Idol Manager [business sim, dark comedy]

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Kuiper
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Idol Manager [business sim, dark comedy]

#1 Post by Kuiper » Tue Mar 29, 2016 1:34 am

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(cover art by Ninamo)
Idol Manager is a business simulation game set in the Japanese idol industry. Coming 2018 for PC, Mac and Linux.
The premise:

You take on the role of manager at a small (but growing!) talent agency. As you cultivate and train the newest generation of young pop stars, you'll have to decide who to hire and who to fire, who gets promoted when things go well and who gets reprimanded when things get sour. The personal lives of these young celebrities are a part of your business, and the life of a pop star isn't always a happy one.

Their crowning personal achievements can be your greatest commercial successes, but their emotional meltdowns and PR nightmares can spell financial disaster for your company.

Features:
  • Idol Manager is a more realistic take on the Japanese pop idol industry, with a strong focus on the controversial issues that real producers have to deal with.
  • Decide how to deal with crises including gossip, vandalism, stalkers, or threats directed at your agency and the pop idols you manage.
  • Manage relationships between the different pop idols in your group, as you deal with cliques, internal feuds, and bullying.
  • Grow your fanbase by varying your tactics and appealing to a wide variety of demographics.
  • Produce singles, hold concerts, and organize overseas tours to capitalize on your group's popularity and bring in revenue.
  • Hire staffers to help deal with logistics and keep your agency running smoothly.
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Project history:

Max started working on Idol Manager in 2014. Max was an avid follower of the Japanese idol scene, but he noticed that all of the games and anime focusing on the Japanese idol industry showed only a cute and idealized version of pop idol life. He wanted to make a game that included the rawness and drama that made following real idols so interesting. With that in mind, Max began developing Idol Manager as a business simulator that would provide players with a variety of choices, with a focus on showing realistic consequences and avoiding moralization to create an experience where the player never feels that there is one "right" answer.

In 2015, Aiwa (artist) and I (Kuiper, the co-designer and scriptwriter) joined the team. Like Max, I find the real pop idol industry in Japan more interesting than the cute sanitized version that is often presented in games and anime, and one of my goals for this game is to depict the industry in a way that shows some of the fun and lively side of pop idol life without painting over the more ugly and unpleasant parts of showbiz.

Screenshots:

(the embedded images below have been sized to fit the forum's width requirements, click on any of the images to view a full-size screenshot)

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Hold auditions to form a giant supergroup--or focus your resources and attention on a few core members

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How will your idols spend their time? Plan activities to increase their performance potential--and their earning potential.

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Idols aren't the only employees you need to manage. Customize your agency and build the ultimate staff team to support your stars.

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Business proposals come across your desk every day. Accept them, reject them, or sit down at the negotiating table and see if you can work out better terms.

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Sometimes, the business decisions you make can have personal implications. The idols you manage might be business assets, but they're people too!

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Some proposals are "one and done" arrangements, while others are ongoing relationships with different businesses. Be careful when managing a long-term business relationship--there's more at stake, and you might find yourself liable for damages if you don't read the fine print

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Scandal is sometimes unavoidable. You can use the press as a tool for damage control to save careers - or sabotage them.

Videos:

We've started doing a series of dev log videos demonstrating various gameplay features that we've implemented so far. Here are the first several episodes of that:

Dev Log #1: Doing Business
Dev Log #2: Producing Singles

Project staff:

Max Rogozin - designer, programmer
Kuiper - co-designer, writer
Aiwa - artist

Keep up with the project:

Website
Twitter
tumblr
Steam page

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I'm curious to hear what people think about the game in terms of the themes we've chosen. There's some real dissonance between the cutesy visuals and the potentially dark subject matter that our game is bound to delve into, and I assure you that dissonance is intentional and by design. Does the idea of a game that explores the less-savory aspects of the idol industry entice you, or repel you? How does the visual style affect how you perceive the game? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Last edited by Kuiper on Thu Mar 22, 2018 8:27 am, edited 13 times in total.
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Re: Idol Manager [business sim, dark comedy]

#2 Post by MimirollCookie » Tue Mar 29, 2016 2:07 am

This looks really cute! Good luck! :D
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Re: Idol Manager [business sim, dark comedy]

#3 Post by curry nochi rice » Tue Mar 29, 2016 3:33 am

Man, those names are straight out from AKS' roster.
Can I deal with tabloids like Shukan Bunshun?
I really like your UI though, it's not fancy but it's definitely in for the times.

