The making of idols

This winter and spring we got involved in a real fun enterprise, the fruits of which you can now see out in the wild: the production of the first-ever official 100% Orange Juice character song “Ultimate Weapon Girl”, alongside the super cheerful Sora & Sham (Cuties) double character.

You can enjoy the full song on our YouTube channel with English captions.

I thought I’d write a few words about the whole project while it’s still fresh in our memories.

The whole idea came as the result of *cough* careful planning during the last Tokyo Game Show visit to Japan. The original pitch for an idol song to accompany the fabled “Cuties” character duo came from our lead programmer Tony, and as great ideas often do, it was conceived randomly in the wee hours of the night. He then casually mentioned the funny idea he’d gotten to myself the following day, supposedly expecting me to laugh it off. Joke’s on him – I immediately started discussing the logistics of such a possibility instead.

Not long after, it was time for Tokyo Game Show, and Miki Maruyama (the voice of Sora and Marie Poppo) was cosplaying as Sora at our booth. At one point during the long event, Tony went on to ask Miki if she had any interest in singing, and before he’d even finished the question, Miki was already enthusiastically on board with the idea. Our next voice recording was the very next week, and during that we pitched the idea to Orange Juice as well, and the discussion ended up taking a great deal of the evening. Although we had to get more realistic about production costs and modest sales expectations at this point, they were all up for giving it a try.

We wanted DEKU (whom most of you probably know to be the composer of all the SUGURI/Sora soundtracks) to make the song if possible, and lucky for us, he was also excited about the opportunity. Over the winter we first received some samples, and one was selected for further development. As Sham was up for getting a voice in the next recording session, Fukuyama Saori, who’s a singer and songwriter, was chosen to voice her and she also helped with making the idol song work. Hono laughingly mentioned to us that the first draft of lyrics was rejected as “too denpa”, but eventually a fully-fledged idol song was born!

Fast forward to April 2019, and the next recording session. Most of a day was set aside for the voice recording, and I’m happy I had the opportunity to be present for the unique event. It’s a magical experience watching professionals work on a song recording. With Saori’s directing, the song went incredibly smoothly and I couldn’t believe how wonderful it sounded right off the bat even before editing.

Hearing Miki smoothly deliver her Sora idol lines and sing, a new inspiration struck, and as soon as there was a break in the action I took Hono aside to ask what he thought of asking Miki to do a bonus Poppo version of the song as well, unreasonable as that was on such a short notice. Apparently Miki overheard the conversation, and as enthusiastic as always, practically jumped in to say she wants to do it!

Believe it or not, the “bonus track” was done in a single, flawless take without any script (repeating the ex tempore miracle from the core voice recording, where Hono made a last-minute decision to change Poppo’s announcer voices into Poppo-speak, after hearing her deliver the other lines)! Miki truly is one with the Poppo.

This has been an awesome experience, and we hope many people will enjoy the results. After going back and forth on many different ways to deliver the character song pack, we ultimately decided to separate it from the character into a standalone pack with no in-game tie-in, so those who aren’t interested in the music don’t feel they need to pay a lot for a “single character” in the game, and so we can also better evaluate the actual sales of the songs. It’d be amazing if the reception’s good enough to justify more character songs for the crew we love in the future!

The Sora & Sham (Cuties) character song “Ultimate Weapon Girl” is available on Steam and in the Fruitbat Factory store.

– Jakke Elonen

Parting ways with Shiisanmei & Lionheart

Hello all,

We find ourselves in the sad situation where we have to announce we’ll be parting ways with developer Shiisanmei and removing Lionheart from our catalogue.

To only give the most general summary of the reason behind this decision within the bounds of general confidentiality, the developer seems to have had unrealistic expectations for the Steam release of Lionheart, which coincided with personal issues we weren’t aware of, and that has led them to harass our staff incessantly to a degree where they’ve had to take sick leaves due to stress. This has been a continuous strain on our entire company for the past 2 years, and while we’ve hoped for the situation to improve over time, their behavior has only grown more aggressive instead, to a point where we simply cannot condone their actions.

