POWER LEVELED INTERVIEW
As a newcomer to PAX Prime this year I was able to make it to quite a few places this year. None of them on purpose of course as 70% of the time, I was lost, BUT as we made our way to the sixth floor of the convention center, and walked through the very unassuming archway, we we’re greeted by a big burly guy working VERY hard at passing out fliers. “You should come check us out if you get a chance!” he says with a smile, brow covered in sweet (it was UBER hot in there!) as he quickly hands us a flier. which looked like we just got invited to a rave at first as the flier was very colorful and very good quality. Upon quick inspection its read “Gheldia” with an awesome picture of an anime-ish guy with a sword, if it weren’t for the “Vote for Gheldia on Steam Greenlight!” featured on the flier, I would have spent the next 3-8 hours looking for an anime themed rave! The big burly guy proceeds to tell us this epic story of how his brother Phillip hunt, has created the game on his own time under the self-made Hunt Game Studios.
Then without a single thought, my mouth opened, and what followed after that would change our very trip to the sixth floor. “Think he’d give us an interview?” My eyes widen to about the size of a Sacajawea dollar (Yeah…I googled the spelling…don’t judge…). You ever have one of those moments in life where it seems like a good idea at the time until it actually happens? Yeah… “Absolutely! Right this way!” The burly man said as he rushed us to his brothers booth.
“Who are you guys with?” he says as were walking at quite a fast pace “Powerleveled.com!” Steve, Mike and Myself say almost in unison. “OK! Mike you have the questions ill hold the camera” I tell Mike as were going. “I’m not asking the questions, you guys are!” He says in a panic “Your the CEO, I’m just the reviews guy! I don’t have the questions! Joe sent them to you!” I snap back quick as were almost to the booth. “I don’t have the questions! LOL!” Mike says behind a very nervous grin. “!@#$!” I loud whisper like I’m twenty two beers into a party. “OK…OK…OK we got this Steve…we can duo this” Cause you know, interviewing people is just like a big fight in an MMO/co-op game… “Hey Phil!” the man says as we come to a stop to a smaller booth that has a big sign that says www.HuntGameStudio.com with a couple of stations playing what seems to be some sort of… ::gasp:: 16 bit game! GHELDIA! What is this!? “Hey Phillip these guys were wanting to know about the game, they are with powerleveled.com, and they also wanted to know if you could talk a little bit about it with them in an interview?” The really nice guy smiles and goes back to where we found him with haste. One of the hardest working people at PAX ladies and gentlemen!
“Hey guys! My name’s Phillip and I’m the lead designer/creator of Gheldia and Hunt Game Studios!” Phillip is a very unassuming guy, when you look at him you see a really nice guy with long dark flowy hair, a trimmed beard, a very humble demeanor about him, and sweat on his brow as well, like his brother. A hard working family that have created an indie 16 bit game that looks to be like…ZELDA!? OH MAN!!! “Nice to meet you Phillip my name is Steve, Keone! ::wave:: Mike! we’re with powerleveled.com and we wanted to see if you have time to answer some questions about your game?” It’s just got a little hotter in here all of the sudden, no wonder these guys are sweating, it’s like a sauna up here! No, I’m sweating because I have never done an interview…EVER! I’ll review the cover off of anything, but as far as asking the hard hitting questions the greats ask, I have never done this, AND with no questions to boot!? NO!…we got this!
PL Steve: So your brother says it’s just you, who made the game? (When did he say this? was this when I was asking Mike about the questions?…good thing Steve was paying attention A+)
Phillip: My brother Lewis did the cover artwork and handles the character designs. I’m also in talks with a composer to do the music but the actual game creation is basically just me (programming and sprite work).
PL Steve: Oh wow…that seems…how…how long have you been working on this game?
Phillip: I’ve been working on it for about a year and a half, but I’ve rewritten it about three or four times. So it was actually at PAX last year with an older build of it, I then reworked it with feedback that people gave. Also, I went to GDC earlier this year and I reworked the engine to be more platform agnostic so it will run on the PS Vita as well (WEWT!). So it’s written in C#, and uses XNA for the PC and the Xbox builds and uses the PSM libraries which are based on Monogame for the Vita. Without the rewrites it would have been done sooner but I’m going to try and get it done by December. It’s on Steam Greenlight right now.
