breath of fire Pseudo Reincarnate jRPG by good old pixel
Intro: Hello, first let me thank you for agreeing to the interview.
Hi! Thank you for your interest in Tears of Magic!
1st Turn: Researching more information about Tears of Magic, people may not know it started out as a RPG Maker project a few years back. Since you are launching a Kickstarter which just kicked off a few days ago, do you feel you couldn’t do the game you wanted with the limited tools RPG Maker has?
Before Denis joined the project, Ellenor was making this game on RPG Maker, because she could not code. Despite her talent in arts, she was limited in that aspect and did not have grand expectations. Then he offered to join, and since he has good knowledge in the field, he decided to change the game engine to give him more freedom and improved capabilities. To say it in short words, RPG Maker is not a bad engine if you have limited ability to code, but if you have that knowledge, then you can get better results in engines that offer more freedom.
2nd Turn: To be honest, the first thing that popped into my head was “Wow, this looks a lot like Breath of Fire,” particularly 3 and 4. Did you try taking this to Capcom directly and see if they would allow you to use the Breath of Fire intellectual property? They haven’t used it in a long time excluding the mobile iteration several years back. I say this because it worked for Streets of Rage IV as well as the upcoming Metal Slug Tactics.
No, we did not approach Capcom. We are making a game that could feel like a hypothetical Breath of Fire 7, but at the same time, it is a game with its own identity, mechanics, and lore. It is a love letter to Breath of Fire, but we want to create our own path because we do not know when Capcom could just pull it from us if we went with them. In the end, they own that franchise and decide what to do with it, and it is common for a franchise to have completely different teams for their sequels.
3rd Turn: Allow me to indirectly quote some of the lore of the game: “The ‘Tears of Magic’ is believed to be tears of the goddess Aria herself, disappointed with the selfishness of mankind. When the sun started to shine again, animals became savage beasts and even people started losing their minds…The few who resisted “corruption” fought to survive and protect others.” Is the Dragon clan which the protagonist is a part of immune to the tears or is more it corrupts those not pure of heart kind of deal?
The dragons are immune because they use magic in a separate way than humans, and the Corruption is linked to magic. We cannot explain much without giving major spoilers about the plot, but it is a well-defined phenomenon on our lore. Discovering how magic works, is part of the adventure of Tears of Magic, as well as discovering the mysteries of the dragon race.
4th Turn: Perhaps this is because I have this seen feature in other RPGs but allow me to ask. Two protagonists are shown—one male, one female. When reading that they will have a younger sibling, will the younger version of the opposite gender become the sibling I wonder? In other words, if you choose a male, your sibling would be a younger sister modeled after the female protagonist,
Yes, that is correct. The youngest sibling has different personalities depending on gender, and that is reflected on trivial things like how they organize their rooms, how they talk and other forms of interaction. The protagonist, on the other hand, is you, and you can pick one personality trait at character creation (which affects dialogue choices), as well as acquiring new traits based on your decisions on the game.
5th Turn: Let’s talk about the battle system a little. Other than it featuring seamless transition, symbol encounter, turn-based battles, what is something special about battles that you would like to convey to potential players? Perhaps a key feature not announced yet?.
We have identified that most people who dislike turn-based combat have that opinion because of the low pace, which can decrease the sense of excitement to them. To solve this problem, we have designed the following features to increase the pace of combat:
- Seamless transition from map to battle. That allows them to regain control after 2-3 seconds of engaging, instead of waiting for up to 10 seconds in transition like some games of the genre do.
- Tag attacks. If two characters attack the same targets, their attack combine into a single animation, allowing them to perform the action in less time. For example, two basic attacks combine into “Flank Attack” (or “Focus Fire”, if one is ranged), and that attack deals the combined damage of both attacks, plus a small bonus of damage or effect. A fire spell with a sword slash could become a “Fire Slash”, and a healing spell with a defensive buff could become a stronger buff in the party. You will see a visual indication when two skills can be combined.
- Simultaneous attacks. If two characters attack completely different targets, then their actions might happen simultaneously (like in Suikoden games). For example, you do not need to wait for a heal spell before casting an earthquake.
- Long and short animations. All skills have a short variant of their animation, usually clipping to the result. The full animation plays on the first cast of the skill, and after every X cast (defined on the settings), while the short animation plays in the rest of the time. Also, you can skip the cast of any long animation (transforming it into a short animation instead).
- Dragon transformation. When you transform into a dragon, it automatically casts a free skill depending on the traits of your transformation. For example, a fire dragon can fly to the sky after transform, then descend breathing fire before landing. The fairy dragon, on the other hand, can cast explosive dust, that causes attacks from allies to deal extra damage and deal collateral damage to other targets. The dragon knight (humanoid form) casts a battle roar that buffs his combat stats. The point is, you do not lose a turn when you transform, but in practice, you cast an attack or support skill, then end the turn as a transformed dragon.
Those features do not change the essence of turn-based combat, but they make you lose less time during each battle. Other than that, we have the following features to add a layer of strategy on each battle:
- Geo effects: Each battleground (place where you meet opponents) has one passive effect to the battle. Most of the times, the effects are neutral or positive to the player, but for some specific battles they might work in favor of the opponents. For example, fighting in the wet ground might cause lighting spells to hit everyone, including opponents and allies, and that can be a problem if the boss can heal with lighting damage, and his special attack is a lighting spell. Some other battlegrounds can cause certain spells to not only have increased effect, but also affect the terrain, like trees burning after fire spells, or rubble falling from the ceiling after earth spells in a cave.
