Conducted By Adam Ames
Kyron and Carolina from Endless Fluff Games give us a great look behind the scenes at their new game, Legend of Fae. You will also read about their opinions on DRM, piracy, the development process of Legend of Fae and much more.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role with the development of Legend of Fae.
Kyron: I’ve been a professional game artist for about 6 years now. I started both drawing and playing games at the age of four. On Legend of Fae I was in charge of programming, game design, sprite animation and musical composition.
Carolina: I’m a game artist working in NYC. I love waffles, kittens and rainy days. On Legend of Fae I designed the Character/backgrounds, painted the illustrations, and designed the UI.
How did you get started in developing PC games?
Kyron:I started using game maker around my senior year of high school. Caro and I have been using it ever since making games for ourselves for fun. Having these prototypes in our portfolio is what helped us get our first game industry jobs at a company called GameLab.
Carolina: Like Kyron mentioned, we would frequently make little game projects just to entertain ourselves. We also visited game dev communities like GamingW.
Where did the idea for Legend of Fae come from?
Kyron: Legend of Fae is based on of one of the prototypes we made many years ago. The game was called Hellements and it was a match 3 puzzle game where the matches effected real-time combat in a 1vs1 duel between elemental demons. The mechanics were inspired by our favorite puzzle game Tetris Attack for SNES.
What are some of the successes and failures you learned from in developing Legend of Fae?
Kyron: There were many things in Legend of Fae that I had to learn on the fly that I know could be done better in the future. The way the UI menus work and some of the initial set up of the combat could have been built a lot more flexible so I could have added more diverse mechanics to the game play. We should also have had a public beta at some point or at the very least a larger pool of testers.
Carolina: We held off on writing the complete story until half way through development. The idea was there but it wasn’t written out for a while. If we were able to get the story down sooner the story could have driven the game play more than it did. Also, copy editing and reimplementing was not really well thought out. Because of this it’s hard to even consider translating the game.
In its current form, how close is Legend of Fae to your initial vision?
Kyron: It’s actually extremely close to the original idea. All of the mechanics that were thought of in pre-production got in with the exception of one. The combat control changed a number of times during testing, from being 100% controlled by the bottom portion of the screen to the 50/50 split is now. The one big thing that was removed was the additional party members. There are still stages in the game that feature a guest party members, but they are automatically controlled in the final version of the game. Originally there was going to be a party roster that you could select from between stages. Each character would have as many abilities as Claudia. Your currently controlled character could be toggled mid combat.
Carolina: It’s pretty darn close but missing a few things. Originally, we wanted more meaningful NPC encounters. We also intended the plot segments to be done in comic form instead of large chunks of text. I was so excited to work on those but it would have extended development time by a lot.
Some indie devs admitted their games were too hard upon release because they became experts as they developed the game. Talk about setting the difficulty levels for Legend of Fae and if you faced a similar challenge.
Kyron: Yes, the game was very difficult in its early incarnations. Claudia’s base hp was increased many times and a global variable containing the enemies base hp was constantly adjusted. Among our circle of friends, Uni-Lanas were feared as if they were a destroyer of worlds. According to most of them the early versions of the Uni-Lanas were brutal and unfairly powerful for the stage they were introduced into the game. Their action speed was reduced heavily and one of their abilities was eventually taken from them and given to the gremlins (mana steal).
Carolina: Kyron was an expert at playing the game. I was really bad at playing the original version. Oh, the pain of feeling like a nub! But after we did several rounds of play testing and added a difficulty settings we reached a good middle ground. It’s a big goal of ours to make sure games are challenging players and I don’t think LOF is a walk in the park.
Were there any challenges you faced in ensuring Legend of Fae would run on the various PC system configurations?
Kyron: Fortunately Legend of Fae isn’t all that graphically intensive, but we still run into problems occasionally (usually with sound). We’re still resolving some issues that occur only on the steam version for some PCs.
Outside of creating the game itself, what is the toughest aspects of being an indie developer?
Kyron: Business and Marketing. Making a game is the easy part, honestly. Reading and signing crap tons of contracts and emails can get so overwhelming it almost makes us just want to put it out for free and let people donate of their own accord.
Carolina: We are both hard-working artists that love what we do. We are also a couple. When we took about a year off and worked from home on Legend of Fae, I didn’t anticipate the problem of separating Work life from Home Life. It’s nice having to go to an office where you know that at 6 you clock out and travel home to relax. Working on Legend of Fae was very fun and exciting but that meant that sometimes it would be so much fun it was almost time to sleep and we’re still working! I now have a list of do’s and don’t’s for that type of situation. It involves some train fair and laptops.
9. Tell us about the process of submitting Legend of Fae to the various digital distribution platforms and if you encountered any resistance in doing so.
