Yokai from Asian myth have escaped from Limbo in shmup Shikhondo(食魂徒) – Soul Eater, and as a grim reaper or powerful young woman, players will strike them down, take back the souls they’ve absorbed, and send them back to the underworld.
Siliconera caught up with DeerFarm, developer of Shikhondo(食魂徒) – Soul Eater, to learn more about the myths that inspired the game’s many enemies and bosses, as well as hear about how the developer created bullet arrays that suited these legendary creatures.
What made you want to make a shoot ’em up using monsters from Asian mythology?
DeerFarm, developer of Shikhondo(食魂徒) – Soul Eater – While I was working as game programmer, I spent my spare time developing a doujin game, which was my favorite genre. However, there was a legal difficulties in publishing these doujin games due to the law that requires class deliberation in order to publish a game. This law was also applied to the non-profit games and thus, I decided to develop original game instead.
After I decided to develop an original game, I thought about the contents of the games that I developed previously. The most popular original character that I had was Kangrim. This character was developed by inversing the sex of the heroine character of a death angel that appears in Korean myth. I decided I wanted this character to be the heroine of the game, and because the heroine is from Korean myth, I thought of a story in which the heroine fights against monsters that appear in Korean myth. The result ended up having Korean, Japanese, and Chinese styles.
How did you decide how mythological monsters would fight in your shoot ’em up? What made an attack style feel right for each monster?
For the stage 1 boss, because its head moved around independently of the others, the movement of the head was coded first, and then the barrage was put into the game in accordance with the head movement. When the stage 2 boss awakens, the image of a tiger face appears, so we tried to design the pattern of the barrage to show the image of fangs. However, I’m not sure if people can see it as we intended.
Because the stage 3 boss is a spider, two of the barrage patterns were designed to recall spider webs and the rest of the patterns were designed so that the users can feel themselves being tied up by barrage. With the fourth boss, we tried to develop a barrage pattern that synced with the background music (bgm) that we used for our previous product, 東方外妖傳(Eastern Out World Ghost Story)/ 東方火鬼傳(Eastern Fire Ghost Story). This is the reason why stage 4 boss has an instrument. However, due to the development schedule, we were unable to realize such pattern.
For the stage 5 boss, we designed the barrage pattern with many curves as if a snake is moving around the screen. It seems like many people finds this pattern difficult to clear. To give users some tips on clearing this stage, it is much easier to avoid the barrage if you move fast enough. The pattern is not a targeting type and it simply moves once to the left and once to the right. Because of the strong curve, many people feel it as targeting type pattern, but it really is not.
Can you tell us some of the stories behind some of your favorite monsters in the game? Some pieces of folklore you enjoyed working into the game?
Personally, my favorite monster of the game is the stage 1 boss. This monster is called Shingiwonyo(신기원요/伸妓寃妖), and it is a female monster with segregated body parts. The story behind this monster is that she died from being pressed by a rock, and the monster asks people to resolve her sorrow. However, people who tried to help died of being frightened of her independently moving body parts. According to the myth, it is not an evil monster.
The stage 2 monster, ChangGwi(창귀/倀鬼), is also an interesting monster in which a person who was eaten by a tiger becomes a parasite on the tigers cheek, armpit, or on the chin. According to the myth, the only way the monster will be liberated is to help the tiger to hunt the people that he/she used to know.
For stage 3, our original intention was to use the centipede as the stage monster. However as you would know if you have played the game before, there is a part where the spider legs transform into human legs and if we use centipede, this might cause too much complication and thus we decided to go with spider instead.
What challenges do you face in making shot arrays that are challenging for players, but aren’t so hard that they make the player mad?
The truth is, I do not really try to challenge other players when I develop a game. I consider myself a player of the game, so I set the level of difficulties based on how I feel. I play as a normal shooter of the Touhou project, and while I’m play testing, if the stage becomes easy enough for me to clear it with no-continue mode, then I set the level as normal difficulty. From there, I control the difficulty of the easy or hard modes by making the game little easier or more difficult than the normal level.
When I asked my acquaintances to test play Shikhondo, they said even the easy mode is difficult for them. So, I decided to level it down more than usual. The previous hard mode will be updated to extreme mode in the near future. So, the players who found hard mode easy, please give a shot at extreme mode.
How did you want to make Shikhondo stand out from other shoot ’em ups? What did you want to do that was different?
I think I briefly mentioned this while answering the first question. Our team was very disappointed when we faced the legal issue with publishing Love Busters, our previously-developed doujin shooting game, in Korea. We were very depressed because we put so much effort in developing the game to figure out that we cannot actually show it to public. S,o this time, we thought “Yes, we do have know-how from our previous experiences. So why not give one last shot in developing another shooting game?”, and this time we only focused on showing the game to the public instead of trying to focus on differentiating it.
As a shooting game, we would like to hear comments like “The system is amazing”, “The original world view is awesome”, or “The game is well-made”.
Shikhondo uses beautiful artwork for its enemies. What made you want to use such a striking art style for your game and its monsters?
After I decided to develop an Asian barrage shooting game, an art designer (with the art style that I dreamed of) joined our team and she helped me a lot by establishing the baseline. Every single art products of Shikhondo is due to the art team. All I did was explain the concept and mood of each stage, and when the rough design comes out, I only made some remarks on how it might make the artwork more characteristic. They have completed the work with much greater quality than I expected.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for their amazing work.
What do you want the player to feel as they shoot their way through the pretty world you have created in Shikhondo?
All the characters that appear in the game, including monsters, are not the result of some kind of imagination of mine. Every character of this game has their own myths and stories that inspire people to get to know of them. Because the world view of Shikhondo is very interesting and unique, if the users could enjoy this world view as well as the game itself, I will be very much appreciated.
If people do love our game and if we get to have many players that enjoy our game, then I think we would like to develop a sequel or more completed version of Shikhondo that comprises coop or story mode.