Tag Archives: RPG

Monster Tribe Header

Q&A With Reece Geofroy

Whilst once again scouting for more indie gaming prospects on crowdfunding and social media platforms, I came across a turn-based RPG with an already exceedingly elaborate development cycle behind it. Monster Tribe, once named Monster Tower following several changes on the project, is a turn-based RPG reminiscent of Satoshi Tajiri’s Pokemon series, but with very different gameplay elements to it. The turn-based combat system is something very unique compared to those found in classic games in the genre, such as the Final Fantasy games, Grandia, and Chrono Trigger, and takes place in a world inspired by other classic gaming sagas, such as The Legend of Zelda. Developed by Boundless games based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, the game has been in development for some time, and has been chronicled extensively ever since development started. Desperate to know more about this game, I contacted the lead developer; programmer, vlogger, and freelance artist Reece Geofroy. I asked him a series of questions regarding the development of the game, the long and arduous development process, and the upcoming Kickstarter project, as well as how his past developmental experiences and feedback from others have helped shape the project into what it is today, and what it will eventually become. Here’s what Reece Geofroy had to say about Monster Tribe:

 

What were the influences behind your game?

As a kid, I grew up on Nintendo games, so I have been heavily influenced to create products that invent something new. Take a genre and turn it on its head in any small way possible! Zelda and Pokemon were specific games that inspired this project, but I feel we are influenced by everything that happens over the course of our lives. Everyone will be exposed to slightly different experiences and perceive things a little bit differently. I also loved the atmosphere of Hyper Light Drifter, and I loved the gameplay mechanics of Slay the Spire. Small ideas from each of these games can be found in Monster Tribe, but we are doing our best to create a unique experience for players to get immersed in.

 

What has the developmental process been like?

Monster Tribe has definitely been the biggest, most complex project I have worked on as an indie developer, so the ride has definitely had a lot of ups and downs. I started a series on YouTube for the game and people fell in love with the game’s initial idea. It sparked new ideas and so a lot of revision was necessary to get the project to where it is now. The art style of the game changed more times than I can count on 1 hand and the project’s scope has adapted a number of times to stay up to date with my lifestyle and the team’s vision. We are very set in what we plan to create now though, so development has been busy and a little hectic, but manageable and overall a successful experience!

 

How close are we to seeing the finished product?

We are expecting to finish Monster Tribe for Q4 2021, but the scope could slightly change depending on how well our Kickstarter Campaign does, so Q1 2021 – Q1 2022 would be the expected release!

 

What has been the most exciting aspect of developing Monster Tribe?

Growing an audience on YouTube and becoming a full-time entrepreneur/freelance artist! I have always envisioned myself working on something I am passionate about and owning my own company, so even though technically the game itself hasn’t paid me for my hard work yet, I have grown an incredibly supportive community and have upgraded my skills as a project manager, game programmer, and pixel artist immensely over the course of the project to be able to play like a professional and make money off of what I love to do—make videos for fans, create art, and design video games!

 

What has been the most challenging aspect of developing Monster Tribe?

Working with feature creep and over-scoping the project. As creators we often find ourselves designing with endless possibilities of ideas. It’s easy to create a concept and expand it, but the challenge comes with actually creating the finished product and not losing purpose halfway through. Working in a team can also be difficult to include everyone’s ideas and make everyone feel heard, but at the same time, the project needs to have limits and has to be kept grounded for it to be feasible and made into a finished product.

 

How well has Monster Tribe been received so far?

Between the fans on YouTube and Twitter, the sites that have covered our game, the interviews I have been invited onto, and the continual growth of the community, I would say the game has been received well with small constructive feedback helping shape the game into what it is today.

 

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?

Steam/PC is our top priority with a keen eye on the Nintendo Switch. This ultimately just comes down to how much the project gets funded for us to port the game and if Nintendo will accept our project onto their platform. We have high hopes for the console release, but we can’t be certain until further on in development.

 

Will the Kickstarter campaign have any stretch goals? If so, what can you tell us about them?

Our goal is to raise CAD$15,000 for our game, but we have stretch goals going into the six-figure values. We will have small stretch goals to keep the raised amount exciting with big goals every $25,000! A few stretch goals you can expect would be in raising the total number of monsters, items, and fusions you will find in the game, hand-made HD wallpaper art cutscenes, an expansion to the overall island map size with new areas to explore, and quite a lot more to be held back until the Kickstarter’s launch!

 

Have there been any ideas at this stage of development that have since been scrapped or reworked?

MANY! To name a few; changing the art style a handful of times to different styles of pixel art and sprite stacking methods, reworking the battlefield design on 3 separate occasions, scrapping the idea of a rogue-like gameplay loop as it didn’t fit the real purpose of the goal of what the game is trying to achieve, and more as the devlog series has developed over the last 9 months.

 

How instrumental has player feedback in terms of shaping the course of the project been?

Player/viewer feedback has been very important to us. We want to make a game for gamers…not game makers. The people who watch the development unfold have been giving me feedback and suggestions since the initial idea concept and I have kept strong with replying to all of their comments, researching new ideas from suggestions, and even getting inspired by viewer’s fan art monsters to open up my mind a little more creatively.

 

Have there been any aspiring developers who have watched your coding instruction videos that have reached out to you for advice?
I get a lot of starting developers asking me for help through my live streams, discord server, and direct messages. At the end of the day, I love what I do for a living, so inspiring others to start a similar journey and give them my honest advice is something that gives me purpose and makes me feel like I am contributing to something bigger than just myself and my company. Helping others is something I have always wanted to achieve, so I do my best to get back to people and give them my honest feedback in the best way I can.

 

You mention in one of your YouTube videos that making music proved to be an obstacle for yourself. Who is composing the music for Monster Tribe and how has it been coming along?
I brought on a composer “Lennart” who has been doing a fantastic job of bringing our ideas to life through sound and music. I initially wanted to create the music and sound design myself, but as the project idea expanded in my mind, I knew it was necessary to get someone with a more fine-tuned skill set on the project. Lennart was keen on following the Monster Tribe development devlogs and so when he reached out to me with his previous experience and tracks I knew this would be a long-term addition that would be absolutely necessary. His skills have grown a lot since the beginning of the project and he consistently proves himself to be beyond what I thought was a possibility for our game. Every new track is a rush of dopamine for my creative vision.

 


I’ve noticed myself over the last few months that there seems to have been somewhat of an influx of developers originating from Canada. Have there been any other indie Canadian developers who have reached out to you with advice, or you’ve reached out to yourself for advice?

I have quite a few development friends from YouTube, some of which are from Canada. I personally don’t know why an influx would occur, but I have gotten useful connections to people in my province from these friends. Making new connections is a large part of my job, so meeting people that are in your location is quite interesting and can definitely open up more opportunities!

 

If you had the opportunity to develop a game with any company or for any franchise, which would it be, and why?

Personally, I would still choose to work for my own company, making my own games, as I feel very lucky to be able to take on all of the different jobs that being a developer entails, but if I had to work with a company I would love to develop or publish a game under Devolver Digital or Chucklefish! I love their games and believe in the work they do.

 

What have been the most important lessons learned from prior developmental experiences?

Think small in concept, think big in execution! What makes an indie developer profitable is thinking small in scale, but making the best, most polished version of that idea imaginable. As indie developers, time is our largest restriction to what we can create and how profitable we can be in our careers. We don’t have the time to create a game with endless endings or a photo-realistic art style. We need to work with the limitations we are given and create something that will blow people away through the purity of how well thought out the initial idea and concept are and how far it can be exploited. That is how successful indie developers are created.

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?

Create today, stress tomorrow. Becoming a developer—or any kind of entrepreneur really—is something that takes a large amount of time, learning from past mistakes, and doing better with every attempt. You can soak up as much knowledge from books, videos, and games as you possibly can, but actually creating is something that can only be experienced in one way. Actually creating something. Don’t let the stress of failure or what comes next define you or prolong your start. Learn from every failure you face, there is never a wrong time to start something new.
For the developers that have already started but are striving for real success, first define to YOURSELF what success really is. Once you understand that success is subjective you can begin to understand that making a finished game means you are a game developer. Take on the small wins, as they will fuel you to push past the tough times when you don’t receive the praise or funding you one day want to achieve. Set realistic expectations, but get ruthless with the work you put in and the results you work towards.

 

Where on the Internet can people find you?

People can find me on my YouTube Channel, Twitter, or Join My Discord Server to find out more information about me and my company Boundless Games. I am currently working on reworking my company’s website, so for now Discord is the best way to connect with me and the game directly!

 

Do you have anything else to add?

If you are lost in what you want to achieve in life, just remember that you are not bound to what you think you are capable of. Years went by where I only dreamt of making games and starting a company. I convinced myself I was “just another kid” and that only “special people” were capable of achieving amazing results. It took me a long time to get me to where I am today, but I made my dream a reality, even as “just another kid”. You can control your destiny as hard as it might seem, so don’t blame how you grew up or being unlucky that life didn’t fall into your hands naturally, the most successful people will choose to be successful even when it doesn’t seem possible.

 

I’d lastly like to thank Reece for providing such a wonderful and extensive insight into what kind of game players can come to expect from Monster Tribe, and how so many variants have affected the course of development. The Kickstarter will be launching later this month, so if you’re interested in seeing this game come to life, then make sure to back it once the campaign launches. Be sure to also check out Reece’s social media feeds and YouTube channel for the latest news on the course of the game’s development In the meantime, I hope you guys had fun learning more about this promising title as I did to bring this game to your attention and reading what Reece had to say for myself.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

Scouse Gamer 88 Fallout 3 Header

Fallout 3 (PC, PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360)

Developer(s) – Bethesda Game Studios

Publisher(s) – Bethesda Softworks

Director(s) – Todd Howard

Producer(s) – Ashley Cheng & Gavin Carter

PEGI – 18

 

Fallout 3 released in 2008 following a long dispute between Bethesda and Interplay over the rights to the franchise, was developed on the same engine as Bethesda’s previous seventh-generation hit, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, but provided a very different take on the RPG genre, incorporating first-person shooting elements, as well as many of the gameplay elements from the original 2 Fallout games. Although I think the best of the Fallout series was yet to come following both the release of this game, and Fallout: New Vegas. The third game in the series is a moderately enjoyable title, despite the fact that it was such a radical departure from the original Fallout formula, (which in and of itself caused quite a divide between fans), and regardless of its flaws, still does fairly well to hold up.

 

Graphics – 9/10

In stark contrast to the world of Tamriel from The Elder Scrolls, Fallout 3, like in the original series, is set in the post-apocalyptic USA following a resource war fought between America and China, but the third is specifically set in a post-war Washington DC known as the Capital Wasteland. As such, several Washington landmarks are darted across the land, such as the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building, but the environment is heavily irradiated and the city is in ruins. The visuals of this game are its most striking feature, going beyond what Oblivion delivered on the technical level, and providing something that most RPG fans at the time wouldn’t have been accustomed to, since although the first 2 Fallout games sold relatively well among the circle of PC games in the late 90s, the series didn’t find its way into the top echelon of games until the release of this title. The entire atmosphere of the game is wonderfully dark and gritty, and a lot of the locations found around the Capital wasteland make the player feel things emotionally that they will not expect to feel going into it. 

