Greetings Giga Gamers and welcome to my first Giga Bytes segment. This segment will be all about interviewing game developers, companies etc. small and big to get an insight into their current projects. Today I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to interview Ryan Harmon the man behind Echoes of Eternia. A game that has surpassed all expectations on Kickstarter, one with a very loyal following and a dedicated team working furiously behind the scenes. Giga Gamers I give you my interview with Ryan.
GC: Hi Ryan and thank you for taking time out to have this interview with Giga Gamers about your upcoming RPG Echoes of Eternia. Lets just kick off the interview with how yourself and the team actually came to be, I mean behind every great game is a great team pouring their creativity into it. So how did the team meet and what was the catalyst in creating your very own RPG video game?
RH: Well, designing Video Games has always been my dream. I started to mess around with some coding and the RPG Maker engine just to get a little taste of what goes into making a game. I finally decided that as a test for myself, I would spend my college break designing a game for the experience. Obviously, this game has gone WAY past that initial goal. I felt that I had something good going and I wanted to take it as far as possible.
I met my team in a variety of ways. My first team member is a long time friend of mine who is very good at writing stories. I first had him over to talk about helping me come up with ideas for the game’s story. Eventually, we both combined ideas and came up with a very solid story that we are both very proud of.
As for the rest of my members, I met a lot of them online. My main artist, Melissa Hui Wang, was discovered randomly. I had messaged her on Deviant art to see if she would be interested in doing artwork for a 2D RPG game. She fell in love with the project and immediately joined in. Many people who are now on my group actually contacted me though our Kickstarter campaign offering to help. Such as my two spriters, 2 composers, some voice actresses, and an enemy artist. Sorry if I got a little long-winded lol!
I tend to do everything to my fullest. That was the main catalyst for this game. I was continually increasing the bar for myself and my team mates until we have reached the point that we are at now.
GC: Haha no that’s great, it’s amazing how people from all cultures and areas of the world can come together when they share a common goal and dream.
RH: Exactly. It has shocked me just how many people wanted to join in and help create something great. Also, strangely, many of my team members live in the same state as me. It’s weird to contact someone over the internet, then to learn that they live an hour away from you!
GC: It sounds like it was meant to be. Now I think I’m correct I believe in saying that the inspiration for Echoes of Eternia has been more of the retro Final Fantasy games and Chrono Trigger. Do you have the fear that some may compare it to the retro RPGs of our generation?
RH: Of course lol. I could never meet the greatness of Chrono Trigger! I am looking at those games and seeing what they did and also what they did wrong. Since I am making Echoes of Eternia with a modern viewpoint, I am trying to incorporate modern gaming conventions into a oldschool form. We don’t have things like random battles and deaths that take you back to the menu screen.
We want the player to not feel punished for losing.
GC: Well I can’t say I will miss going back to the menu screen after dying, I remember the rage inducing sessions from the older Final Fantasy games. Now Kickstarter is obviously a great starting point for trying to raise funds. Were you surprised at how much Echoes of Eternia surpassed its original target on Kickstarter?
RH: Absolutely! We had reached our initial goal in only 2.5 days! I am shocked and humbled by the amazing support we have received from our backers and interested ones alike. I’ll be honest, the entire process, while amazing and very helpful, made me a complete nervous wreck. You can never prepare yourself for what people’s reception of your game or anything close to you for that matter. But overall, everyone really enjoyed what we were doing and it definitely showed.
GC: I regularly snoop around Kickstarter and I came across Echoes of Eternia on the front page, at this point you hadn’t reached your goal but there seemed to be something about it that made me favourite it and keep reading up on how it was progressing. I think the passion you and your team have really came across on Kickstarter.
RH: Thanks so much! I was going to ask you where you found us, but I guess that answers it!
GC: Haha yes I snoop around looking for new and even unheard games, it’s good to support smaller companies and even just groups of friends doing what they love. I know most will have very high expectations for Echoes of Eternia. So what elements in your opinion does Echoes of Eternia have that will make it a unique and fun experience for gamers?
RH: First off, I believe the characters will be very likeable. We made sure that we deviated from the typical RPG conventions of the amnesic or whiny androgynous main character. They behave like real people would in their situation and you can see them change throughout the story. Second would be the battle system. We are reworking what we previously had to be much more dynamic. Instead of going with sprites, all of our characters and monsters will be hand drawn and animated. The battle system will also be very technical and rely a lot on the player to make smart decisions. We are also removing the annoying things about battles. Stuff like regaining a little health and mana after victory, full health on level up, ALL save stones restore health. Our battles will be tough, so we don’t want the player to feel like they have to conserve mana constantly. There are plenty of opportunities for them to regain their stats, so players can go all out in every fight.
We will also be implementing a lot of challenging and inspired puzzles much like the Golden Sun series of games. This helps to break up the grind a little and allows the player to stop and think of how to use the environment to help them progress.
GC: Now I like the sound of that! Making a video game is never easy or straight forward.Hhas working on Echoes of Eternia been a fun experience and have you had any moments where you have felt that it has been too big of a project to take on?
RH: I have learned a lot about game design from this project. Many times I have felt like I have bitten off way more than I could chew, but I keep pressing onward. I have been given a chance that many people would die for, and I need to make the most of it. It’s definitely been a lot of fun developing it too. It is amazing to see your ideas come to fruition. I can not even explain my reaction to first seeing my main character Namie being drawn. It is a tireless process and I find myself constantly depriving myself of sleep, but its all worth it!
GC: I can imagine that there have been ups and downs with a project that is still growing and being developed.
RH: Yes there has. Luckily, MANY more ups than downs. Echoes of Eternia grew the most throughout the kickstarter process with the inclusion of our new members. Before, we were getting some criticism for using RPG Maker and pre made tilesets. Our intention was never to keep those graphics or engine, but finding people who specialize in those areas is easier said than done. Luckily, we found both! Our new graphics are nothing short of amazing and they stand as some of the best pixel art I have ever seen. My sprite artist, Eric Niskanen, will settle with nothing less than a perfect set for our game. I am really humbled by his intense dedication to our project. Also, we just announced that we are moving to a custom-built game engine. Divergent Games is creating a Game engine for us in C#. This allows us to do so much more than before and It gives us the opportunity to port to other systems, something which was asked often. The only bad part is that our Kickstarter still shows our RPG Maker graphics, and that is where a lot of criticism comes from. It really hurts when people hate on your game just because of what engine you are using. It sucks, but that is what the internet is best at I suppose.
GC: Haters are gonna hate regardless of what you say and do unfortunately.
RH: Yep, I am slowly being able to live with that!
GC: At least you are taking a positive step forward and creating something that will bring enjoyment to others
RH: Thanks for that.
GC: Thank you for your time Ryan and I wish you the very best of luck with Echoes of Eternia.
There you have it Giga Gamers and you heard it here first, Ryan’s passion for Echoes of Eternia along with the dedication and enthusiasm of the team will no doubt reflect on Echoes of Eternia.