Recently here at Cliqist, we talked about a new visual novel seeking funding on Kickstarter called Seduce Me – An Otome Visual Novel being brought to us by Seraphim Entertainment, and we were lucky enough to be able to interview Michaela Laws, the head writer and programmer of the game. In our look into the upcoming title, we have some never-before-seen information along with plans for the game not outlined on Kickstarter.
Cliqist : Hello, Michaela, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Let’s start by telling the readers a little bit about yourself, Seduce Me, and the role you have in the development process.
Michaela Laws : Hello! Absolutely! My name is Michaela Laws, the creator of the upcoming otome visual novel, Seduce Me. Seduce Me is a story of a girl who not only has to deal with a large change in her life, but also becomes part of the lives of five incubi (demons) who basically fell in her lap after a fight they escape from. With these demons becoming part of her life, she has to balance hiding who they are from her parents and her friends while also helping them get themselves back on their feet on top of maintaining her life and carving out her own story. On the team, I am the head writer, director, programmer, and voice acting manager for the game.
Cliqist : What were some of your influences while writing the storyline of Seduce Me?
Michaela Laws : I am a big fan of otome visual novels. However, being that they’re more popular in Japan than America, it’s really hard to find games to play unless you know Japanese. So, I wanted to write an otome game that people could enjoy here in America. I am also a HUGE supernatural freak. When it came to the idea of what Seduce Me would be like (this was back in March of last year), I played around with the thought of the supernatural and how I could make a unique story that wasn’t overdone while still using that theme. Vampires? We already have Diabolik Lovers (Rejet/Idea Factory) and Twilight. Zombies? Too unbelievable for an otome game and already touched upon romantically with the movie Warm Bodies. Then came Demons. For some reason, demons stuck out to me. Not many stories involved demons because of the large lore and flexibility they had. When I narrowed down the type of demons I could write about, Incubi practically jumped out at me and stuck to my idea like glue, however, I didn’t want just a story about incubi. I also wanted to write a story that people could connect to outside of the supernatural themes. Many girls go through romantic adventures in high school, so it was definitely something I wanted to play with in this story. Add on the teen-to-adulthood responsibilities and you have a common teenage senior year which anyone can connect to one way or another because of experience. All that I needed then was the characters. When I wrote out the main character, Mika, I imagined her to be someone you would meet in reality; hard-working, stubborn, full of spunk yet can be easily surprised, etc. Mika became a catalyst almost for me personally because she is who I wished I was in high school.
Then came her two best friends, who reminded me so much of some personal friends of mine as I sculpted them out. Mika’s father was influenced by many horror stories I’ve heard from close friends, mainly about strict parents who demanded that their child be perfect in every way and adaptable to the parent’s needs before their own, while Mika’s mother was a kind and caring parent who really couldn’t do much to help. Lastly, I made Lisette. She is both a foil character to Mika and is a representation of every single girl who bullied me from kindergarten to my senior year of high school. Many people have had bullies in their life and having Lisette there brings not only a chance to connect to Mika, but also shows the victim’s side of a bully situation to those fortunate enough to have never been bullied or inferior to someone in school.
Cliqist : How big is your development team?
Michaela Laws : Our team is actually really small! I’m head of the team as the head writer, director, and programmer. Maltagliati is our artist and my co-writer. Christopher Escalante is both the composer for the game and a voice actor for the incubus Erik. Then finally we have 12 other voice actors (provided by the voice acting company Voiceiyuu who have graciously donated their time and voices to the project. I am blessed to be able to work with every single person on this team.
Cliqist : What kinds of themes and story arcs can we expect?
