An interview with creators of Abyssal of the Opera

  • Cap_H
  • 04/08/2019 07:53 AM

Hello and welcome!
This is another entry in now regular series of interviews on rpgmaker.net. The goal is to further promote RMN's featured games and creative minds behind them!
Fomar0153 and Indra have a special heart in my heart. It was their game, which made me stick with RPG Maker and try to make my own thing. I played RPG Maker games before and some of them very interesting, but not in a way, which would captivate me and inspire me. Their games are cool and easy going and often feature clumsy adorable characters. They look good and play better. I believe this stays true in case of their newest game as well. Abyssal of the Opera got featured right after being created and released for Tim Tam Slam Jam, which the game won. They created Abyssal of the Opera together with Frogge, RMN's resident teenager.
You play as Arthur, a hero called to rescue opera's most prominent singer from the Abyss. You assemble a cast of characters and lead them to save the day. The game is a story focused turn based RPG.You can read an official description and download the game here.

Congratulations on getting featured and winning Tim Tams. Are you looking forward to getting your reward?
Frogge: Thanks, and personally, I requested to skip out on Tim Tams since I wasn't too comfortable giving an address. Being featured's cool as hell tho!
Indra:Sure, chocolate is always nice, hoping the border doesn't keep it for two weeks this time, like last time a friend send me homemade cookies.
I am. Shame there wasn't a multipack of the different flavours. I went for caramel.
As for being featured that was a nice surprise. I think it's our 3rd featured game; first was The Grumpy Knight, then Sunken Spire and now Abyssal of the Opera.
Really wasn't expecting it as it was the non-rpg month.

Sunken Spire and The Grumpy Knight are RPG Maker classics. Do you think this game can stand up to their legacy?
Fomar: Not as it currently stands. We cut a lot of content to finish it, and made the choice between having a second area - sewers - or polishing what we had.
We went with polish which from what the judges said was quite possibly why we won.
Hopefully in time we can restore some of the cut content, I had a cool system for the sewers where you could choose where things went e.g. the shop.
Indra: Definiely have bitter feelings about the cut content and the final stretch of this project. Will have to let it rest so it loses some of the subconscious frustration that came with the last week of the project. We did have two entire areas left planned and mapped, hopefully that can happen in the future.
Fomar: There was a point a few days before the deadline when Indrah asked if it was worth finishing.... I have said I told you so (several times).

Talking about Abyssal of the Opera, can you describe the game and your roles in its development?
Frogge: Abyssal of the Opera's biggest contribution to me was that I found out that opera posters actually have a really nice aesthetic, not that I managed to mimic that style that well.
And that brings me to my role, I did the character art and posters in the lobby. I also did the sprites for the three leads, or at least made the edits. Other than that I had a minor helping hand with some other things but that was my most significant addition to the game.
Fomar: I did the gameplay, I started by making dungeon puzzles and mechanics - for all the areas we didn't finish. Then I did the equipment skills system. Finally I did the skills, items, enemies, actors etc.
Indra: Phantom of the Opera (somewhat) inspired, but with a more RPG flair, supplanting the hero with a bunch of crew from the theater for hijinks to save the kidnapped singer.
As usual, I did most of the non-gameplay: Writing, mapping, material gathering, eventing...the usual when I work with Fomar, though this time he helped in the last week, when I was too tired to continue, by doing most of the NPC content and placement of loot/enemies. (It's thanks to him that the game finished in any "finished" state at all.
And sadly, all the cool puzzles Fomar had prepared went to waste as they were in the cut areas XD.
Fomar: Though we might not have won if I'd forced Libby through a Sudoku...
This almost wasn't my first game set in an opera house. I worked on a project called In Search of Opera for Retromania which sadly I didn't finish. It was dungeons and dragons-esque.
But coding all the systems for it proved too much in the time.

