I am a Japanese dude having been a shut-in(aka Hikikomori) for 10 years, currently developing a Hikikomori-themed video game myself for 3 years. Last AMA changed my life, so I came back here to thank all of you guys. AMA! ヽ( ´ ∇ ｀ )ノ
Last April, I posted AMA without any idea of the result. It blew up. I got tons of exposure thanks to this subreddit, which gave me some media coverage, precious opportunity to participate in big gaming events, friendly connections among the game dev community...
So I want to say thank you to all of the viewers and commenters on my last AMA. I've wanted to do this for a long time! ヽ( ´ ∇ ｀ )ノ
In the last AMA, I was asked many times about my daily schedule. Fortunately, I got help from Youtube contents creator Sean. We made a video: A Day in the Life of a Japanese Hikikomori (Shut In) Sean made questions and camera plans. I shot myself based on his plan. He edited materials all by himself. So all credits should go to him. Thank you so much Sean and Nami! 😊
As the results of the last AMA, I got interviewed by Kyodo News(Japan), Zeit(Germany), and recently Konbini(France).
My game Pull Stay could participate in online gaming event Guerrilla Collective in June, and Tokyo Game Show in September. I believe I couldn't make it to without the exposure from the last AMA.
I got to know some industry talents who have given me a lot of precious advice and exposure. Also, I've got to be involved with Tokyo-based indie game community Asobu, which has provided me a variety of opportunities and support. They noticed me because users on IAmA gave me a chance.
Everything looks rosy, right? But not 100% true, unfortunately... ヽ( ; ∇ ; )ノ
I haven't still been able to secure my financial situation. This is another topic I was asked about lots in the last AMA. So I'd like to elaborate on it in this post.
When I came back to my hometown from Tokyo, 10 years ago, I didn't have savings much. Probably a few thousands of US$ or less. I lived in this house with my aunt, so I didn't need to pay living costs at all at first. But one year later, she moved to her son's house. I began to receive my living costs from her. I haven't spent money on hobbies and any other unnecessary things. I saved up the rest of the money she gave me. Or simply I didn't want to look on my bank account and recognize my financial dependency. I just ignored that.
Two summers ago, this financial support to me stopped due to the family decision. Since then, I have lived on my savings. As I wrote in the last AMA, I had attempted to become a doujin artist before I started learning game development. I published 2 "books" on online doujin stores, which has brought me about 9,000 US$ in total so far. Summarizing up, my bank account had around 18,000 US$ when I started burning my savings.
As of today, scraping up all of my fortune, I have 3,300 US$ which includes the fee from English-Japanese translation gig I did before, and also one-time COVID relief from the Japanese gov. So based on my burning rate, maybe I can survive next January, but can't reach the end of February. Yeah, I'm so stupid and crazy. I know that well man (´・ω・｀)
A couple of months ago, I tried pitching my game to an indie game publisher to stabilize my finance. We had online chat and month-long conversations via email. But it didn't work out at the end of the day. I've been pushed into the corner. Don't starve, people say. But I'm almost seeing this Tim Burton style face of the Death.
You are so tolerant and put up with this poor guy's moan until this end? Well... I have something I'd like to tell you (´・ω・｀)
I'm currently running the Kickstarter campaign for my game Pull Stay
My life and future are 300% dependent on this campaign. I would extremely appreciate it if you take the time to check my game. Thank you so much for your kindest support! 🥰
OK, my begging was over. Please ask me anything, guys! ヽ( ´ ∇ ｀ )ノ
Yeah, I'd definitely love to make more games!(´▽｀)
I have 4 rough game ideas at the moment, but all of them have each unique challenge and I need to figure out how to make them real. I think I need to expand my game dev connections and borrow their help and wisdom :D
What is your coding knowledge?
Would you be interested and capable in assisting an app development for the renewable energy sector?
Unfortunately I have no coding skills because I'm just using a visual scripting tool in UE4. But thank you so much for offering a great opportunity! ヽ( ´ ∇ ｀ )ノ
Congrats on getting Pull Stay funded! I've been following it since your last AMA.
This time, your youtube interview with Sean just blew up - like 4 months after release. Did you manage to work the youtube algorithm or did you just get lucky?
Hello old friend! Thank you! (´▽｀)
Yeah, it feels miracle by all means. I still can't feel it's real honestly..
