I think you got it! Now that you said it, I believe 100% that this is what he is doing.He's been talking about it for years, we just didn't realize it would manifest this way.
This is the Yanchan's mom mode. This is that 1980's or whatever mode. Thats why there's no infochan, thats why your hand crafting items, thats why there's ten completely different rivals, but it still in the same school.
I wonder how he's going to react when he releases his "99% gameplay 1% story" mode, and realizes nobody really gives a fuck about the janky ass gameplay. At this point he's running a BATIM situation, where the community is more invested in the lore they built up themselves than whats actually present in the game. Detaching to a whole new mode with new chars loses that.
He also posted this recently. Looks kinda 1980...