Did development of Abyssal of the Opera differ from your previous games? Did you come across any challenges?
Fomar: In a lot of way it was easier for me, I had an extra 2-3 weeks than usual.
Frogge: This is actually the first game where I did this much art and oh boy was it a motivation drainer. I didn't do a whole lot but I still learned that I need to take my time drawing for the art to look decent enough. Suffice to say this game's art is not my proudest work but I think it's still some of the better.
Indra: I had a day job this time, which made me automatically much more tired and have less time. Also I was playing Sekiro a bunch so that was a distraction... Overall, I really did not like the 3-man team size, since it meant I could not get ReverieRaven, a good friend and our usual tester and helper, to pitch in with small but time consuming stuff she usually helps with (font choice, polishing long scenes, etc). I really, REALLY do not like fiddly eventing, but I'm too stubborn to NOT write cool scenes (or relatively cooler than just two characters talking and nothing else). In short: the eye was a nightmare and it doesn't even look cool. As stated, I was tired and ready to throw in the towel, and would have if Fomar didn't push it.

Abyssal of the Opera

Frogge, I know you more as a developer and less as an artist. Could you introduce yourself to readers?
Frogge: Sure! Hi everyone, I'm Frogge, I'm the dude who constantly starts cool looking new projects and then never finishes any of them. I don't consider myself primarily to be an artist as much as I'm a mapper and a writer, but it's something I'm trying to learn and part the reason I wanted to be a part of this event so bad was to see how my art would look in a game in its current state. Other than that, you may know me for my older projects, no longer available online, Memories, 100 Floors and Akane, all pretty bad and short horror games that somehow got kinda popular. Currently, I think my best game would probably be Dolorific, but I'm still working on bringing something truly good to the table.

After working with Indra and Fomar, do you think you will participate on more projects as an art guy?
I sure would love to, and once I improve my skills a little further I'm also looking to do art for my own games, but I also still have a long way to go so it may take a while until I'm truly ready to put myself out there as a resident RMN artist.
So I'll give a definitive yes, but maybe just not any time too soon.

No need to introduce the two of you, Fomar and Indra. What's new in your life since the last interview (with CashmereCat in 2015. Fomar was a guest on Attemptcast this January)?
Indra: Nothing major. Still into dev, but at a much slower pace with a day job. Probably haven't had as many or as good projects as I'd wish but sadly have less time or energy. Hoping to be able to tackle something meatier soon. (And better not talk about the growing pile of unfinished projects in the back...)
Fomar: Nothing is really new with me. I took a year and a bit out of RPG Maker after MV came out because I'd lost quite a bit of interest. But now I'm back and enjoying RPG Maker again.

I noticed that both of you worked on several solo games in recent years? What made you part your ways? How did that work out for you?
Fomar: We both took a break, at slightly different times. But we were struggling to find ideas that motivated both of us.
Indra: I work infinitely better with someone tackling the gameplay, without question. Besides us taking breaks (and me getting a day job reducing my time a lot) I don't have a definite answer as to why we didn't work together. Probably because we were each doing their own thing or the plans for the game in question didn't appeal to the other. We can have very different tastes, so many project ideas don't mesh well for the two of us.
Fomar: Most of my solo stuff were contest games, though I have started working on a Kinetic Cipher remake.

Does any of these games take place in Arum? What is Arum exactly? What is the universe's state today?
Frogge: Probably not a question for me in particular, and a bit unrelated, but there's actually a Dolorific poster in the lobby of the opera house, alongside a couple other Arum games, so while I didn't ask Fomar and Indra for this I'm just gonna pretend from now that Dolorific is actually part of the Arum universe.
Fomar: I liked the Jolly Knight (one of the posters), it was going to be a side quest to re-enact it but it also got cut.
Frogge: Jolly Knight's cool, but you know The House Sorrow's gotta be my definitive pick. Then again, I genuinely like that one the best because I feel like I matched the opera poster style best with that one. Maybe followed by Nevermelt my Heart.
Dead Moon Rise is probably my favorite in terms of the actual art but I'm willing to admit that it doesn't look too much like an opera poster, even though I tried.
Fomar: We have about 10-ish games in Arum now. Abyssal of the Opera was set in the same country as Sunken Spire but at a different time. We talked about having Vlad's dad appear in a cameo but he didn't make the cut. Vlad was the vampire from Dead Moon Night.
Of my solo games both Harvest and Hunt 14 and The Golden Fish were set in Arum.
Indra: Yes, it's set in an Arum country, Rumen. It was the same country as the setup of Sunken Spire. Most of our games take place in that world.
Arum is a shared world for any game to take part in. As far as I know, only us and 2-3 other people have used the shared world project with any actually finished projects. It's been dormant for a good while, because the sad truth is while lots of people were on board with the idea of a shared world, the thing is the games have to be finished...and that is very hard XD.

