Join me in a postmortem of the first act of my three-part dating sim series, robo-tea!, and learn the intent, execution, and impact of the project so far.
On February 14, 2016, I released robo-tea:1cup!, a visual novel about cute, queer robot dates. In the game, you play as Galine, a guard-bot on the all robot planet Verdande. Your choices determine who you will eventually date, and what you learn about your date partners.
My intentions behind making the game were for self-soothing and to soothe others in stressful times. The game was deliberately designed to let the player focus on the unfolding narrative, rather than on external troubles. Other points of focus were: the normalization of non-binary characters in dating sims, an inherently asexual and pan-romantic race of robots, and having no terrible consequences for decisions nor bad endings.
For the majority of 2016, my game slowly gathered attention of individuals who used it during anxiety attacks or to partake in a romance that they felt comfortable with. I gathered data and viewed comments and notes people made about my game. My original dataset for this postmortem was pre-2016 election night. What I decided to do in that time of confusion and fear was give people the opportunity to get the game for free. The analytics for robo-tea:1cup! changed drastically.
This game was originally intended for something small, a moment of rest when the going gets tough. The response to this small visual novel exceeded my expectations and changed the course of the game series, and I would like to share what I’ve learned with you.
Josie Noronha is a gamedev who uses she/they pronouns and loves three things in life: robots, tea, and companionship. She also goes by the pseudonym jo-robo (jo-robo.com), particularly when giving cute, calm, queer games to the world. They’ve begun the robo-tea! dating sim series (robohaven.itch.io), and strives to continue making safe spaces with queer robot dates in a utopian sci-fi world. By day, she is a graphic designer for one of the State of California’s many agencies, and by night she’s fighting the urge to sleep in order to work on games.