Welcome to a special edition of indie week as I'm joined by a special guest, would you like to introduce yourself to everyone
Nick: Thanks for having me! My name is Nicholas Spargo; I am the director of Cloud Runner Studios and am currently working on our first game Melancholy Republic.
Chris: Is this Cloud Runner's first project or have you or your team done anything else in the past
Nick: This is our first project yes; most of the team are recent graduates.
Chris: So what is Melancholy Republic for the people that don't know?
Nick: Melancholy Republic is a story based adventure centred round the tale of Claire Lockridge, a politician within a large city state called Lorna. It is very much an interactive story, with a large city for players to explore, crimes to uncover and secrets to discover. Unlike other story based games the central theme for Melancholy Republic is tragedy. We felt this is a much underused genre so we really want to bring realistic, flawed characters into an epic heart-breaking story.
Chris: Sounds interesting any games inspired you to take that approach
Nick: The idea for the keeping the game within one massive city came about from my memories of Final Fantasy VII's Midgar. I always wondered what it would be like if the characters never left the city. That really inspired the initial story being a massive adventure within a sprawling city state. Many JRPG games such as Chrono Trigger and the Mana series also inspired the art direction and characters. More recently there have been creative heartfelt games that are also an inspiration in terms of story, those being The Last of Us and To the Moon. Their approach to storytelling was really innovative within gaming so we want to continue pushing the boundaries of interactive storytelling.
Chris: A lot of love for Square’s RPG's there which some were on the SNES any love for the SEGA Mega Drive
Nick: I actually didn't have a SNES growing up so many of the SNES games I only played later or played their ports. I did have a Mega Drive, but growing up in Zimbabwe meant games were not easy to come by. The games I loved I wouldn't say impacted Melancholy Republic but I did love Bubsy, Sonic and Michael Jackson Moonwalker. Some pretty terrible games I guess but as a kid I loved em haha!
Chris: Not sure if Sonic is terrible but that's a whole other subject. I'm guessing you went back to some of these games later on with some you do bring up having a more science fiction angle like the city Midgar then a pure fantasy setting of let's say FFIX. Is that something you prefer Sci-Fi part of a JRPG
Nick: I am not sure if I have a preference for the sci-fi or fantasy look. Each game really stands up with how well it uses its setting and characters. I found the plot idea of Final Fantasy VII's Midgar very interesting, not necessarily the art style. Melancholy Republic's city resembles a more traditional Fantasy setting I guess; a large inspiration for its look and layout is from Lindblum from Final Fantasy IX, a fantasy city on the verge of industrial and technological change.
Chris: As it sounds like it will play like a traditional JRPG big part of many JRPGs is grinding. Do you think this mechanic serves a real purpose or is it a crutch?
Nick: I think some players love JRPG games for their combat, so some developers really like to focus on that but I do feel that many JRPG games can become weakened by their requirement for grinding. Melancholy Republic has no combat system however; as it is a story based game in a similar vein to To the Moon so there will be no grinding. Gameplay consists of exploring, interacting with the story and conversations through dialogue options and several gameplay mechanics (mini game type events).
Chris: That is quite different especially with the games that you have got inspiration from, as you pointed out most of the team are graduates are they all from a video game background or some sort of course that would help in storytelling
Nick: Well I think the other half of JRPG games are the exploring, learning about characters and taking part in a fantastic story. Melancholy Republic is a game focused on the story, characters and exploring side of JRPG games. That is what my vision was as it is really the type of game I wanted to play and thought big fans of stories and JRPGs alike would love. Other team members have studied art, music and media production, not necessarily video game related courses. I myself studied writing so the script is written by me. Each member's unique skill set has really helped shape the final vision for Melancholy Republic that we are all incredibly proud of.
