Tokyo Dark Interview with Jon Williams

With the Kickstarter for Tokyo Dark slowly nearing its deadline, we have got a hold of Jon Williams from Cherrymochi to talk more about this exciting new horror adventure. What’s most interesting about this game is the depth which it will offer. With 10 different endings and various possible interactions depending on your stats, Tokyo Dark seems to be shaping into a very engaging title.


For anyone not acquainted with Tokyo Dark could you give us a short overview of what exactly we should expect?
Hi there, Jon from Cherrymochi here!
Tokyo Dark is a visual novel & point and click adventure game hybrid. Players can expect a dark twisting story that takes place in modern day Tokyo, they’ll have to make difficult choices and balance their sanity and personal life.



How did you come to the decision to make your own game?
We decided to make Tokyo Dark simply because it is a game we would like to play but no one else is making!
I have a background in developing interactive narrative and digital media for other companies, so we decided to go it alone and launched Cherrymochi, our own little studio to develop Tokyo Dark.


The first chapter of the game is scheduled for early 2016. How many chapters will there be in total? Will Tokyo Dark be episodic in nature or will there be one overarching plot?
Tokyo dark is not episodic. It is one complete stand alone story. We are releasing the first chapter of the game in early 2016 as a private beta to our Kickstarter [ Access Pack ] and above backers. For our backers it will be an early taste of the game and a great time to give us feedback. It’s an opportunity to test the engine on many different systems so we can iron out any potential problems and bugs long before the full release in late 2016.


Tokyo Dark is trying to combine western game mechanics and Japanese design. Do you think it will be enjoyed by both sides equally?
We hope so. We’ve actually received a lot more media attention here in Japan than in the West and have been covered by major Japanese gaming press including Famitsu. As we’re based in Tokyo but have an international team we hope we’ll be able to make a game that will appeal to both audiences.



The Kickstarter for Tokyo Dark earned more than three times the asking sum. Were you expecting so much support?
We’re almost at 400% funded and still 1 week to go until the end of the Kickstarter! As I said before we wanted to make a game that we wanted to play but we couldn’t find anyone developing. It seems many other people feel the same as us.


Tokyo Dark seems to be inspired by a lot of things, including titles such as Clock Tower, Heavy Rain, Shenmue, Higurashi and Corpse Party. Is there anything in particular that you would say impacted this project the most?
The largest influence on the development of Tokyo Dark outside of the games you’ve mentioned was our first hand experience of the Tōhoku earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in 2011. Earthquakes and the horror they bring are a key plot point in Tokyo Dark.


10 different endings are planned for Tokyo Dark. Will we need to play through the game multiple times in order to fully understand what happened?
The endings offer very different outcomes and some are drastically different. But yes we’ve designed Tokyo Dark to be repayable. You’ll definitely see many different things when you replay the game, to solve some of the games deeper puzzles you’ll have to replay the game a number of times.



Can you give us an example of how different interactions can change the outcome of a scene?
Here’s an early example: You receive a message from HQ, you choose to answer it nonchalantly. This lowers your professionalism attribute. A little later you come across a window, now that your professionalism is lowered you’ll have the option to break and enter. If your professionalism was higher that option would not be available to you.


Tokyo Dark is an ambitions project. What is the most challenging thing you encountered during development?
So far the biggest challenge has been developing Tokyo Dark for over 10 months with our own limited funding and savings. Now with the fantastic response of our Kickstarter we are in a great position to move on and throw ourselves into development!


Tokyo Dark seems like a huge undertaking for only three people. How do you manage working on the design, art and code at the same time?
Really good time management! But we don’t do everything ourselves we hire other freelancers to work on Tokyo Dark along side us.


Why was there no talk about a console release? Are you planing for one down the line?
We are too small a team to simultaneously cross-platform develop, we want to focus on making a great desktop game first. If Tokyo Dark is successful on desktop then we’ll be very interested in exploring other platforms, particularly the PS Vita.



Do you have any tips for people who are planning to work on their first game?
Don’t try and sell your first game! We have four Cherrymochi prototypes we developed and passed on before we came up with Tokyo Dark. If something is not working, move on, take what you learnt and look at how you can improve with something new.


And the final question! Tsundere vs yandere?
I’d like to answer but Maho (Tokyo Dark’s producer and my wife) is glaring at me from across the room. (She’s definitely Tsundere!)


Tokyo Dark is on Kickstarter until June 10th, there are still limited edition rewards left, but going fast.
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