PL Keone: How detrimental do you think Steam will be for that? Do you think it’ll get pushed through? (first thing that popped in my mind…terrible first question in an interview, you read it here first folks.)
Phillip: I’m hoping so.
PL Keone: You guys are getting pretty positive feedback tho? ( I ask this as I’m looking at the game being played over Steve’s shoulder. I’m drawn to it like a bug to one of those zappers, the light…it’s so pretty!)
Philip: Right now the feedback is kind of divided, so either people like retro style games or they don’t. So we’ve had some support on there (Steam) from people who understand where we’re coming from. Some people will just look at the screenshots and kind of write it off, but the people who actually get their hands on it and play it, kind of understand where we’re coming from and the changes we’re trying to introduce to it so it’s not quite just a rehash, really like it. So I’m hoping that once I get a demo together, those people who aren’t so sure about it will actually try it for themselves and maybe switch their vote over.
PL Steve: nice!…uh…forgot what I was gonna ask…we’re newbies! heh heh heh…(nervous) So uh…he was also saying that you actually quit your other job to do this?
Phillip: So I used to do a lot of software consulting, and I was working on this game on the side but in order to actually finish it, I took a break from software consulting to just get this out there and kind of see where it goes. So if people really like it and it takes off then very cool, if not, I always have the software consulting side of things. I really just wanted to get something out there.
PL Steve: That’s the way to do it, you gotta get your foot in the door first.
Phillip: Exactly! Otherwise it would probably be next year and I’d have to change engines and everything else. I want to complete it and get it out there without having to rewrite it yet again.
PL Keone: uh…when it comes to…say that…say that I’m a Steam Greenlight newbie, how do i actually go and um ::gulp:: try out your game? (Dude! It’s Greenlight! It has to be approved first! ::Facepalm::)
Phillip: So, right now there is no available demo, but I’m going to be putting something together in October. So for those that want to go play it I’ll have it available on my website and they can go download it and play it.
PL Keone: and which website is that?
PL Steve: well…My names Steve…we’re with powerleveled.com, sorry we’re really new to interviewing (He says with a VERY nervous grin)
Phillip: You guys want to know about the gameplay, genre, and influences?
PL Mike, Steve, Keone: ::Facepalm:: YES!!! (We all hang our head in shame for a moment as Phillip laughs!
Phillip: It’s OK guys (laughs). (Really nice guy by the way, if you couldn’t tell by now)
PL Keone: It looks like action RPG like… Zelda?
Phillip: I’m really into player interaction and storytelling, like most fans of this genre, and I feel that the 16- bit era accomplished this really well with games like Zelda and Seiken Densetsu which I pulled from for inspiration.
PL Keone: (Watching the screen as someone is playing.) Is he crafting? IS THERE CRAFTING!?
Phillip: Stat progression is a little bit different. Instead of finding normal weapons and armor you actually craft Shards that you embed into your gear that gives you monster abilities. Everything revolves around Lor who is a Slayer, which are mercenaries who can harness monster energy. They can take the powers of these monsters and basically turn it back on themselves.
For instance there’s a scorpion monster that can sting you and inflict poison and if you get some of its drops, so if you kill it it’ll drop loot, you can take these to an Arcane Forge to craft gear that gives you the ability to also inflict poison with your attacks.
So instead of the traditional way of leveling up, you level up by making new gear and then socketing that into your equipment.
PL Keone: Is all the gear that customizable?
Phillip: There’s actually another level of customization. So the Shards are what give you your initial stats, but then you can customize those Shards further with sub Fragments that give you other little stat boosts. So if you want to go through a level and change a few of your stats without changing your Shard configuration you can swap out some things and add whatever you want.
PL Steve: Is there a single main character? Or do you have multiple?