 

Gameplay – 7/10

The game is an RPG first-person shooter hybrid; a lot like Borderlands without the use of cel-shaded visuals. Players level up using the SPECIAL system that had been perpetuated since Fallout 1, and experience points are also spent on improving attributes such as computer hacking, lockpicking, and proficiency in various different types of guns; again in a somewhat similar fashion to Oblivion’s character progression system. The game also has a new take on turn-based combat with the inclusion of VATS (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System), which allows players to scan enemies and aim for specific parts of the body that may be more vulnerable than others in order to gain the upper hand in battle. 

Especially when the player becomes stronger over time, using VATS can feel extremely satisfying, and watching the cinematic kills has become a beloved feature of the series since. But besides this, there are a plethora of secrets, side quests, and different locations to discover throughout the Capital Wasteland that will have players hooked for many, many hours. What I would recommend is that players find a copy of the Game of the Year edition, since not only will they be treated to even more content, but this version also fixes the game’s biggest flaw, which is the inability to play past the end. 

 

Controls – 6/10

The biggest problem with this game, however, is its control scheme; especially in the early stages of the game. Because the player character is not yet necessarily proficient enough in shooting or accuracy, the lack of accuracy can become a particularly big problem; in some cases, even to the point where players may switch off early doors. It’s no wonder Bethesda later enlisted the help of id Software to hone the FPS mechanics with Fallout 4 because it is a big problem that presents itself in a very profound way in this title, especially given the countless amount of FPS games that came before it. Mercifully, the game gets better to play as the player character progresses level by level, but patience can potentially wear thin with some players as well. The Pip-Boy system can also take a little bit of getting used to at first, but that doesn’t pose anywhere near as much of a problem as the shooting does early on. 

 

Lifespan – 10/10

Given everything, there is to do in this game, and the DLC, it can take way beyond 100 hours to complete, which is long enough for any gamer to enjoy. It easily outlasts Fallout: New Vegas, since, in that game, there’s hardly anything to do in comparison, but it also greatly outlasts the original 2 Fallout games. It’s no wonder the fanbase was largely split down the middle when this game came out since despite being such a departure, there was plenty to enjoy with this game.

 

Storyline – 6/10

The story of Fallout 3 takes place 200 years after the US is destroyed in the nuclear war with China. The player character is an inhabitant of Vault 101, and after reaching adulthood, his/her dad James, voiced by Liam Neeson, leaves the vault, causing the rest of the inhabitants to descent into chaos. After being hunted down by the rest of the inhabitants, the player character is basically forced out of the vault into the harsh and unforgiving environment of the Capital Wasteland and resolves to find his/her father. It sounds simple in scope, but events later unfold into something far bigger when it’s discovered why James left the vault and the number of different factions that become involved in the situation, such as the Enclave and the Brotherhood of Steel. As well as being pretty compelling, it also stays remarkably true to the source material of the original games and provides players with a fairly engrossing experience in terms of story. 

 

Originality – 7.5/10

What makes Fallout 3 game as unique as it is are a lot of things, such as the different approach to first-person RPG combat, the contemporary settings not normal for an RPG, and the amount of controversy this game created at the time. It becomes obvious very early on that game goes places where other developers would dare not go at the time. Places such as the Dunwich Building and Tranquility Lane make for experiences that I’d never felt playing a game before, and several of the other vaults darted across the Capital Wasteland have their own sordid stories to tell. A majority of this game’s story is told through its lore, and it’s awesome to experience. 

 

Happii

Overall, Fallout 3, whilst not in my opinion is the timeless classic that other gamers tend to praise it as, is still a very enjoyable gaming experience, and in my opinion, better than the original Fallout. It’s not the best entry in the series (in my opinion, that would be Fallout 4), but it’s still a very respectable entry despite its flaws, and one of the more unique western RPGs ever developed. 

Score

44.5/60

7/10 (Fair)

Scrabdackle SS7

Q&A With Jakefriend

Once again scouring Kickstarter for more upcoming video game projects, I stumbled upon a simplistic-looking, yet potentially addictive title named Scrabdackle. Scrabdackle is a top-down RPG roguelike, heavily influenced by the likes of The Legend of Zelda: Links Awakening, and incorporating a playstyle similar to that of The Binding Isaac, under development by the developer known as Jakefriend originating from Toronto, Canada.

 

The game incorporates a colorful and wonderfully simplistic hand-drawn visual style but incorporates gameplay centered around intense combat with players able to take advantage of a number of various different spells to take out hordes of enemies, and also features a non-linear open world which players can explore at their leisure. There are also multiple paths to go down and secrets to uncover along the way, facilitating multiple playthroughs. Set in the world of Scrabdackle, it follows an apprentice wizard named Blue, who is ejected from his own academy by a dark wizard and thrust into the harsh environment and its many dangers.

 

Eager to know more about the excellent-looking title, I reached out to Jakefriend to ask a series of questions about the game, and what stages in development it currently resides within following the recently successful Kickstarter campaign. Here’s what Jakefriend had to say about Scrabdackle:

 

Scrabdackle SS1

What were the influences behind your game?

There is no outright direct influence, but the biggest of them would be the Game Boy Zelda games: Link’s Awakening foremost, then Oracle of Seasons, and Oracle of Ages. I loved the idea that the world maps of these games were these finite things that you could explore one square at a time, yet still felt endless and always with something new to discover crisscrossing them. A lot of modern games inspired by LA can fall into the trap of having a world be very linear despite the presentation of openness; I’m actively pursuing the feeling of going exploring and getting a bit lost, and the reward of gaining a better understanding of the overall space once you find your bearings.

 

What has the developmental process been like?

So far, it’s been like continually delaying dessert until I’ve eaten all my greens, haha! I’m extremely excited to work on more content, especially bosses, but I’ve tried to be more responsible than that and get the fundamental systems in place first so that the demo represents an effective vertical slice of gameplay. For a long time, it was “I’ll finish the events system, then I’ll tackle the Ducklands content,” then “Okay, I should actually prioritize the GUI updates and lore system, but after that, it’s content time,” to “I don’t really have any time for anything but bugfixes and some polish before the Kickstarter!” Though I’m quite proud of the demo, content is the main thing it’s lacking, and both my longtime players and I are looking forward to having more to see and do in the world than just the ‘same experience, but increasingly polished! I’m adding some new gameplay content as a mid-campaign event right now for the first time since honestly maybe October, and it’s been sooooo enjoyable.

 

Scrabdackle SS2

How close are we to seeing the finished product?

Quite far! I did a rough map of the world at one point, not counting any content additions that backers have now funded, and Junk Heap (the tutorial area) was only about 3-4% of the rough full-scope. While the game is approaching systems-complete, it’s very much content-light at the moment, and expanding new areas and enemies is a big priority of full development.

 

What has been the most exciting aspect of development?

I love doing everything. I mean it! Handling the art, music, design, coding, AND writing means whenever I start to feel burned out on one branch of development, I can skip to another, let that part of my brain rest and refresh, while still making forward progress. Being able to take a step back at something like the Peanut Village hub area – a congruence of all of those branches – and see a thriving place that matches my mental picture of vibrance and goofiness is one of the most rewarding things, barring seeing Let’s Plays of others having their first reaction to it.

 

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?

I’m not very back-end technical. I find figuring out things like multithreading for performance and faster loading quite challenging to wrap my head around; I’m a confident coder otherwise but it’s territory when even the “explain like I’m 5” explanations of how to handle it sound unintelligible. There’s plenty of performance improvements yet to be made as I’m still getting an understanding of that kind of thing.

 

Scrabdackle SS3

How well has the game been received so far?

Extremely well! At around 8,200 downloads presently since September, we’re still trending a 4.85 score in itch out of 5 with 90 ratings, as well as 4.83 on my private Google Form results

with 93 ratings where I ask for players to be critical about their experience. And the community around the game is extremely passionate – I really only pursued a Kickstarter because the demo seemed to be striking a lasting chord with so many people. It’s been really affecting.

 

Although you’ve cited various Game boy games as influences for the music, I got the impression that the soundtrack sounded quite reminiscent of the world of Rare composers such as Grant Kirkhope and David Wise. Would you say they are fair comparisons?

Yes, Grant Kirkhope is a pretty strong influence! Particularly his work on Rare’s Nintendo 64 titles like DK64 and the Banjo-Kazooie games. My soundtrack is still a little more geared towards the instrumentation found in Game Boy era music and is much sparser for exploration themes, but he’s been hugely influential to me in a way that I think is pretty recognizable in the Scrabdackle soundtrack! I don’t know David Wise’s work all that well, but I’d also call out Kozue Ishikawa, the composer of Wario Land II and one of the two composers of Link’s Awakening; her work in those games ranges from quirky and comic to empowering and driving to melancholic and reflective in ways that are very impressive for the limitations of the technology she was working with.

 

Scrabdackle SS4

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?

Scrabdackle is coming to all PC platforms presently. I’d like to bring it to consoles someday, but am waiting to do that alongside a publisher rather than go it alone. I recognize it’s a gray area of unexplored, back-end-technical space to me, and I can’t sufficiently budget or estimate the time it would take me to do it myself. In a perfect world, if I could only get one console port, it would be Nintendo Switch – I think it’s the perfect market for the game.

 

How fundamental has the Scrabdackle community been in shaping the course of development?

In terms of actually creating a path from a demo to full game development, very! I’ve been pushed forward on a sea of steady encouragement and support. In terms of my development plans, I would say my original vision has largely not been externally shaped – I find it very effective to clarify your own vision then stick to it and to consciously not pursue most suggestions thrown your way unless you’re changing the core vision or it fits within it.

That said, in the original demo I almost didn’t add dialogue at all, and eventually put in a few conversations just before making it public. The feedback on the dialogue was really, really positive, and made it clear that talking to people in the world was a highlight – so that’s been heavily emphasized in the game by that community feedback. The standout “lore book” feature recently implemented also comes from a community suggestion.

 

Scrabdackle SS5

Have there been any ideas at this stage of development that has since been scrapped or reworked?

Well, the idea of the game being a boss battle game with just a little bit of empty world traversal has definitely been done away with, but that happened well before the public demo was released. The level design has changed a lot to be less completely hands-off since the first demo. Initially, you could go anywhere and wander around potentially nearly all of the game’s map without coming across (or requiring) the wand, or coming across any save points or focal goals. I’ve made small but important adjustments in my approach to guide players through one of two routes towards the wand (the game’s immediate first goal), both of which directly pass save points, and to limit the initial exploration space until the wand is found. Players were feeling frustrated that they could explore too broadly without a critical tool; having a soft gate to ensure they collect that tool first has actually really improved the rest of the non-linear exploration experience.

