A while back I attempted to start a blog series called ‘If I Designed It’, which outlined my ideas and concepts for video games based on pre-existing franchises. Up until recently, I haven’t been inspired enough to sit down and write another installment. This week, however, I stumbled upon several ‘warning’ videos revolving around an indie game developer known as YandereDev, whose work-in-progress game Yandere Simulator I had been following for a few years. Personally, I didn’t keep too many tabs on the development anymore, as it was taking too long in my opinion to hit his milestones.
More than anything, however, I quickly recognized one of YandereDev’s main problems when it came to the development of the game was something my college professors would have defined as ‘scope creep.’ Rather than focusing on the major mechanics necessary for a proper, bug-free alpha or beta build, YandereDev made far too many update videos, focused on answering too many emails, and wasted his time programming ‘easter eggs’ and various memes into the environment for fun. In addition to that, Yandere Simulator’s core mechanics kept getting added onto.
It was unfortunate, but I gave up on the game ever being completed two years ago. That being said, the influx of new ‘drama alert’ Yandere Simulator videos have inspired me to take a look at what I think could have been a much cleaner, efficient game.
Rather than a generic ‘anime’ high school full of mostly underage teenagers, my game entitled Obsession would take place on a prestigous college campus full of young adults. It would be a large campus, complete with its own set of shops, on-campus dormitories, and the standard buildings roughly divided by core study: math and science buildings, language and history buildings, art buildings, etc.
There would be surveillance cameras, on-campus police, and occasional ’emergency phones’ positioned throughout the location as universities often do. This would add to the realism of the game, as Yandere Sim far too much relies on ‘haha who cares it makes sense in anime’ when it comes to creating a consistent, believable world. In addition, the Protagonist would live on campus, and therefore potentially have access to others’ living spaces.
The game begins after customizing your Protagonist and the target of your affection, whom for the rest of this example will be known as ‘Senpai.’ Regardless of their gender, Senpai will be pansexual and live off campus. They will also be a year ahead of the Protagonist.
The Protagonist will overhear the object of their affections discussing with their best friend (a potential love rival) that they have decided to join the Peace Corps (or some fictional equivalent) post-graduation. Overcome with anxiety, the Protagonist will essentially have a breakdown at the idea, reviewing that they have been in love with Senpai since junior high. They even studied really hard just to get into the same college! There is only one semester left before you’ll lose your chance to confess and convince them not to leave.
The best friend hugs Senpai in congratulations, and just as Protagonist is starting to calm themselves down, they freeze upon watching the platonic gesture. Their heartbeat pounds n their ears. They shake and seem to have a panic attack but, in essence, they are struggling to hold the rage within them.
They hurry away, reflecting on their anger problems and darker thoughts that they have done their best to keep from the world. They have a perfect little family. They’ve had a perfect little life. So why do they thrive on such dark thoughts? They ponder what might be wrong with them before dismissing it to focus on Senpai.
Stealth – Similar to Hitman and Asassin’s Creed, the Protagonist will have to work on blending in with a crowd around Senpai and/or their targets. This will include using their environment/other NPCs around them, and sneaking their way into buildings they shouldn’t have access to (the boys’ dorm for example.) The Protagonist will have to discover information about their rivals and other people in Senpai’s social circle in order to determine what to do next. Once several deaths have occurred on campus, a curfew will be permanently placed that requires all students to be home by 10PM for their own good. During that time, the Protagonist will have to keep an eye out for security, too.
Relationship Building – Our Protagonist is a psychopath — the version of a sociopath that is able to fake emotions, persuade others with superficial charm, etc. all while feeling no sense of guilt or remorse while hurting others. So it isn’t a stretch to assume that they have the ability to generally befriend others. In order to get close to Senpai and those involved in their social circle, the Protagonist will have to navigate the social jungle as well. This will lead to stalking on social media (they can only access the profiles if they are exclusively given the URL) to determine what kind of answers people will prefer. Say one character is really into a certain band. Learning this fact will open a conversation option to bring it up, increasing the relationship and trust with this individual. You will need to work extra hard to get a romantic rival to trust you enough to provide their own vulnerabilities, which will lead to ways to murder them.
Controlling Your Rage – Much like horror games that have a ‘panic’ meter, the Protagonist’s psychopathic tendencies will be a constantly-growing percentage that will have to be controlled in a variety of ways. Whether it’s looking at a secretly-snapped photo of your beloved, taking a quick yoga class, or brutally murdering a small creature off-screen, players will have to manage keeping the terrors of the Protagonist in check. If you have too high a percentage, all of your conversation options will adjust to negative, erratic ones; once tipped over, the Protagonist will enter a rage-induced mode; the player will then have 120 seconds to murder as many people as they can while being hunted by the police.
Skill-Ups: Attending classes will gradually increase specific stats. When a stat reaches a certain point, it will unlock various new dialogue options. In addition to this, attending social events will gradually increase your social connections with other students and unlock new dialogue.
Other Thoughts and Ideas
This part isn’t so much about the game itself as it is my strategy for building the game from the ground up, primarily because of how disorganized the developer of Yandere Simulator apparently is. One of the things I noticed when I was still a fan of the game was that he would ask questions and opinions of the audience a lot. Things like ‘would you want me to add X feature into the game?’ And of course people say yes. Why wouldn’t they? It’s not like they’re making it!
When it comes to developing a demo strong enough to entice people to crowdfund the full game, I would focus on scenarios that portray the core mechanics of the game in a simple, but clear way.
- Customizing the Protagonist with a few set skin tones, eye colors, hairstyles, and outfits
- Customizing the Senpai in a similar fashion
- A scenario where one has to follow Senpai through a parking garage without being noticed; in this scenario, curfew is implemented and security is high.
- A scenario where the Protagonist is at a party, attempting to get information on what Senpai plans to do after graduation; halfway through the ‘mission’, Senpai shows up and is greeted by the party hostess with a kiss on the cheek. This triggers the Protagonist, who must then calm down in the bathroom; the mission then becomes to spike the hostess’s food, as she apparently has a severe nut allergy
None of scenarios 3 and 4 would be in the game, but constructing these scenarios would assist in portraying what the final game would look like, and help build hype for a potentially dark guilty-pleasure sort of game. Being able to customize the pronouns and appearance of both the Protagonist and the Senpai would also make the game more accessible and appreciated by others. One thing I read that Yanderedev refused to do was ‘appeal to the Social Justice Warriors’ by including trans, gay, and non-Asian characters in his game. Not only is this a narrow-minded worldview, but a stupid move as far as business and marketing.
Anyway. This isn’t meant to be particularly antagonistic towards Yandere Simulator or the dev specifically. I’m simply reacting to what I’ve observed and what I’ve heard, and commenting more on what I would do differently! What do you think?