Feature Interview with a Visual Novel Developer Who Doesn’t Like Visual Novels
by Hannah Walsh
Thanks for sitting down with me, Chad! For anyone who is not familiar with Travis Anthony or his work, he’s the creative mind behind Rotten Edamame Studios, which just released a visual novel called Heartstopper Park.
Although it may look like an ordinary visual novel about an eighteen year old protagonist working at a theme park, Heartstopper Park takes a mid-game twist that’s left players in suspense and created quite the fanbase. Can you tell us a little bit about how it came to be?
Appreciate the interview, Hannah. Heartstopper Park is a project I originally toyed around with in a lot of different mediums that just weren’t working out. When I heard about stuff like Hateful Girlfriend and Doki Doki Literature Club, I was like, that’d be easier!
Would you say that Hatoful Boyfriend or Doki Doki Literature Club influenced the highly turbulent, unusual drama of Heartstopper Park?
Hard to say! I didn’t get very far into either of those. [Laughs]
Are there any other visual novels that influenced your design philosophy, then?
Well, I think the whole genre’s kind of the same, because they’re either vapid fluff for girls or they’re porn. I don’t really have an interest in any of them. There’s not many original ideas in visual novels—especially not Japanese ones—so I thought I could give them my own unique spin. And it’s been great to hear from all these players who don’t play other visual novels, you know?
You certainly did attract an audience like that, congratulations! It’s been heartwarming to watch so many people on Twitter talk about how Heartstopper Park dispelled misconceptions they had about visual novels—and I’m sure it’s great for your business that so many people have said that they don’t feel the need to…pick up any more.
Well, you’re not wrong there. [Laughs]
What about the choice to have non-genderlocked love interests? Do you have anything to share about how that came to be?
Hm, I’d have to say I find genderlocking restrictive. I think it’s much easier to let anyone date anyone, and more people will play if nobody has identity labels.
True, true. You’ve also got some racial diversity—
—Which has been equally popular with your players.
All our white characters are from different places! Kait-Lynneas family is Polish and Mikeas family is British.
Honestly, that’s all thanks to our character designer/artist. She made those decisions, and her art really has been the biggest selling point!
Can you tell us a little bit about the process of working with them and where else we can find their work?
I’d love to, but I’ve actually got to run—Thanks so much again for the interview, Hannah.
No, thank you!
You can find Chad on Twitter at @RottenEdamameStudios or buy
Heartstopper Park now for $59.99 on Steam. ◒
Hannah Walsh is a layabout who sprung fully-formed into existence just to be a no-aim, no-brain Winston main on Overwatch. You can find her by asking an abandoned Appalachian train station if anyone's got a lighter you could borrow.