 

If you had the opportunity to develop a game with any company or for any franchise, which would it be, and why?

I don’t think I’d want that – the larger the company, the more you have to fill a tight niche, and what I really enjoy about the work as a small fish is the breadth of exposure and jack-of-all-trades nature. I really love all of the things I get to do, and giving any of them up to mainline just AI coding or just art or something would be a sacrifice of my continued development of those skills, and of my ability to “refresh” by mixing up my creative focus, and of my ability to influence the game in a more meaningful way. If I was offered a game designer role or a sub-director role where I did still get to work closely with the entire development team, that’d be something I’d really love to try but isn’t necessarily company-dependant or franchise-dependant.

 

Scrabdackle SS6

Have there been any ideas incorporated into Scrabdackle that you’ve carried over from games you used to develop as a hobby?

From my own previous projects, honestly, not really! Pretty much everything I’ve worked on has been a different genre – puzzle platformer, arcade shooter, etcetera. I have some strong feelings about what makes for good game design in a holistic way, but nothing game-specific has really traveled between projects. The closest I can say is that the Skrine character, presented as some sort of omniscient entity, is a character brought over from my long-running homebrew D&D campaign, where they played a similar role as an archfey trickster.

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?

If you want to start as an indie dev… just start! Join a 2-day jam, grab an asset pack, forget about quality, and just try slapping something together as fast as you can. The time restrictions of jams are freeing because you can’t endlessly get lost in perfectionism or uncertainty.

 

Where on the Internet can people find you?

I’m active on the very wholesome and welcoming Scrabdackle Discord regularly, post neat gamedev updates and gifs to Twitter, and am currently flying past 100% towards stretch goals on Kickstarter (campaign ending April 15th!).

 

Do you have anything else to add?

A huge thanks to the Scrabdackle community for the long road of support over the last 7 months towards the successful Kickstarter funding milestone! It’s genuinely been life-changing, and I’m so excited for what giving Scrabdackle my full-time attention will bring.

 

Scrabdackle SS7

I want to take this opportunity to thank Jake for taking the time out to answer my questions and to wish him the best of luck with the game’s launch. You can check out the game and its progress via the links below:

Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jakefriend/scrabdackle?ref=discovery_category

Official Website: https://scrabdackle.com/

Twitter: @jakefriend_dev

Discord: Scrabdackle

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCE1rInyJzMREQTUFjFV-i0w

You can also download the demo of the game via Jake’s itch.io page:

https://jakefriend.itch.io/scrabdackle

In the meantime, I hope you guys enjoy the demo, and that you enjoyed learning more about Scrabdackle as much as I did.

 

Gaem on,

ScouseGamer 88

Q&A With LavaBoots Studio

Once again looking out for upcoming Kickstarter projects, I came across a title clearly not without its influences, but one which looks like a great deal of fun, and definitely not one to be missed. Salt 2: Shores of Gold, under development at LavaBoots Studios based in Huntsville, Alabama, is the sequel to the original Salt released back in 2014 to commercial and critical acclaim by many reviewers. An open-world pirate game, drawing many similarities with Rare’s Sea of Thieves, featuring an infinite procedurally generated open world, heavy RPG elements such as combat, crafting, and leveling up, and a vast amount of exploration to experiences with landscapes ranging from expansive oceans to quaint islands top mysterious caves. Wanting to know more about titles, I got in touch with LavaBoots Studio’s Will sterling to learn about what the final game will offer to players compared to games made of the same ilk and get a better idea of what the developers want to achieve with this project upon its Kickstarter release scheduled for March 23rd. Here’s what Will sterling had to say about Salt 2: Shores of Gold:

 

Of course, Sea of Thieves is cited as the primary Influence behind the Salt series, but were there any other games that inspired its development?

Sea of Thieves was mostly an inspiration in terms of the art style but not so much for gameplay. We actually released Salt 1 in 2014, years before Sea of Thieves came out. Our main inspirations in terms of gameplay are open-world games like Skyrim and some old-school MMOs like Everquest. We wanted to take an open-world exploration experience, put a pirate spin on it, and see what it played like in an infinite procedural world.

 

What has the developmental process been like for Salt 2?

The development has been fantastic. One of the benefits of having worked on games for almost a decade now is learning how to refine your process and become much more efficient. We took a visual-first approach to develop Salt 2 and put a lot more emphasis on art and visuals than we did in the first game.

 

How close are we to seeing the finished product?

We’re still a ways off. We plan on releasing on Steam Early Access in the Fall of 2021. We currently have a lot of content in the game and most of the core features implemented, but there’s still a lot we need to add and test before we release.

 

What has been the most exciting aspect of developing Salt 2?

I think one of the most exciting aspects has been making a sequel to a popular game. Because of this, you have a community that’s very excited about a new version. And because we are confident this version is leaps and bounds better than the original, it’s a lot of fun to share the development process with the community and see the excitement build.

 

What has been the most challenging aspect of developing Salt 2?

We are a small development team of only two members. Because of this, anytime you make a big open-world game with lots of moving parts, it can be challenging. I think just trying to make a large-scale game in a small amount of time, with a small team, and with a limited budget is always a challenge.

 

How well has the game been received so far?

So far the reception has been exceptionally positive!

 

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?

The game will launch on Steam Early Access but we do plan on porting the game to Xbox and Playstation, pending approval of the platforms.

 

Are sea shanties planned for inclusion in Salt 2?

Right now we don’t have any sea shanties recorded. We have recorded about 22 songs for the soundtrack. However, I do think sea shanties is a great idea and might even be a neat way to involve the community in the creation process. So while it’s something that isn’t in the game currently, we aren’t ruling it out.

 

Have there been any ideas at this stage of development that has since been scrapped or reworked?

I can’t think of anything major that’s been scrapped just yet. This is probably largely because the game is a sequel so we already have a pretty good idea of what went right and what went wrong with the first one.

 

How instrumental has fan feedback for the first game being in terms of the sequel’s development?

Very instrumental. We’ve tried to look at the first game and take note of what was popular and what wasn’t. With Salt 2, we’re focusing on doing more of what was good in Salt 1 and adding new features that we think players will enjoy.

 

If you had the opportunity to develop a game with any company or for any franchise, which would it be, and why?

I think for me it would have to be an Elder Scrolls title. I’m a huge fan of world-building in development and I can’t think of any more fun world to be a part of than the Elder Scrolls franchise.

 

What have been the biggest lessons learned from the development of the original Salt?

I would say mostly general development lessons. We’ve learned how to prioritize and be much more efficient with our time so we can develop games quicker. We’ve also improved tremendously in terms of art and have realized how important it is to have a good cohesive art style for your game.

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?

My biggest piece of advice would be to limit your development scope and release something. Don’t be afraid to put something out there, even if it isn’t any good. Going through the process of releasing a game, getting feedback, and improving for the next game will teach you so much more than sitting on a game for years, trying to make it perfect.

 

Where on the Internet can people find you?

You can visit our website at https://www.saltthegame.com/

 

Do you have anything else to add?

Our Kickstarter is launching on March 23rd, 2021. So if anyone is interested in supporting us during development that is a great way to do so. Also, stop by our Discord and ask us questions sometime! https://discord.com/channels/327559694879293441/327559694879293441

 

Lastly, I’d like to thank Will for taking the time out of developing the game to talk to me as well as to wish him and the rest of LavaBoots Studio the best of luck with its development and the Kickstarter campaign. If anyone is interested in checking this game out or funding the project, the page will be live as of March 23rd via the link below:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1392020915/salt-2-shores-of-gold

But in the meantime, I’d also like to thank everyone who took the time out to read our Q&A, and I hope you guys are looking forward to the release of Salt 2: Shores of Gold as I am.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

Q&A With Jon Bookout

After once again scouting Kickstarter for more new video game prospects, I came across a title that is exceedingly different from any that I’ve yet to encounter this year. Lucid Soul, developed by a team of numerous artists, coders, and musicians, and fronted by indie developer Jon Bookout of Las Vegas, Nevada, is a JRPG blending horror and dark fantasy inspired by classics of the genre such as Chrono Trigger and the Lunar series; namely Eternal Blue and Silver Star. A turn-based RPG in basic design with a planned minimum of 30 hours hours of lifespan, it boasts a number of gameplay features new to the genre such as two-tier combat flow, the ability to play bosses, and a feature known as cinematic encounters, whereby certain battles take place across multiple screens. The game’s story revolves around the villains taking center-stage as opposed to the heroes, presenting a vast amount of wonderfully sadistic player characters to play as and develop over time. Wanting to know more about this fantastically brutal-looking JRPG experience, I contacted Jon, the game’s head programmer to answer questions I had about the game, and what the final product will possibly bring to players looking for a potential game-changing entry into the widely popular genre. Here’s what Jon Bookout had to say about Lucid Soul:

 

What were the influences behind your game?

I’ve been writing Lucid Soul since high school, but the game was written as a hero’s journey from Rubin’s perspective til about 5 years ago. I, like many others, got hooked on a little show called Game of Thrones. For those of us who love fantasy, it was the first to really embrace a true-to-life adult feeling to it. What WOULD happen if an evil prick ran the country? It wouldn’t be like Emperor Gestahl where the lust for power isn’t shown, it would be FELT. So that show and the fact that you recognize MILLIONS of people gravitated to raw, gritty, adult fantasy, caused a massive shift in my concept. It influenced the design from the ground up to not only do maturity but what about the next evolution of our nostalgic JRPGs and RPGs of old… what about the villain? Not a “SURPRISE! YOU WERE EVIL!” style game, but one you knew going in, you will be the ‘bad guy’ or ‘girl’. So Game of Thrones-inspired what Lucid Soul is today feeling the time was right, but the history of it is the great classics, Chrono Trigger, Lunar: Silver Star, and more importantly Eternal Blue, Final Fantasy (Specifically 6 or 3 in the U.S. and 4 or 2 in the U.S.), Final Fantasy Tactics, Shin Megami Tensei (Specifically Digital Devil Saga), and Silent Hill. Horror tends to be all modern-day, so it felt fresh to bring Horror into the world of fantasy. And we hope our influences shine through to all players.

 

What has the developmental process been like?

Once Sangrde, our character artist came on board, pretty smooth. The past is littered with reaching out to people, asking their expertise and thoughts, trying to have them understand the Horror and artistic styles we’re after, and feeling out who can best slip in. Once the team has been finalized development is smooth, and it’s a treat to be able to know there’s quality because no one would want this game with my talent at the helm for art and pixel work.

 

How close are we to seeing the finished product?