We didn't do ads or anything. Sean said before our video was going pretty well compared to other videos, so it's possible Youtube eventually picks up our video :)
How can we support or encourage a family member that is, like you, a hikikomori? Any good advices of how to confront them? Edit: to get them out of their shell
Finding a reachable goal is the most important point imo. It's difficult and should be different from person to person, but I think there is something family members/friends can help a hikikomori. I would never realize my English is usable if I had not posted on Reddit and be said that by Redditors. Other people's perspective/experience can save a hikikomori in some cases. I think so.
As a former ALT who taught English in Japan, I would be super proud if any of my students could someday learn to write in English as well as you can.
It's really not easy, you've accomplished a lot.
Thank you! ヽ( ´ ∇ ｀ )ノ
I know many people who live in isolation struggle when they have to talk and interact with others, but that's not true for everyone. Is there anything you have a hard time with when you need to go out?
Going outside is not a problem for me. My struggle is working in the usual working environment. When I worked in Tokyo and commuted by train, I couldn't help but feel my life was meaningless
I'm a college student and I feel the same as you. I'm already a partial hikkimori but it's practically impossible for me to be fully hikkimori. My surroundings and family does not allow that. I'm very close to killing myself. What advice do you have for me?
I had relied on my family until two summers ago. I'm still struggling with my life as a hikikomori. So I am the last person who can give you advice. But if you think about suicide, you need to leave your place or change your environment, I guess. Sorry for not being able to become your help..
I live in upstate NY (USA) and I feel the same. I've never been able to convince myself working s generic job was what I'm supposed to do in life. Problem is I've never been able to find what I'm good at, so I've all but given up at this point.
Just backed your kickstarter, glad to see that reached it's goal at least
I can't thank you enough for your kindest support. Seriously man. I know how devastating these days were for me. I will never forget I am supported by people like you. Thank you! ヽ( ; ∇ ; )ノ
I feel the same way. I don’t think you’re alone in this feeling. I have anxiety and struggle to work as an adult. Thank you for sharing your experience and I eagerly await Pull Stay!!
Thank you for your sympathy and support! ヽ( ´ ∇ ｀ )ノ
This is not related to Pull Stay and I just wanted to know you better. I'm really curious about the kind of music you like and listen to and what are your favourite food items or some snacks that you really like?
When I was a high school student, I came to know Progressive Rock and it blew me up because I found a completely another musical world different from the hit chart songs. So they are my basic music taste (´▽｀)
A couple of years ago I found and fell in love with lofi/mixtape/vapro wave/future funk genres, thanks to Youtube algorithm😉 Kurdtbada is my favorite guy :D
I love curry rice and cheesecake! ヽ( ´ ∇ ｀ )ノ
If you like lofi check out nujabes!
Yeah, I love him! Have an album (´▽｀)
I’ve been unemployed for about 16months now after I graduated in July 2019 and have been constantly applying for jobs.
I’ve had over 20 rejections for jobs I’m more than qualified to do, but don’t have any experience.
My question is this: How do you prevent the people you know from affecting your mental health?
I’m constantly reminded about how I’m earning no money and I’m jobless, it slowly eats away at you. How are you still sane after 10 years? I know I wouldn’t be
Thank you for sharing your story with us. I really feel your hardship (´；ω；｀)
When I came back to my hometown from Tokyo, basically I cut off my connection with friends. I understand how it's hard to cope with eyes from others, especially your close people.
I don't have any answer for you here. I'm so sorry about that. But please keep yourself in the safe zone that won't destroy you. I hope one day we can hang around with! ヽ( ´ ∇ ｀ )ノ
I recently started living alone and I'm having a hard time adapting to spending time alone in a positive way. As a shut in do you get sufficient fulfillment from the projects you work on/how is the social aspect of being a Hikikomori?
Yeah, it's a great question. Finding a good and right game idea/plan is very difficult but crucially important imo. For fulfilments, and also for commercial prospect. I abandoned a handful of game plans before starting the current project.
As for social aspect, indie game development requires you tons of self-promotions. That enforced me stepping out of my self isolation during developing the current project :D
If your plans don't work out have you given any thought to seeking therapy so you can rejoin the work force?
I don't believe any therapy gives me the meaning of life
Hello Nito! I am looking forward to the release of your game in hopes of supporting your financial situation! Good luck!
