Lucky Dog 1 interview Part 1 (E)

Lucky Dog 1 Interview

Part 1

The questions below have been answered primarily by a representative (T) speaking for the entire staff of Tennenouji. They tend to be a secretive company, and the representative wished for their name not to be publicly mentioned as well. In the interview, unless stated otherwise, this is the person answering the questions.

Tennenouji is a small company, isn’t it? However, as far as I know, there is very little information available about your staff. Would it be possible to provide a simple introduction to them?

T: We’re sorry. We wish to keep information about the staff a secret. We wish to remain a “mysterious” sort of entity.


How did Tennenouji start as a company?

T: The company started when Yura went independent, with the first game created being Miracle Not-on.1

At first, Lucky Dog 1 was sold at Comic Market, or Comiket. Then, after the number of stores selling the game and the number of copies sold increased, we were able to become a legal entity. A company. Because being a company would make making new deals and such easier to accomplish.

1. Miracle Not-on was Tennenouji’s first proper visual novel for the PC, published in 2006.


Why did you start with BL? Is there some charm to BL that is unique to the genre?

T: That would be because Yura likes BL. As for the charm of BL, that would be the charm of seeing and experiencing something different from what you have in “everyday life”.


When the company started, how did you make yourselves known? Currently, the Tennenouji name is pretty well-known among fans, but what about in the beginning?

T: There were some fans who remembered Yura’s name from previous works, but the brand name “Tennenouji” wasn’t famous at first.

After the hit that was Miracle Not-on, it seems that players gradually began to take notice and remember our name. We believe that we were able to remain in their memory despite having done no promotional work because we were able to release a game that left a strong impression on players.


What is the process for creating a regular scene (for example in Lucky Dog 1)?

T: Based on what the writers had written, we would create the art, music, sound effects, and movements. But if you’re talking about the creative process, in the case of Lucky Dog 1, we wrote the story based off concepts and characters brainstormed by the writers, Jinnai and Suganuma. Who knows what the writers are thinking. 🙂

Also, sometimes, Yura imagines up things to include in the scenario, so we would also include those.


Lucky Dog 1 is a story revolving around an Italian Mafia situated in America. Why did you choose the Italian Mafia (instead of, for example, Japan’s own Yakuza)?

T: At first, we wanted to write something focused on “a jailbreak in a country that isn’t Japan”. This had already eliminated the choice of using the Japanese Yakuza.

As a motivation for breaking out of jail, we thought up the reward of “becoming a Mafia boss”. As for “Why an Italian Mafia”? The Italian Mafia is highly recognized in Japan (probably because of The Untouchables), so we thought that it would be easier for the players to envision this way.


How did you do research the Italian Mafia and life in America? Previously, in our conversations, you’ve stated that you’ve never been to America, yet you seem to be rather on-the-ball.

Jinnai, Scenario Writer: The Internet, books, movies, games, etc. In addition to the usual material, the atmosphere from the 1930s era the story takes place is a personal hobby of mine, so the Heinlein novels and the supplement booklet for the RPG Call of Cthulhu2 also helped.

2. First published in the 1981, this game based off H.P. Lovecraft’s book takes place during the 1920s.


Suganuma, Scenario Writer: I’ve penned historical stories or games in the past, so I have collected historical references for many different countries. Also, I often watch historical movies. And among those, many are from the 1930s period American Mafia, and I’ve seen those many times.

When I was writing the story for Lucky Dog 1, I used my memory of those movies as a base and found whatever I thought I might need that I could get my hands on in books or the web. Also, I am fortunate to have researched historical American cities in the past—even if it was in a different era from this game (such as New York in the 19th century movie Gangs of New York).


What would you say the theme of the game is, if there is one?

T: There are differences in the relationship between two males and a relationship between two females, or even a male and female. We used this as our theme. The sturdy bond [between the characters] and trust is a big factor in moving the game’s story forward.


On the topic of character creation, anime and games (especially in BL visual novels) usually have the main characters cast to a set of stereotypes. For example, there’s the “cool character,” the “tsundere character,” the “senpai character” and so on. However, the personalities of the characters in Lucky Dog 1 don’t fit these archetypes. Is this on purpose?

T: We first came up with the main character Giancarlo, and after that we designed characters that would bounce interestingly off of him. Their images and actions were appended as the creation process for the scenario went on.