Michaela Laws : There’s a lot I have planned for this story. The one theme I mainly hope to get across is the theme of inner growth. Mika is already a strong character, but she also has her weakness and pitfalls, just like any other human being. Through the game, I am going to put her through a lot of surprises and events that will essentially change her (for the better), especially with the expectation that her father has on her throughout the entire story. It’ll be hard for her, but that’s the challenge of growing up and everyone goes through that. There will also be themes of romance that not many otomes touch from my experience. A lot of otomes play the fact that men are stronger than women and will always dominate the romance. They also play with the guy taking whatever they want from the girl without consent while the girl just accepts it as it is instead of questioning it. I’ll be blunt: I am not a fan of non-con (non-consensual romantic actions). When I started to write Seduce Me, I made a vow to make sure there was, at the very least, a balance between the romantic partners. This is why I placed Mika in power with the boys adhering to her as guests in her house. During the game, she has the power to deny them what they want because she is in charge. I don’t want to give readers the impression that, if someone kisses you without asking, you should accept it. I want to give the readers the idea of ‘HEY! Hold on! I’m a human being! You need to ask first and, if I’m not okay with it, you need to back off!’ I’m not just trying to advocate for women here, though. I also want to show that guys are not just sex-craved beasts that only want to ravish you. When she denies them, the boys accept it and understand, which is a trait usually not seen in otomes and is a trait often overlooked in reality. I know many guys who are very much pro-consent, but because of this popular belief that all guys will do anything for sex or romance, they’re barely noticed. Contrary to this widely-accepted opinion, there ARE guys out there who are okay with you saying no! With using Incubi, which are essentially very sex-related creatures, I want to show that guys can have control of themselves and can be okay with you saying no. As for pursuing the boys, however, each boy is VERY different and will bring Mika through different stories. A couple of their stories (Damien, specifically) will be very hard to swallow because of the content, but then again, this is a PG-16 game. The player will also have to play with morals and making hard decisions that will influence the future of the boys.
Cliqist : What convinced you that the game should be free-to-play?
Michaela Laws : I am one of those visual novel fans who have raised their fists to the heavens and cursed the fact that they didn’t have any money to buy a visual novel that they really wanted to play. Many VN’s have been out of my reach as of late because financial issues. This also rings true to many people on the team.
What the team and I want to accomplish is making a commercial-quality game that ANYONE can enjoy without having to curse the heavens because they don’t have $30 to spend on a visual novel. I also want to prove to people that anyone can make a visual novel that’s free that matches professional standards with enough dedication to the project. MANY people say that if it’s not a pay-to-play game, it’s not professional. I would like to prove these people wrong.
Cliqist : What seems to be the most difficult part of making a visual novel?
Michaela Laws : Honestly, it’s the organization of it. Many of us have outside jobs or go to school or what not. Seduce Me, being that it is not a paid job right now, is a project people have to volunteer their time for. Some of us are in other visual novel projects or are in fan projects on top of Seduce Me, so it’s hard to schedule times when actors can voice their parts or when parts of the script need to get done or when the art needs to be finished. There’s no doubt we can pull together and finish the project no matter what; it’s just the matter of the pre-publishing of ‘Okay, where are Mr. Anderson’s lines. Oh wait, I need the sprites for this character. Hold on, I gotta finish this part of the story before we move on!’ that really gets us flustered.
Cliqist : How can people help Seduce Me become a reality?
Michaela Laws : The way people can help make this game incredible is simply through support. Even if you can’t donate to the game through our Kickstarter, spreading the word to your friends and family who might enjoy the game is a big help for us! However, I don’t want to give the impression that the game will not be made should we not be supported. Everyone on the team (bless them) has agreed to go through with the creation of this project no matter what happens. It’ll just take more time because, without funding, the game will remain a volunteer project and not a priority. To make the game as great as it possible, we just need support. Personally, I also love to read and hear what people have to say about the project so that we can make the game better in the long run. I’ve had many people come up to me with questions and concerns and I want to be able to fix the game with this knowledge so that people can fully enjoy the game without having those doubts or questions. I’ve also seen many reviews about the demo and there are many things I could fix just from what I’ve seen, so that’s very helpful.
Thqanks to Michaela Laws for taking the time to answer our questions!
The Seduce Me is running until March 16th and has a funding goal of $4,000