Through the blueprint of: Stella Hoshii

You know, as much as cyberpunk likes to tell you about gaps between the rich and the poor, you don’t actually see the rich that much. Many times the rich might just be a myth for all you know. And when they do show up they’re really flat characters or just plain villains by default.

So what if we explored the idea of rich people in a cyberpunk setting?

Stella was the second post-prototype character we made. I remember Kiririn tuned up her design based on feedback from /agdg/ (4chan’s amateur game development general thread). That part on Streaming-chan’s article saying she was the *second* character we made based on online feedback? Stella was the first.

The base concept was kinda the same as Sei. If Sei was an attempt at giving a name and face to part of the authoritarian rent-a-cops, Stella was the same idea but for the aristocrats of the cyberpunk settings. After all, there’s no such things as heroes or villains in real life. Rich/powerful people are as much people as you and me.

And this brings me to the main source of inspiration for Stella.

I spent all of my compulsory education years in a “rich kid school”… or at least one that garnered that fame through the years. Something I quickly learned there was that they were just like any other kid. Them being pretentious or whatever often had little to do with who their parents were.  In fact, some of the richer kids were actually the most respectful ones because their parents had to fight to get where they were, thus they came from a household that constantly taught them to not take things for granted, to be respectful of their elders and so forth.

I have memories of that school’s principal taking out all the service staff on shopping sprees once a year during summer vacations, of her sons being some of the most polite people I’ve met. I remember local companies making huge giveaways of toys during christmas to kids… and even if it stemmed from a very pragmatic reason (taxes and whatnot), the effort (and knowing the people behind the whole thing) told me they were doing it from the bottom of their heart too.

And it’s these kind of memories that helped shape Stella. Someone that shows her upbringing over her power any time. That even through the shady things she might have to resort to, puts the morals she grew up with first and foremost both in her life and her business.

The other core idea in Stella is… well… the fact that she’s a catgirl.

I figured both COULD be related. What if  people get cat ears after a medical procedure? What if it’s a procedure associated with high-class people so others tried to go through it even it wasn’t necessary? All just to have a taste of that high class life.

The idea of Cat Boomers is thus a combination of trends rich/famous people set but with medical procedures. Not unlike that time circumcision was in vogue with parents… except that this time, instead of circumcising a boy it was giving you unborn child a (most times unnecessary) treatment for a disease endemic to the city you live in. A treatment whose resulting mutation LUCKILY looks like barely-functional cat ears.

This was to address another bit Cyberpunk (and most settings, actually) usually ignores: Trends.

Trends have always existed and always will. Be it with the youth, with parents, or with professionals of a specific field. The amount of people able to follow it or the scale at which said trends scale up might change, but it’s only part of our nature to be part of them whether consciously or not. We wanted to show that even in the future there will still be stupid nonsensical trends that people will follow, and sometimes there’s people living the consequences of that.

As far as her personality goes, Stella was built as a foil to Sei from the beginning. I remember when her sprite was done that we put both of them together and we said “They look cute together, let’s make them besties!”. Everything came out naturally after that.

My closing thoughts on Stella have to do with what brought up her character in the first place:

The machine of the rich lifestyle isn’t greased just by other rich people. It’s moved by all manner of people. From the bottom feeder sweatshops to the middle-class professionals. Cyberpunk focuses so much on the lower tiers that it usually doesn’t focus on the ones making the rich have that lifestyle directly. Like how the biggest parlors in Yakuza 0 are managed and tended by ordinary people struggling to make a living.

It’s a field just waiting to be explored, wouldn’t you say?

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