We chat with Lucky Cat, developers of otome RPG The Silent Kingdom

The Silent Kingdom is an upcoming otome RPG being brought to us by a single developer, and I had the wonderful opportunity to interview her about her current project. Many thanks to Lucky Cat for answering our burning questions!

Rice Digital: You established yourself with a few fangames using RPG Maker, but your more recent works have been visual novels. What was behind your decision to return to the RPG style with The Silent Kingdom?

Lucky Cat: Oh! Actually, my first game as a kid was an RPG similar to The Silent Kingdom, so it’s a genre I’ve always liked. I took the VN approach with some games because it seemed to fit better with those in particular, and also because VNs are a million times easier to make, for me, at least! I always knew that making an actual game like The Silent Kingdom would require true and undivided commitment, so it definitely wasn’t something I could make for fun in my spare time.

Rice Digital: The Silent Kingdom is a blend of RPG and otome, a very distinctive meshing of two different genres. What made you decide to make such a product a reality?

Lucky Cat: It’s always been my kind of dream game! It’s a mix of my favourite things from both Japanese and western RPGs: the Japanese anime-style visuals, which are the kind of characters I personally consider the most attractive, with some of the interactivity of western RPGs.

It always frustrated me that such a game didn’t exist (or I simply didn’t know about its existence), so I just decided to make my own.

Rice Digital: Were you influenced or inspired by any other video games or creations when making The Silent Kingdom, and if so, how and where?

Lucky Cat: The Dragon Age and Baldur’s Gate series have been my main inspiration when it comes to character interactions and development. I can’t dream of making my game as detailed as those, for I’m an indie single-dev, but I definitely want to do my best effort to offer a fun roleplaying experience, using what I learned from those games!

The Silent Kingdom

Rice Digital: With The Silent Kingdom having a medieval/fantasy aesthetic, were there any major reasons as to why you chose that as the design choice overall? Did the character designs come first, or the setting?

Lucky Cat: Medieval fantasy settings are my absolute favourite. No idea if it’s because I’m European, haha! It’s fitting for twisted and dark stories, and it gives me freedom to create whatever I want. I’ve always known this was the kind of setting I wanted for my stories, though I was very reluctant because I had no idea of how to draw or design armour!

Rice Digital: We’re already familiar with the main character’s homeland of Crystaria from the demo. Will the designs of the other kingdoms appear as diverse as other JRPGs that would typically have very distinctive looking locations as you proceed through each village and town?

Lucky Cat: Ummm. The whole continent is inspired by Europe, so even if the kingdoms will have noticeable differences from one another, they’ll still be similar in the sense that everyone shares the same culture — no flying ships or people living inside giant mushrooms here. The place that might look the most different is perhaps the home of the Ashen, guardians of the mountains.

Rice Digital: Congratulations on not just reaching your Kickstarter goal, but going above and beyond it! The campaign was successful enough to unlock a Nintendo Switch release. Could you tell us a little about if that was your hope for The Silent Kingdom when you first started working on it, and if there will be any challenges in approaching the game on a different platform to the Windows release?

Lucky Cat: Thank you very much! Back when I started making the demo, I didn’t know if I’d be able to release it on Steam, haha! So the thought of releasing it on consoles didn’t cross my mind. In fact, I didn’t even consider myself a “dev”. I was just a girl in my room, surrounded by plushies and manga, making a game that made me happy.

When people started asking about console releases, not only did I realise that the game would suit Nintendo Switch, but also learned that many otome fans preferred Switch over PC. This is why I’ll make the game in Unity instead of RPG Maker MV, so that a publisher can easily port it once it’s finished. A couple of publishers already seem interested in doing the port, so hopefully that part won’t give me any headache! In any case, I want to take one step at a time.

The Silent Kingdom

Rice Digital: There is an extensive amount of world-building present in just the demo of The Silent Kingdom alone, exploring the main character’s origins plus the history of her kingdom and the other nations throughout the years. Was that the most difficult part to conceptualise during its creative process? It is so in-depth that it read to me like it took a while to build a world as rich and lore-heavy as it currently is.

