“Twilight Sleep Street” Developer Interview: Evolution from Illustrator to Independent Game Producer


PLAYISM released the PC game “Sleep at Twilight Street” on Steam and GOG stores on April 14, 2021. This time Famitsu interviewed nocras, the individual developer who created this game. He is also an illustrator and designer of the game. He has participated in masterpieces such as “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” and “Pokémon Sword/Shield”. art design.

In the interview, Famitsu raised various concerns, such as the reason for his determination to make the game independently, the source of inspiration for this game’s creativity, and the works that influenced his creation, etc. Please be sure to see the end.

nocras

Illustrator, 3D designer, is currently carrying out activities under the name of the personal team Orbital Express. Participated in the background art of “Final Fantasy 14: Freshman Iozea”, the product art of “The Legend of Zelda Wilderness”, the concept art of “Excalibur 2”, the map design of “Pokémon Sword/Shield”, etc. In addition, there are many projects development experience. This time, “Sleep at Twilight Street” is his first independent production, and he has also participated in the development of most of the content in the game.

“Sleep at Twilight” is a project that will be vetoed by the speed of light in large companies

—— Please talk about the experience of developing “Sleep at Twilight Street”.

nocras: I used to work as a 3D designer in a game company, but I was in charge of large-scale projects at the time, and I only had access to a small part of my own development work. Since then, I have always had the idea that one day I will finish a game by myself.

—— So you should have been brewing the idea for this work for a long time, right?

nocras: The setting of the world view comes from the Oriental fantasy-style illustrations drawn out of interest after I became a freelancer. Although I felt that drawing an illustration was enough to satisfy myself, I unconsciously wanted to turn this illustration into concept art and then make it into a game.

After a period of time, I tried to get in touch with and learn the development knowledge of Unreal Engine 4. Realizing that “I might be able to complete this game by myself” is also the opportunity to start making “Sleep at Twilight”.

When the content of the screen and other content reached a certain level, I tried to release the PV on Twitter and Youtube, and the response from the players was more enthusiastic than I expected. Therefore, I am determined to complete this work seriously and devote myself to development. It can be said that “Sleep at Twilight Street” was originally not a game that was developed after a complete plan.

—— Since this work is a work evolved from illustrations, can you tell us how the game type of this work was determined?

nocras: My initial plan was to 3D the illustration, and make this work a game of walking in the streets of the city and purely feeling the atmosphere, which is the so-called “walking simulator” game.

Even in the finished works that have been released, the concept of “enjoying the atmosphere of the world of works” has never changed. However, during the development process, I still added the action-adventure elements of “explore the map and collect props to unlock other regions”.

Generally speaking, the first thing to make a game is to start with the idea of ​​the game system, but I am a designer and illustrator, so the first thing that comes to mind is always the picture. From this perspective, if this project is placed in a large company, it is a case that will be questioned “Where is it interesting?” and then rejected by the speed of light. The advantage of making games independently is to be able to do things based on their preferences.

※Walking simulator: There are basically no challenging elements in the game process. You can experience the world view and story by walking in the world of the work. Most of these games use 3D maps and first-person perspectives. Representative works include “Dear Esther” and “Homecoming”, “Memory of Eddie Finch” and so on.

Concept map as a source of inspiration for the game

Encounter with publisher PLAYISM

—— How did you meet PLAYISM, who is now in charge of publishing the work?

nocras: A few days after I released the PV, PLAYISM took the initiative to contact me, which surprised me (laughs). But at the time, I didn’t think about launching this work with such a big fanfare, I just planned to barely develop the work, make my own Steam page and then sell it.

But in the process of propaganda, everyone’s expectations became stronger and stronger, which far exceeded my expectations. Seeing such a high voice, I also made up my mind to release this work on a large scale. Among the several candidate publishers, I think PLAYISM has the best affinity with me, so I entrusted them to be responsible for the release of this work.

—— Where do you think PLAYISM has a good relationship with yourself?

nocras: No matter good or bad, just let it go to me (laughs). For example, there are many publishers who put forward the request “If you want us to make a substantial investment, I hope you can also refer to our opinions”, but I hope “Sleep at Twilight Street” can 100% express what I am after. , So it is very important to have a development environment in which game content is completely free from interference.

From this point of view, PLAYISM respects my ideas very much. Although they gave me a lot of opinions, they didn’t force me to accept it at all. And they also handled the overseas publishing and translation work that I was completely incapable of. It can be said that they are a publisher that closely matches my needs.

