Techraptor is pleased to bring you another Indie interview - this time from Riva Celso at Winter Wolves. Winter Wolves is known for their work on Visual Novels in general and their past RPG Loren: The Amazon Princess. This interview focuses on their most recent release - Tales of Aravorn: Seasons of the Wolf which we previewed when it was on Steam Greenlight and recently did a review on.
Its a busy season over there right now as they are also working on another game, but thanks to Riva for taking the time to answer some questions with us!
TechRaptor: Can you tell us about the team who worked on Seasons of the Wolf and what each of them did for it?Several people worked on the game, the most important roles were: I did all the main coding, Götz Heinrich did the writing (except some side-quests done by Alisia Faust), Shiver the lineart, Slamet Mujono all the backgrounds, Peter Petkov the GUI/tileset, Matthew Myers the theme song, Kevin Greenlee the OST. There are a lot more people involved in editing, video, voice acting and so on but I don't want to just make a long list, the main roles are those I described.
TechRaptor: Seasons of the Wolf started as a smaller RPG – what led you to keep enlarging it?Well two things: when I started the game in 2013 on one hand I found out that I wouldn't have been able to make a RPG for the next 2 years (indeed I'm not sure if I'll manage to do another this year) and on the other hand customer feedback who wanted a bigger/more detailed RPG than Loren, lead to this result
TechRaptor: Do you think that its start as a smaller RPG contributed to the fact that its narrative is less on the typical RPG ‘epic’ scope and more focused on the characters?No, because the writing was done on purpose this way, to focus more on the character to character relationships. I like it, and I hope to do the same in future RPGs too, bigger or smaller
TechRaptor: Each Season in the game is focused on a different area and a different aim in the story type from small town journeying and survival, to arena fighting and intrigue, to freebooting adventurers. That’s in addition to all the flashbacks in the game. Did you have a plan for that many styles within it – and if not what led to it?I had planned to add a lot of variety to the gameplay, but it was also thanks to several ideas by the writer, who made some notes about possible gameplay ideas as he wrote the scenes. I couldn't implement them all, but I tried to!
TechRaptor: With the theme of deceit in Seasons of the Wolf, many things aren’t as they appear. A lot of the foreshadowing is only available in the limited times you can do the one on one personal dialogues. Do you worry that people will feel some of the twists come out of nowhere?Well there are some clues that could lead to the final reveal. From what I saw in my own forums, some noticed them, others thought the final plot twist was indeed coming out of nowhere. Hard to say for me, since I know the truth from start...
TechRaptor: On the skills, I noticed that many of them were the same skill with just a different element and status. On normal, elements weren’t really a big deal – is it supposed to be on Harder difficulties or was it something that was changed during development?Yes playing on harder difficulty the elements have more impact, though it is not necessary to carry around a different weapon type for each of the 5 elements!
TechRaptor: Was there any element you had to cut during Seasons of the Wolf’s development that you wish could have made it through?Honestly no, I tried to have auto-balancing enemies, so that they would always match the party stats, but it revealed to be a poor decision quickly, so I discarded it! Of the other things, every new feature I've implemented I left in the game.
TechRaptor: How does the development cycle of an RPG like Seasons of the Wolf compare to one of your Visual Novels?It's much more difficult as you can imagine. The biggest difference is in coding (obviously) but also design and testing. On a VN, once you have written a good story and have a good artist you're almost done. In a RPG you need to code, debug, test, tweak/balance, repeat. Of the 10+months I spent on the game, at least 4 or 5 were for balancing! To make a comparison, Roommates (my last dating sim) beta test lasted 2 weeks, SOTW lasted 6 months!
TechRaptor: Do you believe romances are important to developing characters in games?I think so. It feels weird to me when I play a game without romance. I know that not all the stories can involve romances, but still the characters feels unnatural if they are unable to feel love or attraction to others!
TechRaptor: There’s been some argument that Visual Novels are not ‘games’ at times. What is your thought on this?Haha, well if they refer to kinetic novels (VN without any choice) then maybe "game" is not the best word, a better one would be story, experience, art, etc. But some VN have a lot of choices, branching, many endings, so I think they can be called games!
TechRaptor: Anything else to add?Nothing in particular. I hope the interview will be interesting for the reader and maybe will inspire someone to become an indie developer too ! :)
Thank you again to Riva for taking the time to talk with us. Seasons of the Wolf is currently available on the Winter Wolf website for $24.99, although there is a free demo of the first season available there as well. It will be coming to Steam later this month!