- May 18, 2012
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As part of my interview series, I'm speaking to prominent developers/contributors in our RPG Maker Web community to gain insight on their inner workings. Today we speak to Dark Gaia, the creator of Legionwood: Tale of The Two Swords, Legionwood 2: Rise of the Eternals Realm, the One Night Trilogy, One Night 4 and others.
Thanks for agreeing to have this interview with us, Dark Gaia. Firstly, if you could tell us a bit about yourself.
Well, there's not too much to say. I'm a 21 year old author and indie game developer from Melbourne, Australia. I'm currently doing my final year of a BA in Creative Writing and Journalism, and my two favourite hobbies are writing and gaming -- hence why I'm drawn to RPG Maker
And at what age did you think that writing started to appeal to you?
Well, my memory's a bit foggy about that. The earliest I can remember is my fourth year of primary school (that'd be fourth grade for you US people), when I would often get in trouble because I'd just write stories instead of doing the set task. As I got older, I wrote more and more and towards the end of high school I finally decided I'd like to be serious about it, so I spent my first year of university racking up short story publications in magazines and journals, which culminated in my first novel being published at the end of last year.
As for video gaming, that's a love I can trace far more easily. I played my first video game (Super Mario Bros. 3 on the NES) when I was like 3 years old. From that point on, I was hooked -- I used to draw ideas for video games I'd like to design on pieces of paper. I'm still an avid gamer, but I'm somewhat disenchanted by modern gaming. I don't own any of the current gen consoles.
So what do you find is the main difference between writing story for games as opposed to novels?
Surprisingly, not very much. RPGs and adventure games tend to be pretty story-centered, more so than some other genres. When I play an RPG, I always expect memorable characters and an immersive storyline, which good novels and movies also have. There's a lot of overlap -- basically, it's all about creating expressive characters and good plot hooks. There are some differences, though. In a novel, you don't have to worry about structuring the story around gameplay, and you have a lot more leeway for developing plot points or characterisation. A game generally has much less text than a novel, so you have to find ways to develop these things in a much tighter, more impactful way, because too much dialogue or non-interactivity will bore a player.
Cool. So how did you get started with the Legionwood series?
Well, originally, I was working on a game in RPG Maker 2003 way back in 2006 or so. When VX came out, I played the test game that game with it and liked its new features, so I decided to buy it. There were quite a few things that were different from the RPG Maker I'd been using (several event commands, the whole scripting thing etc.) so I began to work on a small practice RPG using the RTP to familiarise myself with the engine.
Surprisingly, this test game took longer and longer to develop than I first thought and, despite my best efforts, kept getting stuff added to it. At this time (around 2007 or so), VX was very new, and I also noticed that there weren't any "serious" RPGs that had been made with it yet; the only releases floating around were short joke games or mini-RPGs. As such, I decided to turn my practice game into the first full length VX RPG -- I released what I'd done so far as a demo and continued to work on it. That's what turned into Legionwood. It took me about three or four years to finally finish it.
Then the same sort of deal happened when VX Ace came out -- except this time, I'd had a lot of people requesting that I make a sequel some time, so I skipped the pretense of making a practice game entirely and jumped right into Legionwood 2. The latest version, which I'm releasing this week sometime, is around 60% complete.
So what happened to that early version in 2003?
One Night 4
One Night 4
After using VX, I didn't want to go back to using the older engine, so I quietly cancelled and deleted it. The game was called Tales of Worlds 2, the sequel to the first RPG I ever made (thankfully nowhere to be found, because that truly was a piece of work). It was so long ago, that most of the people who are fans of Legionwood and One Night don't even remember that I made a previous game. I think that's a good thing
I think people would still want to see it You've created many successful works of art, both your game series and your novels. Now this may be a hard question, but do you have a personal favourite of the works that you have made?
That's easy. It has to be my novel, Sun Bleached Winter. I've made and released a lot of games, but this is my first novel published. It holds a special place in my heart.
Of my games, Legionwood 2 is my personal favourite, simply because it's the most polished, but I love them all equally
You got a few good reviews on Sun Bleached Winter. From Portland Book Review and HorrorPalace.com. You're out there!
Yeah, you're right. It blows my mind to think that anyone's even read it! I'm currently planning a sequel, but between my game projects and university stuff, there isn't much time to write it
So, what are you currently working on?
Legionwood: Tale of The Two Swords
Legionwood: Tale of The Two Swords
I've got two projects currently in development: Legionwood 2, which only has the last Act left to do, and One Night 4, which is considerably less complete. One Night 4 recently generated a bit of money via an Indiegogo drive, which allowed me to purchase some much needed resources to resume development.
My current plan is to finish Legionwood 2 some time this year, and then get to work on One Night 4. It shouldn't take as long to complete as Legionwood 2. Then I'd love to work on my next novel. I'm planning to spend October pumping out 2000 words a day to get it done
2000 words a day! That's quite a bit. Stephen King says he writes 2000 words a day, "and only under dire circumstances do I allow myself to shut down before I get my 2,000 words." He says, "If I don’t write every day, the characters begin to stale off in my mind—they begin to seem like characters instead of real people."
That's true. I think anyone who intends to write for a career needs to get into the habit of writing a certain amount of words a day. 2000 words is nothing if you're a professional writer -- writing just becomes second nature, and it'll be done in a few hours.
Stephen King is one of my favourite authors. I think he has a lot of advice worth listening to.
I've heard that you write a lot of the stuff you do on the fly. Is there a standard plot structure that you write your RPGs/novels off, like a skeleton of ideas/research that you do before starting, or do you just write as you go?
Umm, it's kind of a little bit of planning and a little bit of not planning, if you get what I mean. I don't have any written plot outlines or design documents stored anywhere, but I have a rough idea of which direction a given story will go in my head and what the ending will be -- I basically flesh out the in between parts as I go.
No matter how hard I try, I just can't abide sticking to a plan. I tend to change my ideas a lot, and I find it's a lot more liberating to just write/develop as it comes naturally. I know where Legionwood 2 and One Night 4 will end, and what the basic game progression is for both, but the details will be made on the fly. This is the way I wrote my novel as well, except I went back and revised it after I was finished to make sure everything was consistent and fit together.
Last question: 5 favorites.
Legionwood 2: Rise of the Eternal Realm
Legionwood 2: Rise of the Eternal Realm
Jalapeno chillis. Seriously, I will probably get heart problems or something from the volume of these I eat.
Liam Neeson -- he was Qui-Gon Jinn and my father in Fallout. That deserves some respect.
Favorite ice-cream flavour?
Can't go wrong with haphazardly mashing them all together to see what it makes.
Favorite musical artist/style?
Unusually for someone born in the 90s, I love older music from the 70s and 80s. I also listen to a lot of video game music, particularly stuff by Nobuo Uematsu and Akira Yamaoka
Favorite day of the week?
Monday. I feed upon other people's negative emotions
Thanks Dark Gaia for your valuable feedback. You're awesome.
[This is the seventh part of a multi-part series that will be released every few days, whenever I get the chance. The other parts are Archeia, Gorlami, Mister Big T, Shaz, seita and Tsukihime. Visit Dark Gaia's site Dark Gaia Productions if you wish to find out more about the fabulous world of D. Robert Grixti.]
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