—— Famitsu has already played this game in advance. From the design of the map and the arrangement of collecting items, you can feel that you want players to explore all corners of the world. For example, when the player looks around the street because of “how can I get the props on that high platform”, he may think “maybe there is a place to go up behind that building.” And after trying it out, you will find that this is indeed the case.

nocras: This is exactly the idea that I realized when developing games as a company employee in the past, that is to inspire players’ “adventurous heart” about “what’s in that alley” in this way. Therefore, I set up hidden props in the game where “it is quite interesting, if you don’t want to check it out”. I think that since there are so many alleys and alleys, these places have to be meaningful in the game.

I myself am the kind of person who can’t help but explore the alleys when I walk in reality, often deviating from my destination (laughs). When going to Asakusa and other tourist destinations, I also prefer to take the back roads rather than lively streets.

The reason for this interest has a lot to do with my extensive exposure to animation and game works when I was young. Jeep’s works and the Nintendo 64 games I played at the time, such as the animation “Castle in the Sky”, “Spirited Away”, games “Super Mario 64”, “The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time” and other works are me Of youth. I really want to add these elements that are closest to my original intentions into “Sleep at Twilight Street”.

—— Indeed, when playing this game, the game’s world view settings reminded me of Spirited Away several times. Can you elaborate on which elements are derived from Nintendo 64 games?

nocras: In “Sleep at Twilight Street”, players need to collect props named “Earth Source”, the performance when the props are obtained, and the design of the new map to be unlocked after collecting a certain amount is the same as that of Super Mario 64 , And “Sanctuary”, a labyrinth with a certain degree of action, is inspired by the “Legend of Zelda” series.

Reasons for not adding combat elements and photo mode

—— “Sanctuary” provides players with many challenges that require certain operations while using their brains, but players can skip directly by spending the currency in the game. Why design a skip function?

nocras: The original idea of ​​this game is to allow players to “enjoy the atmosphere”. The biggest reason for this design is that people who don’t usually play games can pass the level.

In the early stage of game development, I once launched a Demo version at a game exhibition. At that time, the players who came to experience it were not so much my game fans, but rather people who liked my paintings. However, out of my own interest, I still hope to add some of my personal goods to the game, which is similar to the fun of Nintendo 64 action games.

Whether it is a player who likes challenging action games like I used to be, or a player who has supported me since the beginning and wants to experience the art atmosphere, I hope that they can fully enjoy the fun of the game. That’s why I made the game into a form that as long as the basic challenge can be completed, anyone can pass the level through the money collected during exploration.

—— “Sleep at Twilight Street” did not add the element of fighting the enemy. Is this also a trade-off for players who are not good at playing games?

nocras: Of course, part of the reason is because the combat elements are not in line with the concept of “Sleep at Twilight”, but the biggest reason for doing this is because I have no programming experience at all, so (the combat gameplay) is very technically very hard to accomplish. I pay more attention to the completion of the content related to the theme of the game than to add elements that may become half-hearted.

—— A large-scale game will basically contain combat elements, but I personally feel that the more attractive the world is, the more it will induce players to give up fighting and travel the world. From this point of view, it’s good to focus on making players enjoy the world of the work itself.

nocras: If you encounter a situation where you suddenly start fighting when you want to feel the atmosphere in the game, I personally find it a hindrance.

—— I believe that many game fans with the same needs will like this work very much.

nocras: Yes, I hope such players can come and play this game. However, I also know that my work cannot be accepted by all players, because there are many elements that exist in general games, but this work does not have many elements. But thanks to this, I can do my best in art, which also makes my game different from other works.

—— This work is also equipped with a photo mode that is not normally included in personal works of this scale. This is also to make use of the strengths of this work, right?

nocras: The camera mode allows players to freely take photos they like, which I think must be added. The shooting angle can be adjusted at will, please try it out.



What is the “recently addicted game”? !

—— Although the previous article mentioned a lot of the charm of independent game development, but on the other hand, did you encounter any difficulties in the process of personal development? If so, please tell us about your efforts to overcome these difficulties.

nocras: I’m a person who gets bored easily, so I don’t like the same project for many years (laughs), but “Sleep at Twilight Street” is a work I have been developing for 3 years while doing other work. It is difficult for me to stay motivated all the time.

The reaction of the players after watching the PV and the support of the fans at the show are the biggest motivations that support me to continue. I’m a very simple person, just these two points are enough to make me full of energy.

In addition, I will use the excuse of finding inspiration or learning, and spare 1~2 weeks to just play games. Because it takes a lot of energy to create something from scratch, I will also take on some work commissions from other companies, which is just the right kind of adjustment.

Because “Sleep at Twilight Street” is a fantasy game of Japanese style, I have collected a lot of information related to Western art style in order to prevent everyone from thinking “I’m tired of the Japanese style~” (laughs). While admiring the “European church, it’s so handsome”, while working with ease, I personally like this mode of work very much.

