Papers, Please really is an inspiration for VA-11 HALL-A, Damas says: "While mostly from a gameplay standpoint, Papers, Please has been a good reference to refine the game's flow and polish some elements." Other influences include Ghost in the Shell, Blade Runner, Deus Ex, Cheers and Taxicab Confessions, as listed on the game's devlog.
Keeping in line with VA-11 HALL-A's quirky approach to future life, its official website URL is WaifuBartending.com. Damas and the Sukeban Games team are based in Venezuela, but they're longtime fans of Japanese culture – "Sukeban" is "the female equivalent of the 'Banchou' or gang leader," Damas says.
"As for the 'Waifu' part of the game: When you get down to it, Waifu (or 'Husbando' if the target's male) just refers to a character you feel particularly attached to, that's it," he says. "The game focuses on getting to know your clients, so at some level, you start caring about them. From another standpoint, the word 'Waifu' was enough of a filter for us to sell the game at first glance. Anyone that would be turned off by the anime aesthetic anyways would back down just by hearing the word. Meanwhile, anyone that would like (or at least wouldn't be bothered by) such a thing in the first place would find it interesting just by the name alone. And besides, waifubartending.com is easier to remember than va11halla.com."
Sukeban's current focus is building a recipe book for all of the drinks players can concoct. As the developers put it: "Every drink has a flavor (sweet, bitter, and so on) and a category (girly drink, classy drink, etc.) as well as a secret property that gets revealed if that drink is used in certain orders. With this, we want to make bartending a more organic experience. It might involve more than fulfilling orders verbatim. [...] In the end, we want the player to get to know their clients, be able to experiment with the orders, and give the client something based on what they know of the customer, rather than what the text says."
They're also building a lineup of diverse customers, including constant complainer Ingram McDougal, tough news editor Donovan D. Dawson, and Streaming-chan, a girl who broadcasts every moment of her life (viewers pay extra for the premium package that includes access to her most private moments).VA-11 HALL-A
is in development for PC, Mac, Linux, Vita and iOS, and it will come to Steam eventually. For now, the standalone prologue plus the full game at launch is available for $5 via the main site
, and anyone who buys the game will receive a Steam key. The prologue by itself is available for free – or for "what you think is fair" – as well.