We’ve long tried to find a peaceful way to solve the situation, or at least peacefully detach ourselves from the developer without any drama, but unfortunately even this has turned out impossible. Since we have contractual obligations to our partners, we found that the only way we can secure the well-being of our employees is to cut off ties with the developer altogether.

I now regret we didn’t take this step sooner, since the signs were there already before the release of the game, when the contacts from developer side started to turn increasingly bizarre.

I dislike unnecessary drama and I would’ve been happy to not make this post, but as the developer has (not unexpectedly) now begun slandering us in public, it’s unfortunately impossible to say nothing. However, we are still bound by confidentiality, so what we can say is limited in scope. Please accept this as the bare minimum statement from our side.

Lionheart will be permanently discontinued from our distributors after February 11. It can be purchased for -90% off on Steam and Fruitbat Factory store until January 21, so if you wish to add it to your collection, we encourage you to do so now.

I’d like to stress that Lionheart is a fun game that we’ve spent months and months polishing, so I can only hope these news won’t spoil your enjoyment of it.

We wish Shiisanmei all the best in their future endeavors.

-Jakke Elonen
President of Fruitbat Factory

みなさま、こんにちは。

今回は、開発者の十三妹様とお別れし、Lionheartを弊社のカタログから削除しなくてはならない状況なってしまったという悲しいお知らせです。

この決断に至った背景を守秘義務の範囲内でご説明いたしますと、開発者様側がSteam上でのリリースに現実的ではない期待を抱いてしまっていたということと、私達の知らなかった個人的な問題が重なり、結果的に弊社の社員に対し絶え間なく嫌がらせ行為を行い、精神的苦痛のため休職しなくてはならない状態に追い込んでしまうということが起きてしまったからです。

過去2年間、このことが会社全体に継続的な負担となっており、時間とともに状況が改善されていくことを望んでいましたが、希望とは裏腹に容認できない程度までその行動が悪化してしまうという事態となってしまいました。

長い間に渡り、この状況を平和的に解決するための方法を探し、少なくとも何の問題もなく開発者様から身を引くことを試みてきましたが、それさえも不可能になってしまったことを大変残念に思います。私たちはパートナー様に対して契約上の義務を負っているので、弊社従業員の安全を確保する唯一の方法は開発者様との関係を完全に遮断することであるとの判断を下しました。

今では、ゲームのリリース前にも開発者様側から奇妙な連絡があったり等、すでにその兆候があったにも関わらず、なぜもっと早い段階で今回のような決断をくださなかったのか非常に後悔をしています。

私としても不必要な争いや、今回のような投稿はしたくなかったのですが、予想外にも開発者様が公に弊社を誹謗中傷し始めているので、これ以上黙って見ているわけにはいかなくなった次第です。しかしながらまだ契約上、守秘義務がありますので、私から今回申し上げられたことは本当に最小限のことであるということを理解していただけると幸いです。

Lionheartは2月11日以降、永久に販売中止となります。1月21日までSteamとフルーツバットファクトリーストアで90%オフで購入できますので、今のうちに購入しておくことをお勧めします。

最後にLionheartは何ヶ月もかけて磨きあげた楽しいゲームであることを強調したいと思います。今回のニュースがその楽しさを損ねてしまわないことを心から願っています。

十三妹様の今後のご活躍を心からお祈り致しております。

フルーツバットファクトリー代表

ヤッケ エロネン

Acceleration of SUGURI 2 Fan Art Contest Gallery

You can view all the contest entries for the Acceleration of SUGURI 2 fan art contest here. The original entries can be found in the Acceleration of SUGURI 2 Steam community artwork section, and Twitter with the hashtag #aos2contest.

The winner of the contest was fuka.mizno with this exquisite artwork!

2nd place:

Innocentia

3rd place:

hiyo_08

4th place:

cool11

5th place:

tudanum

6th place:

Shinso

7th place:

esukI̳̲̻̫͔͑ͅ

8th place:

BlankCthulhu

9th place:

gattaiken[JP]

10th place:

Zakuromu


Below you can see all the other contest entries, in no particular order. Please enjoy!

dav

Which one is your favorite?

