InvertMouse’s newest visual novel, The Last Birdling, has players following the friendships of Bimonia and Tayo, a pair of children from different races that hate one another. Following their friendship over the years, players will make decisions that will help guide their lives, watching as the people around them try to tear their friendship apart.
Siliconera reached out to InvertMouse to learn more about the recently-released visual novel, as well as talk about the developer’s five years of experience in creating these interactive stories.
What drew you to this story of warring races for The Last Birdling? Why explore this friendship in a time a conflict?
InvertMouse, developer of The Last Birdling – Two species may be at war, but it is never as simple as A hates B. There may be sympathizers. Some will have no interest in the conflict, while others may use it to seek profit. A rare few may even befriend the enemy. I wanted to explore these scenarios, and with that, Bimonia and Tayo were born.
Can you share some of the history of the conflict between the two races? Some of the lore of the game’s world?
Perfect timing, because I have just added a glossary feature into the game. Throughout the story, you will find links that will present details about The Last Birdling’s world. Unhack 2 taught me the importance of research. For the sake of depth, from next year onward, I plan to become even more obsessed.
Why tell the story from Bimonia and Tayo’s perspectives separately? What do you feel the player gains from seeing things from both of their sides?
Sometimes Tayo thinks Bimonia feels one way, but in fact the opposite is true. In other situations, one of them may act proper and well-mannered, then you hop in her head and expose what she is truly like.
Why the perspective of children? What does this child-like view do to the situation and story of The Last Birdling? What do they get as it follows the characters over the years into adolescence?
Bimonia and Tayo grow throughout their journeys, and not necessarily for the better. It hurts to see people twisted by their circumstances, but you reflect and know they used to be different.
How do you decide what you want the player to be able to choose in your narratives? What makes you want to be able to take a story in different directions and see what happens when players can do so?
I have created kinetic novels as well as titles with simple choices. This time, I want to complicate the decision tree and see what I can learn from that experience, and have gone into what that experience was like at length.
What do you want players to take away from your stories? From the narratives they walk through alongside you?
15 years ago, I wanted to teach people lessons through stories. Now I feel ashamed for being so arrogant. These days, once the characters are set, they lead their own lives. If players gain anything from these stories, Weedy, Miyon, Vinty, Bimonia and pals claim that credit.
You have been making visual novels for five years. What about your work and style has changed over that time? How do you feel you’ve evolved?
Story, art, animation, UI—my execution has evolved, though style wise, I have remained stubborn. There are certain baits I can produce to make a quick buck, but my heart is not in it, so when the end arrives, I will look back with only regret.
What keeps you working in visual novels after all this time?
I wrote novels until Steam Greenlight arrived, then I decided to explore the visual novel genre. By no means am I married to the medium, though. From next year onward, I plan to produce traditional games, and someday, I may return to standard novels. While I am thankful for the past five years, honestly, I also leave with plenty of hurt.