The reason the players may feel the characters from Lucky Dog 1 are different from those from other games is because the characters are defined by their link to events in the game itself.


Why do Bernardo, Luchino, Giulio, and Ivan work so well with Gian? In every route, their combo is very natural, fun and interesting. Did you come up with their interaction based off the characters’ personalities? Or did you start off with how you wanted them to interact and based the character personalities off of that?

T: Their personalities and their roles in the family were set first. It was because of Jinnai and Suganuma’s skill that the relationships were detailed so naturally and interestingly.


The bad endings in Lucky Dog 1 (and, to some extent, other scenes as well) are, frankly, very cruel. There’s no favoritism at all. Usually, writers show leniency towards their protagonists; however, this isn’t the case in Lucky Dog 1. How did you come up with these scenes? How were you able to write these bad endings?

Jinnai: I don’t really feel the need to go easy on your own characters. I think the bad endings are their own form of entertainment, and I wrote them as such.

Suganuma: To make one side shine, you need to make the other that much darker. To make the happy endings that much happier, we created the bad endings to be very dark. Being able to see and include two (or more) opposing sides in one product and making them both good is a big advantage and strength to games as a medium.

By the way, because I have mercilessly written many horrible scenes and endings in previous projects as well, and not just Lucky Dog, I don’t feel I went overboard this time. 🙂


Lucky Dog 1 is split into three parts. The last two play pretty much like your usual visual novel, but the first part is surprisingly complex.3 How did you come up with the Jailbreak Part? How did you put it together? And why didn’t you continue with this system?

Jinnai: I liked the complex visual novels of old, so I decided to design it after them. First, I came up with two escape routes possible in reality. After that, I thought up the tools and conditions necessary. After coming up with the events where you obtain these tools and conditions, I listed the events out in my head and on an Excel spreadsheet.

I also added another route that you can view if you fulfill more difficult conditions. At first, it was too difficult, and I’d made it so that if you always stuck with one character’s events you’d always get a bad ending. Tennenouji fixed it for me.

3. Part 1 of Lucky Dog 1 involves breaking out of jail, where you have the choice to talk to one of seven people and can only do so twice a day. In doing so, you gain tools such as lock picks, guard schedule, escape route information. There is a time limit of seven days and only after Gian has collected the appropriate tools and information can Gian successfully escape.


Lucky Dog 1, unlike other games, is a bit realistic in the fact that every year, a short story is released about events that many years after the main game, and we can see the relationships between the characters evolve.4

According to rumors, you’ve gone all the way to the end. Usually, all a game’s events are included in the main game and their related games, so why did you think so much about Lucky Dog 1’s “future”?

T: In the game, there is a scene that tells of the ends of the other character’s in his reflections, but their life up to their death and their final moments weren’t set in stone, and we may write about them in the future.

We’ve seen these rumors, but unfortunately there are no details on the future, past what we’ve written. We would love for players to let their imaginations wild. 🙂

4. For example, the first year anniversary short stories take place one year after the events of Lucky Dog 1.


Lucky Dog 1 has two5 side games. However, Lucky Happy Life6 and If For Gian7 are completely different from usual visual novels. Why did you change genres? How did you choose these genres?

T: We searched for game formats that would burden our scenario writers as little as possible.

It was very interesting to see whether visual novel fans would accept a game format that depended on players directly controlling the way the game unfolds. We chose the genres based on what we wanted to create at the time.

Playing with If For Gian was like playing with blocks, so it was very fun to work on it.

5. At the time of the interview, there were only two side games. Two more have been released since.
6. Giancarlo’s Lucky Happy Life is a PC game released in 2011. It is designed like a board game and covers what-if scenarios in each character’s life. The genre is “Alternate Life Board Game”.
7. If For Gian, We Would Destroy the World is a PC game released in 2012. It is designed to play like the Atari 2600 game, Human Cannonball. The genre is described as “Puzzle Action Game”.


Are you surprised that Lucky Dog 1 was so successful?

T: At first, we never thought that it would be this popular.

We predicted the sales figure of Lucky Dog 1 based on the average number of visitor hits on the Tennenouji website (we felt this would surely work, as the number of fans with a high probability of buying the game were likely to visit the site), but on the release date we ran out of stock. What in the world was going on?!

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Onto Part 2 (E) >>


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