I see a lot of indie games every day, especially when scowering through forum after forum. However, it's rare that I see a game which has a concept interesting enough to get me hooked. Yandere Sim is one of these games. Set in a Japanese High School, Yandere Sim focuses on Yandere-chan trying to get Senpai-kun to notice her. So, in usual Yandere fashion, she goes on a killing spree to claim Senpai-Kun for herself. I managed to catch up with the game's developer, who would simply like to be referred to as 'YandereDev' and discuss the game's inspirations, its multiple possible endings, and potential DLC among other topics.
TechRaptor: First off, where did you get the inspiration for Yandere Sim? YandereDev: The game's origin story might sound a little underwhelming. It began when I saw a cheap schoolgirl model on the Unity asset store, and asked my friend what kind of game he would make with a schoolgirl as the main character. He suggested a game about a juvenile delinquent schoolgirl, and I responded "Why stop at delinquency? Why not be a serial killer instead?" and from there I started imagining the idea of a game starring a yandere girl. I made a thread on a message board and asked people how they imagined the mechanics of a game that simulates the experience of being a yandere girl. A lot of good suggestions came out of that thread, which inspired me to make a game based on all the ideas that everyone shared. The turning point was when some guy in the thread said something to the effect of, "This thread is pointless. This game is never actually going to be made." I felt determined to develop the game myself, just to prove him wrong. So, in summary, Yandere Sim was born because I saw an inexpensive asset and because I felt a petty desire to prove someone else wrong over the Internet.
TR: You have likened the game to Hitman and Bully, however most screenshots and footage has just focused on the killing. How in depth will the school system be as well? YD: I definitely don't want anyone to think that the game is just a ripoff of Hitman where the protagonist has been replaced with a schoolgirl, I'm going to try and include a lot of "school sim" mechanics to differentiate my game from Hitman as much as possible. Classes begin and end at certain times of day, and student behavior changes based on the time of day. The player can choose what club to join at school, which grants certain benefits and buffs. In class, the player is able to allocate "study points" to different school subjects, which grant different kinds of buffs. There will be a bunch of gameplay options that are unique to a school setting, such as spreading rumors, leaving notes in lockers, and managing the main character's reputation at school.
TR: Obviously, due to the school setting, the player will be rather limited in terms of weapons. What weapons will we be seeing in the game that fit in well with the school setting? YD: The school's clubs might introduce a lot of weapons that wouldn't normally be found around a school. Garden shears could be found at the gardening club, or butcher knifes in the cooking club. Baseball bats are certainly going to be present, being a yandere staple. There might be a chainsaw in the groundskeeper's shed, or other tools like a crowbar. There will be a syringe in the nurse's office. It's possible that I may allow the player to build chemical weapons or bombs with a high enough stat in Chemistry class. I'd like to have as much variety in weapons as possible, so I might come up with a convoluted reason why there are some unconventional weapons at the school, like a katana that a principle confiscated years ago and never disposed of.
TR: You posted a teaser at a possible supernatural pack. If the pack were ever to be released, how would the addition of monsters change up the gameplay? YD: Yandere Sim is meant to be a game where the player feels like a predator; it's all about stalking and killing prey. The reason I considered the possibility of "supernatural" DLC is because it could introduce characters that pose a threat to the player, and turn the hunter into the hunted. Ghosts and demons can't be killed, and could certainly kill Yandere-chan effortlessly if they had a reason to. A shapeshifter could change their appearance regularly, which would introduce the mechanic of figuring out which student in the school is a shapeshifter. Of course, even a non-supernatural enemy could also be dangerous to the player; it's interesting to imagine the idea of an NPC yandere girl - with all of the player's abilities - attempting to sabotage the player.
TR: Aside from Bully and Hitman, what other forms of media would you consider to be influential to the creation of Yandere Sim? YD: Anime that feature yandere characters will be very influential, as the intention of the game is to make the player feel like they are playing the role of a yandere character in an anime. Other stealth games, like Metal Gear Solid, may have some game mechanics that would enhance the experience of Yandere Sim. Other games with "school sim" elements, like Persona 3 and Persona 4, will definitely have some game mechanics worth taking a look at. I'm also watching a lot of films about serial killers to get ideas for the game. Just a few days ago, I watched a film where a killer uses a soldering iron to close his victim's wounds, to stop them from bleeding all over the place. That it would be a perfect gameplay addition to Yandere Sim.
