Interview With Hanako Games

Today marks the launch of the sodaware games section, and as an added bonus I conducted an interview with Georgina Okerson, the head of Hanako Games and author of the excellent Cute Knight.

Cute Knight is a role playing game in every sense, as you take control of your character on their 18th birthday and guide them until their 21st birthday. Every action will change the way the game ends and which one of over 50 different endings you'll see.

The interview follows below, with questions in bold. Enjoy!

Indie Life

Could you give a quick introduction - who you are, what you do (and why)?

My name is Georgina Okerson, and I create and sell downloadable computer games at Hanako Games. I'm also a big fan of anime, and that influence shows in my work. While there are a lot of anime-inspired games on the consoles, there's not so much on the PC.

What got you started on developing your own games?

Like a lot of people in this business I have been trying to make games since I was very young. I spent many math classes in high school programming simple games on my graphing calculator. Whenever I've come across new tools, I usually think "What can I make with this?"

What game(s) are you working on at the moment?

My current project is a puzzle-solving adventure game called Fatal Hearts ( Like many of my games, it has multiple endings. It's up to the player to decide who their friends and enemies are.

It's much darker than something like Cute Knight - the story is a blend of romance, mystery, and horror. Also, there will be vampires.

I don't think anything quite like it has been done before, but it's an experiment I really wanted to try.

What would your perfect game be like?

The perfect game for me is something like Planescape: Torment. A strong story, with enough variation in it for me to feel like I'm really exploring and shaping the storyline instead of just being led along on a rail, plus fun gameplay in-between the story developments. I mostly play RPGs and adventure games - that is, when I'm not just looking for a quick fix of bubble-popping.

What's your favourite part of being an indie developer?

Being in control. Being able to work on what I want, when I want.

Conversely, what part is the worst?

Having to wear so many hats. Programming is only the beginning. Even if you don't make your own art and music, you need to know something about art and music to get what you need and fit them into your game. Then there's websites, marketing, sales support, tech support, paperwork for deals with other companies… Some tasks sound very simple but can burn up a large amount of time when you have to do them all yourself.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own indie business?

The most important thing is determination and being able to complete something, anything. A lot of people have trouble slogging through the "boring bits", or even getting past the idea stage. They give up and come up with another idea, then never finish that one either. You have to learn to make plans you can follow through to the end.

Cute Knight

What was your inspiration for creating "Cute Knight"?

There's a series of Japanese games called Princess Maker in which you play an old retired soldier who's been given custody of a young girl. You make decisions for her, sending her to school, changing her diet, giving her jobs, and so on. This series is still popular in Japan but it's never been officially released in English, so the only way for me to have more games in that genre was to make them myself.

The most obvious difference is that unlike the parent-child setup in Princess Maker, in Cute Knight you are the character. It's much more of a role-playing game. There's also a storyline involving the player-character's hidden identity and secrets behind several other characters. Unlike Princess Maker, Cute Knight isn't just about raising your skills and seeing what career you receive.

Roughly how long did Cute Knight take to create?

A little less than a year.

What was the hardest part of creating the game?

Testing. With so many possibilities and so many secrets, it takes a lot of attempts to get a real feeling for how difficult anything in the game is.

Which feature(s) are you most proud of and why?

See next question.

If you could do anything differently, what would it be?

Actually, these are related. With the Wizard's Challenge minigame, I created a magic system so complicated even I have trouble with it. I'm proud that the complex rules work, but the actual minigame is just too hard. It just goes to show that sometimes the greatest programming achievements are not the greatest game achievements.

Think you'll ever do a sequel?

I do intend to make a sequel but not until after Fatal Hearts is finished.

So it won't be any time soon. The general plan is to make a game with a larger "world" - multiple villages you can travel between and so on. Beyond that, it's too early to say.


I'd like to thank Georgina for taking the time to answer these questions, and wish her all the best on Fatal Hearts!


Post a comment

org-mode tags allowed: /italic/, *bold* and =code=