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[Featurama] Four Leaf Studio Interview

For the past five years a group of dedicated volunteers were hard at work on a visual novel that has the interesting premise of pursuing relationships with female heroines with various disabilities. Birthed from 4chan the game went on to grab attention and raise questions and I myself had a few.

Amazed by the game I had kept an eye on since the launch of the demo reaching out for a few questions was a must.


The staff are very open about there work and progress so if you have further questions I suggest you also check out the ask thread on their forums.

[Artwork belongs to respective artists]

Twinfinite: First off introductions. Who are you and what is your role at Four Leaf Studio?

Aura: I’m Aura, the head writer and Rin path writer in 4LS

How did the project get started?

 You can read a pretty detailed history of the project up until 2009 here: http://katawashoujo.blogspot.com/2009/05/long-history-of-katawa-shoujo.html

I guess naturally the question “Why?”would come up. I mean anyone can see the original picture where the idea came from but what fueled the actions to undertake the difficult task of creating and writing the game?

Why does anyone ever do anything? We all like Visual Novels as a medium, so trying our own hand at it was certainly a big part of the attraction. Otherwise, I don’t know what to say. We are creative people and like to do things, challenge ourselves, learn and improve. A project like this is a very good opportunity for that.

How was the team of artists, writers, and programmers assembled?

It’s all volunteers, so initially people who were interested in making something like this, had applicable skills and could be in for the long term sort of self-selected to be in the development team. I guess it was a very darwinian process. Later on, further recruitment was done through a very typical application process.

Once the team knew what it wanted to do how were the logistics planned? The work division, the planning, directing of the game from a group of people that are from all over the globe?

Some of it was dictated by the realities of a project like this, some was the result of us gravitating towards working routines that produced the best results. Things like low group hierarchy, heavily distributed workload, iterative and collaborative refinement process and so on are methods we developed along the way because they worked for us. On the other hand, for example the decision to split the writing to five people, who each took one main character and wrote mainly her story, was something we did from the get-go simply because we thought it’d give the writers more focus.

A lot of these questions were answered on the Staff About page on your website but it’s still hard to imagine the game was literally born from the mass imagination of the internet. Multiple views,hundreds of voices, and thousands of ideas. If anything it’s a testament towards everyone’s dedication for the project.

Dozens of ideas and projects like this spawn every day on the internet. Only a tiny minority ever see the light of the day. We’ve been lucky, but also persistent.

For a fan project developed over this long, what was it like keeping focused and what were some of the biggest issues to overcome?

Certainly keeping focus and motivation high for long periods of time was a challenge. Similarly, communication between and organizing 20 or so people around the world doing this thing on their spare time was immensely difficult to do satisfactorily. We stumbled along the way a whole lot, but simply never gave up.

I’ve seen the influence chart of the team so I can’t really ask “What influenced you while crafting the game?” So instead I’d like to ask how some of the more prominent influences were incorporated into the game.

I think the influences are, generally, either so holistic or so subtle that it’s not really even possible to discern their effects from the styles of the writers and artists. Exception is maybe Tatsuki Amaduyu’s art, which very strongly (and with a deliberate decision) influenced the art style of KS. Also, the beginning of the game echoes some tones of the visual novel Narcissu.

The original omake page birthed the idea and initial designs of the game but what personally drew in say you or any other member of the team specifically to the project?

For me, it mostly was the idea of collaborative working and the attraction to work with the VN medium.

Was the team worried of the backlash once the fact that a Dating-Sim with disabled girls was being made?

Not really. It’s hardly the strangest thing, especially in the anime/manga subculture. Of course KS does get negative commentary based on the subject matter alone, but it doesn’t bother us.

How did the writers go about handling a situation like a school about the disabled and the fleshing out the characters beyond the superficial?

It’s simply just work. Long discussions, refining ideas, thought work, brainstorming, research, all that. Often writers would work on some idea alone and then present it up for discussion to the rest, after which it would get refined further or discarded.

What were your goals when you started the project? Maybe the answer might be as simple as “Make a great game”but was that it?

We wanted to make the game. There really is nothing more or less to it, and never was. Certainly, we always were highly ambitious and set really high standards for ourselves, but getting the game done was always the one and only goal of the project.

Now that the game is out and it’s all over what is the general feeling of the team?

We’re happy, of course, and maybe a little wistful too. Certainly a whole lot less stressed. It’s a bizarre feeling to think that 5 years of work is done and over with. It’ll take some time getting used to, I’m sure.

The fan response has been overwhelmingly positive. How have you guys handled such a wave of congratulatory cheer?

There’s been way too much response to parse and we are quite overwhelmed by it. I suppose we’re just very glad that the fruit of our labor is resonating with so many people.

I pretty much enjoyed all the routes (With Shizune and Rin being personal standouts) but I have to ask: What are some ofthe team’s favorite heroines?

 Rin is very popular within the dev team. I guess she’s our number 1.

Expect Twinfinite’s review later this week!

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