Thursday, February 10, 2011

Interview: Red Crest Studios

Today the XBL Indieverse has had the pleasure to have a Q & A Interview with Mike Ventnor of Red Crest Studios, creator of the fantastic XBLIG RPG "Bonded Realities".

The Indieverse has also reviewed "Bonded Realities", and a link to the Review can be found here.

The Interview will consist of ten (10) questions altogether, and each of them ask a different  regarding to both the game and Red Crest Studios, the development studio. Our guest's responses will be represented in italics while the questions will be in bold script.

All responses are taken verbatim and unedited to reflect the original tone, and the developer has answered each question in full--there have been no changes or deletions.

In the Interview...
Italics - Mike Ventnor, Red Crest Studios
Bold - Deeke777, The XBL Indieverse

#1. How did you first get the idea for "Bonded Realities"?

I wanted to make an RPG because I thought it would be easy, as the
mechanics were so well-defined. I was wrong, as it turns out, but what
else would one expect from a game developer's ego. I also enjoyed RPGs
a lot, and wanted to make one on a service that has a shortage of
#2. Are there any specific RPGs that influenced the development of
your game title?

All the RPGs I've played! But the ones I enjoyed the most were the
ones that had a lot of humour in them, your Paper Marios and your
Earthbounds etc. This applies to any genre, but I enjoy games a lot
more when they tell jokes, and are full of humour especially in places
where you don't expect to find it. I wanted to recreate that feeling
since it's been getting harder and harder for me to find a game which
treats humour on the same level.

#3. The storyline for this game is quite unique--are there any media
sources that inspired you? Such as movies, books, tv shows, etc. If
not, where did you get the idea for the story itself?

The stories I enjoy the most were ones that started out with humble
beginnings, and the problems are gradually revealed to the player as
the story unfolds. I found it awkward that a climax happens at the
start, for example your village is destroyed by the enemy, and you
must go out and beat that enemy but you don't even know why he is your
enemy until much later.

Secondly, by transporting the kids to another world, I can go crazy
with character design and enemy design without having to explain it
away. I want to be able to have the player enjoy the characters in
game without worrying about their origins, since this storyline makes
their origins irrelevant.

#4 You've informed us at The Indieverse that all the game sprites are
hand-drawn. Yikes, that's -alot- of work. How long did it take to draw
and implement them into your RPG?

The key was to be smart with the assets! A lot of graphics in game are
generated programatically, sometimes re-using a lot of textures but
with a different colour palette. So while there was still a lot to
draw, I managed to minimise the time needed to draw assets, which was
good considering I'm not a good drawer! The sprites for people were
the hardest to draw, but I became more efficient once I created a
template for all animation frames a character sprite might use.

#5. How long have you been a gamer and what are some of your personal
favorite RPGs (or other games, perhaps list a favorite Indie Game if
you'd like, etc)

I've been gaming for as long as I can remember, since I was introduced
to my grandfather's IBM-compatible DOS PC! Among all the PC models I
played with at home and school, I didn't become a console gamer until
the Nintendo 64 days. I mentioned before that my favourite RPGs were
the humourous ones. I play games to uplift myself and well-designed
humour does that for me.
#6. Let's talk music. The soundtrack for Bonded Realities is meoldical
and quite fitting with the RPG theme. Did you create the music tracks

No. I licensed the music. I did have themes in my head while I was
searching, though. The tunes I picked were the ones that matched
closest with what I had in my head.

#7. Are there any easter eggs or secret hidden items in Bonded Realities?

Mostly the easter eggs come from finding all the treasure chests in
the game. That's what the game considers to be 100% completion, and
you get a lot of small but neat prizes for getting there. I would've
liked to add more, there was a whole new mode I was considering, but
there are only so many hours in a day especially for a one-man studio.

#8. When you were developing your XBLIG, what traditional RPG elements
did you consider to be essential and a top priority above all else?

None of them! I wanted to make a game that was fun to play but had a
simple, easy-to-pick-up interface. The original design of the game
didn't even have equipment, but I added it in later purely because I
was so bored writing level data that I wanted to start using my brain
with some engine code. My goal was to make a game that was simple and
never overwhelming, which was a common complaint for RPGs, but is
arguably one of the biggest complaints about it!

#9. All in all, what was the hardest part in creating Bonded Realities?

It mostly came down to underestimating the time needed to make an RPG,
and a lack of organisation. I didn't encounter a problem I couldn't
solve, and indeed I had a lot of fun solving design problems during
development, but development as a whole just took far longer than I

#10. A new patch for your RPG is slated for release sometime soon. Can
you give us any details on what gameplay changes we might see in the

Mostly it was about making the battles a little harder, in response to
feedback. A change of boxart is also coming. I didn't have much time
to make major changes as there was the XNA 3.1 deadline looming, but I
hope the game sells enough to fund a sequel!

For more information on Red Crest Studios and "Bonded Realities", visit these links:
We would like to thank Mike Ventnor for the Q & A Interview--it is always nice to hear from the developers and learn more about their games. The Indieverse appreciates all efforts from developers and their respective studios not only for their games, but for these glimpses into the process of Indie Game development itself.

This really was a rare opportunity to get inside a developer's imagination and see what influenced them to make their game the way it is.

Stay tuned for more Interviews and other articles pertaining to XBL Indie Games here on the Indieverse.

--Deeke777 at The XBL Indieverse (e-Mail)
   @XBLIndieverse (Twitter)

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