SideQuest Studios answers our questions about their upcoming sequel to Rainbow Moon titled Rainbow Skies.
Rainbow Skies is a new game from SideQuest studios and while its release has been delayed by quite a bit, it’s finally set to launch this year. For those of you who don’t know, this game serves as a sequel to Rainbow Moon but improves upon it in just about every way. This is a game that will feature a deep gameplay system with multiple components like monster hunting, crafting, and exploration.
Marcus Pukropski, who is the CEO of SideQuest Studios and also served as the project leader for Rainbow Skies, answered some of our questions about the game.
"Just to name some of the big new features, we have added monster taming, a new dialogue system, a new magic school and upgrade system, combo attacks, treasure hunts and a new fishing mini games."
This game was initially set to release in 2014. What led to the game’s release getting delayed so much?
A combination of many things. First of all, we probably announced Rainbow Skies way too early. We had plans for the game and worked on the first concept art, but development hadn’t really started. At that time, we only had one full-time programmer employed and decided to bring Rainbow Moon (and later Söldner-X 2) to PS Vita first. The ports took a lot longer than expected, which had a knock-on effect on Rainbow Skies.
While one part of the team worked on the Vita ports, the other part did a lot of content preparation. Characters, world and dungeon assets were created. Part of the story was written. The world map and dungeons were built, etc. While the content creation helped us a lot (there’s so much visual variety in Rainbow Skies!), full time production didn’t start until middle/end of 2015.
We hoped to complete development a lot faster, but Rainbow Skies has turned into a very ambitious project. It’s a big game with about 400+ hours of content. We’ve also added German, French, Spanish and Italian localization, which really isn’t an easy task because the game contains nearly 200,000 words. Last but not least, we did not want to compromise on the quality of the game. Long story short, it’s a number of reasons but we are very happy with the end result and hope that people will be happy with the final game.
Now that you’re finally close to getting the game out, are you satisfied with how it’s turned out?
Yes, absolutely. As mentioned before, we hardly made any compromises at all. We spent a lot of time optimizing and tweaking the balance of the game and are really happy with the final result.
This game is a sequel to Rainbow Moon. What are some of the changes and improvements we can expect to see in this sequel?
There are so many new and improved features in Rainbow Skies, it would be a very long list. Just to name some of the big new features, we have added monster taming, a new dialogue system, a new magic school and upgrade system, combo attacks, treasure hunts and a new fishing mini games. Apart from the new features, we also reworked and improved almost all the existing features, including a battle system overhaul.
Also, as mentioned before, there is a lot more overall content and visual variety in Rainbow Skies if you compare it to Rainbow Moon. We also put a slightly larger focus on storytelling and character development.
Can you tell us a little about the story in the game?
At this point we don’t want to spoil more than what we already revealed. A brief story introduction can be found on rainbow-skies.com. Overall the story is a lot more diversified and comprehensive compared to Rainbow Moon. We invested a lot more time into creating character profiles and story settings. At the same time, we tried to keep all conversations entertaining and full of humor.
In terms of story presentation, we also made major improvements. Compared to the simple monologues in Rainbow Moon, conversations now take place between all party members and NPCs, which lets players identify themselves with the different characters a lot better. We have also added a number of brief cutscenes, custom animations and animated emoticons.
What can you tell us about the crafting system in the game?
The Rainbow Skies crafting system is built on the system found in Rainbow Moon, with a lot of updates and improvements. One of the biggest changes is that all equipment can now gain experience points and level up. Leveling up equipment can result in better stats and additional crafting slots. Apart from leveling up equipment, special ‘+’ versions can be created by using crafting crystals. Some of the equipment found in Rainbow Skies can be upgraded up to 9 times. This gives players a lot more freedom as they don’t constantly need to buy new gear but can instead use the crafting system to upgrade existing gear.
Of course, materials can also still be found and used for crafting purposes and there are a lot of secrets built into the system. We have recently written a detailed blog post about the game’s crafting system.
"Rainbow Skies can be played in a lot of different ways. If you just want to play through the story and ignore most of the optional content, you can probably complete the main story in about 35-45 hours."
Would you say there still exists an audience for games such as this with long narratives and complex systems?
I certainly hope so because there are not many games that are similar to Rainbow Skies. Games like Disgaea probably offer even more complex systems, but they don’t offer the same amount of exploration that we do. Hopefully we can contribute to making this genre a little more popular and that a lot of players will enjoy our game.
On that note, how long would you say it takes to complete the game?
