Hiii~ Artist Panda here!
Some of you who follow us may have noticed that we recently announced a new game. It’s a small visual novel called Cabin Fever, and I wanted to chat about it.
The first thing you’ll see is that the developer isn’t Sad Panda, but is this new studio nobody has heard of called “Steamy Buns” – basically the deal with that is it’s some of the peeps from Sad Panda, only it’s a separate studio. Steamy Buns is like the team B made up of me (Artist Panda), Programmer Panda, and Witchy Panda (one of our writers). For Cabin Fever I worked with Azahara for the character art (she’s awesome and has done a bunch of art in Crush Crush, like Charlotte/Shibuki/Sirina, etc). I also worked with Dao for the background art – she made all the gorgeous backgrounds in Hush Hush & Blush Blush, so it’s always a treat when I get to collaborate with her ❤
Cabin Fever was my little experiment to make a visual novel in preparation for Hush Hush, which is a MUCH bigger game. We wrote some cool new tech to accommodate the things I wanted, and learned so much about the development of making visual novels. So while OjiPanda was busy writing the script for Hush Hush (which is about the same word count as ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’) I decided to write my own mini VN to familiarize myself with the setup. It turns out that even a small visual novel like Cabin Fever is a ton of work, but I was really happy we made it because it’s taught us many good things that we’ll bring over to Hush Hush.
The story for Cabin Fever revolves around a loner character, living in a dystopian world that has been ravaged by a fatal pandemic. I started writing it at the very beginning of all the COVID-19 stuff that was happening, when the world was uncertain about everything. We shut down the Sad Panda office for a few months to keep everyone safe, and all worked from home. That meant I had some spare time to kill, so I got to work on this little story idea I had.
Over the course of a year I dabbled in this other side project, getting help from my artist friends and a super gifted music composer to do the soundtrack. I figured all the pieces I needed to make a small visual novel were story, art, music, code, and voice acting. The writing was finessed by Witchy Panda over a 2 month period, while she was helping with other Sad Panda tasks. As for me, I did the bulk of the work up front and then oversaw the other pieces to make sure they stuck true to the vision. I would redline/critique artwork as it came in, giving my feedback and sometimes drawing overtop to show how I wanted things to look. I also took on the grunt work like exporting the hundreds of character sprites 😛 And added a few more expressions, etc to the CGs.
Dao is a fantastic background artist and does a great job translating my ideas into beautiful illustrations. We worked hard to get all of the backgrounds, and different scenarios, looking the way I wanted. She drafted up a blueprint of the cabin at the start, so I could fit the story around the house and make sure it all flowed correctly. A few scenes were written in after all the art was done, so I had to bug her again for more art 😛 But she did a great job matching the style and making everything look like it came right out of a gorgeous anime film.
Then I reached out to voice actors to cast the perfect people for the roles. I knew early on that I wanted the player to be able to pick their ‘voice’ which could sound higher pitched/more feminine, or deeper/more masculine. The writing in all of our games is gender neutral so anyone can insert themselves into the main character’s role. As far I knew, no other VN had 2 different versions of the protagonist’s audio. So that was kinda neat to put together. All the voice actors did a beautiful job, and it’s probably my favorite part when I get to load up the game and hear all the voice acting for the first time. Visual novels to me are like a low budget anime, so hearing the voices alongside the artwork was a real treat. It made me feel proud of all the heart we put in to make this little experiment into a finely polished game.
The inspiration for Cabin Fever was one part my own experience during COVID, another part impatience with Hush Hush and wanting to just make a VN myself. I also wanted to tell a story inspired by VNs that I loved – one of them being Planetarian ~ the reverie of a little planet. Our game has many branching paths and multiple endings, so I hoped it would be fun for players to take notes and try going down alternate routes. I promise there is a way to have a happy ending! It’s just a really difficult path 🙂 Because sometimes that’s how life goes, but the reward is worth it.
Sad Panda will continue developing Crush Crush, Blush Blush, and will release Hush Hush soon. But don’t be surprised if you see a couple more games popping up from this ‘Steamy Buns’ developer. Honestly there are so many games I want to make, Steamy Buns was my solution to ‘clocking out’ at Panda each day, and switching to a different type of creative outlet at night. I hope you like our little game! And in case you’re wondering, yes the Panda Pass does work with it… haha.
Here’s a link to the Steam page: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1336600/Cabin_Fever
Thanks for checking it out!