Depending on the final funding of the Kickstarter, I hope to speed our production up by hiring a Programmer, as that’s my task. The projected date is October of 2022 and we feel we can hit that mark, but if I could grab a professional that could drastically speed us into the Beta phase. But to try to be as professional as possible for all involved, 2022 October.

 

What has been the most exciting aspect of development?

Oh man, everything! Honest truth, it’s a learning experience ground up, so every time you catch a bug, or pull a Picard Facepalm, or see a wandering pixel and blurt out “Oh hai Mark!”, it’s fun, knowing you have improvements to make on yourself and a game. But the best part is meeting new people, talking about Lucid Soul never gets old for me personally, but it’s that look on a person’s face when you explain it for the first time and feel the response sinking in. That’s what I’m personally after with the players, so it’s great to see and feel it during development as a new person comes on board for acting or art.

 

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?

Translating concept to the actual controller in hand gameplay. I imagine this is what anyone who creates goes through, but learning it and experiencing it, that’s a challenge. Notebooks in the house are filled with mechanics and being an algorithm guy more than a coding guy, that’s the most challenging aspect.

 

How well has the game been received so far?

The backers we’ve managed to bring in are absolutely amazing to communicate with and get their feedback on the game’s subject matter, characters, and future plans. Through them I’d say those that put in the pledge to be able to talk, the reception is positive. In truth, the one thing I WISH as a creator I could say is that I can’t reach out to those who don’t pledge or move on. Those that click your title picture but leave. I truly wish I could hear from them as well, because we as creators can never stop learning, and failure I think is the key to success. I’d like to know where I could improve, or what failed to appeal. Praise makes you feel good, and it IS wonderful, but it’s the harsh truths and criticisms that make the end product a better experience, and I openly expect and respect it.

 

Do you and the development team see Lucid Soul as an attempt to subvert the traditional Japanese RPG?

Subvert isn’t the word I’d use completely, because you don’t want to break a wheel that we all know and love. But subverting the EXPECTATION of the JRPG fan, then yes. We want the player to enter Lucid Soul fully feeling comfortable in traditions, the menu, the map interface, the overworld feeling bigger than hubs, a home base to put your feet up, the adventure, the exploration, the artifact gathering, the growing in power. We FULLY want those to be expected and embraced. Much like Undertale’s revelation of what EXP meant to the player, we do hope that the same fun takeaway occurs with our changes. Our team couldn’t think of a mainstream JRPG in which the hero is the villain, and the villain is the protagonist, so how does that affect those traditional elements, is major on our priority and creativity list.

 

Which entries in the Final Fantasy series have you and the team had in mind most during development?

6 is the most influential to style, and a number of distinct personalities. 7 is the most influential for the villain’s journey alongside the heroes. Lastly, 10 plays a major part in influencing the idea of Cinematic Combat, or Combat that continues on multiple screens without actually leaving it, with dialogue and story, reinforcements and such playing a part to be more dynamic. 4 is, forever and always, my personal nostalgic favorite, but it’s also the only of those which kept far away from technology until the Blue Whale and the Babil Giant, keeping its roots very deep in fantasy. One of my favorite conversations with our tile artist starts something like “Ok, but if this were Final Fantasy, how would they make this ship fly. Ok now, how would we do it?”
I think Sephiroth is considered by most to be the single best remembered Villain, at least every gamer I’ve ever mentioned him too, can give me a response on how they feel about him or things they remember. The remake going mainstream of 7 really helps cement him too. So for our JRPG, it’s taking the impressions people have, and then asking the obvious follow up to us: “Would you play Final Fantasy 7, if he was the main character, and if so…” going from there. I LOVE the responses you get from that, and it’s how we adapt and add little pieces to those responses.

 

How instrumental has the involvement been of so many different musicians famous from all over YouTube?

Youtube is massive, and I dare say the single most important key to if we succeed. Through Alyssa Gerwig (SpectroliteAAA), and approaching her for our animated trailer idea, she introduced me to Diwa De Leon (String Player Gamer), and then the network kind of grew from there. I’m lucky, blessed, touched, and thrilled that the famous ones like these and the juggernaut Camila Cuevas staked their reputation to show us support and introduce us to friends and acquaintances of theirs for getting work done. Sound, animation, music, vocalists, all through their good graces. The only musician I can say I personally played a hand in, is Lauren Kinkade, of Laurenkinkademusic.com and if you went to Dodgers games she sang the anthem for many live performances. She’s a girl I luckily went to highschool with and is actually where the Goddess got her name when she agreed all those years ago to sing in the game.

 

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?

PC and Mac are first, Steam and Itch are the approved distributors, and our first Platform stretch goal is the Switch. Beyond that we’ll happily do others, Stadia has reached out to me personally, it simply is a budget and programming issue, but we expect to have to gauge feedback on the game first to distribute to more.

 

Have there been any ideas at this stage of development that have since been scrapped or reworked?

Feeling out spriting budgets, so far the number of Bromides and Souls is the first to be affected, this is why we put those as Tier rewards in our Kickstarter hoping we could take a more personal approach to them also while allowing more in the game. In Lucid Soul, we want the main character Scythe to truly feel like an Everyman/Everywoman to the player, but unlike say Chrono who is played without speaking, you never get to change anything about the visual nature. So a female player may like his story and bond with the team, but feeling like “Chrono is Me” never lets him evolve beyond “I control him first”. How MUCH customization to our main character will directly relate to budget, and that’s the first thing I and the others had to talk about and tone down. Most, for now, have not had to be scrapped, and that’s the only (knock on wood) to need reworking.

 

Which characters have been among the most fun to design out of so many outlandish individual personalities?

That’s tough, lol. I mean even as the one who created them that’s tough. My goal’s always been, RPGs are for their characters, people remember Marle hugging Chrono 20+ years after the game’s out, people still have youtube reactions posted or recount that moment Aerith meets her fate. While I want each one to have a memory when it’s all said and done that makes you even recount some things about the ones you didn’t like, my personal favorite is Synella. I play Tanks mostly in MMOs, WoW, SWTOR, etc. so designing how a Tank could translate to the JRPG tactics style and feel like they had character, has been fun… challenging but fun. Since she speaks in groups of 3, one word for each month, trying to convey her stories and dialogue choices and emotion through ‘which’ 3 words she says, that’s by far the most fun. The other is Wick. She’s my son’s favorite and blew him away when I said she’s my second favorite, just because she’s a unique race design, so you don’t know if the slow-moving, long-eared, magical race that let their blood spill and congeal to make hair and Runes, and you never know if she’ll be liked for that alone. But for her, it’s the personality and making sure it’s presented and played properly. All are fun for different reasons but those 2 stand out for me.

 

If you had the opportunity to develop a game with any company or any franchise, which would it be, and why?

Disney. It may shock a reader for that one, but because they have the biggest franchises and genres of fantasy that could be taken down different paths, and the money to be TRULY creative with it if they ever chose to. They shoot down Tim Burton for years, and the irony of ironies, bring him back to do a “his style” Alice in Wonderland. I would LOVE to have an hour just to hear what that experience is like. But I have to give credit where it’s due, the 1 game that I never played until the sequel came out, and truly impressed me and changed what video games are capable of, is Kingdom Hearts. When 2 companies with that much history come together and decide to let the storytellers do their thing… Just the ingenious culmination of that was mindblowing. But their franchise now I would love to see how they’d react on a creative team, is doing a Heist movie in the Star Wars universe, like call it Trick, and have this elaborate subverted movie as a husband leaves out his house without any explanation as the wife gets concerned and starts a “what’s going on moment”, all your typical tropes of breaking into vaults, holding up hostages, etc etc but at the end, the coveted Heist item is brought to a man in a robe that waves his hand in front of him and says “You’ve done all you need for the Jedi console… go home to your wife…” and it’s all a Jedi Mind trick.

 

On your Kickstarter page, you expressed the sincerity that to prove your intent to your backers, you will take accountability on a personal level. Although this indeed sounds like a personal passion project to you, how supportive have your team been throughout this entire process so far?

As supportive as anyone can be on the outside joining in, I think. I truly hope if you asked their opinions they’d say that this is as much THEIR game now as mine. The artists especially, from pixel to drawings, tile, and Alyssa’s animations, are just a blast to bounce ideas off of, that you sense they genuinely take an interest in improving things, and I hope I do a good job adapting THEIR creativity into everything also. But they’re an amazing group of people I’m fortunate enough to work with and have been in my life and this project as a result. I know for a fact I’d not be on Kickstarter without each and every one of them, from Augustinas to ZeitDieb.

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?

Depending on when this article is published or when the person reading it says it… know this: you’re reading this from someone not proven to be a success story or even representing a product that will ever be considered a success. My influences to develop, are Dwarvenaut the movie, Indie Game: The Movie, the creator of Pokemon’s history, Sylvester Stalone’s rejection and aspiration to see Rocky be made, and Tim Burton’s career long before Batman but in the days at Disney when Pee Wee’s Big Adventure wasn’t yet in production. Follow your dreams, believe in yourself enough that people will one day WANT to be a part of whatever world you create, and hold to that. Never believe differently. Creativity is the key to us all playing games and experience things we didn’t know we wanted yesterday, yet today tell our friends we can’t live without, and tomorrow influence someone else’s creation.

 

Where on the Internet can people find you?

I can’t be the only one who reads this question wanting to channel my inner superhero nerd, and write “Where there is injustice… you will find me… where there is suffering… I’ll be there… You can find me using the Bookout signal!” But sadly nothing so dramatic, our website is the easiest, https://lucidsoulgame.com, and our Kickstarter at the moment, where I’ll happily answer any questions to the best of my ability.

 

Do you have anything else to add?

Just that it’s a true honor to have met you and be going through this experience. I cannot thank you enough for the opportunity to talk to others about Lucid Soul, myself, and my development team. We’re nothing without them. Thank you for the questions and your time!

 

I would also like to take the opportunity to thank Jon for taking the time out to talk to me about this promising-looking game, and to wish him and the various different musicians and artists working on it the very best of luck with its Kickstarter project and subsequent release. Lucid Soul is indeed set to be an incredibly unique take on the traditional JRPG and a standout title compared to many of the classic games in the genre, and I can’t wait to play the game when it comes out. In the meantime, if you wish to support the Kickstarter page, you can do so via the link below:

Lucid Soul Kickstarter

But in the meantime, I hope you guys enjoyed reading this article as much I and Jon did putting it together.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88.

Q&A With Carlos Garza

After bringing attention to a number of indie games seeking crowdfunding on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo this month, I was approached by a developer with a new title that he had uploaded to Kickstarter about an interview in regards to his game. Entitled Humans Took my Neighbours and developed by Mexican indie programmer Carlos Garza, the game is a top-=down action-adventure game made in the same vein as classic such The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and heavily influenced by Zombies Ate My Neighbours. It features hand-crafted 8-BIT visuals and takes place in a world inspired by classic horror characters like Dracula and Frankenstein. The objective is to defeat enemies and save the neighborhood from an invasion by monsters. The player’s action also affects the direction in which the game’s story goes, depending on how they choose to deal with enemies throughout the game. Wanting to find out more about the game, I sent Carlos a series of questions to answer about the game, and the answers made for some particularly interesting reading. Here’s what Carlos Garza had to say about Humans Took My Neighbors.

