Q&A With Crayon Ponyfish

Something that I have chosen to dabble in recently, as well as choosing to dabble in much more often in the future, is the Kickstarter program. For those unfamiliar Kickstarter.com is a website that allows people to request crowdfunding to get distinct projects up and running; be that their own films, books, inventions; but most relevant to me personally, video games. Over this last week, I have explored some of the many video games on Kickstarter, and I’ve been impressed by what I’ve seen so far. One game in particular that stood out to me was a game called Lotia; a JRPG being developed by another indie outlet based in Orlando, Florida called Crayon Ponyfish. I reached out to them, offering the opportunity to raise awareness of their Kickstarter project; the company requiring the backing of $10,000 to get the project up and running. I had offered to conduct a Q&A with Crayon Ponyfish, and so they obliged. This is what they had to say about their project:

What were the influences behind Lotia?

The influences behind Lotia really started back in 1994 when I was first introduced to the alpha-version of Underlight. It was a very niche multiplayer role-playing game that took place within the dream. Having played that form its conclusion, almost 10 years later, the stories that were created and spun-off from that time never stopped. Now, some of the most influential outside influences would have to be the Final Fantasy series, mostly IV, VI, and Final Fantasy Tactics, with Tactics being my favorite game of all time.

What has the developmental process been like?

The development process has been a long one, which I imagine the case always is unless you have a developer that is extremely passionate about a project and can be driven on that alone. Small indie groups that are just trying to tell a story that they believe in usually don’t have a large budget to start from. Ultimately we had to change from our own engine, which was pretty far along, to scaling down a bit and working with the RPG Maker engine. This allowed us to focus on the basics of gameplay, which we knew worked… and in many cases really enjoyed, and have the time to build out a very exciting story. To us, that is the most important part.

What has been the most exciting aspect of development?

The most exciting parts of development are showing your progress and seeing the excitement on the faces of your friends and family. That little sparkle that appears in their eyes when they “get it” without you having to explain anything is a really nice feeling. 

Lotia 2

What has been the most challenging aspect of development? 
The most challenging part of development is being at the mercy of another engine, or constantly watching the scope of your project and make sure you haven’t blown it to pieces with a “new” or “better idea”. That can completely cripple a project. We have had some close calls thus far! Currently, a change that we have had to accept is the conversion from the previous engine’s 640×480 max resolution, to a new 1280×720. While it is a lot of work moving things around, we feel that we will be far better off in the long run.

How well has the game been received so far?
From those who can see past the bias of an “RPG Maker” game, the reception has been pretty great. Those who have tested out some of our maps, read the opening dialogues and seen our characters grown have become large supporters of Lotia. 

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?
The easiest platforms to directly work for would-be PC and OSX. However, we really want to focus on Lotia making it to iOS and then Android. If it is at all possible we will be shooting for all four of those.

Lotia 3

I personally think there is, but do you believe there is a danger of a story possibly being viewed nowadays as the most important aspect of a video game? Either way, what do you believe is the most important aspect of a video game?
I certainly hope so! I feel that too many games required the player to jump through hoops of repetition and grinding to increase the length of the game, which isn’t really making the experience all that great. To us, the most important experience will be the ability to share our story and get the players immersed in creating their own stories within the dream. After the Kickstarter finishes, we will be pushing forward with accepting stories about the dream from fans and including them in our lore and art book.

How long are you looking to make the game last in terms of lifespan?
Our hopes are to have quite a bit of lore for those who are interested in looking that deeply, however for someone who just wants to stick to the main story, we are thinking about 15 hours. Not a huge game by any means, but we also feel that we can accomplish this and make it a solid experience within that time. We aren’t a large team so we want to stick with making it the best it can be and not fall short.

Do you have any advice for any other aspiring developers who may be reading this?
Decide early on why you are working on your project. Then stick to that goal. Don’t be afraid of trying something new, or sticking with something you believe in. The pressures of outside opinions can really rock the boat, so stand strong and focus on your dream. No pun intended. 

Lotia 1

Do you have anything else to add?
We are very excited to tell our story and want to thank you for your time checking us out. We can use all the support we can get to make Lotia a reality, so please check our Kickstarter out at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/crayonponyfish/lotia. Thanks again! 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Crayon Ponyfish for responding to my proposal, and I wish them every success in their Kickstarter project. Lotia certainly looks like it could be a very enjoyable RPG experience, and I would recommend any fan of the genre to back their project.

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