players from our game.
hart: We discussed that issue together, and we all decided we should just make the game we wanted to make.
—Can you tell us about the shield system?
LuCK: Yeah, that idea came about because we didn’t want to do a system where you had lives.
Nicolai: We devised a system where the shield can be on or off; when it’s off, you die in one hit, and when it’s on, you can withstand several.
LuCK: It’s a fun risk-return system: by keeping the shield off you can achieve crazy scores, but it’s very risky.
hart: ∀nother mode is the only mode with no continues, but at first it was the only mode we had. But since people will die in a STG, and one-hit deaths made things too stressful, in the end we decided to add the ∀dvent and ∀kashic modes.
—By the way, are there special parts of Akashicverse you’d like to draw our attention to?
Nicolai: To be honest, almost every section was designed to make you laugh the first time you see it. (everyone laughs)
LuCK: Yeah, stuff like the 3rd stage battleship. We had to get those STG traditions in there.
—There are a lot of homages like that in Akashicverse, aren’t there.
Nicolai: We all have different tastes, so everyone added their own elements. We were especially influenced by Hellsinker and RefRain. There are a lot of other homages in Akashicverse, and we hope people will enjoy finding them all.
—Were there any programming challenges you faced?
hart: Yeah, to name one, the difficulties of we had adding the beatmania-style syncronized music during boss fights. I really struggled with it, and actually, it’s the reason we weren’t able to add a replay feature to Akashicverse.
—Do you have any advice for people who are wanting to try Akashicverse?
Nicolai: My advice is to pick three Methods that you think are easy to handle, and use them.
LuCK: I recommend Banish Blast and Annihilator Chaser as your main, and mixing in Attractant Other as needed. That should see you through.
—So players should get a handle of the Method system first, got it. Well, do you have a final message for our readers?
LuCK: I hope you enjoy the freedom in Akashicverse. We want players to find their own individual playstyle.
Nicolai: There are a lot of homages in Akashicverse that the readers of Shooting Gameside will surely recognize, so we hope you enjoy finding them.
hart: Find the Methods you like and enjoy Akashicverse the way you think it should be enjoyed.
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Shirafu means sober, so this means something like “I’m forever sober.”, but the use of the english word “endless” makes it sound dramatic and funny.↩