Lucky Cat: Oh! I’m glad you appreciate the world-building! It’s still a small world, as I preferred to focus on just four kingdoms instead of making a super-huge, extensive universe. It’s easier for me to get familiar with it if it’s not too big.

As for the most difficult part… the Terrors’ lore was a bit of a headache. I had to think very carefully about it while making the demo. I knew they were very important, and I knew the reason was right in front of me, but I initially didn’t see it; I had to dig. Then everything finally fitted together, haha!

Rice Digital: How have you gone about creating a main character with an established backstory that can also be shaped by players’ choices? Will she develop differently for each and every player?

Lucky Cat: This part is going to be a fun challenge for me, and also tricky.

Most of the time, you’ll be given choices to reflect your main character’s feelings and treatment of other characters. Even if the main character has a core personality, I will always try to let you decide how you approach each situation — such as if you want to be kind or rude, or what your inner thoughts about the matter at hand are. For example, I want you to think about whether the main character having to kill is hard or easy for her — and you.

This will influence the way other characters see you in the short and long term, and will be reflected not just in the immediate dialogue, but also in future ones. Naturally, your personal relationship with other characters should bring changes to some scenes, unlock new ones, and will have huge impacts in the endings — or this is my goal, anyway!

The tricky part is, when it comes to advancing the core story, I want to ensure that your character’s personal feelings do not close any doors for you — or to close the least number of doors possible. The script is still in an early stage, so I still don’t know all the challenges I’ll find, but I’ll do my best! If I can make each scene fun and immersive for the player, I’ll be happy.

Rice Digital: Having played the demo of The Silent Kingdom, it struck me that in the game’s otome aspects in particular, you have gone for quite the nonstandard design choices. Notably, the main character is a lot more morally grey than the average main character for the genre, and the love interests do not neatly fit into archetypes. It’s all going against the grain and genre norms – was this intentional?

Lucky Cat: Ohh, I’m glad you feel that way! Truth be told, I didn’t take other otome games as reference. I just made the kind of characters and story I enjoy, without thinking of archetypes. I’m sure that every character is always naturally going to fill one archetype or another, and that’s fine; I’m just not consciously trying to either do that — though I’m not deliberately trying to subvert expectations either!

Characters are the most important to me, so I spend a lot of time digging about their psychology, and how they fit with each other. To me, they are very much alive and work like chemicals; you place them together in the same place and observe the results. When I create them, I just think of what kind of people the world has made them to be, what thoughts and secrets they keep, and what kind of chemistry they will have with the princess.

The Silent Kingdom

Rice Digital: Reaching the funding goals you did allowed you to add a third romanceable character in the form of The Gladiator as DLC. You also revealed the illustration of the stunning Princess Megaera in your update journal on Kickstarter. Can we expect more character reveals soon, and will there be many more characters to meet along the bloody path of reclaiming our Silent Kingdom?

Lucky Cat: I expect to reveal more characters as the game’s development goes on, like the other princesses and the different kings. Not sure if I’ll reveal other minor characters beforehand, as I don’t want to spoil everything.

The first thing I will reveal as soon as possible is the three characters who were made by backers!

Rice Digital: You have mentioned in your Kickstarter updates journal about how the choices system will affect how other characters perceive the main character, and how their lines may appear differently to each player depending on their choices. Can we expect that this mechanic will affect The Silent Kingdom’s romancing aspect?

Lucky Cat: Definitely! Details from the romance itself can change depending on your actions and the relationship you’ve chosen to have with the characters.

Something I really LOVED about Dragon Age II was the system where each character could “like” or “hate” you, and yet they could still fall in love either way. Some bits from the dialogue would differ to reflect the nature of the relationship.

When I get to write that part of the script, I would like to do the same! I hope I can make it right; I’ll do my best.

Rice Digital: Your approach to The Silent Kingdom’s romancing system is both refreshing and believable; all players can freely project their true selves onto how the main character behaves and responds to others and still be able to romance others regardless of her personality. Was this always the intention with the romance system, and how difficult was it to implement this across its love interests and maintain consistency?