 

What were the influences behind your game? 

I’ve always been a fan of the game Zombies Ate My Neighbors and that is the biggest influence,  but I also take some influence from classic ARPGS like Zelda and some modern games like Gungeon.

 

What has the developmental process been like?

It’s been interesting I had the game idea for a while before going into it as I’ve wanted to do a variation of ZAMN, and it has changed a little bit first I focused on getting a visual style for the game set, the gameplay has the been the thing that came after, I thought the gameplay would settle down on something similar more traditional, but I started evolving the gameplay especially in the last months adding counters to melee attacks, making civilians panic, and adding more RPG touches like dialogs and books you can read and collectibles.

 

How close are we to seeing the finished product? 

The mechanics are set, so after the Kickstarter, I’ll be focusing only on creating the levels, I believe the mechanics are the most important so content-wise and ⅓ of the way, but gameplay-wise I’m ¾  of the way with some minors innovations like puzzles and some transformations on characters.

 

What has been the most exciting aspect of development? 

Definitely getting the game out there and sharing  I love creating the product, but seeing someone play it or give some positive feedback is definitely a highlight

 

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?   

The Marketing aspect is the toughest I as I believe there are a lot of great games out there with a very arresting visual style, another thing I believe has been difficult might be trying to balance difficulty with fun

 

How well has the game been received so far? 

The people who have played it have definitely had fun with it, I’ve received some bad feedback too, telling me to make it more like an RPG but I believe that would defeat the purpose of the creation.

 

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?

It’s currently slated for Steam on PC/Mac and Linux with a port to Switch later on.

 

How important has Carf Darko’s input been throughout development?

It’s been important. I believe the music has a great impact as sometimes I change the level design somewhat to get along better with the music. 

 

Are there any additional gameplay mechanics that players can expect from the final game? 

More puzzles are going to be added, and in the next half of the game based on how many neighbors are saved the gameplay might change a little bit getting rid of weapon use and turning into monster attacks with a cooldown, also each character will have special attacks with their weapon of choice.

 

Have there been any ideas at this stage of development that has since been scrapped or reworked?

The civilian mechanics evolved, apart from that not much else.

 

If you had the opportunity to develop a game with any company or any franchise, which would it be, and why?

I’d love to develop a sequel to Earthbound as It is my favorite game of all time and would love to explore further the world especially with a direct sequel to the second game.

 

You mention on your Kickstarter page the lessons you’ve taken from previous games you developed, but has there any advice offered to you by fellow indie game creators?

For sure, fellow developers have encouraged me to continue working and have given me valuable advice, Skull Commander and the developers of Clan O’Connell along with many others gave tips for the Kickstarter and for promotion.

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this? 

Believe in your game and don’t let minor setbacks get you down, also don’t forget to reach out to fellow indies as we are very supportive!

 

Where on the Internet can people find you? 

On Twitter @CarlosGHeron personal account and on @HumansTook for the game.

 

Do you have anything else to add?

Thank you very much for the opportunity and to all developers reading this; keep at it!

 

Lastly, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank Carlos for reaching out to me and requesting this Q&A. It was a pleasure to learn more about this game, and I’m very much looking forward to its release. If you like the look of it, you can back it on Kickstarter via the link below:

Kickstarter Campaign

But for now, I’d like to wish Carlos the best of luck with the game and getting it backed. It has a lot of potential to be a groundbreaking title within the indie game circle and it will be a joy to see what the final experience has to offer.

 

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

Q&A With Timeless Hourglass Games

In my efforts to discover more promising upcoming indie games, I stumbled across another great-looking title on Kickstarter entitled Reaper’s Remorse. Developed by Timeless Hourglass Games based in Vancouver, Canada, Reaper’s Remorse is a JRPG heavily inspired by other various titles in the genre such as Witch’s House & Mad Father. A turn-based RPG similar to EarthBound or classic Final Fantasy games, the difference being is that players must also collect the souls of ghostly spirits that inhabit the game’s world by completing side quests they have to offer. There is also an element of puzzle-solving similar to detective games, whereby players must investigate certain situations strewn throughout, which in turn, affect the ending of the game.

Wanting to find out even more about this uniquely crafted JRPG, I contracted its lead designer, Jessica Devitt. She, and the project’s artist, Veronica Prentice, answered what questions I had about this game, and explained in depth what players can expect to see with the finished game. Here’s what Timeless Hourglass Games had to say about Reaper’s Remorse:

 

What were the influences behind your game? 

The biggest influence behind making this game is based around depression and helping recognize its symptoms along with helping others who have it. It is common for people to hide their true feelings. The game follows a similar style. This game comes across as friendly and happy, but deep down lies a dark story. In this game, you will face characters who are struggling in one way or another and will learn how to overcome these struggles.

 

What has the developmental process been like?

Starting the development process has been slow, but if funding goes well I plan to pick up the pace.

 

How close are we to seeing the finished product? 

The target goal is summer 2023.

 

What has been the most exciting aspect of development? 

Seeing your work come to life is really rewarding. After spending hours working on a scene and then seeing it run smoothly is always exciting to me.

 

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?   

Mostly I have had trouble with finding good art assets for making the sprites and maps that match my vision of how the game should look. Though I am hoping to hire someone who can make all the game assets and help better portray the game.

 

How well has the game been received so far? 

I’m still in my first week of bringing my game to the public so there hasn’t been much news yet, but so far, I think it’s been fairly positive.

 

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?

I am planning to bring the game to Steam.

 

The music accompanying both game trailers on the YouTube channel seems very contrasting; almost like two different types of atmosphere are being perpetuated with the game. Is that a sign of things to come with the final product?

Yes, the mood in Reaper’s Remorse can change quite quickly so you don’t know what you’re expecting as you make your way through the world.

 

Have there been any ideas at this stage of development that has since been scrapped or reworked?

Originally the player was going to play the full childhood of the main character first but there was concern that it would take too long, and the player would get bored. It seemed more effective to put pieces of the childhood throughout the game to keep things going at a good pace.

 

Since anime seems to be at the core of the game’s conceptual design, were there any particular anime series’ that inspired the creation of Reaper’s Remorse? 

I’m a horrible artist so I commissioned my friend Veronica Prentice to do this artwork, so I asked her to answer this question:

Veronica Prentice

“Anime artwork has always been a favorite of mine. A lot of my character inspiration comes from JRPGs. Games like Ib, Mad Father, and Witches House, where the characters are still cute and fun to play while still keeping that dark element to them.”

 

If you had the opportunity to develop a game with any company or any franchise, which would it be, and why?

I have always been a huge fan of Square Enix and would love to work for them. I think the stories they make have amazing detail and depth to them, along with beautiful visuals and soundtracks.

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this? 

When I started developing my game I was unmotivated and wasn’t sure if it was possible to make a whole game on my own. But taking the game apart and working on small pieces at a time brought everything together. So my advice would be to breakdown your goals and start small and slowly build your way up.

 

Where on the Internet can people find you? 

I’m still pretty new but I have a website where you can check trailers and the demo game:

https://timeless-hour.com/index.html

The Kickstarter:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/timelesshourglass/reapers-remorce?ref=user_menu

You can also get updates on my game on my Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/TimelessHourglassGames

 

Do you have anything else to add?

I don’t really have anything more to add, but thanks for conducting this Q&A and I hope it helps get people interested!

 

I’d like to take the opportunity to thank Jessica and Veronica for taking the time out to get to me with these answers and to wish them the best of luck with the Kickstarter program. After having played the demo, I’m confident that this game will go on to impress a wide range of JRPG fans, as well as gamers in general, and I’m certainly looking forward to seeing what the final game has to offer. I hope you guys enjoyed learning more about this title as much as I had fun discovering the game and learning for myself.

 

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

The Full Twelve Tales of Chris Seavor

Disclaimer: This interview contains some strong language. Anyone who is offended by such content is advised against reading this interview.

 

The fifth generation of gaming is one of the most beloved periods in the medium, with consoles such as the Nintendo 64, the original PlayStation, and the Sega Dreamcast going on to become among the most popular and well-received platforms in the history of video games. However, come the end of the fifth generation, as the transition to the sixth was being made, among the last games published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64 was Conker’s Bad Fur Day; a game which garnished critical acclaim upon release and has since gone on to become a favorite among fans of the console.

I was lucky enough to have an interview this week with the lead programmer of the game; Chris Seavor. Chris joined Rare back in 1994, where he was tasked with developing for the Killer Instinct series initially; he then went on to not only work on many Rare games on the programming side of things, but also voice many characters created by Rare, such as Spinal from Killer Instinct, Gruntilda of Banjo Kazooie and Banjo Tooie, and of course several characters in Conker’s Bad Fur Day, including Conker himself.

After having left Rare in 2011, he most recently established Gory Details Ltd with former Rare collaborator Shawn Pile, and together have developed both Parashoot Stan and a dark adventure game named The Unlikely Legend of Rusty Pup, and as of this writing, there is also a new game in development from Gory Details, said to be a twin-stick dungeon-bash title. I had a lot of questions for Chris concerning his early life, his time at Rare, the development of Conker’s Bad Fur Day, as well as the ultimately canceled sequel, and of course, his work at Gory Details Ltd and what gamers can expect from their new project. Here’s our in-depth interview: The Twelve Tales of Chris Seavor:

 

Where did your passion for video games originate from?

Playing them as a kid… That and board games…. A friend had been bought Dungeons and Dragons for Christmas (the pink edition which I still have) and he couldn’t understand it so he gave it to me… It was a revelation. This is where my love of ‘game mechanics’ came from which then evolved into video games when I had access to a BBC Micro and eventually the eponymous Spectrum 48K.

 

What games would you play as a child and how would they go on to influence you as a developer?

Ironically the first game I ever bought was Knightlore. I got it from a mate for half price. 5 quid I think. My favorite game from childhood though is RebelStar Raiders which was a turn-based squad game where you had to infiltrate a base on the Moon. Still holds up. Obviously, Ultimate games were in there, but also John Ritman’s variants on the genre like Head Over Heals, which brilliantly introduced a second character to add a cooperative element to the puzzle solving. Quite groundbreaking. The list is huge though; Elite, Paradroid, Out of the Shadows, The Hobbit, Lords of Midnight, Bards Tale, Chuckie Egg, Monty Mole, etc. Oddly though, I never really liked Manic Miner or Jet Set Willy as I found them too difficult. What a scrub eh?

 

What consoles did you own early on?

