neXGam: First of all, please introduce yourself.
ES Team (Falco): We are the Elysian Shadows Team, the guys behind Elysian Shadows and also the YouTube "reality" development series, "Adventures in Game Development," giving fans, gamers, and developers a behind-the-scenes look at the indie game development life with our own project, Elysian Shadows.
Who are the members of the team? How big is your team, where are they from?
We have 7 team members from basically all around the world. We've been very lucky with the success of our YouTube series, as it has allowed us to attract international talent that otherwise would have never known about our project. Falco Girgis is the engine and toolkit developer, and he also developed the framework allowing us to target so many platforms. He's basically the mad scientist of the team. Tyler Rogers is the lead gameplay engineer, taking the art, music, and level design, and creating a cohesive gameplay experience with our engine. Daniel Tindall is our web developer and level designer, but he has really become a secret weapon of the project, as he was the main brains behind our Kickstarter page
and now Steam Greenlight
campaign. Patrick Kowalik and Leandro Tokarevski are both of our pixel artists. They are self-taught and classically trained artists who have decided to broaden their artistic horizons by branching out into pixel art. Connor Linning is our resident rock star, the man behind our very unique sound, who has also produced several rock, metal, and survival horror records before joining our ranks. Eddie Ringle is our mobile developer, who has ported our engine to Droid, OUYA, and even Google Glass.
neXGam: When did development of Elysian Shadows start?
ES Team (Falco): That's kind of a complex question, haha. We're weird in that we started off as just a bunch of kids with zero programming knowledge or game development experience, with just a dream. 7 years ago we set off on our adventure to become developers, but none of us were capable of creating Elysian Shadows the way we had envisioned back then. A lot of this time was learning our trade and growing as developers... We like to cite about 2012 as for when our current codebase was born, as that was really the inception of Elysian Shadows as you know it today.
Is this your first full game?
ES Team (Falco): Yes, this is our first love. We've all been involved in all kinds of side projects and games previously, I've done lots of large software projects in graduate school, our artists have done lots of stuff in the academy, and our musician has produced lots of records. It's more a matter of this is the first time we've all teamed up and put our skills together to create a complete, cohesive game.
neXGam: Then aren't you concerned that an RPG is a huge undertaking for a start?
ES Team (Falco): Concerned? No. But yeah, it definitely is a huge undertaking to start off with. I (Falco) have released several demos on the Dreamcast and in academia, and I developed the entire engine myself, so I really know how ambitious an RPG is... But along that same vein, an RPG honestly gives us the most creative freedom, which is really what has made us so emotionally invested in our own project... With an RPG you have full control over characters, storyline, world, and creating a cohesive story and message. We've also been able to work in lots of our our inspirations as children, and I think we have all found ways to endow our game with little pieces of ourselves and really make Elysian Shadows our own... It's not so much about how complex a project is when you start, it's about how attached you are to your own work, because passion is the only thing that will keep you coding or pixeling during those grueling late nights... Indie development has to be a work of love.
neXGam: Why Dreamcast? I don't mean to ask "why not a modern platform", since I know of the active homebrew community on retro systems, but there's plenty of systems capable of 2D tile-based RPGs like Elysian Shadows originally was planned to be.
ES Team (Falco):
Well, we definitely are not "just" a Dreamcast RPG, as we are supporting iOS, Droid, OUYA, Windows, Mac, and Linux already, but everything began for us on the Dreamcast, and we are committed to supporting the console we love... I (Falco) began developing for the Dreamcast at age 14 as soon as I found out there was a homebrew community of crazy people out there who discovered how to d
evelop their own software for the platform... This was before mobile app stores, indie markets, OUYAs... Back then console development was something reserved exclusively for big companies, and here was this awesome console with all these cool accessories, all this horsepower, and so many good games that I could now personally develop for... It was literally a dream come true for me, and I taught myself to code in C and C++ just for that console... To this day I continue to support it as part of realizing my childhood dream of releasing a game for my favorite console.
neXGam: Do you use a free SDK or did you create your own one from scratch?
ES Team (Falco): On the Dreamcast, we are using KallistiOS (I'm actually a KOS contributor), but we are also using all kinds of custom-written code. Our video driver is essentially written from scratch with generous amounts of low level code and inline assembly, and the same goes for lots of our low-level math API.
neXGam: What can you tell us about the battle system? Random encounters or visible enemies? Any games comparable to it?
ES Team (Falco): Our enemies are visible, our combat is action-based, and it happens in-place rather than swapping to a battle screen. At its core, it is highly influenced by Secret of Mana, but we also wanted to really make it a lot more action-oriented. There's a lot more moves than you have available to you in traditional action RPGs, especially with the inclusion of platforming elements like jumping and dashing. We also wanted environmental interaction to play a huge role in the combat engine. We wanted to allow you to pick up things in the environment and throw them, hide behind obstacles, or even cast spells to interact with objects or hurl them at enemies... Our physics engine was always anticipated as playing a huge role in combat.
neXGam: I read that the game will feature one big world in 1:1 scope as opposed to locations connected through a world map. And it will feature Jump'n Run elements. Will the latter very prevailant outside dungeons too, like for example in action-adventures such as Landstalker?
ES Team (Falco):
Yep. We wanted exploration and especially environmental interaction to play a huge role in the game as fundamental gameplay mechanics... We're very Zelda
influenced in that respect, and we felt like a world map would really take away lot of the cohesion and sense of "vastness" as far as our world is concerned. The run and jump elements are something we want to weave into all aspects of the game, including out of dungeons. We were inspired by games like Super Mario RPG
, which has tons of secrets and doors you can't even reach without exploring environments in 3D. We think that's awesome.