Many of us have had a morning where it’s been difficult to piece together what happened the night before. It’s typically awkward, and that’s before the potential prospect of waking up in a stranger’s bed with no clue as to how you got there. That’s the issue for the protagonist of One Night Stand, a new visual novel from one-woman indie games studio Kinmoku.
The game only takes a brief time to finish, having you spend a short time exploring a stranger’s room before talking to her, all in a bid to figure out just what happened last time. With 12 different endings, there’s plenty of room to do things a little differently. It’s down to you whether that’s by being honorable in your embarrassment, or simply getting out of there fast.
Looking rather distinctive and appealing, One Night Stand might not take long to play but it explores a very interesting subject. I talked to its developer, Lucy Blundell, to find out more.
“I saw a guy one morning on the tram and he looked hungover and ill. It got me wondering what he’d been up to the night before,” Blundell started. “Maybe he had a one night stand, or just got stupidly drunk, or stayed out all night… It was nearly midday and he looked like he just wanted to crawl into his bed.”
“It made me giggle, but I also felt a little sorry for him. There are lots of possibilities as to what happened with him, all interesting I thought.”
From there, the idea for One Night Stand began. It was originally developed in only 24 days as part of the popular visual novel game jam, NaNoRenO. It was an unusual move for the game artist and aspiring indie developer. “I’ve never been too keen of game jams, but as NaNoRenO is a month long, I felt it gave enough time to make a better quality game that I could feel proud of.”
With a background in animation, and having previously worked for Chillingo as a graphics designer, Blundell went freelance in January 2015 with her first project, LoveIRL. She took a break from it while still in development to switch to One Night Stand as part of NaNoRenO.
“Taking part in NaNoRenO felt relaxed, for a game jam at least!” she notes, citing the positive influence of the supportive visual novel community.
Her interest in visual novels had a rocky start. As a young teenager, she expressed some interest in Japanese visual novels, but they were notoriously hard to track down in the UK at the time, and frequently not translated into English beforehand. It was the release of Katawa Shoujo in 2012 that sparked her old interest in the genre. Katawa Shoujo tells the story of young people living with disabilities in a part of Northern Japan. It was mostly praised for its sensitive handling of disabilities.
While playing, Blundell noticed that it was made using the free visual novel engine, Ren’Py. From there, she was inspired to make her own title, with the support of the Lemma Soft Forums and the visual novel community on the whole. “I’ve always wanted to create a story of my own for as long as I can remember, whether that was as a comic, animation or game,” she explained. It was her time at Chillingo, witnessing many great indie games go through the system there, that eventually gave her the confidence to make her own games.
What Blundell lacked in programming experience, she more than made up for with her animation skills. One Night Stand’s animations are rotoscoped, meaning they’re drawn over live-action footage. Blundell herself is the woman in the game, encapsulating many of her own mannerisms. She used ToonBoom Studio to draw over herself in an anime-like style at 10fps to ensure the animations are smooth, but not too realistic. It created a memorable, hand-drawn style that’s certainly eye catching.
One Night Stand might have only just been released, but Blundell is back to work on her original project-LoveIRL. The game is an otome visual novel about Zoe, a lost and lonely University student who ends up falling in love with a player in an MMORPG. It’s inspired by Blundell’s own dating experiences from when she played World of Warcraft, meaning it’s a project that means a lot to her. The long break, while she’s been working on One Night Stand, has been a positive one, she feels.
“[It’s] given me a fresh pair of eyes to look over it, and a lot of changes need to be made,” she mused. A much longer visual novel than One Night Stand, it’s a while away from release, with Blundell reworking some of its script right now.
If it’s anything like One Night Stand, I’ve got a good feeling about it. Tackling fairly untapped ground is always a welcome move, and anything that utilizes personal experience is promising. For now, enjoy One Night Stand, much like I did.