None. I was at college when the NES and SNES and Mega Drive came out, so had little money and was too busy drinking and dossing around on the beach (I was at college in Cornwall for 4 years, then Bournemouth for 1). Games kinda left my life for a long time…… Next device I bought after my C64 was a SNES whilst working at Rare just to play Zelda and DKC, so yeah!

 

What is your earliest memory of game design?

I would design whole RPG systems for tabletop gaming. My 2 favorite systems were MERPS and Warhammer Fantasy RPG. MERPS for its crazy crit tables (and the lore) and WHRPG for the gothic world-building. Loved em to bits. I stole from both. I also wrote a Fighting Fantasy novel, but only got as far as about 100 entries before losing track. Those things are hecka-complex to write.

 

Were there any development companies you aspired to work with before you went to work with Rare?

Psygnosis. I didn’t know who Rare were, to be honest… Psygnosis were in Liverpool as well, so I could stay with the parents and save some cash. Lazy fucker I was. I had an interview with a few; EA, Psygnosis, and Rare included. Not sure what happened with Pysg, but EA offered a job eventually but I’d already started at Rare and liked it. Mainly because I’d made some friends and to be honest, that’s always the most stressful part of starting out somewhere new: being alone. The job turned out okay too 😉

 

Where there any other careers you attempted to pursue before going into games design and game voice-over work?

Not attempted, but I’d always planned to go into the film industry. My actual skill set was 3D graphics (a career path very much in its infancy in ‘93, unlike now) so film / TV seemed a natural fit. Games I never considered and in the end just sort of fell into it with a chance conversation with a long time friend Ady Smith (Rare, Eidos). Ironically Ady is teaching game stuff down at my old college in Cornwall now.

 

What was your upbringing like? Did your parents have any positive or negative reaction to your enjoyment of games, or was there even an element of that during your childhood?

I’d have to say it was pretty negative when I was 13 -15. I always like to remind my Mum of a comment she made once after I spent a whole day playing The Hobbit on the big TV.. ‘You’ll never make any money playing games all day…. It’s not a proper job’. She’s right about one thing though… It’s not a ‘proper job’, thank the maker!

 

Did any facet of your childhood go on to influence you as a developer, similar to how traveling through the forests of Kyoto inspired Shigeru Miyamoto to create The Legend of Zelda?

Not directly. I’ve always loved the cinema experience and would watch every movie I could… I guess that helped in later life. I read a lot of Horror and SciFi, not so much fantasies apart from Prof T the bulk of it back then was, to be blunt: Shit. I read a lot of Fantasy today though, the grim, dark stuff. It’s so much better nowadays.

 

What was it like for you to experience the medium of gaming taking off back in the 70s and 80s?

It just was… You don’t really know you’re IN something when it’s happening around you… Like DKC or the N64 period at Rare. It was just a job, and you were hoping your game would sell more than the other Barns did. Only now looking back do you realize the fondness people have for that time, and the games we’d made as a company… It’s kinda weird as I don’t think of it in those terms.

 

Was the aspiration to become an actor or voice-over artist from an early age as well, or was that something that manifested later on?

Nope. I’m not a voice actor, I’m a 3d Artist / Game Designer. The voice work was a time saver and for practical issues. It seems to be its own thing now in games, with big names getting involved… Fair enough I suppose, but I think it’s a waste of money. Keanu Reeves is a great guy by all accounts but he can’t act for shit. Spend the money on some unknowns who need the break instead…
To be honest, I think the influx of big Hollywood names into the games industry is largely down to the egos of the Production Managers, Execs, and Bosses… It’s the only chance these people will ever get to hang out with the Stars!! Also, BAFTA can try and inject their dull game awards ceremony with a bit of glitz and glamour… Game development has little glitz, even less glamour. And then of course there are Mr. Keighley’s Game Awards… I mean, really? I rest my case, your honor. Here’s the proof it’s a bullshit waste of money .. Name me one person who bought Cyberpunk 2077 because Keanu Reeves was in it? You found one?? They’re a fucking liar.

 

Who were your inspirations where your voice acting was concerned?

Again, no one really. I just did some silly voices based on accents and the range of my voice. Conker’s voice came pretty easily, in fact, I think I just did it instinctively the first time Robin and I were in the studio.

 

Were there any teachers you had at school who would have a lasting impression on you where your career was concerned?

Absolutely not, Fuck those idiots.

 

My teachers tried to tell me that the best years of my life would be my school years, but I disagree with them; my best years have been everything that came afterward. But did you enjoy school when you were a kid?

Absolutely not. Fuck those idiots even more… School was shit. Sadists and morons. I fucking hated it with a vengeance. Imagine trying to encourage 14-year-old lads to enjoy reading then dumping Jane Austin’s Mansfield Park in their lap. WTF!? Stephen King, Tolkien, Sven Hassel first… THEN Jane Austin, in later life, when you have enough life experience to relish in its satire.

 

What was the best piece of advice you were given as a child?

That kind of thing only happens in YA fiction… I never much paid any attention to adults as a kid. I think I became aware of how flawed they all were at a very young age. The one bit of advice I do remember was from my Nan: ‘Christ lad, don’t get old…’

 

Rare had been renowned for their sense of humor with hidden jokes and Easter eggs in their games and Conker was no different. But where did your sense of humor stem from early on?

I wasn’t particularly funny as a kid. In fact, I was and still am almost terminally shy. I still find it stressful to group up with people in games and be expected to have a conversation, even in chat. (except when I’m shouting abuse 😉 I think my humor stems from looking at life’s absurdity and just laughing at it all. People can be so fucking dumb, so finding comedy gold in the actions and words of others is a never-ending resource. I’m a pessimist and a cynic. That’s where my humor comes from I think….. Plus I’m a bit weird and apparently lacking intact (although I am usually told this after the fact…)

 

How did the opportunity to work for Rare first come about?

Shared petrol money and a day out from Uni. I just turned up and they offered me a job. That’s it really.

 

What was your first day at Rare like and what were you tasked with working on initially?

It was fine… I was pretty nervous but that went very quickly…. I shared a room with Kev Bayliss, and we got on fine. Still do (which is amazing for me 😉 ) My first job was to sketch out and start building the environment for Sabrewulf in Killer Instinct.

 

In terms of working on the Killer Instinct series, what are you most proud of?

Killer Gold I reckon… Just because it was my first experience with actual polygons in a game, rather than pre-rendered. A whole other kettle of fish. I had to convert my original Nurbs Models from KI2 to work in the new engine. First game out from Rare with actual live 3D models… Quite proud of that. And they look okay I reckon, particularly Spinal’s Slave Galley…. (Early nods to Sea of Thieves there ;)) joke.

 

Did you ever come up with any ideas for any additional characters for Killer Instinct or Diddy Kong Racing?

I did a couple of characters for Killer Instinct 2 (arcade) which were not used. Fully modeled one of them, a Vampire Prince with long white hair. Even did a set of animations. I wish I still had the frames but nope… All gone.

 

How rewarding was it seeing your work come to fruition with the release of a game at Rare?

Best thing ever… Really, everyone should try it.

 

Are there any interesting stories about how the voice of Spinal first came about?

Same as Grunty really.. Scream and Cackle. I’m a one-note pony when it comes to baddies.

 

The concept for Gruntilda’s voice, I’d imagine, would’ve been one of the most straightforward ones to have had to come up with, but was that the case? Was there another different approach taken where she was concerned?

I just screamed and cackled… That’s what witches do right? 😉

 

How exhilarating was it knowing you had just voiced a major Nintendo villain at the time?

It was 10 minutes of work, and the tight arses didn’t even give me a free copy of the game… To this day I have never owned a copy of Banjo. Not sure but think it’s probably the same sample they use in the new Smash?? Maybe?

 

Who was your favorite character to have voiced before Conker?

The ones that didn’t have me coughing my guts up and no voice for 2 days. Conker. it has to be him really… Death, Conkula, Frankie, any with interesting dialogue and motivations.

 

Which additional character in Diddy Kong Racing (with the exception of Conker) do you feel would’ve been worthy of a spin-off series?

I don’t care enough about Diddy Kong Racing to be honest. Wasn’t there a Tiger? The Tiger then.

 

What were the Stamper brothers like to work for?

They were great, very hands-on when needed, very hands-off when we were getting on with it. I mean, things could from time to time get fractious but it was usually just clashing egos (mine mainly) Tim’s passion for games when I first joined Rare was in his very being. All he cared about was the game/games. Chris, I saw less of because he tended to be the business side of things, and was a software guy anyway. They had a certain dynamic as brothers, sort of like a video game boss ironically. The whole was greater than the sum of its parts… (hmm, sounds like shade, but I don’t mean it in that way)

 

Were there any Rare games that you would’ve liked to work on, but never got the opportunity to?

From a purely mercenary cash standpoint? Oh DK 64 and DK Racer. They made fucking TONS of cash for the teams. But creatively? Nah, I’m happy the way things were. But what about Goldeneye, You say!? Cashwise? Nah… old deal. Creatively?? I think I would have done things to stop it from being the game it is now. Not good things… I was still in a DOOM 2 mindset at the time.

 

Were you scheduled to work in some capacity on Rare’s canceled game Project Dream before it later became Banjo-Kazooie?

Nope. Definitely nope…

 

If you could’ve voiced any other Nintendo character (or Rare character) at the time, who would it have been and what approach would you have taken to do it?

Never really thought of it. The only character I would love to have voiced which Rare (almost) got to do was Harry Potter. It would have meant I’d have been the first person to perform that character in media. A good one for the CV. Plus I think I’d have made a decent enough game out of the books (only 3 were out at the time) as I was already a big fan, had I been asked… Nevermind.

 

Who were the funniest people in the Rare office to work with?

That’s a tough one. Everyone pretty much made me laugh, sometimes unintentionally… Grant Kirkhope has ‘funny bones’ just because of his outlook on life and his rock ‘n’ roll stories. Robin’s funny as well, particularly when he’s drunk……. Martin Hollis has a very dry sense of humor and Noz always made me laugh at his various woes over the years…Doaky though, he’s just sick that man.

 

What was your reaction when you first heard about Microsoft buying out Rare?

Yay!! EA and Activision were the 2 other main contenders. Whatever criticisms people have for MS, I have no doubts whatsoever Rare as a studio would not exist now if they’d succeeded. Nintendo though? They made a great off by all accounts, and already owned nearly half the company… I don’t even want to think about that.

 

What made you come to the decision to leave Rare back in 2011?

I didn’t. I was happy to stay but things were, shall we say, engineered to make sure I didn’t….. Long story, not a pleasant experience, and some of the people involved, one in particular can go fuck themselves. They know who they are; not that things didn’t turn out well in the end… I got a nice fat cheque to send me on my way and here we are.

 

What is your opinion on the current state of Rare?

