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Indie developer bridges classic design with new ideas

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While many indie developments harken back to elements of the games of their past, while most seem to try and strike that nostalgic cord the successful projects will often add something of their own to a favorite genre of their childhood. That seems to be one of the main ideas behind Epic Minds creation Midora.

Players will adventure as the young girl Snow as she journeys through a world influenced by classic 2D Top-Down RPG games like Zelda, or Secret of Mana. The studio has now turned to Kickstarter to try and help fund their gaming project in the hopes that the community will appreciate the homage being paid to the experiences that introduced many to the world of gaming, and appreciate the unique elements they seek to add.

Mhyre, CEO of Epic Minds and Midora’s Game Designer, sat down to talk about their project, the experience of being an indie, and touch on some of the controversy the game has sparked.

Jesse Tannous: What will players experience in Midora that they couldn't from the classic games you drew inspiration from?

Mhyre: With Midora, we are hoping to bring back classic gameplay elements while bringing something new to the table. The first and most obvious thing is the heavy use of water in the game, which will interact with anything in the game.

Water can turn into so many things and do exactly what you can expect it to do in real life: it can hurt, it can heal, it conducts electricity, produces steam with fire, turns lava into rocks, rainbows with light and finally turns into ice if it's cold enough. When you give the player the ability to control water while other elements are at work, so many things can happen! Water can be used to solve puzzles and beat your opponents at the same time. We also have an interesting rune system, where all runes will interact with water in some way.

We are also creating a lot of new items with unexpected functions. We've shown the wind fan and the vine whip so far, and both sure can be compared to items like the boomerang and the hookshot, but that's only 2 items out of 12 unique weapons, and they both have other uses as well (wind fan can bounce on walls, vine whip can disarm enemies, etc..).

Then there's the classic H&S type of gameplay from the games that inspired us, which we hope to bring back because we haven't seen much of it lately, at least in the top-down kind of 2D RPG.

JT: I'm interested in your experiences as indie developers. What have been some of the biggest hurdles or most rewarding moments being an indie developer?

M: There's quite a bit of satisfaction coming from the tools that we created for this game, tools that we're hoping to share later on. We have a very capable team, with a very experienced developer who worked with Notch, creator of Minecraft, in the past. There's an amazing pixel artist, a very talented composer and a brilliant illustrator. Epic Minds has seen quite a few people last year, but we finally came up with this team. We all have a passion for the game we're trying to make, and we still have something to prove, but we're hoping the Kickstarter campaign will allow us to show the world what we're capable of.

JT: You made a point on your Kickstarter page to show the tools you have used to create Midora why did you decide to do this?

M: There was a recent controversy about Midora's graphics. Even though we explained why and how we made those, some people still claim that we are using existing tools such as RPG Maker to create Midora. This is completely wrong, because we have created everything we use to make the game from scratch. The level editor, a scripting language, and soon the animation editor. Those claims hurt our senior developer who has years and years of experience on his back, and has worked for over a year on these tools.

Since we're going to allow everyone to create custom maps for the Arena Mode, we thought it would be nice to show the tools during the campaign, but to also prove that we are not amateurs. We are indies, sure, but we know quite a bit when it comes to game development.

JT: You seem to have assembled a pretty talented team for this project, what was it about this project that brought this team together?

M: Passion came first. We all love 2D Zelda games, Secret of Mana and many more. We are not making 2D games just for the nostalgic feeling, but also because we believe they still have a place in today's gaming industry. A lot of kids today are playing FPS games. There's nothing wrong with FPS games, but we still think games that filled our childhood have a right to exist, and should continue to exist to fill the childhood of the next generation.

The next thing that brought the team together is the story. After more than two years spent writing it, it is truly exciting and has a lot of work behind it. We have amazing characters, villains, events, twists. We believe our story has a strong value for the game, and we are dying to see people play the complete game, beat the final boss, and tell us how blown away they are by the ending.

Being fans of retro games with plenty of experience in the gaming industry Epic Minds certainly seems to be dedicated to attracting those who will love the familiarity of Midora while hopefully surprising them with some new spins on classic mechanics.

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