Hey Hey Blerdy Tribe, I’m back with another Behind the Games post! For those of you just joining the party, Behind the Games is a segment where I interview the folks ‘behind the games’ I review. Giving you guys a chance to get to know the developers that spend so much time carefully crafting the games you enjoy.
Last time, I spoke with members of the Nochi Studios team—the team behind the mobile otome game Sifting Thyme and the upcoming magitech isekai romance game Somnium Eleven. This time around, I had the chance to chat with members of Meyaoi Games
Meyaoi Games is a small indie games studio run by two sisters that specializes in BL and yaoi. The studio hit the scene in 2018 with their life management 18+ BL visual novel, Seiyuu Danshi. In the game you play as a newbie voice actor named Haato aspiring to win the coveted Seiyuu Award. They are currently working on their second release, the ranch management dating sim, Banana Ranch.
With their imaginative stories and unique gameplay mechanics, the Meyaoi Games team delivers an immersive gaming experience guaranteed to appeal to a wide range of BL fans. And with Banana Ranch coming soon, I wanted to sit down with the team and talk about the indie BL games scene and their experiences so far!
Thank you for taking the time to sit down with me. I want to give my readers a better feel of who you are as a team. Could you tell me a bit about yourselves?
My team is technically composed of only me, but I do have three talented artists who I’m working with to help out with the immense workload. My sister used to help with the promotion / marketing side, but she’s now working full-time and no longer has the time to.
As for me… Well, I don’t think there’s anything particularly notable about me. I’m currently 25 years old and have been making games as hobby since I was in middle school. I didn’t have any intention to become a game dev professionally (I thought I would join a Finance company like my fellow classmates lol), but things happened and I somehow became one (well, not that “professional” but I do make games for a living). It can be lonely working by my lonesome in my bedroom, but nothing beats the fulfillment I feel when a game is finally shipped, so I don’t really regret it.
Before I dive into your work with Meyaoi Games, tell me a bit about when your interest in games developed. What were the titles that sparked your love of games?
The first game that made an impression on me was Pokemon Blue, which I played back when I was still in grade school. I think that Pokemon was the introductory game for most people my age. I also enjoyed Harvest Moon, which was the first game I played that had dating aspect. I enjoyed the dating aspect so much I scoured the net and found out that there were games that were exclusive only about the dating.
Nowadays, my taste leans to story-heavy games with some gameplay aspect, so I particularly enjoy Phoenix Wright, Danganronpa, and Zero Escape series. I also enjoy Rune Factory & Atelier series a lot.
I had the opportunity to play Seiyuu Danshi earlier this year and while I’m not a huge fan of stats raising life simulators, I really enjoyed the voice actor aspect of the game. What inspired you to come up with the concept for Seiyuu Danshi?
I think the initial idea came from reading a manga about someone aiming to become voice actor. The manga showed a lot of behind-the-scenes of being a voice actor, which I thought was very fun to see. I felt that stat-raising game to become a voice actor had never been done before and then I decided to go ahead with that theme.
I know the stat-raising part isn’t for everyone, but I’m glad you enjoy the voice actor aspect of the game regardless!
Your upcoming ranch management BL title, Banana Ranch also has a unique premise—the protagonist is magically transported to an alternate reality where all of the residents are humanoid animals. How did your team come up with this concept? Were you inspired by any existing media?
I just thought it would be fun to make a Harvest Moon-like game but 10x gayer lol.
I initially wanted the love interests to be all human, but I felt like making humanoid animals the love interests make it much more interesting (…and hotter xD) since their looks and species are more diversified.
It was basically an impulse and I think I decided on the whole theme in less than week. I never spend too much time deciding on an idea, since I feel like ideas only account for minor part. The end result mostly depends on the execution. Well, at least that’s what I think.
Seiyuu Danshi and your upcoming game, Banana Ranch are both boys love titles. The boys love genre has a tendency to portray unrealistic relationships between men, heavily relying on non-consensual encounters and sex to facilitate romance. What are some things that your team does to ensure that your games depict more wholesome relationships between men?