Carolina: Well, for one we hired some help from an agent. That definitely made it easier to initiate contacts especially when as a first time developer we were more worried about post launch bug fixes and adjusting. Other than that there’s been was some issues with being accepted because our engine doesn’t do everything that some digital distribution channels want.
How much pull do you have when setting sale and regular pricing through digital distribution channels? Did you research similar titles when trying to come up with the launch price?
Kyron: Legend of Fae was released on a lot of casual games portals early on, most of which you have little to no say in the pricing.
How do you feel about the digital distribution platform as a whole?
Kyron: In the future we will probably only work with a limited selection of portals. We would mostly be interested in the ones that promote all types of gaming instead of only casual. The games we like to create range a pretty wide spectrum.
Please talk about developing the art style, level design and music for Legend of Fae.
Kyron: The level design in Legend of Fae was set around the introduction of new mechanics. We tried to space out how many things the player had to memorize before being taught something new. We also took into consideration if we were putting in an enemy that would introduce a new problem for the player to over come.
Carolina: Developing the art style for Legend of Fae was a balancing act of making the art inviting to casual players but also interesting to traditional gamers. To try to keep our designs fresh we sought for inspiration from older fantasy movies like ‘The Last Unicorn’ and ‘Labyrinth’ to name a few. That coupled with our own art styles is what created Legend of Fae’s art style.
For the most part, big budget studios no longer release PC demos while almost every indie developer does. Why do you think this trend is occurring? Tell us why released a demo for Legend of Fae and the difficulties in doing so.
Kyron: Making the demo version for Legend of Fae was no problem at all with the registration software we were using to wrap it. I can’t really say why bigger companies don’t put out the demos. Maybe they get more sales just off of their track record so they don’t feel the need to try to convince their audience into buying. As an indie dev it just makes sense to put out a demo because people may or may not know who you are and a demo is how they find out before deciding to put down money on your product.
How important is it to get instant feedback about Legend of Fae from users through online message boards and other social networking sites?
Kyron: It was extremely important and helpful. The first couple of months we updated maybe ten times with bug fixes and balance changes from users on our blog and forums.
How much value do you place on the opinions of those who review Legend of Fae professionally?
Kyron: I would imagine for a lot of people their time is very important and reading reviews by people with similar tastes as them would help mitigate time wasted on a game could have otherwise avoided. I personally rarely read reviews because I like to experience things for myself and make my own assessment of what I liked or thought worked well and what didn’t. I rarely come across a game that is so terrible that there is nothing positive to take away from the experience.
Carolina: I wouldn’t want our future game development decisions to be driven by what reviewers say, be it good or bad but it’s really valuable for players. Reviews will probably be the first place a player will look to help them decide if they really should buy a game.
How do you feel about the various indie bundles and the “Pay What You Want” pricing methodology? Would you be interested in contributing to a project like that in the future?
Carolina: I definitely stared at the stats ticking upward for more than I should have. The live stat tracking was my favorite part. As far as PWYWP goes, I think it would be interesting to try but we haven’t really planned to do a sale like that yet.
What are your thoughts on how the PC gaming industry as a whole are dealing with the problem of intrusive DRM and piracy?
Kyron: Piracy can be annoying, but it happens and will probably always happen. DRM is fine up until to the point where you make it significantly annoying for legitimate users to play your games.
Carolina: Intrusive DRM is mean! Piracy is a fact of life and I think it will always be there. I was really sad to see our own game be pirated on an early test release but the most importantly I hope they liked it enough to check out who we are.
How do you feel about DLC and its current implementation in the PC gaming industry?
Kyron: No strong feelings about DLC one way or another.
Carolina: I rarely ever buy any DLC. I wouldn’t mind unlocking a new character in a fighting game but having to purchase the Japanese voice over… now that’s dirty.
Recently, there has been a lot of talk about modding of PC games and the relationship developers have with modders. How do you feel about the online modding community in general and specifically if mods were created for Legend of Fae?
Kyron: I haven’t ventured into the mod community much. I have played my fair share of Warcraft and source mods, and I can’t say its a bad thing. I can’t really imagine what a Legend of Fae mod would even be like, but it’s probably awesome.
Carolina: I don’t follow the modding community much but I’d be pleasantly surprised someone took the time to mod Legend of Fae. That would awesome, like receiving some fan art.
What advice would you give up-and-coming indie PC developers who are trying to break into the business?
Kyron: Ain’t nothing to it but to do it. And if possible try not to make your first game the epic game you’ve always dreamed of making. Do a small game so you can get a feel for your work flow. A smaller game is much easier to polish and tweak to near perfection. Then you can work on your epic one once you know what you’re getting into.
Carolina: Always work on something you think is awesome. Make sure the game entertains you in both development and gameplay. – End
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