Yandere Simulator (AKA YanSim) is almost an indie stealth-assassination game developed by a Alex Mahan, previously known as EvaXephon, currently known as YandereDev or YanDev, that has been in development since 2014, and if you had asked me two months ago if I ever thought there'd be a finished product, I would have laughed you out of the room and slammed the door in your face. If you asked me today, I would still laugh you out, but I'd leave the door open.
Like Star Citizen, Yandere Simulator is one of those games where the creator fundraised online in the promise of using the funds for the game, and then never produced anything concrete-- until this August. But we'll get to that.
For much of its existence, Yandere Simulator was a sandbox build, the kind of build that's just for developers to play around in, test for bugs, try features, etc. The creator, YandereDev was very insistent that people not refer to it as a game. The game is notable for two things: The first is that it creatively tries combining Hitman-style assassination gameplay with an anime aesthetic and utilizing tropes found in anime and manga. The second is that the creator, YanDev, is a feckless egotist who's been sponging off his Patreon for several years while defending such problematic ideas as "sex licenses" that would allow 14 year olds to have sex with 30 year olds, suicide baiting when rival games threaten to be more popular than his, and who piddled away his money buying not one, but two different sex dolls. The game appealed to a younger, weeaboo audience and garnered a lot of attention after the popular Let's Play Youtuber, Markiplier, did a series of videos playing the game. The mix of cutesy and brightly colored anime aesthetic mixed with violent gameplay was intriguing to many, and Mahan quickly found himself with a loyal userbase who were willing to shell out Patreon dollars to help him make the game.
In the game you are Ayano "Yandere-chan" Aishi, a high school senior who is apathetic about everything and has no emotions. Then she sees her senpai, Taro Yamada, and falls hopelessly and obsessively in love. Unfortunately, there are other girls vying for senpai's affection, and so Ayano's mission in life is to get the other girls away from him.
I'll let Alex take it from here. From the Yandere Simulator official website:
Yandere Simulator is a stealth game about stalking a boy and secretly eliminating any girl who has a crush on him, while maintaining the image of an innocent schoolgirl.
Every week, a new girl will fall in love with your Senpai - you must eliminate her before she can confess her love to him on Friday! A wide variety of options are on the table; you can set her up with another boy, ruin her reputation, get her expelled from school, frame her for a crime, sabotage her interactions with Senpai until he hates her, or kidnap her and keep her trapped in your basement. Or, if you prefer a more direct approach, you can simply kill her when nobody is looking!
Everyone at school knows your name and face, and your actions will affect your reputation. In order to maintain the image of an innocent high school student, you'll have to be careful how you behave around others. You can also attend class, join clubs, and make friends to gain various advantages. Attending class will allow you to develop new abilities, joining clubs will provide you with club-specific items, and if you make friends, you can convince them to do various favors for you!
So What's the Issue?
The issue with the game is that it's a poorly made asset flip mess that's been in development hell for over six years, with more than one questionable game design choice and tons of feature creep.
Lots of really good games are indie, and many of those good games come from small teams of just a few people. However, the edge those games have is that their lead creative directors tend to, you know. Know how to code.
There are also several youtube videos and reddit posts looking at the inefficient coding of the game, here's a couple if you're interested.
There are a planned ten rivals for Yandere-Chan to plow through to get to Senpai. After six years of development, the official demo for the game was released in August of 2020, and only one rival has been implemented: Osana, who has been in development since the game's inception and was just put in the demo to raise hype for Alex's upcoming Kickstarter campaign. So judging by that measure, the game will be finished in another 54 years or so.
People also critique the use of Unity store assets-- premade visuals that developers can drop into their game and edit to their liking later. YanSim uses a shitton of premade assets, and Yansim swears up and down that they will be changed later, but he's also made all the animations and things for those assets specifically, so it is speculated that either he's not going to change them, or he will and it will take another few years for his team of volunteers to redo all the animation work.