Well, in my games, sex happens only after the two have become couple (which is sometimes complained by players because it’s a very long time to get the sexy scenes haha). Anyway, I think the key is to make both parties horny for each other before they do this. I don’t really do this intentionally, though, I just prefer it this way.
Banana Ranch like your previous title is chock full of unique gameplay features, but there is one thing that makes your upcoming title stand out from the rest and that is the inclusion of mpreg (male pregnancy) and marriage. While these tropes are common in A/O/B media (especially fanfics) they are rarely seen in BL games. Why did your team want to include marriage and children as part of Banana Ranch’s story?
In Seiyuu Danshi, only Toru-chi got a proper marriage scene which caused a lot of players to complain that their faves didn’t get one. Well, there won’t be any such complain in Banana Ranch, because everyone will get one 😀
As for kids, since the game was heavily inspired by Harvest Moon, I wanted to include kids somehow. I made a small poll in Twitter as well and majority of my player base was also in favor of it.
Also, going to clarify things that there isn’t really mpreg (male pregnancy) in Banana Ranch. They can have kids, but they do not give birth / get pregnant. The babies are given by God after the pair can prove that their love is true. Well, that’s the gist of it, it’s a bit complicated to explain. It will be made clearer in the game!
In BL media characters tend to adhere to specific roles within romantic relationships, with little or no deviation—a seme or top is usually the more dominant partner and the uke or bottom is the more submissive receiver. However, in Seiyuu Danshi all of the relationships are fluid, giving players a chance to CHOOSE whether they would like to be a “Top” or a “Bottom” regardless of which love interests they choose to pursue. Why was it important to include reversible relationships in your games?
Well, most BL games give a fixed role for player, and I thought that was unnecessarily alienating a certain player base. If you make the player top only, players who like to be bottom won’t like your game, and vice versa. I want as many people to play my game, so of course it’s important to cater to as wide an audience I can.
I made a poll once before (before Seiyuu Danshi Kickstarter campaign), in which I asked which feature they were most interested in. Reversible relationship came out among the top (along with foreplay mode), so this feature is not going anywhere for my future games as well.
Let’s talk foreplay, the often neglected side of sexual relationships. Both Banana Ranch and Seiyuu Danshi feature an extensive foreplay mode where players can experiment with intimate touch, dirty talk, costumes, and even an array of sex toys and it is AMAZING! What prompted you to include foreplay in your game? How do you think the foreplay mechanic enhances the sexual encounters in your games?
I play Tokimeki Memorial and feel the skinship part during dating was fun. I wanted to make an enhanced version of the skinship mode and that was where idea to make foreplay mode came from. Initially, there wasn’t plan to include costume / sex toys, but the stretch goal to implement both was reached during Kickstarter campaign, so I ended up including them. I’m sure glad I did because it wouldn’t be as interesting without.
A player once said in a review that with foreplay mode, they felt less like a voyeur. They felt like they were actually controlling the character which made them able to immerse in the game better. That was what I intended to achieve with foreplay mode, so I’m glad they think that way! Another also said that they felt like they were actually dating the characters and I think foreplay mode has some credit in helping the player feel that.
Even with the rise in popularity and accessibility in the West, BL media is still a very niche genre—especially within the gaming community. How do you feel indie developers like yourselves are helping to bring more visibility to the genre in the West?
With more success stories in BL genre (successful Kickstarter campaign etc), more people will be interested to develop a BL game, which in turn will hopefully bring more visibility to the genre. These last few years, I feel like the number of indie BL games being produced has risen a lot and prominent titles are also getting official localization.
I feel like the genre is heading to a good future.
Banana Ranch is still in development, but does your team have any other games currently in the works?
Yes, there are several unnamed projects in the work. However, these projects might never come to fruition as they are all still very early in development. Aside from BL, I also want to try my hand on an otome game someday.
Bonus Question: Since the love interests in Banana Ranch are all humanoid animals, I’d like to ask… If you were to be an animal which one would you be? Why?
Hmm, probably a cat? It’s already stated in the company name after all :p
I want to give a huge THANK YOU to the Meyaoi Games team for taking the time to do this Q&A with me!
Below are some links to the Meyaoi Games social media pages and game related sites. I highly recommend subscribing to their pages for the most up to date news on their current and future projects.