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CT: Demon's Revenge Interview

by Kevin Loveless (Couchpotato), 2014-10-17

Celestial Tear: Demon's Revenge is a retro style JRPG game from White Guardian Studios. I had the chance to interview Trexrell of WGS. Here is a brief game description and video.

     

A 16bit RPG and a classic Capcom arcade game combined, inspired from classics like Suikoden 2 and Final Fantasy 8.

Before we begin, Trexel offers a free demo. So if you enjoyed my interview, help back the game with a small pledge, as the developer deserves it. I thank you in advance.


 

Couchpotato: Trexrell, can you give a brief history about yourself and your company White Guardian Studios?


Trexrell: Sure! White Guardian Studios is a company formed by me, Tyrell, and my wife Whitney White. The name is White is derived from our last name, a union that we and our family share and Guardian is just something we both felt fit with a lot of things that we were going for in terms of the quality that we wanted to put into our games. Our slogan was going to be "Guarding you from bad games," haha. That's obviously too cheesy. We strive to make the best game we possibly can make for everyone to play.

Game making has just been a passion we shared with each other. We have been making games before and even more so after we met. We started off as content creators in the MUGEN community, there I perfected my spriting abilities and we were able to bring the game up to the quality of what it is now. Whitney created Demon's Revenge way before we met and has continued to work on it every waking day of her life. That is dedication. I do not think we would be where we are without her persistence and getting things the exact way she wants.

During our first campaign we were able to meet a very talented artist named Ricky Gunawan who was able to understand our vision with comic book art and really evolve the presentation to what it is now. We feel he is much a part of the team as my wife and I and he has supported us since day one.

We also work with a brilliant musician named Mark McKeich. He has been in the maker community for some time. He was able to use our older compositions and really bring out that epic and dramatic feel we need for our project.



Couchpotato: What is your game Celestial Tear: Demon's Revenge about, and what makes the game stand out from other RPG games?

Trexrell: The main story takes place on a fictional planet called Hasphal, where the two warring races segregate the land. The humans forced the jehts into the harsh regions of the world because of the way they looked and what they could do. The jehts, tired of being stuck in terrible living situations, plan to reclaim their land, which they feel was originally theirs. Your journey is based on finding a way to end this conflict and bringing the world together, but in that you uncover something that could change the world as you know it.

This game has many plot points and underlying tones. We feel that the very best RPGs relied on telling stories that appealed to both the political and emotional connections that people have. We know our demographic is a lot older than most other genres of gamers and we aim to appeal to them. The game essentially is a story of things placed in front of these characters to hide the truth, and how interpretation of history, people, places, and events could be obscured by time, and ignorance could eventually take its place bringing a world into chaos through bigotry and fear. Although our game seems to be a reflection of the times, we have been forming our story since 2008.

I think what makes our game stand out from other RPGs is something that I do not think many have tried before. We are trying to harness the spirit of western comic book art in a sci-fi fantasy setting. I do not know how well we are going to pull it off, all I know is that it is something fresh and new to the genre that molds many of the things we love together in a fun gaming experience.

Many games have adopted a philosophy of "if you can see it, then you should be able to do it". Games like Skyrim and Far Cry have you interacting with the environments as much as possible. We are trying to bring that type of interactivity to 2D RPGs, maybe not on that scale, but you can swim, jump, and use character specific skills to interact with the environment, just to name a few.

We do not look make a gimmicky game, we just want to make the kind of great and fulfilling experiences we have had playing these types of games. Many games have done what we have, we are just bringing all the best parts into this project. We hope that JRPG fans will notice and love what we have done.


Couchpotato: On the topic of RPGs, you claim the game is inspired by Suikoden 2 and Final Fantasy 8. Can you go into detail why? And since we're talking about RPGs, what are your top five favorite ones?

Trexrell: You can say that our game is inspired by all of the good PS One RPGs. The game is inspired by Suikoden 2, mainly by design. We loved the animations they used to tell the story and it really brought the emotions out. Like (Spoiler) when Nanami got killed by Gorudo. (I was the unlucky soul to not push the button in time :( ) Watch that scene and tell me your heart doesn't drop every time. We want the animations in our game to be just as impactful.

It's also really inspired by all of the Final Fantasy [games]. I LOVE the start small, fight big thing they have going on in their stories. Of course it starts off personal, but then turns epic and you don't even realize it until it hits the fan! I chose 8 because it is my favorite one.

More inspiration would be comic books. Surely by now you've notice that we are not using the traditional anime styled art. We want to stray as far away from that as possible. Don't get me wrong, I love anime, but comics gives it a serious look and feel.

