Tears of Avia: What’s it all about?
So Tears of Avia is a turn-based tactical RPG with a keen focus on build crafting. There are hundreds of skills in the game but it’s down to you to pick the most important ones to bring with you to the battle.
In addition, we bound some skills to weapons. This means that you could put a chalice with healing skills into the hands of a warrior, or equip a staff with fire storm to your ranger. It’s really down to you.
The story revolves around Dulantine, a mage that, in the distant past, prevented a demonic invasion by casting a massive freezing spell, crashing the floating city of Avalon along with the invasion into a mountain side. Unfortunately, the love of his life, Avia was caught up in this spell and he’s been seeking a way to free her from the spell ever since… That’s where you come in.
The story is delivered via a dynamic system. Characters you party with have different dispositions towards one another. Some get along really well, but others might be a bit jealous or even fearful of others. Dialogue throughout the game is run through this system and results in different results depending on who you play with.
What was your original inspiration for Tears of Avia? Were there other games that influenced you or wider aspects of popular culture?
So we were really massively inspired by Disgaea for it’s turn based combat, but we were also inspired by the build craft style from the original Guild Wars.
As we were making this, we found that we didn’t want to make a game quite like Disgaea, the story started taking a more serious tone and we wanted to make the characters really count.
Anyone who has done any serious amount of grinding in Disgaea ends up investing really hard in a single character. We want all of your team members to matter, and that’s why we started focusing on the skill system and introduced a build crafting element to the game.
As an indie game developer, could you give us an overview of the steps you have taken to get the game where it is at the moment?
It’s been a long road really! The original version of the game is a lot different than what we have currently. The game itself began with a green cube walking over a bunch of white cubes attacking red cubes.
We decided to model the ranger who was the first character in the game. For the longest time she was the only character in the game. She would play the role of all your party and all the enemies.
It’s at this point I started developing the skill system. The back-end of the skill system gives me utmost flexibility. Through a series of dropdowns, I can make any skill do any action. I could make a fireball inflict poison and heal you if the target has more than 50 per cent health and is bleeding if I really wanted to.
It was important that I made a system that allowed me to toy with skills as if they were putty. With so many skills in the game, it was crucial that the skill system was easily manageable to help us balance the game.
As we progressed, we wanted to include a way to drive the narrative of the game. At first, it was just a linear story system. I felt it was a bit odd having characters that were potentially dead in battle suddenly spring to life and talk about the thing that they just did (from the grave) – that’s when I started developing the dynamic story system.
With so many skills in the game, it was crucial that the skill system was easily manageable to help us balance the game.
The dynamic story system in Tears of Avia hinges off the characters you bring with you to the battle. With the test characters we implemented, the story would vary depending on who was still alive. Furthermore, even with the same characters, the cues were shuffled; this meant that even if you played with the same team on the same level, you would get slightly different conversation because of who was speaking and when.
EGX was fast approaching, so we started hurrying on making some skill effects and level graphics. Much of the game works as white-box and instant feedback (with no fancy spell effects). The future ahead means we must move on and flesh out the content of the game.
You’re running a Kickstarter fundraiser at the moment: Was Kickstarter the only fundraising option open to you? If not, what were the others and why did you end up opting for Kickstarter?
We are! You can find our Kickstarter here.
Kickstarter wasn’t the only fundraising option available to us, but it was definitely our first choice. Kickstarter is all or nothing, we get the funding or we don’t. With Kickstarter, it means that people who like our game will support it – that’s the kind of investor we like.
Kickstarter funding enables us to get on with the job and not have to worry about interest rate repayments. All we have to do is deliver a game and rewards that we promise to our backers. That’s what we’re in the business of making games for!
We could of course pursue bank loans or try to pitch to a publisher. So far we haven’t yet had a chance to speak to a publisher that might be interested (there must be some out there!) but with a publisher we want to be sure we get a good partner.
To get down to the business; we need to not only fund this game but we need to be mindful of the next game to make after that. We could sign the rights of the game away to a publisher, get paid to make the game but receive none of the profits.
That’s all well and good for the current game, but we want to reinvest any profits we might make on Tears of Avia back into making more games, not end up back at square one looking for investment all over again.
We really want to be making games even beyond Tears of Avia and become self sufficient. With Kickstarter funding, we can achieve just this, or at the very least, if we do need more investment on a future game, it should at least be less than the first time.
What would you say is the most exciting feature for us to look forward to in Tears of Avia?
I would say the skill system is the most interesting aspect of the game, we’ve got ideas for some really unlikely skills and devious chain combos, but the real fun will be experimenting and finding them out.
We have a skill preview for the ranger up on our website, but everything is very likely to change as we play around with the skills and find even cooler, crazier things to do with them.
However, players at EGX were suggesting that we include a hardcore mode (once your character dies, it’s dead, much like X-Com). I’m going to have fun with that.
If all goes well, when can we expect the game to be released?
We’re shooting for April 2017 assuming we get funded on Kickstarter. It sounds like it’s a long way off, but it’s only a little over a year from now.
It can only happen if people can help and support us. You can do so by either backing us on kickstarter or spreading the word.
Here’s our link again.
More information about Coocoo Squeak and Tears of Avia can be found on their website.