Abyssal Shine: Nevermelt is your last project you were working on together before Abyssal of the Opera. Do they tie in or is the similarity of names a coincidence?
Indra: The Abyss is referenced in a bunch of the games. Lore-wise it's like another world and where monsters come from, so it's an easy resource to use. Also i like the word abyss. It's fancy and cool. It was twisted of the Phantom of the Opera into the Abyssal of the Opera, as an Abyssal creature is who kidnaps the singer.
Fomar: Where as Abyssal Shine was a top secret organisation dedicated to keeping powerful artifacts safe e.g. the Nevermelt Ice. The organisation will pop up again in the future. As for the name having any hidden meanings, we had a couple of ideas but so far haven't 100% tied down an idea.

Abyssal Shine: Nevermelt

Abyssal Shine might be considered an underrated gem in your library. Why should more people play it?
Indra: I rather liked how characterization came out, the mapping is on point (if I say so myself). I do regret we weren't able to put in more sidequests and polish, as well as an extra "true ending". But for a IGMC game, I'm pretty proud of how it came out in just one month.
Fomar: It's on the list for taking another pass as it. But so are a lot of our games.

What is the status of In Search of Freedom? Will you complete the project?
Indra: Probably yeah, since Fomar loved that project and often reminds me of it. Soon-ish hopefully ;).
Fomar: I reminded her of it in the last week.
In Search of Freedom is one of my favourites of our games. I maintain the Psychic Tree boss is the best boss I have ever made to date.
Also the next area is already mapped in it, all the gameplay systems are done also. It is really about 70% done, a good week or two of development would see it completed. Also I love any of our projects where I manage to give everyone a different skill system.

Your games represent a diverse cast of characters. How do you approach to creating them? Is diversity important to you?
Indra: Uhh, hard to say. I tend to do whatever I want, character wise. I do feed a bit uncomfortable having single-gendered casts unless there is a specific reason, just in general as a way to have better character dynamics, but other than that I just do what I want, unless Fomar requests something specific. I try to put in different character types that will bounce nicely off each other.
Fomar: We did talk about diversity with Abyssal Shine. The generator in MV was much better for darker skin tones and we'd set the game in a slightly more tropical location than usual. Usually it came down to a lack of resources.
I think gender wise the main characters are usually balanced.
Frogge: As far as diversity goes in my games, I usually just don't particularly think about it. If any of my works do end up getting finished, I have plenty of diversity in both character sexuality and ethnicity, but usually it's not an attempt at diversifying as much as when I'm writing a story or designing a character it just kinda gets to that point naturally on its own.
I will admit that I prefer to play it safe a little bit, especially regarding ethnicity since I'm not Black or Hispanic personally, even though I have several characters who are, but I also don't try to make those their defining traits, usually it just boils down to their character design. I've got no shortage on LGBT stuff, though.

What inspires you when making games and what inspires you in general?
Frogge: Anything, really. I personally find inspiration in other pieces of media a lot, whether it be movies or games (though it's generally movies). Heck, some of it just comes from having an aesthetic I wanna pull off or something experimental I wanna try.
Indra: Uhhh, i haven't' thought about it. I just want to have made cool games, and enjoy...some aspects of dev (others are a grind but what can you do). Usually I just get really excited over depicting certain settings or characters and it goes from there.
As for coming up with games, we're pretty erratic. I can't remember any particulars, but I feel like we usually latch into a beginning concept (e. g.: underwater maps, the opera, etc) and then go from there. Most of the time we actually finish projects the inspiration is "WE GOTTA MAKE A GAME" (usually for an event) so...shrug.
Fomar: I just really enjoy making games. I'm better with deadlines for actually finishing, which is why nearly all my finished games are from contests.
I usually take inspiration from my recently played games.
Can you guess which FF game I played most recently before Abyssal of the Opera?

No, Is there any Final Fantasy with an opera in it?
Fomar: Well 6... but it was 9 with the equipment skills.

