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Somnova Studios Dev Interviews: Hamadyne

Hello everyone, hope you’re all doing well and oh boy do we have a special blog post for you today. As promised, we have an interview with Hamadyne, one of the directors for Somnova Studios who was kind enough to take the time to be interviewed.

In the past, we’ve talked about how Katawa Shoujo was an inspiration to Missing Stars and was formed along with Somnova Studios. Could you go into details on how that had happened and how you got involved with the project? 

Shortly after Katawa Shoujo released, there was a discussion on the forums where another user had asked “Would you play a 'mental disability' VN similar to KS?"” After that, there was a post asking questions such as what was the setting, what kind of characters would we be dealing with, etc. During that time, I was interested in it and asked the OP, HoneyMuffin If I was able to join/help out, and ended up helping out as a medical advisor. Being on the autism spectrum, I felt that I could help out giving advice on that subject. Soon after that, we moved off the KS Forums onto another forum that our Lead Programmer Merlyn put together. 

So were you there from Day 1?

More like Day 14, joining up in the chaos of the project's early stages. Around 15-20 people had joined in that initial chaos. We had to make sure that we had people who were actually dedicated to the project. 

With Missing Stars being in development for nearly a decade, I understand that there have been a lot of ups and downs with development. What has kept you interested and importantly, dedicated to this project during the low moments? 

I’ve been asked that question by a lot of other people, and the big thing that keeps me motivated is that I really believe in the message Missing Stars has to offer its audience. It’s very relatable to a lot of people, whether you have a mental disorder or not. More than enough people either have a mental health disorder or know someone with one. It’s not a case of “I know an amputee” but I know some people who have one, not including myself. I really want to spread Missing Star's core message which is: “A relationship with someone with a mental health disorder is possible. It may have its ups and downs, but it is possible.” I would like to spread that message to give someone a new perspective on their own relationships. 

With the full release of Missing Stars coming in the future (with Act One coming very soon) what would be the one thing you are most excited for fans to see/show off? 

All of our stories for all of our characters. Not to doot my own horn, but feel that I’ve become a really good writer through working on Missing Stars so I kind of want to show off the kind of work I’ve done. I want to show people what we’re writing and I want to show people everything we’ve created over the years, with Act One being the start of that. 

What impact has Somnova, and separately, directing had in your life? 

Exposure to the programming python has exposed me to more programming languages in my work life. Being able to use another programming language helps a little bit with a lot of things at work, and looks good on my resume. The other big thing I’ve learned is being a leader. I became a lead director of Somnova Studios by seniority, so I'm more aware of what I'm what I'm doing on a project and how that impacts others. In real life, this translated totalking to my managers and co-workers as well as communicate when I’m struggling. People have positively commented on that ability to communicate, which people can often struggle with in my line of work.

Somnova’s flagship game “Missing Stars” is well known for its focus on mental mealth. Where did this idea come from and why? If you could point out a single message within Missing Stars, what would that message be?

That would be up to the OP of the original thread; he left shortly after Somnova Studios was formed. For me, I love seeing stories evolving from concept to coming to life on screen. It's always fascinating to me. The power of the written word is very powerful, with the visual novel conveying a huge message. I want to see Missing Stars come to life the same way as the rest of the thousands of projects already have. 
Each of our own heroines have their own message in each of the routes. If I had to pick one singular message, Missing Stars's overall, broader message is "You’re not alone". A lot of people have connections to mental disorders in one way or another. Hell, even admitting you have one can be difficult. So for Missing Stars to say “You’re not alone. There are others that are experiencing the same difficulties that you are,” I feel that's a really important message to hear in this day and age. In addition that,  to say that our characters have gotten help can show to other people: “YOU can get help. YOU can get better.” With Missing Stars, we can make it better for people who have those kinds of struggles.

Moving forward with Somnova Studios, are there any future plans that can be discussed presently and if so, which one are you excited for?

Mostly, I’m really excited to show off Missing Stars: Act One . After Act One drops, we’d like to do more projects like NaNoReno such as Arcadia. We’d all like a break to make something fun and stretch our creative muscles. Our current workflow works really well for Arcadia so we’d like to get started on another short term project like that one.  We also have a few plans with our sister studio, Watercress, as well. 

And finally, Act One When? 

We are working towards Act One and we’ll have a proper meeting to discuss exactly when, but I am fairly confident that we will meet our end of 2019 release date. The summer has been kind to us and we managed to get a good workflow going. With this final stretch, we’re about 75% of the way done with our writing and are in the progress of programming them into Ren’Py. We also have to do a master edit to make sure that things are consistent, such as making sure Erik is consistently written, as well as all of our other characters are consistently written. So far so good, we’ve been hitting our internal goals!
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