Other criticisms regarding actual game play mechanics tend to focus around the fact that this is a game set in a high school, but one of the core mechanics is that you need to take upskirt panty shots to sell to another character who will tell you how to beat the game. We'll come back to that. There's also minor things, like the fact that all the students have Japanese names that aren't actually names, just things tangentially related to their roles/personalities and strung through Google Translate. A few times actual Japanese people have tried in good faith to help out with the names, but Alex had their posts deleted (more on that later). Here are the archives (1 2).
It should be noted that Alex is a self-taught programmer, as he studied and earned his Associate's in videogame animation. Despite that, he insists on programming the game himself and relies heavily on volunteers for the animation work, a decision that has been questioned by many, and leads us into the actual problem with YanSim: Alex himself.
So What's the Deal With YanDev?
Alex has a long, sordid history online. Under the EvaXephon username, he used to put out Let's Play videos that were apparently terrible, both because of his lack of skill (he died a lot), but also poor attitude (he would rage when he died and argue with the audience) that wouldn't be enough to warrant attention, but he insisted on spamming links to his streams on every videogame related board he could find, particularly 4chan's /v/ board (as Alex was frequenter of it) which pissed people off. On top of that, he would stream pirated games before their release date, which also pissed a lot of people off. For pirating and LPing Red Dead Redemption before the release date, the EvaXephon username was banned off almost every streaming platform.
Okay, that's kinda shitty, but nobody who grew up online has a clean history. What's more recent?
Game Banned off Twitch
Twitch is a video streaming platform. Unlike Youtube, which has a focus on people uploading completed videos, Twitch is specifically for people to do live streams of themselves doing whatever. One of the criticisms about Alex that even his fans will cop to is that he streams a lot, for hours every day, when he could be using that time to finish the game.
In any case, when YanDev started streaming his own game, Twitch admin put the kibosh on it, and added the game to their nono list. The reason? Because a core game mechanic is that Ayano has to take pictures of other students and sell them to another character for items and money. That is how you generate income in the game. And for a significant portion of the game's existence, the pictures you had to take were panty shots of underage school girls. Not only that, but there was also a feature that let your character run around naked with flimsy censorship clouds covering the naughty bits.
Alex did not take kindly to this, and it was discovered years after the fact that this indirectly led him to. . .
The Tiny Build Thing
TinyBuild, a respected game developer, decided to partner with YanDev in March of 2017. They gave him a professional programmer to help him with the coding. However, things fell apart and after several months the two parted ways.
Alex was adamant that the TinyBuild programmer didn't touch the important coding of the game and was relegated to minor bug fixes, and then because the help he gave was so minor, Alex decided to terminate the deal.
In July of this year, someone hacked into Alex's email account and, aside from digging up a lot of DMCA takedown requests Alex did (some legit, some cringey attempts at silencing people from talking about him. More on that later), and also the freaking game code, they found the email Alex sent to Tiny Build and the termination contract TinyBuild had drafted(1, 2 3).
In the initial email Alex sent TinyBuild, he complained that the programmer assigned to help him wasn't doing anything important, and is in fact futzing up the code, to the point where Alex can no longer recognize it. Here's an excerpt:
The programmer who TinyBuild hired to work on Yandere Sim - [REDACTED BY ZEPH]- didn't actually improve the code in any meaningful way. What he did amounts to busywork and completely arbitrary changes that didn't actually improve the performance of the game in any way. For example, you can type "foo == false" or you can type "!foo". [REDACTED] went through the code and changed all the "== false" to "!" but that didn't actually improve the framerate or make anything better, it just changed my workflow in an arbitary way. He made a lot of these arbitrary changes all over the code, so my own scripts began to look completely unfamiliar and foreign to me. I actually lost the ability to edit some parts of the game, because I didn't know how to modify [REDACTED]'s code. Because of [REDACTED]'s changes, it actually started to take me extra time to perform operations that used to be simple, so I actually began less productive and made progress even slower than I did before.
