Route59 is an award-winning games studio creating cinematic visual novels for a global audience. The team is made up of RMIT graduates who met during high school and uni through their shared love of visual novels.
Can you tell us a bit about who you are and what you do?
We are Route 59. We tell stories through the interactive medium of visual novels. Though visual novels are often classified as a genre of video games, we see them as existing somewhere on the spectrum between contemporary interactive media (like video games) and more traditional storytelling media (like movies, comics, and books).
Where did the idea for Route 59 come from?
Visual novels are relatively young as a medium, originating in Japan during the 1980's, and only recently finding popularity with western audiences. Though the early era of Japanese visual novels paved the way for the development of western visual novels which began in the mid 00's, they also established a number of conventions (some cultural and some technological) which we feel have led to the homogenization of many mainstream visual novels. Our aim is to break those conventions and push the boundaries of the medium while staying true to the fundamentals and strengths of visual novels as a storytelling medium.
How did you get started?
In 2015, we created "Project Ven," an experimental narrative game in Unity 3D which won the award for "Best Narrative" at Freeplay 2015. After the success of Project Ven, we developed two additional prototypes which helped us secure funding for our current project, Necrobarista.
From Necrobarista by Route 59
What has been your greatest challenge along the way?
One of the biggest things we’ve had to adjust to is the scope of our latest project. Our first release, Project Ven, was a short 15-minute narrative, and we expect Necrobarista to be a four-plus-hour narrative experience. Starting with a project that had a two-month development cycle and continuing onto a project with a development cycle that has lasted over two years has forced us to learn better project management skills and adopt sustainable development practices. Burn-out is a real thing and we’ve learned the importance of avoiding it while still keeping deadlines.
What is your advice for anyone wanting to get involved in your industry?
Visual novels are a young medium, and western visual novel development is still in its infancy. The development community is relatively small and it has historically been very tight-knit, but it's growing rapidly and is incredibly welcoming to new voices. If you have an idea or style that is quirky, eclectic, or otherwise "weird" don't be afraid to show it off and see what other people think.
The Route 59 team all completed the RMIT Bachelor of Design (Games) and is made up of Kevin Chen (Designer), Joe Liu (3D Artist) and Ngoc Vu (2D Artist).
"If you have an idea or style that is quirky, eclectic, or otherwise "weird" don't be afraid to show it off and see what other people think." - Route 59