Hello, everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve written to you here.
Today marks a whole 5 years since the release of DDLC, which initially hit itch.io on September 22nd, 2017 (and Steam the following month).
It’s hard to believe 5 years have already passed, huh? Sometimes I hear college-aged fans telling me about their fond memories of playing DDLC at the beginning of high school, how it was important to them growing up. To me, high school practically felt like its own lifetime. So, thinking about how someone halfway through college could have played DDLC at the beginning of high school is so strange to me.
It makes me wonder if I should focus on more mindfully living each passing day, so that I can look back without feeling like so many memories have slipped through the cracks.
I was already 25 when I released DDLC, but I feel like my most important personal growth has happened over these past five years. DDLC has changed my life in so many ways. I’ve had the privilege of feeling a deep sense of connection with players all over the world who resonate with the characters and story. I feel such strong gratitude for having been able to connect with so many people in that way.
In a therapy session of mine last year, I was asked this question: What makes you feel close to other people?
That question has stuck with me ever since. It’s something that seems so important for us to know about ourselves, but until that moment, I never put much thought into it. It helped me better understand my relationships with my friends, as well as the meaning that I find in the work I create, such as DDLC.
We’re all different, but my feeling of closeness primarily comes from sharing experiences with others. Having a meaningful emotion or experience, and then being able to deliver a comparable experience to someone else, makes me feel close to them.
I realized that DDLC and DDLC Plus are full of my own experiences that I’ve had a desire to share with others. The story’s emotions are inspired by the impact I felt when playing my favorite games or visual novels. The club members have traits and insecurities that I’ve experienced in myself or those close to me growing up.
In this way, fiction is communication. I get to communicate—or transmit—meaningful feelings and experiences of my own to other people. If it resonates with them, it brings me a feeling of closeness. I think that is a driving force behind my desire to produce creative work.
The Next 5 Years
As a developer with ADHD and a lot of skills to learn, it has been a challenge to build Team Salvato on the “business” side of things. But nowadays, we have a great team of people who are providing all kinds of support for things like community engagement, event planning, merchandise, business development, contracts, and more. This means I have been able to gradually spend an increasing amount of time working on what I’m good at and enjoy doing. It has taken us a while to reach this point, but things are looking pretty good for the future. I’m very grateful to the rest of the team for enabling that with all the work that they do.
Right now, I’m working on three games. One is Magicore Anomala, which is more of a solo side project that I work on in my spare time. But it means a lot to me—it’s been a lifelong dream of mine to create a game for Amiga, my very first computer at a young age. It will take a few more years to finish this game, but I have some very cool ideas for the story and characters, so I’ll be delighted if you end up checking it out on Steam (PC) or floppy disk (Amiga) when the time comes.
The second game is another visual novel. I can’t share much more than that, but I have some ideas on what new boundaries I can break with the medium. I’m taking my time with it, and I’m expecting that it will also be a few years away.
The third game is a secret, but I’m very excited about it.
My hope is that 5 years from now, we’ll have these games mostly done. But as is the tendency with ADHD—and the fact that we’re just a small indie team—I’m sure there will be many surprises along the way. Inspiration for new projects can hit very unexpectedly and with sudden force. But I feel very strongly about all three of the above projects, and I will never give up on them. They each uniquely recapture the sense of passion, spirit, and delight I felt while working on DDLC.
I also want to mention that we’re looking into updating DDLC! We’ve focused a lot on DDLC Plus this past year, but as time marches on, we want to keep DDLC easily playable on modern systems. We’d also like to bring in some key accessibility options that will allow more players to enjoy the game.
We don’t yet have a timeline for this, but we’ll be sure to involve the community in this quality-of-life update as we proceed with development.
For modders, I will also be releasing a couple of small utility scripts that I wrote while prototyping DDLC Plus. They add auto-focusing of the characters and a handful of shorthand commands, which should make it faster and easier to write scripts for your DDLC fan work.
Today, I will be celebrating DDLC’s 5th anniversary by working on my games. Although it resembles many other work days, I feel an opportunity to channel my sense of gratitude into creative energy, knowing that I strive to create more meaningful connections between people.
I’m so thankful for those of you who have continued to express your love for DDLC after all these years—whether through your participation in a community, or simply as a cherished memory. I hope that today, we can share a feeling of togetherness, through psychological horror and through life.
Happy 5 years, and I’ll see you around!