Chuusotsu! 1st Graduation: Time After Time Review

The Yuri Empire

Note: Review Code provided by Fruitbat Factory.

On the outside this looks to be a fun Girls Club (Cute Girls Doing Cute Things) story but as veterans of this Slice of Life subgenre will tell you, the best Girls Club stories are ones where there is more to the story than watching cute girls doing whatever they feel like doing. The question is whether the hidden layers of this story are enough to warrant everyone’s attention. Let us find out as we take a look at Chuusotsu! 1st Graduation: Time After Time developed by Studio Beast and published by Fruitbat Factory.

WARNING! Game contains some ecchi CGs/moments, dirty language and subject matter not suitable for people under the age of 13 (or maybe 17). If this were an anime it would be categorized as a PG-13 series. Viewer discretion is advised.

Chuusotsu-1st-Graduation-Cover

View original post 1,847 more words

SeaBed Coming to Western Shores!

We’re very excited to reveal a new game acquisition: SeaBed, Paleontology’s highly anticipated psychological yuri visual novel is getting an English language release by us!

SeaBed was released in Japan in 2016 and quickly drew the attention of visual novel enthusiasts in both Japan and abroad.

Text-wise, SeaBed is one of our largest translation projects, in addition to being known for its unique, high level writing style. We expect translation to take longer than usual, since we want to bring it out in the highest quality possible to meet the fans’ expectations. The English PC version is currently expected to release in late 2017.

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Who is SeaBed for? Well, if you like yuri games, or just like a really well written story regardless of genre, this is a game you shouldn’t miss. SeaBed’s story is deeply psychological and beggars description, but here’s the official synopsis:

SeaBed is a critically acclaimed yuri-themed mystery visual novel told through the perspectives of three separate characters: Mizuno Sachiko, a designer plagued by hallucinations of her past lover; Narasaki Hibiki, Sachiko’s friend and a psychiatrist researching the workings of human memories; and Takako, Sachiko’s former lover who has been rapidly forgetting her past, including how or why the two women drifted apart despite being together since childhood.

All three live in different worlds, but seek the same goal. To separate truth from illusion. To make sense of their own lives.

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The Steam version of SeaBed is being updated to natively support 1440×1080 resolution. It will also include Steam achievements, Cloud support and Steam Trading Cards.

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You can see a full set of high resolution screenshots on SeaBed’s homepage and Steam page. The game is available for pre-order for the price of $19.99 from the Fruitbat Factory store with a -25% pre-order discount.

About Paleontology
Developer of original Japanese version (TwitterHomepage)
Paleontology is an independent Japanese game circle creating yuri-themed games. SeaBed is their first game release. It was developed based on the characters of a 4-koma manga series created by their illustrator, hide38.

We have even more exciting announcements coming out, so stay tuned!

100% Orange Juice – Popularity Games

We just recently made an internal summary of 2016 player stats in 100% Orange Juice, and I figured it’d be fun to do a breakdown of some popularity stats for the year.

It’s a long post, so prepare to scroll down!

Before writing this post, I also made some polls on Twitter for some of the categories, to see if people can guess which character was most popular. The community answers will be included where relevant.

Starting with the big one:

Most popular starter character – the winner is… Suguri! (Community guessed correctly!)
suguri

Least popular starter character – the winner(?) is Kai!
kai

Most popular non-starter character – the winner is Star Breaker! (Community guessed Sora)
starbreaker

Most popular non-starter FRB character – the winner is Sherry (who gets a bottle of wine)! (Community guessed correctly!)
sherry

Most popular non-starter male character – the winner is Peat!
peat

Most popular campaign unlock character – the winner is Yuki!
yuki

Most popular bonus character – the winner is Mixed Poppo! (community overwhelmingly guessed Sora (Military))
poppo

Most popular bunny – the winner is… Aru! Congratulations!
aru

Most popular NPC character – the happy winner is Chicken!
chicken

And last, the answer (at least for 2016) to the question, which one is more popular – Saki or Sham? The numbers don’t lie, the winner this time around was… Sham! (Community guessed Saki)
sham-saki

We have a lot of cool stuff planned for 2017 too, so stay tuned!