- Danger Sense: Some enemies have a signature skill that is telegraphed, showing what target will be hit in the next round. That allows players to either defend, kill the opponent, or to exploit the opponent’s weakness to interrupt the cast. The cool thing is that exploit does not necessarily mean using the opposite element, but it can be using healing against an undead, defending against a counter-attack skill, or using some effect that the opponent is immune when not casting his signature skill.
- Battle Assistant: The party has five members, four in the field and one assistant. The assistant is not player controlled, but instead casts some assist skill randomly during battle, which is affected by the affinity to the protagonist in the relationship system.
The goal of those tactical features is to give extra excitement to battles and give players a sense of achievement when they use those features to their advantage.
6th Turn: Perhaps I just overlooked the page, but I didn’t see who the artist/character designer was. They both definitely gave the world a great feel. Feel free to talk to discuss them, the staff, and what it was like working as team including Yoshino Aoki of Breath of Fire III and IV fame
Thank you for the compliment! Our artist/character designer is Ellenor. She has education in game art, where she learned 3D art, but she is completely self-taught in all 2D artworks, including pixel art.
Our lead programmer is Denis. He comes from the area of mathematical optimization and is used to develop algorithms to solve extraordinarily complex problems. He is particularly good at thinking out of the box and understanding patterns, so he usually finds solutions to problems that other game developers avoid, like shadows from sprites in a 2.5D world.
Kody is our first patron, the first person to believe in this project. He started supporting us early in development, and then he offered to help us as an editor, since he does that on his normal work, and we are not native to English.
Travis is an amazing guy, incredibly talented and easy to work with. We can assure you that people will like his song a lot when they hear it. Even before being paid, he has already volunteered to configure everything for adaptive sounds and music, which allows our game audio to react to events. For example, that allows music to transition smoothly between exploration and battle, instead of just suddenly starting the battle tune, or blending the volume like some other games do.
Yoshino Aoki is genuinely nice and agreed to work with us after the Kickstarter. We talked to her, showed our project, and talked about commercial stuff, like ratings, licenses and so on. She liked our game, and we think the conditions are good, so we have an informal agreement. She will join the team as soon as we succeed in Kickstarter, and we are extremely excited about working with such a legend.
7th Turn: I know it is very early to state as your Kickstarter just started a few days ago, but you are right around $19k of your initial $91k. Do you plan to supplement the goal amount with a Backerkit, perhaps after the Kickstarter has ended?
We will check pledge managers after the Kickstarter ends, for physical rewards. However, we plan to keep some options for people that want to fund our project after the Kickstarter campaign. One of them is our Patreon page, which also gives benefits like access to work in progress, and even the game itself (after contributing a certain amount). We have a very transparent relationship with people in our Discord server and we like to keep their trust by showing them constant progress.
8th Turn: Other than English, do you have any other languages planned? Is some partial voice-acting possible as a stretch goal?
The game is prepared for easy localization, but right now we are only planning to translate it into Portuguese. We also want to translate it to Spanish and Japanese, but that depends on stretch goals since it is not a free process. Another option is to achieve that later by a regional publisher.
9th Turn: Is the story complete? Do you have a rough estimate for a release date?
The story is complete, and we are very meticulous with the lore of each region. We try to always answer questions about why people settled in that place and not somewhere else, what clothes they wear (common dyes of the region, materials, traditions, patterns…), what food they eat (most common protein source, carbs, spices, sweets, alcohol), how their economy works (what they produce, what they import, and how that affect their culture), what are the speech patterns (how they affect player characters and NPCs), and so on. The more info we have about each place, the less plot holes and the more the world feels alive.
We estimate a development cycle between two to three years, depending on our budget and how many extra hands we will be able to hire.
10th Turn: As stated before, you seem to have an interesting set of characters in this game. As romance and friendship are possible including that of relationships as stated on the Kickstarter page, will they have an effect on the game’s storyline? What about multiple endings in general?
Romance is seen in our game as just a special variant of friendship, because you can instead decide to have a best friend instead of a romantic partner. It is also not locked to gender, because one of our core dynamics is that you are the writer of your own story, and not just someone reading a script written by someone else.
To make a short list of what the affinity system affects:
- Dialogue, cutscenes and party banter (random conversation during exploration that does not interrupt movement).
- Dragon transformation. You need certain affinity level to unlock the form related to each ally.
- Battle assistant power. The affinity level improves the effect of the 5th character in battle (the passive ally).
- Optional arc of allies. You can only play final questline of characters that have a degree of trust in you. The optional arc affects the outcome of the last part of the game.
About multiple endings, your choices affect the state of the world after you beat the game, but more in a style like Fallout (showing how your decisions affected each part of the world) instead of something like Chrono Trigger.
Closing: I thank you again for the interview. I will link your sites and social medias accounts in the article.
Thank you very much for the interview! For anyone in doubt if they should embark in this journey, we invite you to join our Discord server and meet our amazing community. We post progress regularly there, and even if you cannot support us financially, we really appreciate anyone that can either spread the world, or simply give us feedback to improve the quality of our final product. We can do this together!