Art by DahliaWilder
Beta Testing + Release Schedule
That's right! Head over to the Lemmasoft forums if you'd like to test RockRobin.
We've decided against rushing everyone out and dealing with a thousand bugs at once (that would be the worst) so we're rolling out the content over time. Story Mode is complete in content, however, and is playable right now. Open Mode characters will be released 2 at a time, or 1 romance at a time.
Why is Rock Robin Free?
In a day and age where Commercial English Visual Novels are common and Steam an archive of amazing games to choose from, the fact that a game of Rock Robin's size and complexity is free might be startling, or even slightly off-putting. But, when Rock Robin was begun six years ago, both commercial EVNs and otome games in general were a rarity. The idea that we could make money from this game wasn't even a thought in our minds. All we wanted to do was create a fantastic game where you could be a female character and romance others, as at the time we could count the amount of Otome games out there on one hand.
After Aleema held the Open Mode Character Creation Contest, Rock Robin went from a one-woman show, to a group effort. People from all over the community contributed in writing, art and editing. We gathered resources from wherever we could: music, art brushes, clipart, all those things that, because our game was to be free, we could use.
Six years later, the state of EVNs has changed, but the idea of Rock Robin being a group effort and the fact that the game had become filthy with resources that cannot be used in a pay-for game have kept this game free for everyone. To be honest, to try and find all the amazing people who had helped to contribute to this game to make sure they get compensated from anything we'd make from the game, would be nigh impossible.
Instead of paying for our game, if you want to show your love for it, spread the word, make fanart, fanfiction, tell us about your band! (Donation?) Support us in future endeavors! But most of all just enjoy the game.
How Starling Got Involved
In 2010, I (Starling) came across a thread in the Lemmasoft WiP forums called "Rock Robin Band Management Game GxB Demo Available". I was immediately interested by both the fact that I could play as a girl (Re:Alistair++ was the only huge otome game I'd been able to find) and the band management element. I downloaded the demo and played, immediately hooked.
I became obsessed with it. Every time Aleema updated with new stuff about the game I freaked out and lapped it up. I began to pay attention to everything Aleema did. I essentially became an Aleema fangirl. So when she updated the Rock Robin thread announcing that she was holding a character creation contest for the Open Mode version of the game, I went to work. I created Emma Taylor, a violinist living on the streets who talks about government conspiracies and aliens. I drew a sketch over her, sent in her introduction scene and spent the next few days jittery and nervous.
The moment I made it in, I was on cloud nine. The Aleema I adored so much thought my character was good enough to get into this game I loved so much. Then on top of it, she invited all of us character creators to stay and write our characters storylines if we wanted to. If not we were free to leave the characters to her.
Most of the winning creators left it to that, but I wanted to see Emma through to the end. I wanted to make my mark on this game. So I stayed and finished writing her. I stayed and then I never left. I ended up developing about a third of the Open Mode characters, and writing some of them. I took a Winter Break to draw out all the chibi variations for every possible character (at a time where I still didn't have much confidence in my art). While Story Mode is all Aleema, where I was only a listening ear, Open Mode is something I have contributed a lot to, and so Open Mode is what I'm most nervous about. There was a point in time where we debated cutting it completely though, because we were struggling so hard to get it finished. As our adult lives kept interfering (we were doing all of this for free), but so many people helped us and contributed to this version of the game, so to give up on it... as much as we debated, it really wasn't an option.
In the end realized we could do it. We gave us March to work on it, and then from then the release schedule during this open beta to test each storyline and give us hard deadlines for the final bits and pieces.
As for my story. I still to this day can't believe that I have been able to be so involved with a game I still adore so much. During my work on Open Mode, I finished my first NaNoRenO, Rapunzel, a game that the others working on Open Mode with me supported and Aleema made look polished. And the idea of "Happy Backwards" was proposed. While going back and fourth on Rock Robin, we completed three more games. I became the main artists for HappyB games, my confidence in my ability grew. I was no longer an Aleema fangirl, but her collaborator.
Though there are moments where I feel inferior to the other Happy Backward members, as I'm the only active member to have not had their work in a commercial EVN. I'm honored to be considered a part of this time, and I hope that even with my insanely busy job here in Japan, I can continue to work with these girls.