Since you are reading this, I think we can safely assume you enjoy playing games, without making any crazy assumptions. But how about stories?
If you’re the type of person who will easily give up sleep, food, and fake being sick just to know what happens next in your new favorite story, today we’ve got a game that is likely on the dangerously addictive side of things…
If you have yet to check out our review of Shuyan Saga, you can do so here!
Before we start we’d like to thank the LoftySky Entertainment Team for participating in our interview and for answering all of our geeky questions! Thanks Guys!
…and without further ado, our interview begins…
/// Thanks for taking the time to talk to us about Shuyan Saga! Could you kick-start this interview by telling us a little about your studio, yourself, and what drew you into the gaming industry?
Lofty Sky Entertainment is a Canadian digital studio working on several apps, TV shows, documentary & games. Many of them are highly inspired by Chinese culture such as Shuyan Saga (interactive fiction game for iOS & Steam) and Miaomiao apps (kids app to teach Mandarin & Chinese culture).
We’ve also released the TV show “Confucius was a Foodie” a food-documentary series airing on NatGeo People and PBS stations with celebrity chef Christine Cushing who travels the world exploring how Chinese cuisine and culture has impacted the culinary world.
Seeing how China is emerging as a world superpower, it’s interesting to see how Chinese culture is now being exported into the western market. I was drawn to the studio because my heritage is Hong Kong and a lot of the projects resonate with me personally.
/// Ok, let’s start talking about Shuyan Saga. What are the highlights of your latest release?
Shuyan Saga is an immersive interactive story inspired by ancient Chinese tales. The interactive fiction is voiced by Kristin Kreuk (Smallville) & drawn by Daxiong, illustrator of DC Dark Horse comics. Along the story, 3D action combat scenes bring some action into the mix. I think it’s really rare for visual novels to be combined with combat and professional voice acting. The comments we get from gamers is usually about how stunning the hand-drawn artwork is, the game is really one of a kind.
* A fascinating story inspired by ancient Chinese tales
* Simple and accessible gameplay through interactive fiction
* 3D action combat scenes will pause the flow and bring some action to the mix
* Full English voice-over by Kristin Kreuk (Smallville, Beauty and the Beast)
* More than 1,400 art backgrounds drawn by artist Daxiong (Dark Horse, DC…)
* Immersive sound design & motion design resulting in an inspiring mood
/// What was the core idea or inspiration behind Shuyan Saga? And perhaps more importantly, where do you find inspiration for your games in general?
It really started with a single question. At the studio, we had team members who had studied martial arts, and they all said their experience of learning martial arts was very different from what they experienced in games and popular media. When we see Kung Fu or martial arts it often seems to be about the fighting, but in learning Kung Fu, the emphasis is often much more on self-restraint, character refinement, etc. So we asked if it was possible to create a digital game that captured more of that cultivation experience, rather than just the head-bashing. And that question got us started on this path.
A lot of us at the studio have a connection to Chinese culture in one way or another. So I think the game is just a natural expression of our life experiences. It was awesome that we got to collaborate with Daxiong too. He’s drawn for some of the world’s most well-known comic book franchises. He’s drawn Justice League for DC and Star Wars for Dark Horse, just to name a couple. But he’s originally from China himself, and I think the prospect of using his remarkable talent to create something connected to his own culture was really attractive for him. For us, we had someone who understood the Western audience but had such a rich grasp of the Chinese culture.
/// How long was Shuyan Saga in development for? And are there any interesting and/or exciting moments or experiences you would like to share with us from that time?
Shuyan Saga took a bit of a circuitous route. It was a passion project for the company from early on, there were some early prototypes that were used to inform the game design and the final release. Those early prototypes were done in the background as the team worked on other projects, so in a sense, Shuyan had been going on for years. But in reality, Shuyan was only a full project for about 2 years. Once the story and mechanics were worked out, the real work of creating the hand-drawn panels kicked into full gear. The illustration team lead by Daxiong are really talented and it was cool to see them finally set free.
/// What software, developer-tools, or black-magic(?) did you use when making Shuyan Saga? Is there anything you would like to share with the developers who read Edamame Reviews?
We don’t have any secret alien technology hidden in the basement. We did write some custom Unity tools for the editor that we used to layout and configure the branching narrative.
We also leveraged some pretty cool texture compression software to manage the huge panels. As you can imagine once the illustrators saw any compression artifacts in the game, the team saw that as a betrayal of the artwork. It was a tough balance between keeping the application size reasonable and delivering the highest quality of images. We thought we had it worked out early on, then at some point during the development, Apple released the iPad Pro with its billions of pixel resolution and we had to go back to the drawing board.
/// Is there any secret “developer-advice” you can give our lucky players who read this interview?
I definitely would not tell anyone that there is a debug console that allows people to enter cheats in the live game. But even if anyone thought there was such a thing, it would be so hidden that no one would ever find it.
/// What can we expect to see in Shuyan Saga or from LoftySky Entertainment in the not so distant future? What do we have to look forward to next?
We actually have another narrative game called Numen 9 in development at the studio. We’re taking the best of what we’ve learned from our experience making Shuyan Saga and building upon those strengths for this next game.
Numen 9 is not set in ancient China, but in a fantasy world with a somewhat dystopian future. It’s got some really cool characters with powers associated with different colors and also has a cool female protagonist. We think gamers who liked our first game are going to love this next one.
/// Lastly, is there anything you would like to say to our awesome team of Writers, Developers, and Patrons who keep Edamame Reviews up and running?
Keep up the good work supporting Indie developers!
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