The Making of Chuhou Joutai 3: Three Nights of Scarlet Abscess

On Friday, October 7, 2022, Chuhou Joutai 3: Three Nights of Scarlet Abscess will release on Steam. The history of this game spans all the way back to July of 2021. Pre-production on the game began immediately following the release of Chuhou Joutai 2: Paraided!. Some stuff was done before it. For example, the stage 1 theme The Time-Leaping Youkai Girl ~ Monsoon Orange existed before development began, making this the first CJ3 song. That song ended up being used in the Touhou 3: The Phantasmagoria of Dimensional Dreams NES Demake before it got used in CJ3.

Even though it takes the talents of many people to produce a single game, it is possible for a single person to create a game all by themselves, given that they have enough musical, graphical, and programmatical knowledge. The Prophet Driller is one of those people.

How it all began

Chuhou Joutai 3‘s story began somewhat rocky. The Prophet had just dropped out of college to pursue his dream job of becoming a solo dev. He didn’t have much money to do what he needed, so he had to work a full-time job to fund the studio.

As with Drillimation’s previous games, the Prophet Driller handles design work and programming entirely. Sometimes, he gets ideas from other users on the Drillimation Discord server. He always works to ensure their own contributions work well within the Drillimation Danmaku Universe.

The Prophet worked intensely on Chuhou Joutai 3. At the start, his brain had pretty much dried up from the previous Chuhou Joutai game. Nonetheless, somebody on the other side of the globe jumped in after the Touhou 3: The Phantasmagoria of Dimensional Dreams NES Demake released: Emiko Hosokawa. She helped Drillimation with advice, ideas, and guidance to ensure Chuhou Joutai 3‘s development can go smoothly, despite another game being in development at the same time: the Touhou 5: Mystic Square NES Demake.

A New Look for Susumu Takajima and Friends

When Chuhou Joutai 2: Paraided! released, players continued to sing its praises, but the critics got divided in half due to things looking pretty much the same as the first game. It’s much better to create a sequel rather than create an entirely new franchise with all new characters. The biggest challenge with sequels is to ensure all familiar characters stay fresh.

When Paraided! began development in November 2020, new features were implemented such as the ability to spend money to make it easy to get through the stages. The Prophet needed to come up with new ways to ensure Chuhou Joutai 3 would be the ultimate Chuhou Joutai experience. The game’s original plot was completely different. It would involve Driller and his friends sealing away an evil genie that contained the soul of Hearthcliffe’s late mother. The Prophet wanted to include supernatural themes in Chuhou Joutai as early as the first game, but that didn’t get off the ground, as he went for a more modern, realistic approach where magic is only possible through science.

The idea of having Driller being invited by Crown Princess Konata to one of her royal balls came naturally after the Prophet saw Lire – an indie horror adventure game by Indonesian developer Zheros Island that featured a scene where Eva, the main character, must dance with somebody in order to get her lost cat back. And so, the plot of foiling a terrorist plot on a royal ball came to fruition, and ultimately ended up as the main point.

The game’s art direction was completely overhauled. Gone were the annoying blend-ins that the first two Chuhou Joutai games were notorious for. Things ended up looking a lot like Super Mario Bros. 3 – almost all sprites got black outlines. Drillimation used the same software, VRoid Studio, to create the character models which would then have to be turned into 2D sprites in line with the game’s retro style.

New Characters

The most important aspect of Chuhou Joutai 3‘s new features included Ryuta Shigematsu and Kumiko Uchida, both of whom are NPCs in the first two games, as playable characters. This goes in line with the timeline of the Drillimation Danmaku Universe where (spoiler alert) Driller and Kagami end up recruiting them to the Kozanese Royal Defense Force.

Another new character that was introduced to the DDU was Chiyu Kuse – the stage 1 boss. Chiyu first appeared in a blog post on this website posted in early 2020. A year and a half later, she got a physical appearance as a furisode kimono girl looking for love. While off-topic, the inspiration for Tatsurou Hozoshima who appeared in the first two games actually came when the Prophet had a bad experience at a seafood restaurant while visiting Indonesia in the summer of 2019.

Some familiar enemies from the first two games have returned, including Pacoonbas, Embers, Bakebake, Karanahs, Mechagasas, Crimsonite Grunts, Lemonies, and even Remikazes. Some of their behavior was altered slightly, while some remain the same.

The Prophet’s autistic mind can’t stop running crazy every day, being filled with hundreds of ideas that sadly can’t make it into one game and end up being repurposed for something else. Most of the ideas come naturally when he isn’t home, in the shower, or asleep at night. One of those ideas for the second game involved putting Driller, alongside mermaid-transformed versions of Kagami Ochiai and Crown Princess Konata into a hot water tub.

Programming the Game Mechanics and Enemy AI

Throwing everything into image graphics is a long, complicated process. Thankfully, VRoid Studio image exports help ease this process, given if the Prophet was using his own proprietary 3D-to-2D computer-aided design program! The entire Chuhou Joutai trilogy was developed using GameMaker, and GameMaker games consist of image files that display the graphics on-screen. They have to be designed and used very carefully.

It’s tough to make a danmaku shooter game. This involves a series of complex code just to produce one bullet. Thankfully, the Prophet wrote a function specifically designed to do this to ease the process. Using a combination of “for” loops and the extensive use of timelines in GameMaker can produce beautiful danmaku patterns. One of the biggest gripes is there’s no WYSIWYG preview for danmaku. Everything is a guessing game – adjustments usually have to be made when Driller is having trouble trying to beat a danmaku pattern on the toughest difficulty, which is what all playtests are done on.

Conclusion

Chuhou Joutai 3: Three Nights of Scarlet Abscess was developed by only one person, and it was done over a one-year span. Preproduction started in July 2021 and lasted until after Touhou 4: Lotus Land Story NES Demake completed development. General development began in February 2022 and the whole game was completed in just a few days before the demo released in June 2022.

We are proud of the virtual world that we created specifically for Susumu Takajima and his friends to live in. We can’t wait to see what will happen next for Driller in the future!

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