Hmm this idea also holds potential for sequels and offshoots, like establishing a sister group or something. :lol:
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Re: Idol Manager [business sim, dark comedy]

#4 Post by Kuiper » Tue Mar 29, 2016 4:05 am

curry nochi rice wrote:
Can I deal with tabloids like Shukan Bunshun?
Yep! One of the things we want to force players to do is manage their relationship with the press, which includes gossip rags and bloggers, along with "regular" media outlets. Trying to dodge scandal (or wield it to your advantage) is something we definitely want to play a significant role in the game.
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Re: Idol Manager [business sim, dark comedy]

#5 Post by Zelan » Wed Apr 06, 2016 3:13 pm

If I'm being completely honest, I really don't know anything about the Japanese pop idol world. I am, however, a bit more familiar with the Western celebrity world, and I would imagine there are some similarities between them. This game has definitely piqued my interest, I'll be keeping an eye on it.

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Re: Idol Manager [business sim, dark comedy]

#6 Post by Ghost of Crux » Wed Apr 06, 2016 3:47 pm

I've always disliked Japanese pop idol industry due to the fact that it feels grossly exploitative, but with the premise of your game, I would play this in a heartbeat. I really like the fact that you're facing all the dramatic and controversial side of this entire things. I just... really like the idea. It will probably make me cry myself to sleep and contemplate the worth of human existence but I like what you're doing.

I hope this gets finished!
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Re: Idol Manager [business sim, dark comedy]

#7 Post by Joshua1207 » Wed Apr 06, 2016 4:50 pm

Game looks and sounds real nice. I'll be keeping an eye on it!
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Re: Idol Manager [business sim, dark comedy]

#8 Post by n0tgin » Wed Apr 06, 2016 5:54 pm

Yo... this looks super good and aside from the fact that I'm a huge sucker for management games, I also am really interested in the premise?
Regarding the visuals of the game, I love them, especially in contrast with the dark comedy. It's like the industry itself, which appears cute and lovely to the public, but can be very vicious. I'm also into the more complex management instead of just stat-raising your idols... anyway, needless to say you've got me interested.

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Re: Idol Manager [business sim, dark comedy]

#9 Post by Shamsia » Sat Apr 09, 2016 9:19 pm

I like the idea of a sim with idols, and even better if it is more realistic than the sugar they show. I think the menus could be a little better, and less like the YAC. The art looks nice, like the one you see in a professional product.

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Re: Idol Manager [business sim, dark comedy]

#10 Post by Lord Dragon » Sun Apr 17, 2016 5:17 am

This looks absolutely amazing!

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Re: Idol Manager [business sim, dark comedy]

#11 Post by Windchimes » Sun Apr 17, 2016 11:52 am

This looks amazing. The art is gorgeous, the premise is intriguing, and I would really really love to play this when it comes out.

I'm assuming this will be commercial, considering the quality of the art/the amount of content. ;; Any plans where you will release/how much you will be selling it for?
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Re: Idol Manager [business sim, dark comedy]

#12 Post by aleax » Wed Apr 20, 2016 11:32 pm

Whoa, dark! Sounds almost like an anti-Kim Kardashian: Hollywood (the iOS game) or a VN Perfect Blue. I'll definitely be keeping an eye on this one.

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Re: Idol Manager [business sim, dark comedy]

#13 Post by Zelan » Thu Apr 21, 2016 5:57 pm

I just realized that Kuiper also did the writing for Trial By Fire and now I'm even more hyped for this game ^_^ I loved Trial By Fire, it made me want to try out Phoenix Wright.

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Re: Idol Manager [business sim, dark comedy]

#14 Post by Selebus » Fri Apr 22, 2016 4:26 pm

Kuiper wrote:I'm curious to hear what people think about the game in terms of the themes we've chosen. There's some real dissonance between the cutesy visuals and the potentially dark subject matter that our game is bound to delve into, and I assure you that dissonance is intentional and by design. Does the idea of a game that explores the less-savory aspects of the idol industry entice you, or repel you? How does the visual style affect how you perceive the game? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
You want my honest opinion?

I think this is one of the greatest, most interesting concepts I have ever heard of in the world of VNs.
This plays directly to my tastes in every possible way.
You're fusing the dark with the light and bringing something so commonly overlooked into the public eye.
The concept, the art, the writing -- everything seems to be top notch judging from this post alone.
You guys have definitely gained a fan in me. I would gladly pay for a game like this


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Re: Idol Manager [business sim, dark comedy]

#15 Post by Kevlei » Fri Apr 22, 2016 7:45 pm

I love realistic games, so the thought of dealing with scandals that aren't romanticized or without repercussion really intrigues me! I quite like the cover art by Nimano, and while I prefer it to the art in the actual game, the latter isn't unappealing, it's just a matter of personal preference ^^;

Also, being able to play the evil manager role of breaking your idol down… sounds good to a macabre and sadistic person like me >D

Anyways, I was actually curious as to whether or not there will be a male idol to manage? Since it isn't just women who are exploited in the entertainment industry. I think it would be rather interesting to see things from a male idol's point of view, especially since traditional gender roles dictate that men should be "strong" and "providers."
At any rate, good luck on your project! I would gladly find it if it ever went up on a crowdfunding website such as Kickstarter~

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