Independent Creator Spotlight: Hinokodo
Every month we feature one of the independent creators whose brilliant work we sell in our shop.
This interview with Hinokodo is the first of this new series.
Hinokodo discovered he could draw in an Algebra 2 class. Shortly thereafter, adults in his life commissioned him to create art for them.
“I quickly discovered that if I’m paid to make art for others, the art suffers and never comes out as good as it could have been. The only solution I can find so far is to work for myself. Be my own creative director,” he said.
Now, the 30-year-old has found success as an artist and game designer, developing his own projects through Mimic Publishing, a publishing house he co-founded with his fiance.
Creating MIRU: from idea to Kickstarter to game
One of those projects, MIRU, is a Peregrine Coast Press favorite. The game is a solo analog adventure where the objective is to kill a god, a premise inspired by Hinokodo’s own experiences.
“I grew up in a right-wing fundamentalist Christian household,” he said. “I spent a lot of the past decade reshaping the way I think, unlearning the cultural habits you pick up in that environment, and so most of my projects feature the ‘anti-ness’ of my childhood experiences. I like stories where God dies, worlds that are post-capitalism and characters with anarchist tendencies.”
When creating the game, though, Hinokodo also went back to his past creative work.
“I have three or so stories that featured this AI god ALORA, bits and pieces of her rise to power happen in the background. And I thought, well what happens after she accomplished her goals and, like, I don’t know, a century goes by?”
While perfecting the story, he also had to think about game mechanics. Since the game is solo, there’s no DM; the player drives the story.
“I just thought up a few mechanics that basically boiled down to a choose-your-own-adventure but with stats.”
After a week of game development, he got busy and had to take time away from the game. Then, in August 2022, he returned to his notes. Around the same time, he found out about Kickstarter’s Zine Quest, an annual RPG zine project.
Following a move, Hinokodo had some free time to devote to MIRU. He finished the game by mid-August (a self-imposed deadline) and then began the Kickstarter campaign.
“If it weren’t for Kickstarters discovery section, I’m not sure MIRU would have been successful as it was,” he said.
Now, MIRU is out and ready to play. While it was designed to be a solo game, it can also be multiplayer.
“I convinced a few new friends to come over and help me test MIRU, and we found out that this solo game was actually kind of fun when played in a group. I don’t know how unique MIRU is with this perspective, but I don’t think many games start off solo and end up just as fun multiplayer. Usually solo mode is shoehorned into a game that was always supposed to be multiplayer.”
Still, the solo aspect is necessary.
“I think as more viral epidemics occur and our social networks implode, it’s important to have ways to escape and engage your mind while you’re all by yourself. Give yourself a break from the digital screens. Drag the ol’ pen & dice out and jump into an adventure where you kill a god.”
Up next for Hinokodo
MIRU has made a big splash, so it’s hard to believe that Hinokodo is just getting started. Lucky for us, he has some exciting projects on the horizon. In addition to releasing Aloraglyphs, a flat pixel version of braille, he’s working on a new dice game called PONDUS.
“You play a wandering wyzard on the hunt for the orbs of power on a board game-like map and manage dice and combat situations to reach the end.”
He also teased a secret project:
“It has to do with Zinequest in February 2023 and the ending of MIRU. wink wink.”
Being a new creator in the online space can be overwhelming, especially when there are other creators releasing new projects every day.
“Remember that other creatives aren’t your competitor, they’re your coworker,” Hinokodo said. “Look up to them, admire their work, reach out and chat, share what inspires you and tell people why. Avoid becoming jealous of their talents. It’s so incredibly hard not to compare yourself to others online. There will always be a million people who can write, or draw, or produce anything better, faster, and cooler than you can. Embrace it. Let those awful feelings go. Turn that jealousy into ambition.”
Hinokodo is co-founder of Mimic Publishing and creator of solo-TTRPG MIRU.
Find him online
Twitter | Instagram | Mastodon | Itch.io
What is Peregrine Coast Press?
Peregrine Coast Press is an independent publishing co-op. Publisher of the popular Filmmakers Without Cameras magazine, the press has its focus on media writing, arts & culture publishing, and TTRPGs. Learn more about the Press by reading our Manifesto.