Lucky Cat: I’m happy you appreciate it! It’s always been my intention because natural character interaction is something I love. I feel it’s a challenge, for I have to take several things into account, but something like the mentioned Dragon Age II system could make it work. I think it’s possible to love (or at the very least, feel lust for) someone who often gets on your nerves. It just creates a less healthy form of relationship, which is fun to explore in fiction.

The Silent Kingdom

Rice Digital: The Silent Kingdom is a “dark otome” with a plotline consisting of a main character having to kill other fellow princesses to restore her Kingdom’s state of slumber. What made you go with the anti-hero approach when creating her as the player character, since that is such a unique angle for an otome based game?

Lucky Cat: I guess I love morally grey characters; those who do questionable things and are far from perfect, and yet you’re still able to connect with them. Erinys is the kind I’d enjoy roleplaying in any RP forum, for she’s the kind capable of destroying everything, starting by herself, and I find that journey a fascinating one.

Her strong personality also helps her be the focus of the plot. She doesn’t serve as a piece in any love interest’s story but quite the opposite: the love interests are pieces in hers. This is her journey, featuring her goals and her mistakes.

Rice Digital: How was your experience seeing the response to The Silent Kingdom’s initial demo? Was it challenging to make any changes from feedback, and did you enjoy the experience of sharing and seeing such an impressive reaction to the prologue you worked so hard on?

Lucky Cat: I was terrified at first! I didn’t know if people would like the art, or if they would find the story enjoyable. I remember feeling exposed and full of doubts, and wondering if sharing it with many people other than my close friends would be a good idea. However, the initial response I got was that people liked the art, and then, after they played the demo, they also seemed very intrigued about the story. Everyone told me that they wanted to know what happens next. So I felt a huge sense of relief and finally started believing that perhaps The Silent Kingdom would work as a full game!

Also, watching streams and seeing people’s reaction gave me life, hahahaha! They gave me new ideas and inspired me to continue.

As for changes from feedback, I didn’t really have to change many things. Most of the things I added came from my own observations on what I could do to improve the experience, either after watching people play, or because I thought those things might make the game better. Like adding a proper running animation, which was a pain to make and no one had really asked for it, but I think it was worth it!

Rice Digital: The Silent Kingdom has rightfully and deservingly been receiving recognition since its first appearance on Kickstarter on other websites, blogs, YouTube videos and the like. Has seeing the widespread recognition helped you remain steadfast in going full steam ahead with fully committing to the creation and delivery of The Silent Kingdom? How have you felt with all of the coverage?

The recognition the game got, together with the passion that many players have displayed for it, have definitely helped me to want to pour all my energies into this. Seeing that other people appreciate your ideas and hard work is inspiring, and make you want to keep doing what you’re doing. So, all the coverage and comments that people have given me are what will make this game possible!

In other words, I’ve found happiness in this game!

The Silent Kingdom

Rice Digital: Do you have a final message to our readers — and everyone who is looking forward to The Silent Kingdom’s future progress? Is there anything at all you would like to add that we have not managed to touch upon with our questions?

Lucky Cat: I am very grateful to have met each of you, and to have received your feelings about this project. It’s only going to exist because you made it possible, so I will never find enough words to thank you!

I’m REALLY eager to make what’s coming next, and I hope everyone will keep being as immersed in the story and enjoy it as much as possible. I promise I’ll do my very best.

Last but not least, I want to thank Rice Digital for all their interest and coverage. They’re one of the very first media who wrote about the game — a very thoughtful and detailed article — and I remember it made me insanely happy to read it during the first campaign. That campaign was very difficult, so reviews like these made my days much brighter!

Thank you again and see you in Harmonia soon!

Rice Digital: Thank you once again for sitting down with us for this interview, Lucky Cat! We really look forward to seeing even more from yourself and The Silent Kingdom!

To keep up-to-date on the game’s progression, check out Lucky Cat’s Twitter, The Silent Kingdom’s Kickstarter page and Steam store page!

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