On the topic of exploration, we didn't like the idea of just walking from point A to B, having a fight or two in between and a small cutscene. We wanted people to REALLY explore their surroundings. We've added ideas from games like Wild Arms 2 and Zelda where characters have different things that they can do on the map to trigger certain objects and open up new paths.

My top 5 favorite RPGs are Suikoden 2, Final Fantasy 8 (Obviously :P), Legend Of Dragoon, Chrono Cross, and Legend Of Legaia. I'm old school.

As a bonus I'll say Dragon Age: Origins is my close number 6.


Couchpotato: I see the game looks to be made using the RPG Maker game engine, and some members of our site dismiss any games made with it, so why did you choose to use it? Also, how would you persuade them to give your game a chance?

Trexrell:  It kills me that so many people would pass up games purely based on the engine it's made in. That's like saying "I'm not going to play Kingdom Hearts 3 because it's being made in Unreal Engine." I think what really matters is the quality of the game and the effort that goes into it. We chose to use RPG Maker due to it's ease of use. It later gained the ability to include custom scripting to make individual games really stand out from the crowds. Why reinvent the wheel when you have something that does exactly what you need? Some things require workarounds, but nothing too tedious that it would require a new engine. When you use RM to it's potential, you can create really neat things and I have seen these games in the community. They are hidden gems, you just have to keep looking!

I could understand if it was the same old RTP stuff that you find in every other RPG Maker game (which has admittedly given RPG Maker the bad name that it has), but you can definitely see from screenshots and videos, that is not the case here. All I can tell people is to try the demo and don't knock it until you've tried it!

Now I also want to say that the only reason we'd be moving engines is for more platform support. We have been talking about moving to Unity for the platform options that it offers and we have a little something working so far, but that will not be soon unless we hit certain goals in our kickstarter.


Couchpotato: Combat in your game seems to be a mixture of classic Turn-based RPGs like Final Fantasy. Can you share a few details on how it will work?

Trexrell: We call our battle system a conditional turn based battle system. This is because turn order is based off - and affected by - certain conditions that take place in battle. It is much like in Final Fantasy 10 where you have a turn order visual on screen and picking certain actions will manipulate the order. Enemy actions can manipulate the order too. Picking a powerful skill might have your next turn [last] a long while, rather than if you picked a regular attack or even a guard.

The basics work just like any other turn based RPG. The fun stuff comes with the extras! Our Battle system sports sprites that have been described as resembling classic Capcom arcade games. They have beautiful digitally painted and parallax backgrounds.

We tried to make guarding a thing in our game where if you guard it will replenish a really small amount of health (not a substitute for an healing item). For some characters it will have a chance of counter attacking, for others it will completely nullify an attack aimed at them.

We've implemented area of effect attacks too. Some characters are able to hit multiple targets near each other with one spell. We also want to add a varying factor like a change position command for players and enemies alike so that people can strategically position themselves for battle. I think that will add another layer of strategy to battle.

A big thing that we want to get right is environmental interactions. While it is coded now, it's just not ready for the public. Let me explain what it is. Environmental interaction is the ability to interact with certain objects in battle that are NOT the enemy. Screwing with these objects can have varying effects such as being able to knock down a tree and let it fall on or in the way of an enemy, or knocking opponents back into a table of chemical vials transforming them into something strange, something stronger. This will work for enemies and for players.

We also have a combo system in mind that would resemble Legend of Dragoon's system. Many gamers have said that they would not feel comfortable playing something as twitched based so we will definitely have a way to turn it off in the menu. I enjoy a challenge and feeling that my button presses have some sort of impact on the battle. It is a feature that I am fond of and something I think action gamers would enjoy.

There are so many different features to the final system that it would run an entire interview. We will have all the great things you would expect from a classic JRPG, like summoning, skills and items. Our game also will feature unity attacks similar to the Suikoden series and the ability to swap out characters on the fly, mid battle.



Couchpotato: The game will have three playable characters to play as. Will each one have their own story, or will one of them be the main protagonist?

Trexrell:  Sen is the main protagonist. Each character will have an introduction scene of what they were doing before they met up. Every character will have their story arcs, but in the end the story's about Sen. Just like how Cid had his own backstory with Shera, as well as the other character, but the main story was still about Cloud. Our characters will all have their own thing going on that drives them and the player will find out through gameplay.


Couchpotato: One of the features of your game is a dynamic day and night system. How will it affect the game, and will maps change depending on the time?