At the time I left it was not very good, what with a combination of Don Mattrick and his cronies not to mention that Kinect abomination. I was 90% sure we would be shut down within a few years… Since then though, along came Sea of Thieves .. Amazing what can happen when you just let a team get on with things and stop fucking them about. I think they’re in a very strong position now, although they really do need to mine that IP goldmine a bit more … Baffles me that they don’t.

 

What was the developmental process like early on during when the game was supposed to be either Twelve Tales or Conker 64?

I was only doing art at that point, and the direction the game was taking design-wise was not something I could influence. We were essentially trying to make a Mario 64 type platformer. It was…. Fractious.

 

How did you initially feel after being moved up to the project’s leader by the Stampers?

They knew it was what I wanted so they gave me a chance. Seemed to work out, although I think I was expected to fail.

 

What was it like working with Robin Beanland?

Yeah, okay. We don’t really get along 😉 Nah, he’s always been a talented bastard, unlike me who’s been winging it for years…. I think we get on workwise because we understand what we both want versus the limitations of the medium. It’s important to temper your expectations and ambitions with what’s actually possible. Plus we both like lager and vindaloos. Although age has finally caught up with me on both counts there.

 

What was the feeling across the team following the game’s showcasing at E3 1998?

Was that the BFD first showing? I remember the TT one being a fucking disaster. The BFD one was as good as it got. Great stand by Nintendo, free beer, most of the team was there too so it was a decent crowd. And no interview pools, which I really hate… There’s nothing like a bunch of bored games journos asking tedious questions for 12 hours straight to break your soul.

 

What was the revised pitch to Nintendo like when the intention changed to make the more mature game it turned out to be?

I don’t know. I pitched it to Tim and Chris, not Nintendo. I didn’t work for Nintendo; I worked for Rare, but I’m sure some discussions were had. To be honest, if T+C were happy with what we were doing then Nintendo would have been too. Rare was the golden goose at that point don’t forget, and it gave us a good deal of leverage.

 

What was the feeling across the development team when the project was finally finished after the long development cycle the game had?

We went home for some sleep. Then I went to Edinburgh for the New Year and got completely smashed. I also bought a sword which I then had to carry around all night. There’s a great restaurant on the Royal Mile called The Witchery, it’s basically like something out of Harry Potter. The maitre’de rather than scowl at me and my sword she kindly took it and hung it in the coatroom citing an old rule of no swords in the dining area. (I think she might have been joshing me )

 

How rewarding was it to see the game garnish as much critical acclaim as it did?

Validation. And relief. I wish we’d have launched in Japan too… I think they’d have liked a pissing, drunk, cute squirrel.

 

How did the voice for Conker come about?

It was the first voice I did. No process, just came out fully formed on day one…. One of those things I guess, The lisp was to add a curtness that belied the character but apart from that it was spontaneous.

 

Where there any other references to popular culture that were planned to be included in the game, but never made it, apart from the Pokemon reference?

There were a few levels that got cut, but that was for the sake of time rather than censorship. Pokemon is the only really notable one. There are a few easter eggs though… more than a few. Oh, wait there were two scenes cut from L&R for, reasons. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

 

What was the feeling about experiencing the game’s ending for the first time, as it provides such a stark contrast to the comedy perpetuated throughout most of the rest of the game?

I had that ending in mind right from the very start. If we were going to subvert the genre then let’s go for it. I don’t think I agree with the premise of the game being a comedy in a light sense. The game is DARK all the way through, and the laughs tend to stem from the misery and bad luck of others and the unintentional actions of the protagonist. I make it clear right in the very first shot of his eyes on the throne that this won’t end well for Conker.

 

What would you change about the game if you had the opportunity?

I’ve thought about this a lot. Maybe pare things back a bit to get a lower rating (which actually wouldn’t be as much as you think) or maybe not… It is what it is. I do regret not doing the fake outtakes after the credits, I had that planned quite early on when we’d started experimenting with 4th wall breaking stuff in the game. Just not enough time, sadly.

 

How satisfying an experience has it been seeing Conker’s Bad Fur Day being updated for new audiences in the form of both Live and Reloaded and Rare Replay?

Yeah, it gave me a chance to make a PVP combat game which is a difficult thing to get right.. I also added a narrative thread through it as an experiment to a further idea (Getting’ Medievil). I think it worked quite well… They shut the servers ages ago though….. Rare Replay I had nothing to do with… It’s a thing I guess. Sold well, so says a lot about there being plenty of old-school Rare fans still out there spending money.

 

As it’s one of the most outlandish stories I’ve heard in all of gaming I have to ask; whose idea was it to come up with the Conker’s Bad Fur Day condoms campaign?

Not me. It’s a bit tacky, literally 😉

 

What new Gameplay elements were planned for inclusion in Conker’s Other Bad Fur Day?

More of the same really…. Who can say? That’s the kind of detail you get to when at the coal face and we didn’t get that far.

 

Early concept art has since been released on the Internet of the Conker sequel, but what other new types of locations and characters were planned to be included?

About half the game was completely new areas and the other half was updated and evolved areas from the original. The structure was pretty much the same, hub world, then smaller story worlds…. Familiar, extended with a fine blend of old and new.

 

Have you further developed the idea of a sequel since leaving Rare?

Nah of course not. No point.

 

If Rare ever called you back to develop the sequel to Conker, would you do it?

Depends on what I’m asked to do. If it’s just to read someone else’s lines then nope. If they want me to write and direct it, then maybe, but it would be a lot of work and cost a lot of money for something so niche. Who can say.. MS have got deep pockets. Risk wise it makes a lot more sense to make BK3 and they haven’t done that either, so go figure.

 

How did the idea come about for you and Shawn Pile to establish Gory Detail?

Boredom, plus I knew if I didn’t do something with all the time I suddenly had then I’d go insane. Shawn was the same I think, but you’d have to ask him. We’d actually talked about it long before mainly as a creative outlet, never really thinking it would happen. Then circumstance changed and here we are.

 

What were the influences behind Parashoot Stan and Rusty Pup?

Stan is a cliché, which was the point of the character. The kid pretending to be the hero but actually IS the hero. Rusty Pup is forged from a similar fire influence wise but is a lot more subtle. It’s actually set in the same world as Stan if you look closely but is a lot more tragic. No one has decoded Rusty Pup yet, which I’m fine with but it isn’t some vague metaphor or opaque fable. It’s a series of events, in order, which really happens. The clues are all there.

 

What were the most exciting aspects of developing the games?

‘Exciting’ is not a word I’d use to describe game development. A bunch of execs off to some launch party or awards ceremony to get drunk might disagree but that’s not development.

 

What were the most challenging aspects of developing the games?

Getting past pre-production and into full production. Until your that factory, churning out assets and regular versions there’s always a nagging feeling at the back of your mind this might be canceled any second. Pre-production is nice creatively and full production is a grind, but the security of the product is a huge weight off your mind. (hey, that rhymed!!)

 

How satisfying had it been seeing both these games garnish what commercial and critical acclaim they have?

Commercially? Yeah right, we’re millionaires now Rodders. Critical, well I think they’re great little games (Rusty not so little) Labour of love, both of ’em. I wish more of the mainstream media had bothered to review Rusty. We sent out a ton of codes. They claim they support indies etc, but they don’t really… Not really. I actually had one outlet say they weren’t interested unless I gave them an interview about our next game which I’d pitched as a Conker Spiritual Successor. It was kind of a publicity stunt (though true in essence). Needless to say, we said no. If I was in the games biz to make lots of money I’d have crawled my way up the corporate ladder, squeezed the right prostates, and jumped ship every time I fucked up. I’d rather be poor. I’m fine though but no more Porsche’s. Not this week anyway.

 

Were there any ideas planned for inclusion in either game that were later scrapped or reworked?

Yeah, loads. Rusty had a whole crafting system and twice as many mechanics including mind control baddies, loads more platform types, and a whole extra world… it was just too much, and the crafting would have made testing all the possibilities pretty much impossible. Stan was going to have 2D side-scrolling mini-bosses where he landed on a large Zeppelin and would run through with guns blazing. We just didn’t have the time and I also felt it was a bit jarring with the rest of the mechanics.

 

Is there any DLC planned for Rusty Pup in the future?

I did some stuff, even made some assets. It was an extra chapter, a deeper area with shorter, very difficult one-shot puzzles. A haunted house theme. But it would have taken 6 months to make, largely down to me and was and also totally free. Time is precious, so I decided it was best spent on developing the new IP.

 

What can you tell us about Gory Detail’s third project?

It’s coming on okay. I spent the bulk of last year preparing assets and I’m pretty happy with the tone and look of the game. It’s a typical twin-stick dungeon bash game but with a twist… Fast-paced, silly characters voiced by me and lots and lots of bad language, blood, and guts. COVID didn’t help though. At some point you need to sit with people and point and talk… I’ve not seen Shawn for a year now. Still, we’re not slaves to publishers and huge wage bills so it’s not a problem. You really only want the stress of making the game, which is more than enough.

 

Would you still like to see Urchin be brought to life under Gory Detail?

Yes… But we can’t call it that. Anyway, games aren’t the only medium in which to explore interesting narratives. 😉

 

Have any of the former Rare alumni at Playtonic Games had any advice to share with you and Shawn or has there been any general conversation between you all?

Yeah, we’ve chatted a few times… Gavin has been really helpful and made some gracious offers of help with production but the studio environment isn’t something I find appealing… It’s just me. I’m an old fart. In the future though, who can say? They’ll certainly have first dibs on the next game we do if they want it.

 

What are your opinions of the indie development scene today?

Business-wise, it’s very healthy for a lucky few, but for most I suspect it’s a struggle in a saturated market. Getting eyes on your work is increasingly difficult, and for the very small indies such as Gory, it’s almost impossible. From a gamer’s point of view, it couldn’t be any better. There’s a lot of good stuff out there and with the big boys taking fewer and fewer risks with their products, ironically people are turning away from their games as they tend to be over-produced and under-developed.

 

What genre of game have you and Shawn never undertaken before that you would like to do one day?

I have folders full of stuff. I think the next game though will be our last probably, as its core game is just the beginning. It’s designed around mini self-contained storylines, like the chapters in Conker. So if it’s a success I’ll be happy to just keep making and selling new Chapters as DLC so long as people still keep buying them. That’s the plan anyway.

 

Which pre-existing video game character would you like to see make a cameo in either Parashoot Stan or Rusty Pup?

They’re not that type of game, particularly Rusty. The next one though… I have plans for lots of cameos, although not very complimentary ones. 😉

 

Do you and Shawn find that having creative freedom is one of the best things about developing games for yourselves?

It is. It’s the price you pay for having to fund everything yourself. We’re not averse to having a publisher, just not during development. Finish the game first, then see if anyone fancies tackling all that marketing, support stuff I fucking hate doing.

 

Have Rare since reached out to you following the establishment of Gory Detail or the release of the two games?