In the leaked emails, as well as statements Alex made when he first signed on with TinyBuild, he said he was hoping TinyBuild would be able to pull some strings so YanSim could be streamed again on Twitch. That didn't happen, and that, combined with Alex generally being an incompetent control freak in regards to his code, are what caused him to try and split with TinyBuild.
After breaking it off with TinyBuild, Alex didn't tell his fans what had happened in any of his frequent update vids, and when people asked about it, he had their posts deleted from the Reddit, which leads us int the next issue. . .
Censorship and Criticism
Alex can't take criticism and he got so butthurt that the subreddit /r/yanderesimulator was making fun of him that he bought it. He paid three thousand dollars (of Patreon donations, remember) to purchase the subreddit, and now he and his mods keep it absolutely pristine. A new reddit, r/osana (named for the first and then-incomplete rival of the game) was made for people who wanted to criticize.
Like, he even tried to edit himself out of the TVTropes page that talked about his old EvaXephon days. Twice.
As previously mentioned, Alex also enjoys DMCA striking anything that talks about him on YouTube regardless of whether or not the video fits in YouTube's fair use policies. This is ironic, because he is also known to watch YouTubers and speedrunners do his game, then actively patch out the methods they used. One particularly well-known example of this was before the demo release, Youtuber Razzbowsk figured out they didn't have to waste time with stealthily getting rid of Osana's BFF/Bodyguard Raibaru (as was the normal course), but instead could put a bowl of gasoline on a doorway, dump it onto Osana, and set her on fire and win that way. Upon finding out about this, instead of, you know, acknowledging that fans had found a creative way to beat the game, Alex patched that method out so that Raibaru could "smell" the gasoline and protect Osana from getting dunked on.
Things like that. Constantly.
Also, There is a "get banned from the Yandere Simulator Discord" speedrun challenge. People recorded themselves trying to see how fast they could get banned from the Discord by posting things ranging from outright personal attacks against Alex to harmless "Are you coding, son?" memes. So that's funny.
Also, he has a Debunk Page, where he specifically addresses rumors and bad things people have said about him. This page is clocking in at 12142 words according to the E2 drafts' wordcount feature.
Me thinks the incel doth protest too much.
Threatening Suicide to Stop Competing Games
Because Yandere Simulator became popular, it was inevitable people were going to crib the idea. Because Yandere Simulator was (and is!) taking forever to complete, it was inevitable that people with more coding knowledge were going to crib the idea faster than Alex could do his. And because Alex has a highly confrontational attitude towards critics and critique (even well-meaning critique from his own fans), it was inevitable that some of the people cribbing the idea were going to do it out of sheer spite.
There have been many Yandere Simulator copy cats over the years, and pretty much all of them have fallen apart for one reason or another, and for several of those games, the reason was Alex.
As previously mentioned, Yandere Simulator uses assets from the Unity story. The way those stores work is that they sell pre-made videogame assets (backgrounds, character models, furniture, etc.) and when you buy them, you can use them in your work. However, that does not mean you are the only person who can use them in works; if someone else buys them, they can use them too. Because many of these games were intentionally trying to emulate YanSim, they also used those Unity assets, which pissed Alex off.
One of the more recent fangames, Lovesick, was created by two professional programmers (who are their own barrel of issues) and recreated the progress of YanSim in two weeks, much to Alex's Ire. Alex chastised them for using his Unity assets and threatened legal action (something he does to most of the fangames). DR.ApeIs, one ofthe Lovesick creators, clarified that YanDev is full of shit as the Lovesick guys bought their assets fair and square. However, the Lovesick guys did issue an apology video, changed the name of the game to "Love Letter," and asked their fans not to harass YanDev (as many people saw this as validation re: the "YanDev is sponging Patreon money!" idea)
However that didn't stop YanDev from messaging the creators and blaming them for ruining his life and implied he'd kill himself if they continued.
This isn't the first time he's done that to a fangame with a successful start; another game, Watashi No Mono, was also gaining traction, and Alex asked the developers to call the game off (123) The developer Did wind up cancelling the game, saying that the drama of the YanSim fandom blew her game out of proportion and caused too much drama.