Trexrell: Of course, this is one of the things I feel will be very fun to work on! Out of battle and in towns, there will be NPCs who actually live their lives. Not just standing around saying one or two lines through the whole game. I really wanted to make the game feel alive. The screen will tint darker as it gets later and lighter as the sun comes up. People will pack up their stores at night and go home. Towns typically have more light sources, so they are a little safer to be at night, but out in the wilderness, we wanted to make it really dark so you can feel the dangers that surround you. In battle, you might notice that enemies will do different moves, or you might even see a brand new creature that only pops out at night! The party's skills will transform. Some people are stronger at night than they are in the morning. A lot is being put into this system and I know people will enjoy it.



Couchpotato: Another noteworthy feature of your game is crafting. Can you share a few details on how it will work, and will you have to hunt down the ingredients like most other games?

Trexrell: The way we are taking on crafting is by allowing the player to experiment with objects that they find. You can find crafting items by killing enemies, exploring, and purchasing them.

You can then take these items to Mioni, an important NPC, and have her craft them for you for a fee. Crafting itself can be complicated or simple. When you find a formula, you learn it for good and it stays in your formula list. After you have a formula in the mix, you are able to add bonus items to the mix to give the base item extra effects.

It is explained in more detail (and with visuals) in this video on Youtube: http://youtu.be/wY1pKQMn4KQ

The way we are taking on crafting is by allowing the player to experiment with objects that they find. You can find crafting items by killing enemies, exploring, and purchasing them. You can then take these items to Mioni, an important NPC, and have her craft them for you for a fee. Crafting itself can be complicated or simple. When you find a formula, you learn it for good and it stays in your formula list. After you have a formula in the mix, you are able to add bonus items to the mix to give the base item extra effects. Later on, you can purchase custom things that you've made.


Couchpotato: What is your opinion on DRM, and will your game be sold DRM-Free on any site other than Steam?

Trexrell: I personally have no problem with DRM or DRM free games. I have a ton of steam games that I've gotten at prices that were just ridiculously low. I also have a lot of old games that didn't require any type of regulation in order to be played. Either way, a game is a game and we all just want to play it. We know that many people prefer a DRM free version and we've been asked about it a lot. That is what we will offer on our website. We've not been greenlit yet, so it might actually be the only option at launch unless we find an online store to get on.


Couchpotato: You offered a demo for everyone to try on your webapge.foe a few months already so can you share any feedback from the community based on playing the demo?

Trexrell: We've mostly receive positive feedback. I think the worst thing that we've gotten was that the battles were too slow, but we are looking to speed that up. People love the art, the menus, and the features that we've added such as swimming, pushing/pulling objects and slashing things on the map. A complaint that we've gotten is from lag. We are definitely looking into optimizing the game for older computers. People also thought that the demo was quite long, it's about an hour of gameplay give or take (though much faster if you know what you are doing).


Couchpotato: Can you talk about your experiences with crowd-funding? Any advice for first timers?

Trexrell: Having failed 3 times, I'm not sure we're qualified to give advice :P Seriously though, my advice would be to have a fan base before doing a Kickstarter. When you think your fan base is big enough, look to double it before launching your kickstarter. Be prepared to have 30 days suck you dry with contacting press for coverage. If you get lucky or know people who know people, you might get coverage on a huge site. I have to tell you, with each failure, we gained more fans, more confidence, more skill, and more knowledge.


Couchpotato: Congratulations with your latest campaign, as the game looks like it will be funded this time. Will anything be different since the requested amount is smaller?

Trexrell: It will be a relief once it says funded, we still have to work around the clock to get this thing moving the few inches it moves day to day. It does not help when I have to go to work. We really just want to get back to development, and we can't do that without the funding.

The amount funded will not make it that much different. The game will still be mostly the same. We are taking the approach of releasing the game in parts. We are a really small indie team and we realize what we can do with the time we have. We are going to take this opportunity to cram as much quality and content as we possibly can into the first part and keep fans coming back for more. With this approach, we still want to release the game as a single product at the end of 2015.


Couchpotato: Trexrell, thank you for answering my questions! Do you have anything you want to add before we finish?

Trexrell: We are a dedicated team and in no way will we give up making this game. We have been actively evolving and making this game for a long time. It would be a dream to finally get this into gamers' hands at the the best it can possibly be. When this game is released we are really aiming to impress a lot of people.


And I'm sure you will.  Thank you, Trexrell, and we wish you every success!

Box Art

Information about

Celestial Tear: Demon's Revenge

Developer: White Guardian Studios

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: J-RPG
Combat: Turn-based
Play-time: 20-40 hours
Voice-acting: Partially voiced

Regions & platforms
Internet
· Homepage
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2015-11-19
· Publisher: Unknown

More information