An Interview with GB Patch Games

Join us today as we delve into a compelling discussion with GB Patch Games, master storytellers in the world of visual novels. Our conversation explores their creative journey, challenges, triumphs, and their relentless dedication to delivering mesmerizing narratives that captivate audiences worldwide.

How did GB Patch Games first venture into the world of visual novel game development? What inspired the team to focus specifically on this genre?

Hello! Thank you for taking the time to interview me. GB Patch Games can only make games because a lot of talented people work on them. Though when it comes to what we do and why, it is generally just me deciding what I feel like and hiring people who are interested in being a part of what I’m putting together. I’m afraid I can’t speak for how those on the team got into game development and why they chose to be a part of one of GB Patch’s VN projects.

For myself, I started my first VN ten years ago. It was a silly story about my Harvest Moon OCs, though now that series is called Story of Seasons in English. Originally, I didn’t aspire to do more with the medium beyond that. I’d never done anything creative at all for a hobby before and didn’t expect my interest in writing/programming to last. But I became entirely hooked. I loved making VNs and have had one or more projects in active development non-stop since 2013. Sometimes I imagine one day I’ll do a non-VN game, or at least more of a VN-other-genre-hybrid, but I’m probably fooling myself. Visual novels are really the only thing I have that unstoppable drive for.

Can you tell us about the process of creating inclusive narratives within your visual novels? How does GB Patch Games ensure that different backgrounds and perspectives are represented in your stories?

I was able to start with personal experience. I was lucky to grow up in a diverse environment with family and friends. That’s what’s normal in my life and it’s what I want to have in my games. Beyond that, I can consider all the various people who have played my games over the years. I don’t have to do much to see different backgrounds and that there are other perspectives out there, because they’re all around the GB Patch community. Though, I try my best not to misunderstand or misconstrue backgrounds that aren’t my own, and being open to changing things is an important aspect of any identity I try to portray.

With each project being markedly different from one another, what drives GB Patch Games to constantly explore new styles, tones, and themes in their visual novels? Are there any particular challenges or rewards that come with this approach?

I like a lot of genres and think it’s fun to try new things. There was the challenge of getting former players to give something totally different a chance and/or gaining a new player base. Though, that wasn’t actually too bad. GB Patch had fans who tried whatever was put out, and that helped new people find the projects too. Some rewards were personal enjoyment and a lot of chances to learn/grown. And I’m not sure I ever would’ve made a game like Our Life if I hadn’t let myself bounce around between concepts. Pure comedy or mystery/horror would’ve been the genres I’d have chosen to focus on if I decided right from the start to stick to only one type of game.

How does GB Patch Games gather feedback from players to understand their preferences and expectations when it comes to visual novels? Do you actively engage with the community for your future projects?

I’m grateful to get frequent feedback from people who have played the games. It comes in the Discord, through social media, on storefronts, etc. Most of the time it’s nice, encouraging, and helpful. Since the games I make these days are all about letting the player do what they want, listening to the things players want to do is an important part of development.

As an indie game development company, what are some of the unique advantages and limitations you face in the creation of visual novels? How does GB Patch Games leverage these factors to deliver unique and compelling experiences to players?

A unique advantage is how directly I can communicate with players. I give an update every day about what I did progress-wise. Another advantage is how quickly and specifically I can work with player feedback. I can personally add in new choices if players inform me a certain scene could really use it. Those kinds of things are often impossible to do for larger groups. But it’s something GB Patch players appreciate and look forward to.

A limitation is that it’s quite difficult to get the games on other systems. I don’t know if any of the games will ever be on consoles, for example. And though OL might be on the Google Playstore someday, it’ll be a challenge.

Could you share some insights into the collaborative process within the GB Patch Games team? How do you foster creativity and ensure that each member’s unique skills and perspectives contribute to the overall quality of your visual novels?

At GB Patch Games, the only collaboration is between me and another individual one-on-one. There’s no group planning. It mainly comes down to trusting in other people’s abilities. For certain elements, something very specific will be needed for story reasons, I’ll give a lot of exact details, and I’ll be able to count on them to create the perfect piece for the puzzle. But other times, things don’t have to be so exact, and I can give more basic outlining. In those cases, I’ll know that they’ll still create something great for the project using their own creativity. And sometimes, people on the team will come to me with an idea for a new asset/element and I’ll usually agree that it’s a nice addition and they’ll make it. I can’t say for certain if I’m good at fostering creativity, but I hope people working on the games are able to enjoy the process of creation.

What role does storytelling play in your visual novels, and how do you approach crafting engaging narratives that resonate with players? Are there any storytelling techniques or principles that GB Patch Games follows?

My storylines tend to be short or made of almost entirely disconnected pieces. My main technique is to focus on characters, their interactions, and how them simply going through their life is a story. I attempt to make the characters engaging enough to carry a scene, and to have them go through things players can relate to. One day I’d like to attempt something more complex, but right now I can’t say I’ve got much experience in creating a true, overarching narrative.

Are there any upcoming projects or future plans that GB Patch Games is excited to share with the community? Can you give us a sneak peek into what players can expect from your future visual novels?

Well, I do know the game that will come after Our Life: Now & Forever. I started brainstorming for it back in October of 2021. It’s been almost two years already and I think it’s wonderful. I can’t wait for it to truly be in development. But the sad thing about making such large projects is that I likely won’t be able share any specific details for yet another year more, haha. I refer to it as Project W. It’s something I’ve only mentioned in passing in Tumblr asks and in our Discord servers so far. Project W isn’t part of the Our Life series and doesn’t revolve around growing up. It’s also got an actual plotline. However, it’ll be a similarly heart-warming, heart-tugging kind of story. I think players of the OL games will have a good experience with Project W.

How has the support from the community influenced the growth and development of GB Patch Games? Are there any memorable moments or interactions with players that have had a lasting impact on the team?

It’s influenced things massively! GB Patch Games has gotten more support than I ever could’ve hoped for. It’s allowed me to work on games fulltime and let the projects grow to massive scales. Really, the fact that I’m only able to write so much in a day is the only thing that puts a limit on what’s possible now.

And I’ve had many lovely interactions with players. A recent event was the Baxter DLC launch. It’s been almost three years since Our Life: Beginnings & Always came out, and just as many, if not more, people were there to support this final expansion than there was back then. That was amazing to see.

What advice would you give to aspiring game developers who are interested in creating visual novels? Are there any key lessons or experiences that GB Patch Games has learned throughout their journey that you would like to share?

It’d depend on if you’re doing it for fun or hoping to make a profit off your projects.

If it’s an entirely free project, my advice is that you could try to find game jams going on and use that to link up with other people who might work with you. Unless you’re going to do the entire thing yourself, of course. And if you can’t get anyone to join your team for free, I’d say it can be worth it to spend money on certain aspects if it’s really the way you want to enjoy your time. People spend money to buy games or get supplies. If you wanna commission someone trustworthy to make a logo or sprite or what have you, you shouldn’t feel bad that it’s not gonna make you money back. The act of making the game you want can be worth the while in and of itself.

If your goal is that it’ll make money, my best lesson is that it’s not terribly likely that your first project is going to be successful enough to ‘make it’. If you put everything you have into one project and need that first game to be notably profitable, you’re taking a huge risk. It’s hard to come onto the scene with no one knowing who you are and no past work to point to and get people to buy your game, regardless of how good it even is. Releasing something less expensive/time-consuming first to build up a presence in the VN space and working your way up to something grander is what I’d suggest. There are exceptions, but I don’t really recommend paths that require being an exception to work out.”

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