Hato Moa is a creator who has risen to prominence worldwide due to the way people connected with birds in her visual novel Hatoful Boyfriend. Now, she’s in the spotlight again for her character designs, though this time they’re (mostly) more human. She drew the characters for Murder by Numbers, an adventure game that offers a mix of nonogram puzzles and murder mysteries to solve, then took the time to talk to Siliconera about the experience.
Jenni Lada, Siliconera: How did your experiences as a mangaka prepare you for working on visual novels?
Hato Moa: Basically, manga artists have to do both of the story and the artwork by themselves. So I believe most of them have a great aptitude for VN (especially when it comes to a solo indie game project!) Actually, there’re some manga artists who develops VN in their spare time in Japan.
What is your creative process like when developing new characters? How do you start building a new person up?
Hato Moa: I read the brief written by the development team closely at first. In case I’m just a character designer hired by a developer, it’s important to understand how the director/writers see the character.
How did you get involved working on Murder by Numbers?
Hato Moa: The beginning is simple. The director, Ed [Fear] asked me when he visited Japan for a game orchestra concert, “Moa, what are you going to do this year? Will you be busy?”
When did you begin working on Murder by Numbers, and how did the process differ from working on Hatoful Boyfriend?
Hato Moa: In summer 2018, I think? The process of a commercial project is totally different from that of a personal indie game, of course. Due date, paper work, feed back and revision, etc.
Which Murder by Numbers character did you find easiest to design and why? Which one was the most challenging?
Hato Moa: Most characters had a concrete direction in their brief. Particularly, Jena’s appearance occurred to me as soon as I read the brief. SCOUT needed a long time to design, since he’s the important symbol [for] the project.
How did Murder by Numbers’ characters personalities help influence their character designs?
Hato Moa: The character brief told me [Myers-Briggs Type Indicator] personality type of each character. It helps me a lot to understand them and find the right direction.
With multiple adventure games under your belt, what sorts of game genres would you like to explore next?
Hato Moa: As for my personal project, I’m currently spending my spare time on a sequel VN of Hatoful Boyfriend. I’d like to explore gothic horror, crime fiction, mystery, thriller after that as I’m a huge fan of 19th-century British/American/French literature.
How do you feel about the increased popularity of visual novels worldwide, and how has the increased attention affected you personally?
Hato Moa: If visual novels get more and more developers, [the genre] will surely gain a greater diversity. I’m looking forward to yet-to-come unique games and stories by someone somewhere in the world.
Murder by Numbers is available for the Nintendo Switch and PC.