Marta Vicario and Matt Bailey are partners in DragonEggGames, developing an indie 2D pixel art game called Miku RPG. The player inhabits the role of Hatsune Miku, lost in a digital world, exploring themes of humanity. Vicario was kind enough to share some of her experiences working on the new project.
Q: What inspired the art style of Miku RPG?
A: The style of the pixel art is inspired mostly by Secret of Mana, which is a game I find absolutely gorgeous.
Q: How did the project start?
A: The game was started by Matt Bailey a couple of years ago, as a fun little thing to do while studying for his A-Levels. I met him at uni, and was immediately enchanted by his enthusiasm for it. I joined the project shortly after meeting him and, a couple of months later, we decided to take it to the next level, a decision which resulted into Matt rewriting pretty much all of the code he had done before, and me redoing all of his pixel art except for the main character which I believe he did a marvellous job at.
Q: What games inspire your design approach?
A: Don't Starve is a big inspiration for me. It reminds me how you can take a simple concept and turn it into something so alive and full of adventure and feeling. Also, very, very addictive.
Q: What’s your guilty gaming pleasure?
A: I wouldn't say I have a guilty gaming pleasure as such. I'm probably more addicted to Harvest Moon than I should be, but fortunately for me, I keep my nintendo in Spain (I live in England) and only get to use it when I'm on holidays, so I don't have the constant temptation next to me all the time. Trust me, I would never get any pixel art done otherwise.
Q: What do you do when you’re not working on games?
A: I really enjoy doing sport in my free time. When I'm in Spain, I spend a lot of time at the beach or in the sunshine in general, so I enjoy sports like slacklining, rollerblading and swimming. When I'm in England, my choices are more limited by the weather, but I enjoy running and have recently gotten into yoga. I also enjoy crocheting in my free time.
Q: What tools are you using to make Miku RPG?
A: For my pixel art, I use Gimp. I also use the good old pen and paper tool for planning out things and quick pieces of concept art. For the programming side... well, Matt is kind of building his own engine from scratch so he doesn't really use any "tools" as such. But he uses C++ and OpenGL if that counts as a tool.
Q: What platforms are you developing the game for?
A: The game is currently being developed on Mac, but it will also be available for Windows and Linux.
Q: When do you plan to release Miku RPG?
A: At the minute we are hoping for a late 2017 release. That's a long time away so it's not set in stone but I'm confident that we can do this. We are both trying our best.
Q: What methods are you using to market your project?
A: At the minute we are using Twitter and Instagram for gifs and screenshots, together with the occasional blog and youtube update. We are hoping to be able to attend a gaming conference at some point, but there's still much to do before we are ready for that.
Q: The main character, Hatsune Miku, is a creation of Crypton Future Media. Are you connected with them?
A: We are not affiliated with Crypton Future Media (the company that owns Miku), however, the usage of this character is possible through a Creative Commons license. This enables us to use the character in a non-commercial manner which is one of the reasons we are planning on releasing this game for free.
Q: Is indie game design your full-time job?
A: Indie development is not our full-time job (yet). We are both at uni, so we have stages of being able to work on our game a lot (no exams) and hardly being able to work on our game at all (exams). We've also just started our year in industry, so we are working full-time as electronic engineers for a year before going back to uni. Fortunately there are no exams this year, but it's still turning out to be harder than we thought. Weekends are always a great source of time, or at least they are when you don't have all of your friends and family visit from Spain at the same time. I find that taking at least half an hour to myself every day and making sure I'm going to bed early really helps me stay balanced and motivated. So many game developers brag about how they stay up until so late! I personally much prefer getting an early night and getting up bright and early to get some game dev done before work. Burning myself out usually results in loss of motivation, so I feel like taking care of myself actually helps me achieve more faster.
Wes Platt is the lead writer/designer for Prologue Games. Their first game, an episodic narrative adventure called Knee Deep, launched its final act on Steam in March. Before that, he was a professional journalist for the St. Petersburg Times and Durham’s Herald-Sun. He designed collaborative real-time adventures at OtherSpace, Chiaroscuro, and Necromundus for players at jointhesaga.com. He also worked as a design lead on Fallen Earth, a post-apocalyptic MMORPG, from 2006-2010. He's on Twitter at @DougPiranha. Reach via email at [email protected]