Whilst once again on the lookout for new indie games on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, I today came across a new Kickstarter campaign with a style of play unconventional to most represented within the indie development scene. Aveliana, described as an infiltration action-adventure game, is a 2.5D title whereby players must find their own route through the game’s world based on the enemy’s AI and detection patterns. Players can choose to find alternate routes and secret areas through the game depending on their choices or what style of play they wish to implement; new abilities are unlocked over time to provide players with more options as the game progresses. Designed with lush 8-BIT scenery and varying atmosphere, the story follows the young titular character Aveliana wandering the land in a bid to bring back someone she has lost. Eager to know more about this game, I contracted its lead programmer, French indie developer Romain, who shared with me a great deal about the title, and where he plans to take it upon its final release. Here’s what Romain had to say about Aveliana:
What were the influences behind your game?
A source of inspiration for the gameplay is the game Commandos, which is an old game where you have to infiltrate a base. In Aveliana you control a single character so the game is more dynamic and less tactical compared to Commandos. I’m also inspired a lot by physics (because I am a physicist) for the detection and attack patterns. I am inspired by the game Gris, Children of Morta, Celeste, Cuphead, Rayman, and many others! Other arts also inspire me such as painting, poetry, music, and anime (in particular I love the work of Miyazaki).
What has the developmental process been like?
Since it is my first project, it is something completely new and I didn’t know what to expect because I got the idea to start this project suddenly. I have never been passionate about something before! The whole journey is really exceptional, and I think part of this is due to the support I receive when I share about Aveliana on social media.
How close are we to seeing the finished product?
The developer version is at a very advanced stage: the IA is done and optimized for all existing enemies, most of the levels are drafted or finished, I have drawn half of the cutscenes and written the story. But the polishing of the game development will take time! I plan to release it at the end of 2021. There is already a playable demo at:
What has been the most exciting aspect of development?
I really love Implementing new gameplay mechanics, thinking about how rewarding they will be and how risky it is for the player. I love games and I find it exciting to see players try the demo and see how they adapt to the mechanics I have thought about and how they play around it.
What has been the most challenging aspect of development?
The most challenging thing for me is the optimization. I know it is just a 2D game but I am always trying to make it as optimized as I can and this isn’t something easy for someone with no background in game development and game coding.
How well has the game been received so far?
The feedback is just incredible! I have started to publish very early tests on my Insta feed in March and I got about 1K followers in the first month. People really appreciate the art style and tell me they immediately recognize it. The actors of the game industry also supported the game very early. Aveliana was invited to a showcase at The escapist game showcast last fall and it has been featured on the platform where I host my builds (gamejolt). I’m also very happy to receive very often fanarts of the game!
What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?
I am planning to release it first on Steam. There is already a Steam page where you can wishlist the game! Depending on how the game is received I could make a console version in the future.
You mentioned on your Kickstarter that gaming genres like Metroidvania and roguelike are overrepresented within the indie development scene. Are there any genres of gaming that you think are underrepresented?
It is difficult to say because I would have to think about uncommon genres (or non-existing mixes) but I think as indie game developers, I need to do all I can to be creative and invent new things. When I tried to categorize Aveliana to publish the Steam page, it wasn’t that easy to find the correct keywords and that’s something I’m proud of. Maybe I can think of city builders or RTS that is not often developed by indie developers. There is a lot of room for trying new ideas and there are already some ideas I would like to try myself.
Have there been any ideas at this stage of development that have since been scrapped or reworked?
So far, I haven’t removed any features but I have reworked a few times some monsters that were not really fun to play with. For instance, before, there was a kind of toad in the dark woods but it was too complicated to notice and it was too large for the narrow paths of this region. I have replaced it with a flock of little flying machines that fit much better and are easy to catch with the eye. I also have reworked some visual effects that I wasn’t able to do when I started the project because I didn’t have the knowledge for it.
You also mentioned that the works of Hayao Miyazaki were a major influence on this game. Which films are best represented in the game, would you say?
I am clearly inspired by Ghibli’s work! I am not a fan properly because I haven’t seen the movies many times but the one I love the most is Spirited Away (le voyage de Chihiro in French). I have a friendly-monster in the game which looks like a shadow and is inspired by that movie. You can hide in it and hide from other monsters but it will deal damage over time.
If you had the opportunity to develop a game with any company or any franchise, which would it be, and why?
I would prefer to develop my own little company and franchise if Aveliana is a success. Otherwise, I would like to join an indie group with few people, but I haven’t thought about that yet.
Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?
I think the advice for aspiring developers is to correctly set the scope of their projects. And to always be creative and original! I think it’s also important to have a good background in coding or start with small projects.
Where on the Internet can people find you?
People can reach me on Instagram @thefrenchdev, on Twitter @thefrenchdev_ and they can also discuss on my subreddit /r/Aveliana and I have a Steam page for wishlists:
I often do drawing challenges for people who like to draw.
Do you have anything else to add?
An important piece of news is that the Kickstarter campaign has started today and it will be up for a month! (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/aveliana/aveliana) Someone already pledged for the maximum reward in the first two hours but feel free to contribute for what makes you comfortable! I really need your support to make the game as good as possible!
I’d also like to thank Romain for taking the time out of developing the game to talk to me about what Aveliana will have in store for backers and players; if you’re interested in backing Aveliana, be sure to check out the Kickstarter campaign and the Steam page, as well as Romain’s social media pages via the links in the Q&A. I for one, am very much looking forward to seeing what the final game has to offer and I hope you enjoyed learning more about it as the Kickstarter campaign progresses.
Scouse Gamer 88