—— In other words, in the process of game development, in order to change your mood, you will often fish and play games, or find information that is completely different from the game world view, right (laughs). But it can also be seen that you really like games. What type of games are you playing lately?

nocras: Actually I really like PVP-type FPS games…

— Eh? ! Do you actually like this kind of games? It’s a bit unexpected.

nocras: If you just watch the work “Sleep at Twilight”, you might not be able to imagine it. However, I have been playing Apex Heroes recently, and I have also played games such as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Overwatch. I played these works for hundreds of hours.

Of course I also spent a lot of time playing indie games. What is the scale and capacity of “Sleep at Twilight Street”, in this regard, games such as “Wind Journey”, “Wisdom Sea (ABZ?)”, “Frost (RiME)” and other games are of great reference value. The charm of these independent games is that they can give players an impressive experience in a short period of time.

Reasons for entrusting Ujico* to make music

—— What was the chance of choosing Ujico* to be responsible for the music of this work?

nocras: Ujico* once asked me to draw the album cover. It was the first time I heard the music composed by Ujico*, and it felt really great. Therefore, I always think that I will ask Ujico* to make music next time I have the opportunity.

Ujico* has created a wide range of music genres, ranging from emotionally uplifting dance music to emotional music that expresses a certain storyline. I think he must be able to make a song that fits the theme of “Sleep at Twilight”, so when thinking about who to write the music, he was the first one to think of.

——Mr. Nocras should not give specific details such as the direction of music creation, but rather leave it to Ujico* to play freely, right?

nocras: First of all, I told him how many maps there are, and how many pieces of music are needed for basic information. Then Ujico* created hundreds of songs based on this. After listening to all of them, I found that there were already music that fit the style of this work, so I conveyed to him, “The style of this music is very close to what I want in this scene. “The music used in the movie” was basically handed over to him to take full responsibility.

The 15 songs included in the OST of this work are all in different styles. It can also be seen that the music created by Ujico* does cover a variety of styles.

Possibility of console porting and sequel

—— “Sleep at Twilight Street” was released after the completion of the localization of English and Chinese. Did you take into account the overseas development in the early development stage?

nocras: When receiving feedback from players, I received a lot of messages in English, which led to the idea of ​​developing overseas markets. Although I am not very sure about it myself, PLAYISM said that when this work was exhibited overseas, the response was very enthusiastic. Perhaps part of the reason is that this work has a unique charm as a Japanese style game.

—— It is true that many Japanese games have extremely high popularity overseas, such as the “Shenmue” series and “Great God”.

nocras: Sure enough, it is inevitable to compare with these works. Including the most recent game work “Original God”, because its oriental atmosphere and animation style are in common with this work, so it has also been mentioned.

—— Next, please talk about your future plans. Does “Sleep at Twilight Street” plan to launch additional content such as DLC? Will it be ported to game platforms other than PC?

nocras: There is currently no plan to launch DLC. However, if I think of any good ideas after the release, I may add some more content. After all, it is technically feasible.

Regarding the porting, not surprisingly, many players said “If it is on the PlayStation 4 or Nintendo Switch platform, I will play it”, so I also want to port it. Although this is only the first work I personally produced, and it is still unclear whether a transplant version can be released, of course my personal wish is to transplant it.

—— Or ask PLAYISM to transplant it…

nocras: PLAYISM is a publisher with rich experience in host porting, so I also plan to push it a little bit. However, this will cause many questions, such as whether PC works can be easily ported to the host platform, how high the cost, etc., so I can’t give the answer yet…

—— After reading this interview, PLAYISM might also consider the issue of transplantation. Do you have ideas for a sequel or next one now?

nocras: Of course there are ideas. A lot of content including combat elements, I didn’t actually install it in the game this time. I personally like the “creative” elements in “Animal Crossing Friends” and “My World”, so I also want to add such content to the next works. Of course, now my mind is full of “Sleep at Twilight Street”, so let’s wait until I am free to talk about it.

—— Finally, please say a few words to the players who are going to play “Twilight Sleep Street”.

nocras: This game is absolutely impossible to achieve in commercial works. It is a game that 100% shows my persistence and hobbies. If you are willing to play and feel the feelings, I will be very happy.

In addition, thanks to the fans who have supported and supported me at pixivFANBOX and the exhibition since the beginning of development, this game has reached this point. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to you all. You have been waiting for these 3 years. Thank you for your long-term support.


Translation: Mayor of Cat Village Editor: Bluestoon
Source: Bonfire Camp
Original: https://gouhuo.qq.com/content/detail/0_20210422165513_jXZy37EKN

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