Only for Conker stuff. I’m happy to do it although I suspect it was a last resort. I was sent some recordings of a guy they’d hired to mimic Conker and it wasn’t very good. Point is, they tried to do it with someone else and must have realized the fans would not accept a fake Conker. Heh! I also offered to do other voices, for the Young Conker app, but they already had someone for them. Just Conker for me…

 

What have you been most proud of throughout your career?

Rusty Pup… So far. I filled that game with my very soul.

 

Is there any advice you would be able to offer any aspiring developers who may be reading this?

Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do something.. …. It might be true, but the best way to find out isn’t by shrugging, but by trying to make it work and then finding out they were wrong.

 

I’d like to take the opportunity to thank Chris for agreeing to answer my questions, and for sharing so much about his storied career and what we can expect to see from him and Gory Details Ltd in the future. If you’re interested in what Gory Details has to offer, you can view their steam page via the link below:

https://store.steampowered.com/search/?developer=Gory%20Detail%20Limited

You can also keep up with Chris’s posts on Twitter via his Twitter handle:

@conkerhimself

A full review of The Unlikely Legend of Rusty Pup will be coming to the site very soon but in the meantime, I’d also like to wish Chris, Shawn Pile, and Gory Details the best of luck with their current games as well as their new upcoming project… MARVELLOUS!!

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

Q&A With The Gentlebros

The eighth generation of gaming had seen a further influx of independently developed video game titles garnish mainstream success, with gamers being hungry for not AAA big-budget blockbuster games, but also titles that hearken back to the simpler times of the older generations before it; working for the plethora of gamers either wanting that sense of nostalgia from a 16-BIT rendered title like Blasphemous, or gamers wanting to try out new ideas perpetuated by indie developers, such as Scott Cawthon with the Five Nights at Freddy’s series. One such game studio that garnished the same level of success over the last four years is The Gentlebros.

Based in Singapore, The Gentlebros have since established Cat Quest; a series of open-world adventure RPGs set in a world governed by both cat and dogs, from the cat-ruled realm of Felingard to the dog-governed Lupus Empire. Both Cat Quest and Cat Quest II had been met with both commercial and critical acclaim from both gamers and reviewers alike and have since established themselves as one of the more successful indie development studios in recent years along with the likes of The Game Kitchen, Cellar Door Games, and Housemarque. wanting to know more about The Gentlebros, and what the future holds for the company, I got in touch with the studio’s CEO Desmond Wong to ask a few questions about what the developer’s prior experiences with games were and what they plan to do going into the ninth generation of gaming. Here’s what Desmond Wong had to say about The Gentlebros and the Cat Quest series:

Where did the idea to make a series about cats and dogs originate from?

It actually started as a dancing game! Full story here: 

https://www.thegentlebros.com/blog/general/story-open-world-rpg-actually-started-dancing-game/

What was the most exciting aspect of developing the Cat Quest series?

I think the most exciting thing from a writing perspective was how we could cat-ify all our favorite RPG tropes and just have a lot of fun with it! Making Cat Quest has also enabled us to ‘fix’ a lot of the issues we had with open-world RPGs in recent years and give players a more streamlined and accessible experience.

What was the most challenging aspect of developing the Cat Quest series?

I think the toughest part in both games has always been how to create a robust adventure with the limited resources we have. We’re just a three-man team, and making an RPG that lasts many hours with so many mini-stories and challenges, is a huge undertaking. It’s really easy to fall into the trap of reusing level layouts and quest designs, and I think we did a slightly better job of this in Cat Quest 2(than CQ1), but it still took a lot of creative use of existing mechanics and assets to create something new each time.

Has the idea been contemplated of making a Cat Quest III?

Absolutely. Although we can’t go into details, we did end CQ2 with a tease for CQ3. We know where the story will go, and can’t wait to eventually get to it.

How rewarding has it been seeing Cat Quest garnish as much critical acclaim and popularity as it has over the years?

It truly has been a humbling experience and we never thought our game about cats would be played by so many people.

What were the team’s prior developmental experiences before The Gentlebros was formed, If any?

All three founders worked in Koei Tecmo, where we worked on games like Dynasty Warriors, Dead or Alive, and Fatal Frame.

What other types of games would the development team like to create in the future?

Personally, I would really like to design a game about traveling. I went on a road trip in Iceland a few years back, and the whole experience of just pushing onward, seeing new sights, finding places to sleep for the night, was just immensely fun. I would love to make an open-world game that focused less on completing side quests and just focused on traveling instead.

Had there been ideas scrapped from the Cat Quest series that you guys would’ve liked to have seen kept in?

Yes, we had so many ideas for weapons, enemy types, and abilities, but I think the one thing we would have liked to have kept into CQ2 was a relationship system where you could build friendships with certain NPCs in the game. It would have added so much to the theme of Unity for CQ2, and perhaps in the future, we could do something similar in another game.

What was the most important principle that was kept in mind by the studio as a collective whilst developing Cat Quest?

Accessibility, for sure. Our core design principle has always been how we can simplify and condense any mechanics to its essentials. Addition by subtraction is our mantra, and although some have found our games lacking depth because of this, seeing Cat Quest being enjoyed by kids, and even being able to bring non-gamers into the world of gaming, makes us believe our decision was worth it.

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?

Never give up.

Do you have anything else to add?

Do follow us on our Facebook page and Twitter, or join our Discord if you want to chat with us!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gaming/catquestgame

Twitter: @TheGentlebros

Discord: https://discord.gg/AyUBfNfq

I’d like to take the opp-purr-tunity to thank meow, Desmond Wong for agreeing to do our Q&A and wish you and the rest of The Gentlebros the best of luck with the third Cat Quest game, as well as any new titles you decide to work on in the future. If you guys want to learn even more about The Gentlebros, check out their social meow-dia via the links above, or check out their main website here:

gentlebros.com

In the meantime, I hope you guys enjoyed learning about this paw-some and promising new development studio as much as I did. The Cat Quest series is a very promising new saga in gaming and I’m so much looking forward to what the third game has to offer.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

Couse Gamer 88 Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain Header

Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain (PC & PlayStation 1)

Developer(s) – Silicon Knights

Publisher(s) – Crystal Dynamics & Activision

Director – Denis Dyack

Producer(s) – Rick Goertz, Lyle Hall & Joshua Marks

PEGI – 18

 

Released in 1996 as the first installment of the Legacy of Kain series, Blood Omen was met with immense commercial success as well as critical acclaim. A top-down adventure RPG inspired by the likes of The Legend of Zelda series, it stands as one of the earlier examples of a game containing a cinematic story, influenced by such novels as Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the works of Shakespeare dealing with themes such as birth, death, rebirth and moral ambiguity. To me, everything about this game is every bit as unique and refreshing for the time as what the developers set out to accomplish and stands out for me as one of the best games ever released on the original PlayStation. 

 

Graphics – 7/10

Blood Omen, as well as the entirety of the Legacy of Kain series, is set in the 15th century inspired land of Nosgoth, where sit nine skyward pillars, which each govern nine different aspects of the world; time, death, balance, nature, conflict, states, dimensions, energy and the mind. The game’s conceptual design also marks one of the earliest examples of the portrayal of dark fantasy in gaming; everything about Nosgoth feels ominous and gritty, and the 16-BIT rendered pixel art used does extremely well to invoke these feelings with some disturbing character animations and deeply atmospheric locations such as Vorador’s mansion, Dark Eden and Nupraptor’s retreat. The game’s soundtrack does nothing but adds to its overall sadistic feel in addition; even in times where relevant safety is to be had in villages and towns etc. 

 

Gameplay – 8.5/10

The game is a traditional adventure RPG, heavy on combat across the vast open world of Nosgoth. Players must travel in accordance with the story objectives, through the land, air, and even time at one point. It is also one of the earliest games to feature a conventional fast travel system, predating the likes of The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, as Kain is able to transform into a flurry of bats in order to travel to different locations more quickly. But where the gameplay truly shines is in its amount of variety in combat. Different weapons are acquired to adopt different styles of fighting, as well as the player having access to a number of magic spells to strategize in accordance with what kind of enemies they are fighting. Having already been familiar with the series before playing Blood Omen for the first time, since I started with the original Soul Reaver, I was at first quite surprised to discover just how much variety there is to be had in gameplay; but pleasantly surprised. It’s a game whereby although its story is a huge part of it, it, to me, still doesn’t take precedence over the gameplay completely.

 

Controls – 9/10

The only gripe I would have with the game’s control scheme is that the command of attacking with melee weapons can be quite inconsistent at times. The way Kain’s sprite is animated doesn’t work well with trying to time each strike and can cause delays in doing so, it would seem. But apart from this one minor issue, there are no further major concerns with the controls to address. It’s as well the developers added a fast travel system since unless Kain is in lupine form, moving around can be quite slow. 

 

Lifespan – 7/10

To complete the game 100% can take there around 20 hours, which was fairly impressive for a game at the time, but it also gave players an insight early on into the direction whereby games were going at that point. Titles that last only a few hours at a time were no longer cutting it with players, and so developers seemed to start making longer games to accommodate for this; no longer was it just Squaresoft and Enix making games lasting hundreds of hours each, but developers like Konami, Silicon Knights, and Crystal Dynamics would also follow suit, and Blood Omen is simply an example of this increase in standards. 

 

Storyline – 10/10

The story of Blood Omen is morally complicated, tragic, and wonderfully dark. It follows the story of a nobleman named Kain, who is one night attacked and killed by a group of assassins. Finding himself in the underworld looking down at the abyss below, the necromancer Mortanius offers Kain a chance for revenge. Kain takes up the offer with the price being that he now walks the earth again as a vampire thirsty for human blood. However, his revenge against his killers turns out to be only a bit part of a far bigger plot embroiling Kain in an entangled nest of intrigue, death, manipulation, moral ambiguity, mental and physical pain, and loss. 

Blood Omen plays out very much a traditional Shakespearian tragedy, but with its mythology, settings, and set of shady and deceitful characters, it made for something very fresh in terms of storytelling at the time, which in all honesty, has never truly been replicated to this day. The story of The Legacy of Kain series, in general, would go on to become something even deeper and thematic, but the foundations laid down for all this with the first game were silently groundbreaking at the time.

 

Originality – 9/10

This game did a lot of things in terms of both gameplay and story that had not been seen before, and in terms of story at least, have rarely been seen since. Similar combat systems have been worked into many different games following the release of Blood Omen, and this game certainly had its influences in terms of gameplay, but regardless, it still stands as an experience unlike any other, and still mightily enjoyable to play today. To complete every quest and uncover every spec of expertly written dialogue and backstory is still a very rewarding gaming endeavor. 

 

Happii

Overall, Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain is a must-have for any fan of video games tackling the dark fantasy theme. It may never get the remaster it deserves, due to the legal issues between Crystal Dynamics and Silicon Knights, but this doesn’t take anything away from the original game; it’s a certified pleasure to play through every time. 

Score

50.5/60

8/10 (Very Good)