Chris: You bring up music, we are big fans of game soundtracks on Gintendo are you doing all your own stuff in that regards
Nick: Oh yeah, you should really check out our music, it's really incredible what we have so far. Our music is done by Manchester based Metronomix Studios. The music is done in the spirit of classic JRPG games, being that it is incredibly melodic and memorable, however with our own spin that keeps it very modern, orchestral and melancholy themed. So please do check out our music, on our Kickstarter page or on our Soundcloud.
Chris: Will have to check out the music. So you’re on Kickstarter, Why chose Kickstarter
Nick: As it is the largest crowd funding platform we wanted to reach as many people as possible with our vision.
Chris: What's the target to see this vision through and any cool rewards for backers?
Nick: We are seeking £15,000. We have many different rewards but we have really cool exclusive physical copies of the game on offer to backers. Our physical copies will be high quality PS1 inspired style cases. As well as the opportunity to get a limited edition physical copy that includes a beautiful art book with all our art, characters and maps inside. Backers will also get a limited edition copy of the soundtrack. I personally love high quality gaming loot so a lot of effort has been put into making these rewards special.
Chris: That seems a reasonable target and a very cool reward the PS1 style physical edition, if I wanted to play the game what could I play it on & when should I expect to play it
Nick: As we are an RPG Maker game we are limited on platforms as it is very hard to port the engine. At launch it will be on PC in early 2016. Other platforms could be looked at if our Kickstarter excels. I would love to bring Melancholy Republic to other platforms if the opportunity arises.
Chris: Part from having the opportunity to make your own game, anything else we should know about you or your team
Nick: We are all incredibly excited to be working on Melancholy Republic and it is our hope to create real heartfelt games at Cloud Runner Studios that will move people who play them. So look out for us and our future adventures!
Chris: Before we go anything you’re looking forward to in 2015 in gaming be it a Triple A or a fellow Kickstarter project
Nick: I am really looking forward to No Man's Sky, Xenoblade Chronicles X and Legend of Zelda Wii U. I had the opportunity to play Bloodborne a few months back at Eurogamer so am really looking forward to that too.
Chris: Some excellent choices there and everyone will pleased with the Nintendo love at Gintendo, If I want to back the game or just keep updated where would I go
Nick: For now our main page is our Kickstarter page, where we are doing updates for the next few months, we will also be updating our progress on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Just search for us on any of those!
Chris: Will do, one more question we like to ask everyone how do you like your eggs
Nick: Haha, I like my eggs in an epic omelette, I am talking, potato, spring onions, shallots, cheese, chorizo and parsley.
Chris: That does sound epic. Thanks Nicholas for joining me hope to see this game get backed and to play it in the future, we will be keeping an eye on it at Gintendo. Any final words
Nick: Thanks so much! Really glad you like the look of our game and appreciate your time to learn about our studio and game. My final words would be to ask readers to watch our trailer, it is really different with a fully original composition and an epic finale, and it sells the vision for Melancholy Republic better than any words so please do give it a watch!
Chris: The pleasure was mine, hope all you enjoyed this special indie week and I look forward to bringing you more in the future but for now, it’s a bye from me.
If you do want to find out more you can follow Nicolas @MelancholyRepub or checkout the Kickstarter Page at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1226939500/melancholy-republic where you will find some great music such as
Bonus Question asked by Jay Moyles
I'm interested in your comparison with To The Moon. I don't know whether your making that comparison based on the fact the game's built in RPG Maker or if it's because To The Moon has an astoundingly brilliant story, but it's not an RPG game in any real respect, despite being built in RPG Maker.
Nick: The comparison to ‘To the Moon’ is made to give players an indication of how movement and gameplay takes place within an interactive story. It gives people who are not sure exactly what our game will play like a reference as to how a story based game works and its structure (especially when using the RPG Maker engine). I have had people ask me how I can make a game with no combat because they have not played a story based game before. ‘To the Moon’ is a great example of a game with no combat that tells a fantastic story, and this is what we strive to do to. Our story is a unique and complex tragedy, a plot that we are really excited to share, that will astonish and move players with the events that take place throughout Claire’s journey.