After our recent review of the HuniePop dating sim, we have managed to get in touch with Ryan Koons, an ex-Insomniac developer, who was the main person in charge behind HuniePop. We got to ask him some questions regarding the development process, future plans and dating advice, and we got some really interesting answers.
Could you give any readers who might have not heard your game a short overview of what exactly HuniePop is about?
Sure! I’m gonna be lazy and copy the description from Steam: “HuniePop is a unique sim experience for PC, Mac and Linux. It’s a gameplay first approach that’s part dating sim, part puzzle game, with light RPG elements, a visual novel style of presentation, an abrasive western writing style and plenty of ‘plot’.” So, in short; Puzzles n’ Titties.
How does HuniePop differ from other dating sims?
Aside from the puzzle gameplay at the core of the experience, which is certainly unique to the genre, a huge draw for players is the ridiculous and abrasive writing style. Each girl has a distinct personality that’s heavily influenced by personal real world experience, but obviously exaggerated in some cases.
Since dating sims are a niche genre in the west, why did you decide on making a title of this kind?
My two favorite things in this world are girls and games. It was a project of passion really.
HuniePop has a lot of elements in common with the once popular flash game Ganguro Girls. Was this similarity intentional?
Yes. Ganguro Girl is one of those great childhood memories. It was really addicting despite being a kind of shit game. There was no way I was going to stop playing until I had sex with that girl. It’s a powerful motive.
What were your biggest inspirations for HuniePop?
The original pitch for HuniePop was basically “what if there was a dating sim that didn’t suck?”. Much of the inspiration came from the fact that any dating sim I could get my hands on was either completely awful or a visual novel disguised as a dating sim.
Once I started though, the list of inspirations continued to grow. Everything from Gangaro Girl to DOAX to Puzzle Quest to Cookie Clicker. There is really no bad source of good ideas. Even Animal Crossing played a role in both the UI design and the idea that the main store refreshes daily, etc.
How did the idea of mixing a dating sim and a puzzle game come into fruition? Did you have alternative ideas for dating or was the tile-matching puzzle a thing from the get go?
Originally the design was just a pure dating sim without any puzzle elements. As development began I realized the pure dating sim just wasn’t very fun. The puzzle stuff came about because I knew it could fit the theme well and frankly there were many things about match-3 puzzle games that frustrated me and I knew I could fix.
The game had a backlash from some critics. Why do you think this happened?
Because some people are over sensitive babies who have way too much stock in political correctness and zero sense of humor.
Have you ever considered adding male characters in order to carter to a more female demographic?
Dudes are great but unfortunately they just don’t inspire me like women do. I know I’m not the only one on the team that feels this way either. From an art point of view women are just more fun and more interesting to draw.
Fortunately however many women seem to absolutely love HuniePop for what it is. So I’m not fretting over demographics.
Now that you successfully released HuniePop what did you learn from the project, what are you happy with and what would you have done differently?
The things I’m unhappy with are at the micro level. Small little decisions I’ve made here and there that in retrospect I could have done a bit better. No game is going to be flawless, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying.
Did you do any other kind of field research aside from the one posted on YouTube channel?
That video wasn’t *really* research for the game. The title is a joke. I just really like pickup and I admire the dudes on youtube who make pickup videos. I wanted to try it for myself and it fit so perfectly well with the project I was working on.
Having said that, HuniePop is absolutely influenced by my experience talking with girls. There can be no doubt about that.
Would you consider using Kickstarter again for a future project or would you rather go to a publisher?
I don’t see myself ever using a publisher. I also don’t see a publisher willing to take the PR hit. As far as KickStarter goes, maybe. A Kickstarter campaign and subsequent rewards are a whole project on their own. So, it depends on the scope of the project.
Considering the interface is well suited for mobile devices, do you have any plans for porting the game to iOS or Android?
The interface might be suited well, with lots of changes, but the game design does not translate. I’d have to sit down and redesign the entire game to fit the mobile scheme. This is not something I’m terribly interested in doing on the count of the fact that I have never enjoyed a mobile game in my life.
Are you planning any more updates for HuniePop like the ones you had for Valentine’s Day?
Nah, HuniePop is complete and we are already hard at work on our next project.
What are your future plans? Do you plan on making a sequel to HuniePop or are you going to work on something totally different?
We’ll announce what we’re cooking up in the near future. 🙂
What advice would you give to people who are just starting to work on their first game?
Become completely and utterly obsessed with your game. There can be nothing else, there are no days off. If you aren’t having nightmares about your game you aren’t obsessed enough. I love this article by Mike Cernovich on the topic: http://www.dangerandplay.com/2014/03/27/become-obsessed-point-madness/.
Final question! Any dating advice to our readers?
I can only really give advice to men, but I think these ideas can easily work for many women too. Just put on your goddamn shoes and go talk to girls. Yes, it’s going to be super awkward at first, yes you are going to have absolute train wreck conversations; who cares? Do you honestly care that much if some random girl thinks you’re a creep, a weirdo or a loser? If you actually think about it, you don’t.
When I started talking to girls I made a commitment that in one month I was going to talk to 50 girls and I did it. I went out almost every night after work and put in the time. On day 21 I had my first FWB. This is coming from a complete nerd with a huge nose and busted teeth too. So, stop making excuses for yourself.