The popular visual novel app game “The Arcana” made its convention debut this summer at Anime California. Hosting a two part panel, the writers and artists of the game shared their creation with a crowded panel room full of devoted fans both in and out of cosplay.

“The Arcana” is a romantic mystery visual novel set in a fantastical world based on tarot. The player is a prodigy of the mystical arts that builds their world by interacting with a variety of NPCs. Diverse in not only its options of romantic partners and character design, the game also lets the player choose their pronouns, keeps all romances open, and offers an array of in-game ways to gain coins making it completely free to play!

Anime California’s programming had promised a live commentary of a popular scene from the game had many fans going in with hopes of any iconic, steamy Julian scene, but the Nix Hydra team did the audience one better with worms!

The second half of their panel gave the audience a look behind the arcana with a moderated Q&A: from getting to know more of the background of the creators themselves to what goes into making a visual novel.

Most of the panelists had similar starts in their careers of going to some form of undergrad program then either stumbling into game design or freelancing. Many were freelancers before making their way to Nix Hydra, the studio of “The Arcana,” to apply.

The first question about the characters themselves was what kind of music do the writers use for each of the characters they are writing: Julian is written with “Careless Whisper” by George Michael on repeat, Nadia is written with a balance of 1940s big band and Brittany Spears, Asra trances, Muriel My Chemical Romance, Lucio “Every Time We Touch” by Cascada, and Portia a healthy mix of bubblegum pop and “Barbie Girl” by Aqua.

An interesting question for the writers was, “Is it easier or harder to write a character the further along in the story?” Most of them agreed that it becomes easier and easier the further along in the story, both the writer and character growing together. Some of the writers came to find that they may have started writing one character (i.e. Julian), but found that writing them as a side character for another character’s main story (i.e. Asra) was much more enjoyable.

Something many audience members were interested in was how long it takes for each update. The teams answer?: Brainstorming, brainstorming, and then brainstorm some more. The entire team, writers and artists, meet up to plot out rough ideas of where each chapter is going. Once a more cohesive plot is laid out, they separate to write out their own pieces before meeting up again to collaborate the final edits. This entire process typically takes about a month, sometimes more, sometimes less. With the new staggered update system with rotating character chapter releases, it has given the team more time to truly hone their craft in creating each update.

None of the creators had thought “The Arcana” would have come this far, with over 1 million downloads on the Google Play store alone. Every creator starts making something they wish to share with that little hope in the back of their head of “maybe this could be a thing, maybe this will take off!” “The Arcana” team had that thought too, but truly never saw it coming and are greatly humbled by their fans.

Their biggest advice to anyone wanting to create their own visual novel is “to stick with it, even when it is no longer fun. Pushing through the hardest parts and not over promising reap the best results. And of course, never lose sight of who you are and why you are doing this in the first place.”

“The Arcana” story is starting to come to a close and the future of where the Nix Hydra team is going with it cannot be revealed just yet, but they do promise new and more stories will be coming soon!

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