You had mentioned in your post you used to live with your aunt and for awhile your family had decided to stop financially supporting you. Today, how is the relationship with your immediate family? Do you keep in contact with them, and do they know the media exposure you’ve received so far from your lifestyle and upcoming game? (Also, what would they think?)
Also, if Pull Stay ends up being at least a moderate success, would you consider continuing the game into a sequel or prefer to work on other projects after?
Thank you and again best of luck to you! ()
Thank you so much for your support! It helps me a lot! ヽ( ´ ∇ ｀ )ノ
Our family relationships are not so sweet.. but I'm looking forward to reporting my mother after the Kickstarter ends. These media exposure didn't have practical meaning in my livelihood, but this Kickstarter and Youtube magic are actually changing my life (´▽｀)
Yo whats the most batshit insane way you can defeat someone in your game?
Making him into a tempura and flushing him into the toilet
I just realized I need this game
Thank you! ヽ( ´ ∇ ｀ )ノ
How accurate is welcome to the NHK? Not talking about the sometimes wacky plots, but the general idea?
I only read its original novel before I became a hikikomori. Honestly I don't remember it well. Sorry about that..
Why are you a hikikomori? I mean is it psychological? sorry I just found out about this 2 minutes ago so I don't know if I am being offensive
I talked about my story on the last AMA and on Sean's video. So please check them (´▽｀)
But shortly put, I can't stand usual working environment and tried to become a doujin artist, but it didn't work out, then 10 years have passed.
Thank you for your question! It's not offensive at all!(´▽｀)
I just found an interview on youtube. The way you are currently living is extremely similar to myself. I'm developing a platform of my own for another industry, but I struggle with motivation and most days I get maybe an hour or two of actual work in (in amongst other things, like keeping the rest of my business afloat).
How do you manage to keep your focus on development? Do you find that concentrating on development is difficult, and do you have a methodology for surpassing that?
I'm sorry to hear about your struggle. I feel I can relate to your hardship...
I chose game development because I thought it was the only way that I could sustain my living while finding motivation and the sense of meaning in life
Props to you! It's hard to come out like this, I admire you.
the question : You ever feel that you have ZERO interest?
For example, wanting nothing, don't want to do anything even all of the activities you do seem so pointless and eating is a shore.
If yes, how did you cope with it? Is there any standard you have when choosing something new to try?
Thnk you!ヽ( ´ ∇ ｀ )ノ
Honestly I haven't experienced such kind of situation. I've always wanted to make meaningful artworks and usually failed them.
What kind of games do you play or used to play? And what inspired you to start developing one yourself?
I used to play and enjoy the most Beat 'em up games like Final Fight. That's the reason I chose to make this genre as my first commercial title because I know the great points and also lacking points of this genre.
I didn't think I can make a commercial game by myself alone. But I lost all the hope to sustain my living in Japanese doujin market, so I had no choice other than challenging the global market via Steam. My whole life desire is making my own artworks and living on them. So yeah this is my last resort (´・ω・｀)
I can't even imagine making my own game, I'm too much of a coward for that. I admire people like you the most, Nito-san; what you're doing requires a lot of courage and determination. You're doing great., and I hope your efforts will pay off in the future. I wish you the best (ﾉ´ з `)ノ
Thank you for your kind words! Yeah, the hardest point of game development for me is the lack of actual experience. It has required full guesswork without any clue so frequently.
I've read that you were originally a writer, so... What kind of stories did you write? Would you like to go back to writing one day or would you prefer to develop your stories in game form, making more complex and story-driven games?
I prefer uncategorized imaginary weird tales like Jorge Luis Borges. Actually there were this kind of imaginary writers in Japan in the early 20th century. Their imaginary visions consoled me as a frustrated youth. But they are almost forgotten in Japan nowadays. I tried writing so-called Light Novel to cater to otaku market in Japan. It was a big mistake of my life.. (´･_･`)
Yeah, I'd love to make story-driven games! Language barrier is a still big challenge for me. So I need to figure out how to overcome it if I make story games :)
Who were the Japanese authors you mentioned? Which books?
Edogawa Ranpo(江戸川乱歩), Yumeno Kyusaku(夢野久作), Miyazawa Kenji(宮沢賢治), Makino Shinichi(牧野信一), Ogawa Mimei(小川未明), for name some.