That really depends on your play style. Rainbow Skies can be played in a lot of different ways. If you just want to play through the story and ignore most of the optional content, you can probably complete the main story in about 35-45 hours. However, if you want to complete all the side quests and optional content, you can easily invest 200 hours into the main story alone. In addition, there’s also a lot of end game content. If you would like to see and do everything the game has to offer, it will probably take you about 400 hours or longer.
What would you say are some of the inspirations behind this game?
Most of all of course Rainbow Moon, which we launched back in 2012. Other inspiration came from Disgaea, Final Fantasy Tactics, some of the older Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest games as well as some lesser known NIS games.
The game is now confirmed for the PS4, which also means it will support the PS4 Pro. Can you please let us know the resolution and frame rate it will run at on these conoles?
There will be no difference if you play the game on a normal PS4 or a PS4 Pro. The game runs at 60fps with very short load times on both systems. It’s a 2D game and our graphics are already perfectly anti-aliased, so there wouldn’t really be a big benefit from playing the game at a higher resolution.
"Generally speaking, the PS4 is not very difficult to develop for. But it’s always a big challenge to perfect and optimize your game from a technical point of view."
Given that you are now working on both the PS4 Pro and PC, what kind of technical differences did you found between the two?
Generally speaking, the PS4 is not very difficult to develop for. But it’s always a big challenge to perfect and optimize your game from a technical point of view. But of course, this was a lot harder on PS Vita because of its technical limitations. The PS4 as well as modern PCs are so powerful, it’s a real shame that many other games don’t always fun at 60fps or have other performance issues.
In a recent interview, Mark Cerny, the lead engineer of the PlayStation 4 Pro claimed that converting a base PS4 game to PS4 Pro version is just 0.2 Or 0.3% of the overall effort. What is your take on this? Do you think that the extra work required to develop an additional Pro version will actually be bigger than the number quoted?
That very much depends on the game itself. For many 3D engines, it’s probably not a lot of extra effort to increase the resolution or improve the frame rate. As mentioned before, our game already runs at 60fps (on all systems), so there’s not much left to improve. However, if you want to increase the resolution in a 2D game, you basically need to redraw or re-output all the frames. In case of Rainbow Skies, this would have been an enormous task and potentially have taken several months, if not longer. We feel very happy with how the game looks like and believe that a stable and high frame rate is much more important than a higher resolution.
Sony are promising an advanced work distributor in PS4 Pro along with new Polaris features like Delta color compression. What is your take on these features and do you have plans to take advantage of them?
As a small team, it’s difficult to be state-of-the-art and support all the latest technologies, which often requires a lot of extra time. For us, other focuses, such as gameplay are much more important. Nevertheless, considering our small team size and the game’s millions of assets, what we have achieved is still very ambitious and has cost us a lot of energy.
Is there a specific reason why you are not launching your game on the Xbox One?
Rainbow Skies runs on a proprietary engine, which has been optimized for PlayStation system. We would love to support more platforms, but considering the small team size, it’s currently not possible.
Any chance of a Nintendo Switch version?
No plans at the moment.
"I personally find a high and constant frame rate a lot more important. Higher resolutions require a lot of additional computing power. As a result, the frame rate usually suffers."
What is your take on the recent trend of Games as a service model and the possible controversial monetization practices arising from it?
From a business point of view, it’s just natural that companies go for whatever yields the highest returns. From a consumer point of view, we are not big fans of F2P, loot boxes or other controversial monetization practices. It’s great to see that so many indies keep traditional gaming alive. 😊
The current generation of consoles will probably end in the next couple of years. What is your biggest expectation from the next PlayStation and Xbox?
Nothing revolutionary to be honest. Everything will be a little bit faster and a little bit prettier. 🙂
From a developer perspective, do you think the next-gen console era will be the 4K/60fps era?
I personally find a high and constant frame rate a lot more important. Higher resolutions require a lot of additional computing power. As a result, the frame rate usually suffers. Ideally a game should always run at 60fps (or even 120fps) and at maximum resolution, but at the moment we are still far away from that.
Is there anything more you’d like to tell our readers about this game?
We are happy about every single player that supports us and hope that you will have as much fun playing the game as we’ve had developing it. If you would like to support us, you can pre-order a boxed copy of Rainbow Skies (and Rainbow Moon) at Play-Asia.com or wait until the PS Store release. Rainbow Skies is currently in QA and we hope to announce a release date soon. See you soon on Lunah! 🙂
Many thanks for the opportunity!