There has been fierce debate recently in the gaming media over the latest match three based dating sim, HuniePop, which has been dubbed one of the most realistic dating sims at the moment due to its unique characters and witty dialogue. I'm already 100% addicted and so was eager to talk to Ryan Koons the lead developer on the project.
Firstly, tell us about HuniePop and what the inspiration behind the title was?
The simplest way to put it is that my two favorite things in this world are girls and games (in that order). Everybody wants to work on a project they are passionate about and, for me, combining my two great loves had to be it. So, I decided to make a dating sim. I specifically wanted to make a dating sim with a heavy focus on gameplay, not story. It's not a popular opinion, but I don't care much for story in games. The only current gen console I own is WiiU because nobody knows how to put gameplay before anything else better than Nintendo. Originally the game was a pure date sim without any of the puzzle elements. It was months into the project when I introduced the puzzle stuff because the pure date sim just wasn't very fun.
What makes HuniePop different from other dating sims?
I think it would have to be the focus on gameplay. Modern dating sims are basically just visual novels. I've got nothing against people who enjoy visual novels, but I've yet to find one that holds my interest for more than a few minutes. Of course there is the writing style too. I wanted to avoid the usual innocent waifu style character types you see in visual novels time after time. Instead I wrote from my personal experiences with the intent to be as not-serious as possible. Many of the girls are heavily influenced by women I've known in real life. Kyu kind of IS her voice actress (a close friend of mine), minus the huge slut thing of course. I added that part! :)
HuniePop made it into the top ten on Steam Bestsellers in the first day. Congrats! What do you think the secret to HuniePop's success is?
Thanks! The reaction has been very surprising. I think there are a couple of factors contributing to its success. Firstly, it has boobs. Let's be real, boobs are always going to move units. Secondly, it has some sort of viral nature to it. I'm not exactly sure why. Maybe the abrasive writing style or the absurdity of the game in general. Lastly, I think people are getting a much better game than they are expecting to get when they buy it. At least, for the ten bucks. It's very easy to look at this game quickly and walk away with a bad impression, especially when dating sims are historically not really that great.
The game has some lewd elements but is so much more. Were you shocked by some people's reactions to it such as Ian Miles Cheong editor of Gameranx?
I'm pretty shocked by the reactions in general. Ian's reaction however I saw coming a thousand miles away. I can't blame him. Being outraged is his job. You gotta keep the lights on.
I've heard that it's more popular with girls than guy's, is this your experience?
I don't have any data to back that up, but, it wouldn't surprise me. Chicks are cool like that.
You said it was an 80% female team on twitter. Do you think the female influence and the realism helped the popularity?
I don't think it was a female influence as much as it was just the influence of a group of really talented, hard-working individuals, most of whom just happen to be female.
Will there be a sequel, possibly a game where you have guys and girls?
If there is a sequel, I'd want to go all out on it. I wouldn't want to make HuniePop 1.5, you know what I mean? It would be something completely different. Maybe it would be a dating sim mixed with some other genre, maybe it would be 3D, who knows? I'd also want to up the production value to match something like the Japanese game "Dream C Club". Every time I look at that game I get jealous. I'm not sure how viable that is on an indie budget though. Unfortunately, I don't think I would include dateble guys in it. Dudes are great, but they don't inspire me like girls do.
Will HuniePop merchandise be available, specifically a t-shirt with the picture Kyanna sent me of her butt with the tagline "this is what a feminist looks like"?
If there is demand, I shall supply.
TechRaptor would like to thank Ryan for taking the time to talk to us, and urge readers to ask him to print me a T-shirt with Kyanna's butt on it. What do you think of HuniePop? Leave your comments below.