Abyssal of the Opera

Are there any creators in the RM community, who inspire you?
Frogge: The ones who work determinedly on their games and actually finish them very much do.
Indra: Maki and Racheal, Unity...I can't think up any more right now because the shameful truth is I don't play many games anymore.
Fomar: From the old school; Brickroad, Lysander86, Volrath and Artbane. These days, Maki and Racheal. I usually enjoy Ocean's games, I started Weird and Unfortunate by Unity today also, so far it's good.

Fomar and Frogge, have you played any RM games this year you would consider nominating for Misaos? Are there any upcoming releases you're hyped for?
Frogge: Currently, I only have two Misao nominations, one being for the game's title and the other being for the page's CSS. I've played played a lot of great games from RMN this year. Hardly any of them came out this year.
Don't get me wrong there's a lot of great looking games this year, including pretty much every Tim Tam game, and Deadly Woods which is probably the game I'm most interested in playing this year so far (Twin Peaks inspiration, yo) but nothing's particularly stuck out to me as Misao worthy yet.
Then again, all the exciting releases are usually during the fall, so I don't reckon I'm not gonna have any nomination by the end of the year.
Fomar: Frogge, is the best name: Steamed Hams, but it's RPGMAKER2003!? It's by the same person as Final Fantasy vs Dog.
Frogge: No, but it should have been. It's I Vanquished the Empire as a Kid and now The Economy is Crap.

Indra, Is Sekiro good? Are you hype for any upcoming RM games?
Indra: Sekiro is great, but very hard. I played with cheats because I have no shame and love playing the soulsborne games, but not the difficulty, so I complete them but in invincible mode, and have a ton of fun just exploring usually.
I'm hype for a bunch of projects from my inspirations: Maki and Racheal and Unity. Anything made by them, really.

Are you considering joining more events in 2019? What else can we expect from you? Are you cooking up something good?
Frogge: Heck yeah, I'm all in for Theme Roulette 2 and it's obligatory that I join the Halloween event every year as well as the RMN birthday event. I don't know if I'm gonna have any major releases this year, but at the very least I'm hoping for a few good 30 minute long games.
I have a HUGE project that I've been working on in the background but my target release date is sometime in 10 years so that should give you an idea.
Indra: Depends entirely on the event: if i don't like the theme then its out. If the event is OK but I'm already working on something else, I may skip. I definitely want to dev more, but it depends a lot of my energy levels and day job schedule at the moment.
Fomar: I'm expecting another seasons event, I will probably enter that. I'll enter any contest that interests me.

Have you considered going commercial or is gammak a strictly hobbyist affair for you?
Fomar: Yes and we've tried, it's usually the death of any project because we don't limit the scope of it.
Indra: Multiple times, but game making and game FINISHING is hard, and having the filter of "this has to be better, it must SELL" has always been a big hamper. Someday, if we can manage a decently sized project, I'd definitely be up to sell it and see how it goes.
Frogge: I’ve definitely been wanting to go commercial, but I don’t wanna half-ass it. I wanna go commercial with something I’m actually proud of. My big project in particular is what I plan to go commercial with for sure, probably for a price of $15. It’s meant to be 30 hours long so hopefully that’s justified.

Anything else you would like to share?
Frogge: Santa Clarita Diet season 3 is great and everyone should watch that show.
The good reception of the Abyssal of the Opera despite my misgivings and burned out frurstration was a surprise, I was convinced it was going to come out half-assed due to all we had to cut. It was pleasant to see that even in a reduced capacity we can still do nicely as a baseline, form all the practice we've gotten. Feels good.
Fomar: I felt Abyssal of the Opera was a good game, it felt like one when I was testing, I just had to try and convince Indrah.
I've really been tempted to try and make a game in another genre for a while, not sure if I will but the temptation is there.

Thank you all for making time for the interview and for your patience. It was a pleasure talking to you. Best of luck to you all in both game development and life.


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You're magical to me.
What a nice interview! Thanks for the shoutouts, and hope you enjoy Weird and Unfortunate, Fomar :DDDDDDDD
Self-proclaimed Puzzle Snob
I loved this interview. Thanks so much for providing it, Capage, Fomar, Frogge and Indrah. You are all amazing. How did you organise the interview, Capage? It seem like you all were communicating and responding to each others' messages, so either it was a PM addressed to all 3 of you, or a Discord group message or something, or even voice chat. How did you do it?
Discord group chat! I guess I was the least responsive one. Also, I they were all super nice and forthcoming.
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