Today, I caught up with Sam and Jason to talk about their upcoming Oblivion-like RPG Aralon, a game that takes place in an open world environment with 3D graphics and breathtaking views. While the game still has a long ways to go before releasing, it’s one game that looks promising.
NoDPad: What prompted you to create an RPG on the iPhone?
Jason: While there are literally thousands of casual style games on the AppStore, we really felt the absence of large scale games with immersive game play. We have always big huge fans of the RPG genre and it felt like there was an opportunity to create a quality, in-depth RPG experience on the iDevice.
Sam: We have both always loved playing RPG’s. Personally, I have played so many I don’t think I could remember even half of them. We wanted to try to create an RPG experience that was much more portable and compact. We wanted anyone riding the subway, bored at a Dr Appointment or with just a short amount of time to be able to fire up a game and have some good old RPG fun. We didn’t want to make the 80th version of Sudoku 😛
NDP: Which games have inspired the creation of Aralon?
Jason: The core inspiration for Aralon came from the Elder Scrolls RPG’s: Morrowind and Oblivion. Some of the game mechanics also draw a lot from World of Warcraft and Dragon Age.
Sam: Jason definitely listed some of the main ones, but we I am sure there is inspiration from so many more games that we subconsciously worked into the game. When you grow up playing and loving these types of games elements from so many games work their way into everything you create.
NDP: What are your thoughts on the demographics of the App Store?
Jason: It seems more and more people are turning to their iDevice as their primary gaming machine. Clearly the App Store is a haven for the casual gamer, but there’s plenty of room for an in-depth gaming experiences too.
Sam: I love the App store and think it is a fantastic idea that every portable device should have. However, I do wish the store was a little easier to search, and perhaps the organization could be a little more user friendly, but I am certain Apple is working on making the store’s interface a little cleaner and easier to use. Sometimes the really good apps get buried by a mount of derivative stuff, and that is definitely regrettable. But word of mouth is a powerful force and I am certain that most of the titles that have a solid foundation eventually get the recognition they deserve.
NDP: What hurdles have you gone through to develop Aralon?
Jason: A well-crafted RPG takes a lot of time to create. We chose to build on the Unity3D engine for creating the game and that has been a great tool for us throughout development. Some of the biggest challenges have been creating the different classes, abilities, and game mechanics and making them balanced but also unique. And of course the process of creating a vast, interactive world with literally hundreds of Npc’s and interesting locations.
Sam: Jason has addressed the technical aspects of creating Aralon. I want to talk a little more on a personal level. We are just two regular guys with ‘real’ jobs and families. We both have wives and kids and have to make sure we get done what we need to do to so that we can support and provide for our families. It has always been our dream to make games, and hopefully this is a stepping stone towards that goal. For now, we are juggling work, school and life on top of trying to create an amazing iDevice gaming experience. Let’s hope we pull it off.
NDP: Why have you chosen Crescent Moon Games to publish your game?
Jason: We wanted Aralon to really shine in every way possible as an iPhone/iPad game. By partnering with Crescent Moon Games, we felt we had the chance to really take the game to the next level of artistic quality and game play polish. They have a lot of experience with the AppStore market and they have been great to work with on improving the visuals of Aralon and making it the best game it can be.
Sam: We both talked to the guys from Crescent Moon games and we really clicked with them. They are super cool guys who just want to have fun and make great games, for us that is enough. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they are an incredibly talented team with the ability to create drop dead gorgeous art.
NDP: Do you feel there is a lot of competition for Aralon?
Jason: There is always competition for the attention of gamers, but we feel that Aralon will offer an RPG experience that hasn’t existed on the AppStore before. We have packed so many features into this game: vast outdoor areas and dungeons to explore, character customization, questing, swimming, climbing, horse-riding, crafting, etc. And it all takes place in a handcrafted, open 3D world. There really is no other game quite like it on the iDevice.
Sam: I am a big Milton Friedman fan (nerd alert) and I truly believe that competition makes one better. A lack of competition leads to a lack of innovation and complacency. Hopefully everyone is smart enough to realize that more great products simply expand the gaming landscape for everyone. And it’s the same for Jason and me, more great games just leads to more gamers.
NDP: When do you plan on releasing the game?
Jason and Sam: Right now we are estimating sometime in September.
NDP: Any closing thoughts?
Jason: We just sincerely hope that people enjoy playing Aralon as much as we have enjoyed creating it. We hope to be making games like this for a long time to come
Sam: Play Aralon, we are pretty certain you will love it because it was created with love. We didn’t set out to create a franchise or a cash cow. When we started this whole thing in my TV room we just wanted to have fun and maybe create a game that 100 or 1000 people would play. We wanted to create something we could call our own, and be proud of it. Over a year later, Aralon is a little bigger than we had planned but our goal is still the same. Make a fun game people will love to play.
Many thanks to Sam and Jason for the interview! Be sure to check out Aralon on the App Store some time in September!