I'm not familiar with Jorge Luis Borges, but you made me curious so I'll definitely pick up one of his works! Any recommendations? :)
Yeah, writing light novels for the otaku market seem very distant from your actual interests :/ I'm quite interested in your stories, and your English is so good I have no doubt you could find beta readers or an editor to spot any issues.
I hope you get the recognition you deserve so you can keep working on new games. I really want to see a full-fledged story from you one day :)
Thank you! (´▽｀)
The Garden of Forking Paths is my most favorite work from Borges :)
Do you have any desire to travel abroad (obviously not now with the pandemic) and see places?
Yeah, I really want to travel abroad! Actually, it's my desire throughout my life, but couldn't make it so far unfortunately. Hope I can travel abroad and hang around with indie devs around the world after finishing my current game!
How did you learn game dev/how did you learn to code in order to do game dev?
I'm using Unreal Engine 4. It has many tutorials online by its company(Epic) and also by many other people. When I just started learning UE4, I read this book(Japanese) which was written by Bandai Namco developer and super handy and comprehensive enough to new learners. I hope Epic translate this book into English!
What music do you listen to ?
Favorite movie ?
Cheers from denmark ♡
I love progressive rock, lofi beat, vaporwave, future funk and much more!
I didn't know about movies well, so I want to dig into them after finishing my current project. Within my limited knowledge, I love Jan Švankmajer's Alice, and Akira. Thank you! ヽ( ´ ∇ ｀ )ノ
If your game dev career takes off do you have any plans to pay back your family for their help?
Absolutely..! ( ✧Д✧)
Are you happy, or do you get lonely? Do you regret the last decade and feel you wasted it, or was it well spent? (Did not read the previous ama so apologies if answered)
Yeah, I regret my life and my past decisions sometimes. But it won't have any positive effect if it's only regret, not thoughtful reflection. So yeah, I want to focus on how I can improve my life and get out of current situation. That's my basic attitude :)
What other Projects do you see yourself working on in the Future? Such as Game Ideas or even more Doujin work?
I have some game ideas that I want to make seriously: meditational experience game, Walking sim + exploration short VN, kinda Yume Nikki taste RPG, and SF sim
I can't make them without help from other talented people. So I want to expand my connection to make these ideas real (´▽｀)
I have a lot of respect for indie game developers; my old friend is trying to start his own indie game company and I know he puts a great amount of time and hard work into his games. Have you considered working with another developer/other developers for your next project? I enjoyed watching you in your daily life and I wish you the best :)
Thank you for your kind words! Yeah, actually I'm thinking of finding dev partners and making my next games together. Because making a decent size commercial game by only yourself takes a too long time. I already spent 3 years on this game but haven't completed it yet. It's a bit rough (´・ω・｀)
okay rapid fire questions time:
How did you start learning game development?
What game engine are you using to make this?
Judging by the Kickstarter page, there's already a lot of stuff working in the game, how much of it would you say is finished, and how long did it take you to get it to that point?
I'm using UE4. Started learning it by searching for tutorials online.
I have developed this game for 3 years now. I hope I will launch the game in April
2020 2022. So it passed 2/3 of the whole development I guess.
I love your sense of humor and drive. I am the same way, since covid it has made me realize I am so much happier being home alone and I don't want to go back to being a wage slave.
I am good at writing, but am not natural at drawing, I would like to ask, how did you become a good drawer?
Once again thank you for working so hard to live your dream. It is really inspiring for anyone who knows that the working world will not bring happiness.
Thank you for your compliments! ヽ( ´ ∇ ｀ )ノ
I don't consider myself a good drawer. Actually drawing is my complex. But I think you can improve your drawing to some extent by practice. But in my case, that didn't give me confidence much.
Sorry if this has been answered elsewhere, but how do you have above-average English skills despite not speaking with people often?
When I started learning game development, I needed to read and watch many tutorials and articles in English. It was so immersive and made me accustomed to English I guess :D
How do you stay physically active?
Yeah, it's difficult. Recently I started doing a bit more intense workout such as the squat. It made me feel better physically than before I guess :D
Did you ever play Yume Nikki? I feel like it might... touch a little close to home for you.
Yeah, I really appreciate Yume Nikki! Actually I have an RPG game idea that has kinda Yume Nikki vibes :D
If you are successful with Pull Stay, do you plan to stay in game dev and make more games? Any ideas for new games?
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