TR: How will scenarios differ from mission to mission? YD: The game will not follow the same "mission" format as Hitman, but will follow a somewhat similar format. The player will be given one target and 5 school days to eliminate that target. This scenario - "eliminate a target in 5 days" - is always the same. How the player carries out their task can be done differently every time. You can push your first target off the school roof, but then the school will install a fence on the roof or suicide nets around the school, preventing you from using that method again for future targets. You could kill every target by stabbing them and disposing of their body in the school incinerator, or you could eliminate every target by getting them to develop crushes on other NPCs, or you could use a variety of methods and dispose of every target differently. Every target will also have one method that can ONLY be used on them specifically; for example, you can kill the president of the cooking club by making her accidentally set herself on fire in the kitchen, but you can't use that method on any other student, since none of the other students will follow the cooking presdent's routine. It's possible that, if the game gets enough funding, the scope of the game may expand to include "field trips" where Yandere-chan has to kill a girl outside of school, or "dates" where Yandere-chan has to kill a girl that Senpai is on a date with, in a public area. Yandere-chan might even go to Senpai's house for a different kind of "mission". However, none of this is guaranteed yet, since the game hasn't been funded yet. I'm only planning on one environment - the school - unless I get the money to expand the scope of the game.
TR: How will the game's Visual Novel elements play a part in the experience? YD: When I started developing the game, I imagined having brief "visual novel" scenes that move the story along. Since then, I've become a bit more ambitious, and I've abandoned the idea of visual novel scenes for more traditional video game cut-scenes, with expressive, animating characters and moving camera shots. I showcased the new cut-scene system in my most recent blog post. It's a little rough at the moment because I only have placeholder assets to work with, I'm confident that the cut-scenes will look great once I've got some better art assets. The game won't really be losing anything as a result of moving away from the visual novel format; there won't be any conversation choices or dialogue trees, but the player can use other, more direct methods to alter the ending of the game.
TR: Speaking of alternate endings, you shared a few of them back on /v/, however they seemed to be 'good' endings. Are there any potential bad endings you'd like to share? YD: In every ending, Yandere-chan and Senpai will wind up together. The only difference between the endings are the reasons WHY they wound up together. For example, if Senpai discovers at least 5 corpses over the course of the game, including his own sister's corpse, he will become so mentally traumatized that he will practically be a vegetable. When Yandere-chan confesses her feelings for him, he won't even acknowledge her. Yandere-chan will interpret his silence as consent, and will begin a relationship with her mute, traumatized, mind-broken Senpai. Of course, if Senpai doesn't discover any corpses, then he won't become mentally traumatized, and he and Yandere-chan will get together for some other reason, determined by the player's actions over the course of the game, and the methods used to dispose of the other rival girls.
TR: I feel we should both address the elephant in the room and that is how the game will be seen by the public. At it's core, this game is about a kid killing other kids. How do you think social media will take to this? YD: I haven't put much thought into that yet. The game hasn't had very much publicity yet, so I haven't heard very much negative feedback or outrage about the content of the game. Maybe once the game starts to get more exposure, I'll start to hear people telling me that I'm making a sick, twisted, demented game. However, since almost all of the feedback I've heard so far has been positive, I don't feel worried that I'm going to be universally reviled for developing the game. I'll be interested in finding out how many people think it's a silly game about a certain archetype of anime character, and how many people think it's a horrifically distasteful game that represents everything wrong with the game industry.
TR: Well, before we wrap this up, are there any shoutouts you'd like to make? YD: If I was to make a shoutout, it would have to go to every person who has given me words of encouragement. My favorite part of developing this game is interacting with its audience; I love it when people write me e-mails, send me tweets, comment on my blog posts, and I even enjoy the YouTube comments. It fills me with joy when I hear people talking about how much they look forward to the game. This might sound like a trite, banal platitude, but what I'm about to say is 100% genuine: I'm going to work as hard as I can to meet everyone's expectations and make a game that won't let them down!
TR: Thanks for your time! Of course! It was a pleasure!
To see more info on Yandere Sim, check out YandereDev's development blog!