Interview with Quilly of Quill Game Studios

About two years ago, I wrote a review of A Summer with the Shiba Inu, the debut visual novel release of Quill Game Studios. I really enjoyed its surreal science fiction story, and I’ve been looking forward to the developers’ next project ever since. So I’m very excited to announce that Death Becomes You, a magical mystery from the same studio, is available on itch.io and steam today! I talked with lead developer Quilly about some of the creative process behind this tale of enchantment, intrigue, and academia.

Jane: How was the development process of Death Becomes You compared to A Summer with the Shiba Inu? Were there lessons you learned from your first major release that helped you the second time around?

Quilly: I learned a lot from the development process of A Summer with the Shiba Inu, that’s for sure!

In the process of writing Shiba Inu, I had scrapped 20k words or so of the story script. This was largely due to not having a solidified story outline before I began writing. For Death Becomes You, I saved a lot of time by focusing on getting an outline done (together with Ashe “pigionsdeliver”, the lead writer for DBY), and then writing the story script based on that.I also improved on the styling and scope of the UI components – for Shiba Inu the menu functionality I had thought of was really the bare minimum since I didn’t want to overscope the game and delay its release, at the time. In contrast, Death Becomes You has a collectibles screen, a card desk-esque endings screen, and more.

A look at the extras menu of Death Becomes You

J: The settings and aesthetics of the two games are also very different, with the first one starring sentient animals fighting in a sci-fi death match, and this new one centering around students at a magical university. What inspired you to shift gears so dramatically?

Q: I wanted to try out a different setting, and a magical school (with humans) worked really well to tell the story I wanted to tell this time around. I do have another game set in the dog universe (of the first game, A Summer with the Shiba Inu) in the works – so stay tuned!

Additionally, the two games aren’t in as different a universe as we might think – it’s just a distant dream of mine but if there are 4~5 games that I make, I do have an idea to vaguely (not literally) link the two universes…

J: I’d actually love to hear a little more about that idea, if you’d be okay with sharing! I have some similar dreams about some of my games.

Q: To elaborate a little bit more: right now it isn’t canon that the worlds may potentially be connected. The reasoning being that the first game is set in a universe populated by dogs, and Death Becomes You is set in a universe with humans and magic. One (or more) of the games I have planned have both humans and dogs, which is like our world but sci-fi esque, will then be the bridge. So this might only happen when those games are out… hehe. But no guarantees!

The dog-eat-dog world of A Summer with the Shiba Inu

J: Sounds intriguing! I’m looking forward to finding out more. I also wanted to ask if there are any particular stories that influenced Death Becomes You. Do you have any favourite mysteries or anything along those lines that gave you some ideas?

Q: I liked to read a lot of detective mysteries when I was a kid, such as all of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Usually though, what I loved about those stories were that the “crime” or event that kicks off the mystery is then a reason to dive deep into peoples’ motives, which is the real focus of the story when it comes to peeling back the layers. The story of Death Becomes You is very, very character driven, and is all about finding out what happened leading up to the death of the main character’s best friend, but less about logical deduction of what happened at the scene of the crime.

J: Do you have a favourite character in Death Becomes You?

Q: It’s really tough – I like them all almost equally (within 3% of each other) but if I really had to choose, I’d have to say the main character (default name Sidney) and Sophie!

J: Do you have any predictions about which characters might become fan favourites, or anything else you’re looking forward to seeing reader reactions to?

Q: In the demo feedback Sophie got the highest vote by far; followed by Lyra and Alice who are tied. This probably is related to Daniella and Apolline not being part of the demo though, so it can’t be helped.

I do see Sophie being popular as she’s a moody, nerd type. 🙂

A choice between characters to learn more about in Death Becomes You

J: Finally, do you have any advice for aspiring visual novel developers who want to get started on making games like yours?

Q: Start small, and don’t be afraid to cut things out! The first full VN I made was A Summer with the Shiba Inu and it was 70,000 words, but thinking back maybe something smaller like 5,000 words would have been better.

I think getting something done is more important than infinitely polishing, which is what caused me to get stuck for quite a while at the beginning.

It’s important to have fun!

J: I definitely agree with that advice! Thanks for taking the time to share some insight.If this interview piqued your interest, you can purchase Death Becomes You on itch.io or steam, and A Summer with the Shiba Inu on itch.io, steam, or Nintendo Switch. And if you want more updates on the future of Quill Game Studios, you can follow Quilly on twitter.

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