Hey guys, did you hear? A bunch of feeltards are doing a Katawa Shoujo rip-off, but with retarded girls.
What kind of person would want to do that?
What kind? I dunno. I guess I'm sort of a normal dude, as are my colleagues. Well... normal-ish.
Anyways, this may come as a surprise, but Missing Stars seems to have garnered some controversy by its mere existence. Generally, I don't bother reading or listening to criticisms said about our project, as they're mostly based on assumptions since precious few details concerning our VN have been released so far.
Nonetheless, I feel that there are questions that have arisen that deserve to be answered.
Why are you doing this?
It's fucking fun, that's why. Somnova isn't just a dev team. We're friends, too. Sure, we might want each other dead by the end of the project, but so far I'm glad to have become acquainted with my colleagues. Together, we've had some laughs, fapped over shared musical tastes, swapped porn, and provided company and solace in times of need. I'm happy to have met these talented folks, and to have the opportunity to create something with them.
What do you expect to accomplish?
I'm hoping to create a story that I can personally be proud of, and to have fun in the process. If even only a few people enjoy Missing Stars in the end, I'll be satisfied. I'm not counting on fame and adoration from the VN-reading public. I myself don't thrive on ego stroking. Honestly, I don't really handle praise well. I do want people to like my work, but I never know how to react to having my work gushed over, because I always feel like someone else deserves it more.
I'm not counting on Missing Stars blowing minds and revolutionizing the nascent subgenre of “captive harems in special needs boarding school” eroges, obviously. I just want to come out with a little story that people enjoy.
What's up with the characters?
We were faced with the challenge of unveiling our protagonists without spoiling our story or committing to characterizations that we'd want to change later. At the time, simply having a name and a picture seemed like far too little to show for our work. After all, we had to show how far we've come since imperial.standard first posted his character concepts in open forum.
In order to keep from spoiling the story or giving away character details, we pretty much wrote harmless and inconsequential fluff like trivia and measurements. In my case, I knew that readers would react strongly to a path girl wearing facial restraints, so I threw in the fact that she's a Twilight fan, thinking it'd be a silly little distraction from her striking appearance.
And what a distraction that turned out to be! I estimate that out of all of the negative reactions to Lena's début, a good 60% were complaints that she's a Twi-hard. Apparently, readers have very strong and clearly defined expectations of what sort of character would read and enjoy paranormal romance fantasy.
All in all, we did get some surprises out of the way readers reacted to the character profiles. Could this whole thing have been executed better? Maybe. However, given the general spitefulness of the internet at large (admit it, we're all assholes online) and the controversy that's surrounded Missing Stars from the beginning, it could have also gone a lot worse. The profiles are not worth retracting, in my opinion. Besides, it did give us exposure, and seeing positive, constructive feedback along with claiming of the girls as waifus made it all worth it.
Are you guys a bunch of redditors?
As far as I know, out of the nearly three dozen persons who are or have been a part of the development team, only two or three joined after learning about the project on Reddit. The majority joined after reading the proposal thread on the KS forums. The rest were recruited through word-of-mouth or other means. I myself don't use Reddit; I don't really like the website's format. I prefer traditional forums as internet hangouts.
So, no, Missing Stars is not the Reddit VN. That honor goes to the Eisei Gakuen VN project, which was at one point known as "redditvn" on their own forums. There may be other products initiated there, but I'm not sure.
So, what about those other OELVN projects?
With so many projects going on right now, it's really an exciting time to be a visual novel fan. I myself wasn't really into VNs before KS, because I would usually get put off by the involved process of installing and language-patching them. Soon, I'll have a whole bunch to look forward to reading. I've mostly been keeping to my own project lately so I've lost track of some of the others, but I'm looking forward to Con'Ai, Salty Tears, Rosae Dormientes, Con Amore, and the work of Team Mumei.
Are you aware that are you ripping off Katawa Shoujo?
A while ago, I took a step back and asked myself if I'm really okay with working on a VN that's a derivative of another work.
Well...? Yes. Yes, I am okay with it. To me, having a unique premise is only part of having a worthwhile product. This isn't a slavish remake to 4LS's creation. Missing Stars lives in its own lovingly-crafted world, and will explore its own themes and possibilities.
Besides, we never deluded ourselves and said “NUH-UH! This time, it's mental disabilities! It's totally different.” We make no pretenses that the premise is ground breaking.
Then why don't you do something original?
The thing is, Somnova Studios formed around the project founder's original proposal. We didn't all get together for the nebulous purpose of writing a VN, and THEN come up with the premise of a mental-school dating sim after failing to come up with an original idea of our own. The idea was out there, and each of us saw it and thought to ourselves “I can do this. I want to be a part of it.” That's how Missing Stars came to be.
That's not to say that we can't come up with an original VN. Most of our staff have kicked around various ideas for our own kinetic and visual novel projects. We would love to pursue further ideas, but for now, let's get Missing Stars finished.