Siliconera recently caught up with Kwan, the developers behind upcoming Kickstarter Exogenesis, a visual novel inspired in part by Ace Attorney and Virtue’s Last Reward.
One of the things you’re selling the game on are its puzzle aspects. Your Kickstarter mentions “Mind-boggling, thematic puzzles – Contextual puzzles that make sense and aren’t just there for the heck of it”. Could you tell us more about this, and what your line of reasoning was when deciding on this context?
Nicolo Sanchez, Founder and Game Director of Kwan: As a gamer myself, I’m too not fond of point-and-click puzzles that seem to be there just to amuse you for a short time or block your progress. Exogenesis focuses heavily on the story, and that entails pulling players into the post-apocalyptic world we’ve created with all we’ve got, including puzzles that make sense and often have a story behind them.
For example, in the puzzle we’re currently working on, a light switch is obscured by another object not only to give the player another action – there’s a reason why the obscuring object is there, and it’ll give the player a better idea of what transpired in that place.
How is the Ace Attorney part going to play out? The project description mentions gathering evidence and interrogation. Does this mean everyone you meet is going to be against you? Will finding only some of the evidence necessary change the way the game will play out?
Every former Durchhalten member has reasons not to join Yu in his quest. It’s akin to every witness and defendant in Ace Attorney games hiding something that you have to uncover by cross examining and presenting evidence. While we don’t have post-apocalyptic trials in Exogenesis, there are sections where the player has to confront a Durchhalten member.
In Eiji’s chapter, this is in his bar at night. The second chapter, which we’ve revealed to be set in Tokyo Dome City, will be much brighter. We haven’t decided whether leaving a character behind should be a possibility (in the original story outline, this split is present in one chapter), but it’ll be a heavy decision for Yu because having the entire Durchhalten present during Miho’s revival is important for him.
How are relationships going to be handled in this game? You state openly that at least once in the game, everyone is going to lie to someone else at least once. Will you be able to, for example, call them out on it? It also appears you’ll be able to lie and cheat your way to a final victory?
Human relationships are complex. Sometimes, you know a friend is lying to you but you’re not sure whether it’s a good idea to call them out on it or not. There will be situations like this in the game, and the endings will change based on players’ decisions. Typically, you wouldn’t initially know whether a former Durchhalten’s stated reason for not joining you is true or not anyway.
Take the demo, for example, where Eiji seems indifferent because he thinks the idea of there being a device that can revive the dead is absurd. Is that really the reason he won’t join Yu?
Tell us more about your decision to have TeamFourStar on board. You’ve laid out your love for them and it sounds like they’re hitting the spot. How did you convince them to join up with an unknown studio and to get to work for [at the time] free?
We were fortunate enough to be approached by Amber Lee Connors during the campaign. She offered to help us out with voice-acting. I said we couldn’t really afford it yet, and then she told us there are voice actors who’d be willing to work for free on projects they really liked.
It started from there; turned out she’s part of TeamFourStar (we didn’t know at the time) and we set a stretch goal for voice acting because I thought we couldn’t possibly ask voice actors to work on a 150,000-word game with no compensation. Another great thing about our collaboration with TFS is that Amber’s an amazing casting director.
We did consider voice acting prior to the Kickstarter, but aside from the steep cost for a game like ours, one hindrance was how time consuming it was to organize VAs for casting and constantly communicate with a growing cast. Amber’s got everything VA-related covered, which is a huge boon for us.
You’ve got a German demo and a French interview. What are your plans for the European market?
We can’t make any promises, but once we know we can afford localization (we had a stretch goal past the TFS one to at least cover the cost of a German translation), we’d definitely love to put the game in as many gamers’ hands as possible. It would be an honor for non-English speakers to play our game, considering we never really thought about it.
Some backers have also suggested approaching fan translation groups and that’s definitely an avenue we’d look at once we have the time to do so.