Plenty of dating simulators can be scary, whether intended to or not. While it may be intentional that the girls obsessing over the player character might take their affection a tad too far, the horrors of trying to wrap your head around how a human and a pigeon can date probably aren't. However, in this upcoming title by Mel Gorsha, both the intentional and unintentional horror of dating sims is being used to create something truly terrifying. I managed to send a few emails her way to pick her brain about But I Love You, to see what she has in store for thrill-seeking players.
Tech Raptor: Where you inspired by any other existing games or visual novels?
Mel: Unfortunately, no, not for this game. A few people have mentioned Higurashi to me as a comparison, but I've yet to play, watch, or read anything from that series. Most of the time, I'm inspired when doing something mundane...in this case, I'm pretty sure I thought of the idea while eating pizza.
TR: The game has been funded surprisingly quickly! Did you expect to get this strong of a response?
M: Not at all! We've put a lot of hard work into it to make it worth getting funded, but I had no idea so many people would be so excited about it. It certainly makes me happy to get such positive feedback about the game.
TR: The "But... I love you" tier says you can help design the antagonist. Does that mean that the girls aren't the game's antagonists? If so, how much of a threat do they pose to the player?
M: In a way, anyone who isn't the protagonist is a threat. One of the unlockable girls, though...she's the biggest threat of all. And she's the key to the mystery of the town.
M: Well, since it looks like we'll probably be hitting the $20,000.00 stretch goal, there's going to be a few options. You can play as either the male protagonist, or the female one--which I will be adding an additional reward for on the Kickstarter shortly. There will also be scenes that are only reachable as one or the other, so anyone who plays it should definitely try playing both; players will also have the option of toggling between first-person and third-person, so they can choose whether they see the protagonist or if they just don't for a more immersive experience.
TR: If all the tiers sell out, how many girls can we expect in the game? Will absolutely all of them be evil?
M: All of the custom tiers have actually sold out already! We're looking at the main five--Emma, Allison, Ryanne, Leila, and Vivian--as well as the antagonist and three unlockable girls. While the antagonist is the only truly evil one, there will be one who isn't crazy and/or a threat. In fact, when she comes in, she actually tries to help the protagonist leave town.
TR: Is that where the pure dating sim element comes to play in full force?
M: She doesn't come in until things are starting to get scary; the "pure dating sim" part of the game is earlier on, before you've really caught on to there anything being wrong with the town and you're just enjoying the attention you're getting. But since this game can be played either as just a dating sim or horror game or both, if you play your cards right, then you have the option of trying to win her affections too.
TR: Will there be a reward for getting all of the endings?
M: In-game, probably not. I may hire an animator or two to help put together a special video at the end to be unlocked. But if players manage to get all of the endings, they can contact me specifically and I might send them a letter with a certificate or something, haha.
M: In a way, yeah. The ending where you escape with your life is the one that would be the only route if this wasn't a multiple ending game. Thankfully, though, there's just as much attention being put into the other stories and routes, so it should be a fun experience no matter what you do.
TR: Before we wrap this up, are there any shoutouts you'd like to make?
M: Oh, definitely! Big shout out to my friends Catherine, Ali, and Hannah for all the support, to everyone who's pledged and voted and commented and helped spread the game around, to my family, to the people helping make this game, and especially big shout out to my boyfriend, roommate, and partner Matthew McAdams.
TR: Thank you for your time!
M: Thank you for interviewing me!
To see Mel's work as it updates, check out But I Love You on Kickstarter!