Who and what is the “Retrograde Road”?
The seeds for this circle’s formation were planted in 2011, when one of its founding members, Spaztique, came up with an idea for a highly ambitious Touhou fangame that would become Endless Blue. A year later, he would post his concepts to DeviantArt, resulting in Popfan and later FullHitPoints expressing interest in seeing this game be brought to life. With the latter of the two having previous coding experience, Spaztique brought the three of them together on 12 February 2013, and they began operating as Team Gaijin Alex, an obvious reference to Team Shanghai Alice, the circle that brought us the Touhou Project in the first place.
With Spaztique in charge of story and music, FullHitPoints doing all the programming, and Popfan handling game design (with the rest of his skillset still in its infancy), all they felt they needed now was a character artist, leading to the recruitment of Scarlet Rhapsody a few months later.
The first collaboration with another developer came only two years later in 2015, when Popfan reached out to Michirin, offering to help work on her game MajiKana, with FullHitPoints being brought aboard as the main programmer. Unfortunately, while the future was looking bright at first, both MajiKana and Endless Blue eventually ceased development for several reasons, including inexperience, overambitiousness, general conflicts between the developers, and Scarlet Rhapsody going AWOL around that time.
Coming up with his own idea for a Touhou-style shoot-’em-up with an original setting, 2016 was the year Popfan announced the Mukai Project, as well as its first game, chain of lucidity. It was a game he would make entirely by himself, with no outside help aside from playtesters. Originally slated for release by the end of 2017, it was eventually delayed to 17 September 2018, receiving many updates and bugfixes over the course of the following years.
Around that time, Popfan would also begin creating and releasing new albums, starting with Proto-Unreality Replication in 2018, and eventually Dextrous Yet Destitute in 2021. Meanwhile, however, activity from the other two remaining members of the circle had dwindled down to nothing, leading to Spaztique’s and FullHitPoints’ retirement in 2020.
As the sole remaining member, Popfan continues to work on games, music and other creative endeavors slowly but steadily, making the circle more his own and moving away from its original purpose as a group that creates specifically Touhou fanworks. On the 9th anniversary, it was thus renamed to its current name, Retrograde Road.
“Retrograde” means “to move backwards” — or, in this particular case, “to be facing backwards”. The “road” is a metaphor for my progress, how far I’ve come, and how much further I’ve yet to go — in terms of my creative output, yes, but also my sensibilities, my growth as a person, the progression of my life in general...
It means to move forward while not forgetting to look back. To carve out a future while remembering and cherishing the past. To make the most of the present so it can later be another memory to look back on fondly. And if you’re moving forward while facing backwards, that is “moving in retrograde”, in a way.