Interview: Shiro Games On Their Wonderfully Unique Indie Game, Evoland
Welcome to the next exciting eGamer interview, where we had the opportunity to chat to Shiro Games about their upcoming, wonderful indie game Evoland. I’m sure some of you may remember that I reviewed an indie game called Evoland before, which was an incredibly unique game made in 48 hours for the LD24 indie game competition under the theme of evolution. In that review I said that the concept had amazing potential to be expanded, and Shiro Games definitely felt the same way since they’re turning it into a complete game. We chatted to Sébastien Vidal, one of the founders of Shiro Games, and he gave us a great interview on the game that got us even more excited for it.
Well, let’s not delay things any further. Check out the full interview down below.
eGamer: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us. We really enjoy getting to know our indie developers, so tell us a little about yourselves and your studio. What notable projects have you worked on?
SG: Shiro Games was founded in October 2012 by Nicolas Cannasse and myself. Nicolas has build a very successful company doing Flash games for the last 10 years, and I was previously the COO for NCsoft Europe. Shiro Games’ phoilosophy comes from these two experiences and we aim to always create games that are easy to get into and at the same time provide a deep gameplay, either with great replayability or strong themes or concepts. The studio is quite small, with only the two founders and 2 artists for now. We’re planning on hiring 2 other people for our next project in the coming months. Personally, I have worked on the publishing side for several big MMORPGs (Lineage 2, City of Heroes, Guild Wars…)
eGamer: For those who are new, can you tell us what Evoland is all about?
SG: Evoland is a game about video games. You play through what looks like an RPG, but it is really an excuse to live through the history of action/adventure gaming. As you progress along the game, you unlock new technologies, gameplay features or graphic styles that roughly follow the actual chronology of video games evolution. The best way to experience it is to play the very simple Classic version.
eGamer: I always ask this question. It’s my staple. What is the biggest reason to play Evoland?
SG: It’s not like anything you’ve played before. It is almost more a gaming experience than an actual game.
eGamer: I voted for your game the moment I saw it on Steam Greenlight, because I reviewed the original and thought it had an incredible concept. I absolutely adored it. For some background, how did you come to the decision to turn it into a full game, how did it happen?
SG: Well the Ludum Dare version was actually a pretty big success with over 300 000 players, and the feeback was very positive, those are main reasons behind the new and bigger version of the game. This is also a test run for the team (it is the first time we work together). We wanted a project of smaller scope to start with, before going towards bigger budgets/development times.
eGamer: Evoland was a very short game made for the LD24 indie competition over 48 hours. How are you expanding it into a complete game? What features are you looking at?
SG: The Ludum Dare version is mainly based on a Zelda type gameplay, we’re adding other cult series to the mix (Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger and even Hack’n Slash type games like Diablo are represented). The game goes from monochrome to full 3D graphics and from active time battles to real time boss fights, all with plenty of humor, and references to many classic games.
eGamer: Can you tell us how many years of adventure history we’ll get to go through in the game? Where will it start, and head towards?
SG: It start in the mid 80s with the monochrome Zelda gameplay. The end is a bit harder to define since all of the gameplay styles covered in the game are still well and alive today. Although we cannot a AAA game with 4 people and a few months, we still cover 3D real time combat and modern Hack’nSlash gameplay (as usualy in a very simple and parodic way).
eGamer: Can you give us an overview of the gameplay?
SG: Like in the Classic version, the gameplay of Evoland is based on find chest that unlock evolutions for the game. Some are optional, some are mandatory for your progress. They can be technology related (dynamic lighting for example), gameplay related (save points, combo attacks…) or graphics related (real time or pre-rendered 3S for example).
eGamer: How is the game structured? Will you be free to explore the world, even after you evolve it? Or is the game linear?
SG: It is both. The game follows a linear storyline, but you are very often free to travel in the world as you please to try to find the many secrets we’ve hidden everywhere.
eGamer: Which notable games did you take inspiration from when crafting the gameplay and the way it evolves?
SG: The whole Zelda serie, Final Fantasy 6 & 7, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, Diablo, Titan Quest and more… All the games that felt appealing to us as action/adventure enthusiasts.
eGamer: Does Evoland have a story? If so, can you tell us about it?
SG: There is a simple story in Evoland, but it is not the point of the game, it is only a mean to an end. The player’s progression in the game will tell the story of action/adventure gaming, which is the story we are interested in.
eGamer: How long will the game be?
SG: The game should last 3 hours on average, significantly more for players who like to find all the hidden secrets.
eGamer: When I reviewed the original Evoland, I thought that the concept had enormous potential to be expanded, and true to that, you’re doing it with your game. But do you think Evoland’s concepts could branch to other genres? For instance, I thought it could be cool to perhaps have an action game where you start out in medieval times, progress to a pirate setting, fight through the world wars and then move to modern warfare and finally futuristic combat, and, of course a post apocalyptic world. So, do you think the concept of genre evolution could be used elsewhere?
SG: Yes I think so. We are using the video games medium in a slightly different way. To quote Marshall McLuhan, with Evoland “the medium is the message”. We actually discussed doing a game about the whole of gaming history, starting with Pong up to full 3D action games, but the editorial work just to pick what best represents each style and era would have been huge, and the development time even bigger, so we went back to the roots and “only” expanded on the action-adventure styles.
eGamer: What are you most proud of with Evoland? What are you most excited for players to experience?
SG: Coming up with something that is quite unique. It just seems to instantly tick with most people. The feedback we had is overwhelmingly positive and even our Steam Greenlight page have 30% more positive votes than the average.
eGamer: When will the game be released? And how much will it cost?
SG: We’re aiming to release the game in March 2013. We do not have a final price yet, but it will be under 10 US dollars.
eGamer: What are your hopes for Evoland and Shiro Games? What do you want to achieve with your game, and what comes next for your studio?
SG: Evoland already has quite a bit of good press and a good base of followers. Hopefully we’ll get Greenlighted on Steam to reach even more people. As for Shiro Games, our next project will be much bigger than Evoland. It is an online cooperative action and exploration game in a potentially infinite world. We’ll announce more about it the coming months.
eGamer: As gamers, what would you do if Pokemon were real?
SG: Get filthy rich by creating the first Pokédex App.
That wraps up our interview with Shiro Games! I hope you enjoyed reading about the game and that it got you excited for its release next month. I’d like to, as always, once again thank Shiro Games for taking the time to do this interview with us, and I wish them all the best with the final stretch of development, and the launch. Look out for a full review of the game when it lands next month.