Last year’s Rainbow Moon was a runway success. SideQuest Studios, the developers of Rainbow Moon, have now turned this game in to a franchise by recently announcing Rainbow Skies. We recently got a chance to interview the CEO of SideQuest Studios, Marcus Pukropski.
We spoke in detail about how the sequel is shaping up, possible platforms, release date, sources of inspiration and other things. Check out the entire interview below.
Ravi Sinha: The first game Rainbow Moon did pretty well on PSN – well enough to be ported to PlayStation Vita. How was the set-up going into Rainbow Skies after the former’s success?
Marcus Pukropski: Our core team is currently split. While I am working on the Vita port of Rainbow Moon, my colleagues Moritz and Julian have started creating assets and maps for Rainbow Skies. At the same time I am also guiding concept and design decisions for the new game. Although we are just a small team, this way we can work on two projects at the same time.
Ravi Sinha: What was the process by which EastAsiaSoft decided on SideQuest Studios for the sequel Rainbow Skies?
Marcus Pukropski: Once we finished our work on Rainbow Moon, we sat down together and discussed our options. On the one hand we were already pretty sure that we wanted to bring Rainbow Moon to the PlayStation Vita, on the other hand we knew that we won’t need the entire team for this. Our games run on a custom-built engine, porting Rainbow Moon to the Vita is mostly a rather technical task.
Considering a few options, we ultimately decided to work on a new RPG that builds on Rainbow Moon’s system. Thanks to all the setup and tools that we built for Rainbow Moon, we got started almost right away.
So far we’ve been working for more than six months on Rainbow Skies and have already made great progress. In terms of content and visual variety, Rainbow Skies is going to be our most comprehensive game that we’ve ever worked on when it’s ready for release in 2014.
Ravi Sinha: Was there any pressure to live up to the “spirit” of Rainbow Moon? To try and build this brand new game but still entertaining fans who loved the original?
Marcus Pukropski: This is always a very difficult task. On the one hand we want to please fans that loved the original and on the other hand we also want to listen to all the constructive feedback that we have received and further improve the game. At the end of the day, you can never make everyone happy but we have the feeling that we are heading into the right direction with Rainbow Skies.
We are refining the game design, adding a lot of new features but at the same time we are staying true to our roots. We aim to make Rainbow Skies a more diversified game, I’m sure fans will love it.
Ravi Sinha: Did you look at any similar games when planning the follow-up to Rainbow Moon? If so, which ones in particular stood out the most?
Marcus Pukropski: Obviously we are also playing games and look at what other games have to offer but this isn’t really the way that we are planning for our games. We don’t want our games to be too similar to any other game series. Instead we are trying to find our own niche and follow our own ideas.
Recently almost our entire team has played Level5’s Ni No Kuni. We all fell in love with the game, so maybe we are going to take a little bit inspiration from this game.
Ravi Sinha: With all the gameplay elements abounding in the genre, from Item Worlds to marrying characters and recruiting their children to your army, what is the process for creating a unique “hook” or aspect to the gameplay?
Marcus Pukropski: Our main focus lies on uncompromised gameplay. Players love the series for staying true to traditional gameplay. You won’t find long and often boring CGI movies in Rainbow Skies that you cannot skip, instead you can fully immerse in a fantastic fantasy world. Exploration and turn-based battles are our two major key aspects.
Rainbow Skies’ battle system is a little more complex than what you can find in many other RPGs but at the same time it’s still very easy to understand without being over complicated.
Character and gear customization will also play a major role in the game, as well as the new monster taming feature. In Rainbow Skies the player can catch, tame and fully upgrade monsters before taking them alongside into battle.
Ravi Sinha: Rainbow Skies’s parallel worlds, the light and dark realms, no doubt tie into the story of the game. Can you give us any unique examples of how this will tie into the gameplay? Will we see players going into one world to unlock the way forward in another a la Zelda: Link to the Past?
Marcus Pukropski: Zelda: A Link to the Past is a good example of how the parallel world will look and feel like but gameplay wise it’s going to be a little bit different. The player will be able to unlock parts of the parallel world at a certain stage into the game and can then freely explore it.
Some places and towns that exist in the light world can also be found in the parallel world but in a very different state. There will be different themes for different parts of the parallel world but we don’t want to spoil too much at the moment.
The two worlds will be tied together in a limited way and there will be some gameplay connections but it’s quite different compared to the Zelda example that you mentioned.
Ravi Sinha: Can you tell us a bit more about the new battle system? How will traps and projectiles play into the combat this time around?
Marcus Pukropski: The battle system itself will remain 100% turn-based. Just like in Rainbow Moon, battles will take place on grid maps, however this time the maps will be a little bit smaller. There will be a number of improvements, including new combo attacks, tamed monsters that can join the player into battle, an improved enemy AI, tons of new skills and a lot of other smaller tweaks.
Traps and projectiles will not be part of the actual battle system. Instead they will come into play during dungeon exploration. There will be a few action elements and puzzles to add more gameplay diversity.
Ravi Sinha: Nils Ngai from EastAsiaSoft told IGN that: “[Platforms] are still unconfirmed at the moment but given our track record, chances for being a PlayStation exclusive are high”. So the million dollar question is: Any chance of seeing Rainbow Moon/Skies on a Nintendo console/handheld in the near future?
Marcus Pukropski: Unfortunately we cannot confirm platforms at the moment but as far as I can tell you, Rainbow Skies is unlikely to be released at too many platforms at a time. We have very limited resources and just like our previous games, Rainbow Skies is running on a custom-built engine, which doesn’t make porting a quick and easy task.
I’m not going to rule out a release on a Nintendo platform in the future but at the moment it looks unlikely. There are still a few formalities that need to be taken care of but I think that we will be ready to announce platforms in the next few months.
Ravi Sinha: Despite being on the cusp of the next generation, RPG strategies like Fire Emblem (with Awakening) and Disgaea (with D2: A Brighter Darkness coming soon for PS3) are still highly regarded by fans. Is there a long-term goal to continue in this vein, maybe bring out some more Rainbow games in the future?
Marcus Pukropski: It’s hard to tell at the moment but as long as we are successful, fans are asking for it and we aren’t running out of ideas (quite unlikely though), I see no reason why we should stop making more role-playing games. It’s a genre that we found to really enjoy working on.
Ravi Sinha: Finally, when can we expect Rainbow Skies to release?
Marcus Pukropski: Unfortunately it’s going to be a while. We aim to release Rainbow Skies in late 2014. If you want to follow our development, make sure to check our website at www.rainbow-skies.com frequently for updates. Oh, and if you haven’t played Rainbow Moon yet, there’s still enough time for it. 🙂
Many thanks for giving me the opportunity for this interview.