Starlike is a company full of ‘virtue’. The first people gathered at the Hatsune Miku advertising project in 2017 started developing a game to directly utilize Vocaloid, and four years later, Six Star Gate: Start Rail was released.
Six Star Gate: Start Rail is a PC rhythm game that introduces a unique system such as variable lanes and multi-content unity quests. Songs are also in the process of being arranged by the Touhou Project, providing original songs by popular composers, and virtuber collaborations.
The company that started with Deokshim is taking steps to reach public awareness beyond subculture. In an interview with Starlike’s Ashtray development director and Vica illustrator, we heard about the Nintendo Switch version, which is about to be released on March 16, and the future business development direction.
Q: The speed of release from PC to Nintendo Switch is fast. Do you have any development know-how?
Ashtray: A developer who is serious about rhythm games is in charge of PD and leading the team. I think I can make it harder because I made a game with my own name.
Q: How many developers are there?
Ashtray: There are 6 people in total. There are cases where people are added or removed little by little, but it is not a large scale overall.
Q: What’s different about the Nintendo Switch version?
Ashtray: I focused on the different ways of playing and controllers for mobile, PC, and Nintendo Switch. The Nintendo Switch version is working hard to implement a control method suitable for the controller and will show the first appearance of a rhythm game.
Q: What about the update cycle of the Switch version?
Ashtray: It will proceed the same as the PC version. The update may be delayed due to the need for a review period, but we will develop it so that users who enjoy the switch version will not feel discrimination in the core content of the rhythm game.
Q: What about the play environment, such as frame rate and optimization?
Ashtray: Developers are rhythm game users. I am working with a sense of responsibility as much as I put my name on the game and produce it. It will be a direction that all other users will also understand.
Q: Is there any unique content for the Nintendo Switch version?
Ashtray: We are preparing an adventure mode with a story. The adventure mode has been promised since the development of the PC version, but since we have never developed content other than a rhythm game, the problem of reducing dreams and changing genres occurred.
Due to the nature of portable game consoles, it was difficult for Nintendo to implement an always online mode. Added an adventure mode to make a difference right now in a bar that can’t be implemented properly. The portion is about an hour.
Q: What motivated you to include an adventure mode?
Ashtray: It was prepared to make a difference because other rhythm games do not appeal to the story. The character Shii is very popular, and we plan to use it properly to expand the story.
Q: How will the story progress?
Vika: Rami, a character who looks just like Shii, appears and deals with travel and everyday stories with two operators. The scenario was destroyed several times and the director changed, but the story will be very different from what users predicted.
Q: Is there anything you pay special attention to when designing the story?
Vika: Operator Shii is a bold character who follows the main character well and is good at work, but I tried not to touch this part. In order to give her satisfaction, she took the direction of the story and made a rich look by showing a twist charm in a crisis situation or adding her character.
Q: Can we see a pleasant and light daily story?
Vika: I will playfully resolve various conflicts in the story. Like AAA games that solve the story without spoiling the user’s mood, the light atmosphere was conceived as the focus. I will show you the true light novel.
Q: Is there any possibility that the episodes of adventure mode will be expanded?
Ashtray: We plan to continue developing the story, and I think we can sell it as DLC. When purchasing content such as songs, skins, and themes, we are preparing so that you do not feel that the money is wasted. In the future, I want to move forward with one-source multi-use, including webtoons, animations, and other games using IP.
Q: Is there a blueprint for IP utilization?
Ashtray: I saw the potential and I have ambitions, but I have never talked to the staff. We are thinking of genres other than rhythm games in a form that does not interfere with existing content. I worked with voice actors even before the release, and I think I can see a different charm if I make room to add acting to the game or character.
Q: The company is located in Jeonbuk, but I think it will be difficult to recruit talent.
Ashtray: Fortunately, we did not feel a lack of manpower in the beginning because we set up a game frame and established a company, but as the scale grows, we are experiencing difficulties in recruiting. We are developing a team in the direction of finding and joining gemstones among rhythm game users who can ignite their creative desire.
Q: Is there a reason you often show your face at gaming events?
Ashtray: In big events such as G-Star, AGF, and Burning Beaver, not only games are introduced, but also paintings are sold. We want to continue communication by participating in the event with a light appearance unique to a small company and showing the developer’s face.
Q: Is there a particular reason you focus on communication?
Ashtray: I want to get as much user feedback as possible and fix the game. Meeting with users at a recent event, I felt that the level of completion of the game was lacking. We are paving the way with users, but we plan to continue our external activities so as not to look negative.
Q: Is there a reason why you stopped developing the mobile version?
Ashtray: If you clumsily enter the mobile market, you may lose sight of the light of day. This is because it is difficult for an ill-prepared game to succeed if it expands its platform. I don’t think it’s too late to think about entering the mobile market after standing out enough in the current situation of competing with indie games.
Q: Is there anything you want to say to your fans?
Ashtray: The main stem of the company started with the PC version of Six Star Gate. There were many troubles because veterans did not gather, and the direction changed. The direction of the switch version will not change much from the existing one. Regardless of the version, I will show you a finished game by increasing the quality.
Vika: I’ve been working as an illustrator since 2014, and this is my first time as a screenwriter. I put my determination in the prologue of the adventure mode of the Nintendo Switch version to be released on March 16th. From the time he first wrote the story, he made a commitment to compose a story that has completeness and makes people look forward to the next installment. He is feeling confident in his perfection. He asks for a lot of attention.