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Interview with the developer behind Sekishu no Koe

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GildedOctopusStudios

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Your name:Samantha Van Bibber
Twitter Handle/ Other Social Media:Twitter/Instagram – @_samhunny_ One interesting and random fact about you that people would not necessarily guess:
I think the most interesting may be that I started dating my now-husband when I was fourteen years old. We just recently had our twelfth anniversary (four years married). He’s actually very influential to me so I’ll probably mention him a few times.
What country you live/work in:United States
The video game company producing the project:
SamHunny Developing (Not really a company, lol)

The name of the project:
Sekishu no Koe
Estimated release date:
Chapter 1 of 7 is estimated to be released in the first half of 2020.
link to website/blog/steam page/Youtube/other:
Patreon –  https://www.patreon.com/SamHunny Itch (Demo 1) – https://samhunny.itch.io/sekishu-no-koe

How did you get into making video games?
I’ve always been an artistic person (drawing, writing, theater, etc.) but I was never really sure what area of art I wanted to focus in. I played a lot of games and role-play forums in high school and at some point I had the idea of a game I wanted to make for my husband (then boyfriend). I started looking into what game development was, realized that it combined basically everything I loved to do artistically, and by my senior year I was firm in that I was going to be a game director.
What is your background in?A large part of my background is game development – I have been studying game design since 2010 and graduated with a degree in game development in 2018. I’ve made small projects, wrote a lot of GDDs, went to GDC, joined and left a few starry-eyed but poorly funded groups, and now I’ve dug my heels in and started my own project.During that time, I’ve studied and freelanced in graphic design and digital editing which is what my current job at a local news station is related to.

Blurb about game:Sekishu no Koe is a journey of a monk, a ronin, and a gambler during an alternate version of the Kamakura era, where magic and demons are not only real but key to the history of Japan. This journey between these three unlikely companions will test their skill, their bonds, what they believe, and what they truly desire.

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What inspired this game?The story and characters came from a table top RPG; I was running the game with my husband but it ended prematurely because I was trying to be too historically accurate. Later, I was considering what project I wanted to pursue long-term and I decided I wanted to make an interactive fiction (since I was playing a lot at the time). I thought this story would fit that exceptionally well so I tweaked the world, finished the story, and started writing. It’s quickly taken on a life of it’s own, resulting in the story and the game looking very different from the source materials and original inspirations. 


What makes it unique?Two things: the setting and the genre.The Kamakura era (1185-1333) is a time of peace and government but it’s also the birth of the samurai class and when Zen Buddhism started to gain popularity. Most stories I see of old Japan take place in the Meiji era, when the samurai class is coming to an end, or the Sengoku period, when the whole country is at war. But I thought the Kamakura era was the perfect time period to tell my story.The genre, as I describe it, is an Adventure RPG Interactive Fiction. I don’t want to call it a graphic novel because it’s far more engaging than that. I’m melding together elements of different genres and even adding in a little bit of that tabletop gaming experience to handcraft something specifically for this world and this story.

What will make it a success?
That’s a little hard to answer because I’m not sure how to measure it’s potential success. Revenue is obvious but even if it’s successful financially, that won’t make me feel like it’s successful as a game.I think what will really make it a success is if it gets people thinking. There’s a lot of ambiguity (“no wrong answers” kind of thing) because I wanted to present a situation and let the player think through it. Sometimes that’s in the heat of battle and sometimes it’s a tough question from a mentor.

Who do you think it will appeal to?
Anyone who likes Japanese history, historical fiction, medieval fantasy, story-heavy RPGs, or interactive fictions I’m certain will enjoy Sekishu no Koe.

Number of people working on the project and skillsets:
Just two right now: me and my programmer, Jude White. I intended on doing the game solo (design, writing, art, and programming) but I’m not very good at the latter so I hired him to make all the cool features I wanted while I focus on the other stuff I enjoy more.He’s more experienced than I am in game development, so I’ve come to really appreciate his design input and ideas.

How are you handling art?
To be honest, I’ve pushed it to be the last thing I do before publishing chapter 1. My focus at present is to finish writing, finish the core features, then add the final artwork.I’ve been working on concept art, some of which I’ve posted online, that demonstrates a specific aesthetic akin to sumi-e paintings and Chinese ink paintings. That style of art really compliments the world and the story.At present, I’ve done all the artwork myself but I have considered looking for an artist experienced in the sumi-e style.
What tech/stack do you use?
Sekishu no Koe is being built in Unity 3D with the Fungus plugin but I also use Twine 2 to build prototypes for the chapters.

Are you full-time? If so how did you make the switch to working full-time in game development?
No, this is definitely not full time work for me.

Is this your first game? If not how many and what other sorts of projects have you worked on?
This isn’t the first game I’ve worked on but it will be the first one I’ve completed.The other projects kind of varied: one was a Scifi RPG with a group, another was a Medieval Fantasy RPG on my own, and last year I was working in a group on a horror game shortly after I released the combat prototype for a rogue-like dungeon crawler.I’ve got plenty more ideas lined up after Sekishu no Koe that I’ve been writing notes for and researching whenever I get the inspiration.

What’s been the hardest thing about making this game?
Hands down, it has to be learning how to be patient with how long it takes to get things done. Especially with this game basically being my part-time job on top of my full time job, I get frustrated and dejected when I miss an overly-ambitious milestone or when I realize I’m not going to make a deadline and that I probably wasn’t ever going to make that deadline, anyway. I’ve thought about quitting. I thought “it’s taking so long, it’ll never get done,” but both my husband and a game dev friend of mine both told me basically the same thing: “even if it takes longer than you wanted, it’ll get done if you just keep working.”
Anything else you would like people to know about you or the game?Sekishu no Koe is a game but it’s also kinda like a resume. I want people to get an idea of what kind of developer I am, what kind of stories I want to tell, and the creative ways I want to engage with the player. At the very least I want people to be curious about what I can do.My dream is to grow a big developing company that can build passion projects with a AAA budget. Sekishu no Koe and a patreon page is just the first step.

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The post Interview with the developer behind Sekishu no Koe appeared first on Gilded Octopus.


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