"STOP SENDING ME EMAILS"
Yandere Simulator does not have a budget yet, so I can’t pay anyone to create assets for the game at this point in time. Instead, Yandere Simulator relies on the support of volunteers who kindly and generously offer to lend their skills to the game for free." –Volunteer page on YandereDev's blog.
A significant amount of work on YanSim is done by volunteers. Because they work so hard, Alex is able to stream videogames on twitch for hours and hours everyday. However, when several years had gone by and there was still no Osana added to the game, YanDev made the infamous Hate and Shame video wherein he portrays himself as a cute anime girl who is attacked by internet "gremlins" who are mean to her on the internet. In it, he says the reason the game is taking so long is because he has to respond to too many emails, and that if fans would stop emailing him, the game would be done.
He also added the character of Midori Gurin to the game, a character meant to embody all of the people who bother YanDev with questions and whose bio states that she's an irritant to teachers and students for all her repetitive questions. Classy.
He's Also A Perv
Yeah, big surprise, "Anime nerd is a pervert, stop the presses." But he's super creepy about it, so here we go.
I mentioned earlier that some of the contention with the game is that the characters need to get panty shots in order to progress more easily. Part of the issue with that, aside from general icky-ness, is that this is a high school setting. However, Alex has gone on record stating that all of the characters involved are eighteen. . . even when things in the game say the contrary.
There are a SHITTON of videos out there of him being gross. Here's a short example. He also drops lines like "I've always wanted a girlfriend who acted youthful, babyish, feminine, innocent, naïve, childlike, pure, uncomplicated, unsophisticated, trusting, charming, polite, pleasant, sweet, lovable, cute, cypheric, malleable."
That childlike and youthful bit came back to bite him hard when he later tried to defend to a childhood-sexual-abuse-survivor the idea that fourteen year olds could have sex with a thirty year old if they passed a hypothetical sex-license. More than once. Him defending vast age differences between sexual partners and arguing that different countries having different ages of consent means that it's okay for Americans to want to have sex with teenagers has become such a regular occurrence that he's dedicated a section in the debunk page for that.
So this is a little too deep into Alex's personal life here, but he banned me from his discord, so fuck him; the man bought two sex dolls with money that was supposed to go towards helping him make the game, then he put them into the game.
People found a really cringey poster called "CantGoogleMe" on a sex doll forum. Aside from asking a lot of very very specific questions, he also talked about how much he loved anime girls, how much he loved Samus Aran from the Metroid games, and talked about his anime girl fetishes. He named the first doll "Mai Waifu" and posted pictures of her on the doll forum dressed in colorful wigs and anime-style clothes.
In the YanSim game, there is a character named Mai Waifu. Her description at the time was "A young woman who is pursuing an "anime aesthetic". To achieve this unusual goal, she never cuts her hair, wears special contact lenses, and asks people to refer to her by a nickname inspired by otaku culture. She has sworn her heart to an independent game developer living overseas and prefers to spend her time alone, daydreaming about her loved one"
This got some people's attention, and so some bright cookie got the idea to try an checking if Alex had an account on the forum. The way they did this was putting in the username and YanDev's old email address. it worked and verified that EvaXephon/Yandev was indeed Can'tGoogleMe, and that Mai Waifu was the same Mai Waifu from the game.
Now, what the man does in the privacy of his own bedroom is none of my concern, but through his doll forum posts, people have tracked down the time period when he first bought the doll, and how much the doll cost, and he bought it right after his first windfall of Patreon money. Classy.
Also, he broke the first one and had to get a new one.
The Wrap Up
So YanDev is a pretty unlikable drama hound. I didn't even mention the part where he told suicidal fans to kill themselves or the Consume the Cum Chalice.
The game demo released a couple months ago, and YanDev's still patching it as Youtubers make their speedruns. Will it ever be actually finished in any polished way? I don't think so.
For further insight to YanDev, I recommend Kappa Kaiju's three part video series and FPSDiesel's videos.