"Welcome to Starswirl Academy: one of the most prestigious high schools in the country. Classes and extracurricular activities cater to the needs of each individual student. At Starswirl, we feel that an emphasis on a person's special talent is what sets us apart from the rest. While enrolled, the use of the campus' facilities is not only allowed, but encouraged to aid in the pursuit of honing your own skills."
- Student Handbook
Starswirl Academy is a visual novel (not to be confused with dating sim or H-game) currently in development. Think of it like a choose-your-own-adventure book for the digital age. You play as a new transfer student, Tom, fresh off the train. Since you're a senior, it seems as though every one of your classmates knows exactly what their talents are. You couldn't be more directionless, but that's why you chose to come here, right? It's time to find out exactly who you are.
Gallery is returning soon.
Same with the concept art.
When is the game coming out?
When it's done.™ Also, no, we won't be putting up a progress bar or anything like that.
What is Starswirl Academy? A game? A story?
A little bit of A and a little bit of B. The game plays a lot like a choose-your-own-adventure story with images to go along with it. If you've ever seen Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, you've got a very basic idea of how it works. The story unfolds through text boxes at the bottom of the screen, while characters appear and react at the top.
So this is a dating sim/H-game, then?
No. While there are dating and romance elements, the focus is on the characters and their interactions with each other. Visual Novel is a broad category. Kinetic Novels, Eroge, Dating Sims, H-Games, Adventures - those are all sub-genres.
This is clearly ripped off from My Little Pony.
That's not a question, but yes. Originally, Starswirl Academy was a fangame intended for Pony fans and outsiders alike. It still is, but Hasbro asked us to not use their trademarked names. We're totally cool with that, so this'll be the only place you'll see the source material mentioned.
How much will it cost?
As a fangame, we said we wouldn't charge any money. That still applies. The game will be available free of charge.
So do you take donations?
No. We don't have a finished game out, so it doesn't feel right to take people's money without giving anything in return. If you'd like to support us, you can check out our merch over at Lunar Shine. The link is over on your left. If you don't see anything you like, don't worry about it. There'll be more soon. Any money we make goes towards overhead costs and convention appearances. We don't profit off this project.
Where can I throw my money to get that sweet soundtrack?
You can't. At least, not yet. Some of the songs are available for listening on our YouTube channel. Demo songs recycled from the Budding Friendships game are available for free/purchase on their Bandcamp page..
Which platforms will it be distributed on?
PC, Mac, and Linux are the main three. An Android port is planned, but not guaranteed. No iOS releases are possible at this point.
What's the game rated?
The primary release is rated wA<14 under the Voluntary Media Rating system. That's just a bit higher than a "T" ESRB rating. Expect to see some mild profanity and allusions to (gasp) sex.
Is there adult (NSFW) content in the game?
Not in the initial release. For now we're just trying to get the game out the door. It should be noted, however, that you really shouldn't be playing this at work. There's definitely some implied shenanigans.
Which characters are in the game?
Aside from the main six girls, you can expect some fan favorites to appear. Some have major roles and some don't.
Which girls have story routes?
Just the main six.
Yes. Six girls is a lot of content, and we don't want to delay the release any more than we have to.
But what if-
No. More character routes just aren't going to happen at this point in time. Though it may seem as simple as "Can you just get one more writer to do X route?" the reality is that it would require massive amounts of effort from everyone involved. There's additional writing, more editing and peer review, so many more art assets, and more music. It's not happening.
What about Spike?
The game isn't even out!
The game isn't even out!
Who is the protagonist?
The protagonist is Tom.
Can I choose my gender?
No. This isn't a self-insert story. It's a story about Tom and his relationship with his friends. It's entirely possible to feel connected to a character without making yourself the protagonist. Would your favorite book be better if the protagonist was an ageless, faceless, gender-neutral, culturally-ambiguous person? Probably not. It's not because we're trying to make a statement. We're not catering to the male crowd. Don't take it personally, babe, it just ain't your story.
Ugh. Why would you make it about high school? That's so generic/overdone.
Put simply, a school setting is easily relatable. On top of that, the themes and messages we want to explore fit very nicely into the ups and downs of high school. There are plenty of stories to be told, but ours is at school.
What language is the game written in?
The game is built using the Ren'Py engine, so the bulk of the code is Python.
Ren'Py is the gold standard for english-developed visual novels. You can look, but you won't find anything close to matching its features and support.
Is this game open source?
No, though the story, setting, and characters are all released under the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license. If you're planning on doing something related to Starswirl, make sure you read the full legalese, but the basic meaning is that you can use the characters, names, setting, and story in your own work as long as you follow these three rules; You must attribute Zap Apple Project. You cannot profit from it. You must release your work under the same license.
Who are you guys?
Zap Apple Project is a group of game enthusiasts working on this game in our free time.
You guys got started on 4chan, right?
Reddit, actually, but only as a starting point. We're not tied to any social media sites, though you'll find that we're pretty good about answering questions and getting feedback on the big ones - that is Reddit, 4chan, Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook. We may not always respond, but we listen.
Are you guys planning on doing anything else after you finish this game?
Yes and no. Zap Apple Project is just that, a "project". This is the only game we'll be developing under this name, but you can look forward to plenty more from Rosin.
Why are you guys all depicted as girls? You aren't all girls, right?
It's Derpii's fault. We have no choice in the matter. Help.
Do you guys get compared to Katawa Shoujo? Do you feel like you have to live up to the work that was done in KS?
Yes and no. It's safe to say that we wouldn't have the support from as many of you if Katawa Shoujo hadn't paved the way a little bit. The downside is that most people that got into visual novels through KS haven't ventured past it into other games. There is a world of visual novels out there with a seemingly infinite number of settings and plots. We just happen to be using a school setting like Four Leaf Studios did.
Can you help with changing the character names?
No. Though you can change the names of the girls by editing the game files, this is not a supported feature. You can find very basic help in the names.rpy file in your game folder, but aside from that you're on your own.
Can I help translate the game into another language?
We don't want to start the translation process until the story is finished and finalized. You can do your own thing, but official translations will have to wait.
Can I join your team? Are you looking for a writer/artist/voice actor?
Unless we ask for help in a post, we're not currently looking for anyone. If you have something you'd like to contribute that we haven't thought of, you can send an email to email@example.com and let us know. The application inbox is not checked very often, so don't be hurt if we don't respond right away. DO NOT send us an email asking about volunteering for one of the positions we already have filled.
I have an idea for the story!
Sorry, but we don't take any story suggestions. Don't be offended.
Can you put in my OC? She's a black and red alicorn who's Twilight and Luna's daughter. She is the princess of the Everfree Forest and...
Even though we aren't using trademarked names anymore, we still have a "no OC" policy.
Can I do a lets-play (or anything like that)?
You're legally allowed to do that without our permission. That said, we love watching them. Please do.
- Is the game coming out before _____?
- Is _____ going to be a character?
- How long are the routes?
- How much is done?
- Questions about dating sim gameplay mechanics that have nothing to do with adventure VNs
- Are you putting out any more demos?
- Can you guys draw _____?
If you have a question not covered by the FAQ, email us or hit us up on the Starswirl blog.