Phillip: Lor, who is the main character in this, is the only character so there is no multiplayer or character creation. Lor is not a silent protagonist, so he actually talks and most of the story is revealed through actually talking to NPCs and reading journals and things like that. So if people want to go and get more of the story or the lore they can seek out and interact with those events instead of having traditional cut scenes that lay everything out.
PL Steve: So it’s a lot like a traditional JRPG like Final Fantasy where you have to go around and actually talk to people to get story instead of it being handed to you?
Phillip: Exactly. I like the style where, depending on player interaction, you drive the story without everything being handed to you. There are no waypoints or anything like that either. So it’s really about what you want to do which is why you can select which weapons you want, you can select the order of the levels, talk to as many people as you want. I like that style of player choice so that’s what I wanted to do.
PL Keone: OK sweet is there a main story line? There’s a story line yeah?
Phillip: So the kingdoms of Gheldia, which it’s named after, were basically all the races of the world of Aldunia banding together to seal these Beast Lords underground. Then these Dark Wizards broke that seal and enchanted the monsters so that normal weapons wouldn’t be effective against them. So the alliances of Gheldia basically shattered because they couldn’t defend themselves anymore. The Slayers, who can user monster energy, rose up to combat these new threats and those are the guys who are fighting the monsters now.
So Lor who is the main character has come to the Island of Aria to defeat one of the many Beast Lords who have resurfaced. He’s really doing it for personal reasons as he wants to become a renowned Slayer, but it just so happens to save a lot of other people. It’s not your traditional story of a destined hero, he just happens to be in the right place at the right time but he’s doing it for his own reasons.
There are also different interactions between different races. So some of the races are friendlier to other races and there’s some political stuff as well. So I’m trying to make it a little bit different from what you see in your traditional JRPG.
PL Steve: Can you win over the other races?
Phillip: So originally I had some factions in there where you could do work for certain factions but I’ve removed that right now, but it’s something that I might re-add later.
PL Keone: Like in a content update/patch?
Phillip: Yeah, I plan on having a few content updates. For instance, I want to release the editor so that people can build their own levels, I think that would be cool. They (content updates) will also include those features I can’t quite get ready for the December release.
PL Keone: So do you have a release price?
Phillip: I’m looking at around $5 right now along with about 5-10 hours of gameplay. It’ll be for PC, Xbox 360, and Vita.
PL Keone: Vita is a good market to get into. There’s a lot of stuff going to Vita now you’re gonna get a lot of exposure there, I know it! Did you find it hard to get your game onto the PlayStation network?
Phillip: They’re actually pretty open. So I’m going through PlayStation Mobile, which is their C# based Indie section, not the native PSN store, but I am looking into for the future. They’re pretty open and friendly about getting Indie content on their platform.
PL Keone: That’s so cool, I think you guys are the future of gaming, Indie is about to have a renaissance and your timing is perfect I think.
Phillip: I like fun games, I’ve seen a lot of people come over and get engrossed in it and it doesn’t have super flashy graphics or anything but it’s fun. And that’s what really matters.
PL Keone and Steve: YEAH! We’re both old school gamer’s and this is so awesome. We can’t wait to play this for sure!
This is the point where we stop talking about the game and just go into how much fun 16 bit was, we get some hands on with the game, I start to yearn for my own copy, start to get sad that I have to wait till October for a demo then December for the game itself lol! Let it also be known, I will never lie to you ladies and gentlemen, this is how our interview went, verbatim, used a voice recorder on my phone and everything.
So that was my first interview ever with an amazing guy who is putting out a quality game for $5 but sadly, as he stated, it will get looked over by a few from the graphics alone. This is where my loyal readers will come in and go thumb up the game in Steam’s Greenlight section. Just search Gheldia, click YES and then leave a comment about the game and what you think. Watch the videos, read the lore, follow him on facebook, twitter, and YouTube. Then remember, not all indie is bad, check it out before you pass judgment you never know it may be your favorite game of all time and you wouldn’t know it. Also you’re not the only one who’s waiting for Gheldia to release, I am as well! WE NEED this game in our lives! lol