An interview with the creator of Cope Island: Adrift

  • Cap_H
  • 06/30/2019 06:30 AM

Hello and welcome!
This is the sixth entry in my regular series of interviews on rpgmaker.net. The goal of the series is to further promote RMN's featured games and creative minds behind them.
I'm very fond of zDS's games. They're usually short and sweet with mechanics, which turn jRPG cliches on their heads and dark stories about love, life and death. He always tries to make his games matter. Another thing I appreciate is that he doesn't hide his ambitions. Even with heavy themes, his games always feel quite honest. To me, it's no surprise to see his latest, Cope Island: Adrift featured. His first commercial game continues engaging difficult themes of ethics and overcoming one's self and combines it with unique combat system. Combine this with rather nice graphics and a great soundtrack. I especially want to give a shot-out to the game's music as zDS is one of my favorite composers associated with RPG Maker games. Read more about Cope Island: Adrift here.

Thank you for being this patient with me and for being willing to talk about your game. This was hell of a busy month for me. How about you?
Not a problem! It's a huge honor to be considered for this in the first place. I had an insanely busy month in May. It feels like I blinked and June slipped away without me even realizing it was June. So yeah, I'd say busy for me as well!

Now, Could you introduce yourself to our readers?
This is surprisingly a hard question. I'm zDS. I've been a regular at RMN and have been dabbling in RPG Maker for more than half my life now. Some might recognize me from being the guy who won a prize with an ugly RTP game during IGMC 2014. I probably shouldn't ramble too much on this question, however! I am a dude who quite enjoys making games.

Cope Island: Adrift has been quite well received on-site. It even got featured. How do you feel about it?
I am actually quite pleased with it. I had it on my shoulders longer than I intended, but I managed to make the game I wanted to make. I had a vision for it during the IGMC 2014 and I had to scrap like 80% of that, which is the right thing to do in contests like that. Now I managed to release the game I wanted to make. No regrets. No desire to remake it and do better. I can nitpick a lot about it, but I can just gradually fix that as time goes on. There's a point I had to settle and let it loose. Else it would have still been in development and that thought scares me.

You've already mentioned the 2014 version of Cope Island. What was the journey from there to Adrift?
It was a long journey. Mainly because life was difficult for me in the past, uh... Was it ever easy? Don't think so haha. I've actually been writing a detailed Afterword in a series of blogs as of late that summarizes my journey from Cope Island 2014 to Cope Island: Adrift. I originally wanted it to be one blog, but words poured out and I just feel it is important to be honest about some of the stuff I went through to get here. The road was not easy. So the read might be a bit tough. It's certainly tough to write. But who knows? Maybe some people can relate. Maybe it can help others understand people like me who are from a dysfunctional family and are prone to dysfunctional situations. Every major moment in my life these past years have impacted Cope Island: Adrift in one way or another.

How would you compare Cope Island's general reception with your previous games? I guess your expectations were different since it was your first commercial game.
It's really hard to tell at this point. For a few months after Three Ghostly Roses, it was dead silent. Then as time passed, more and more people played it and liked it. All of my games as of yet have had a slow start. Cope Island: Adrift has only been out for less than two months, so it might be hard for me to give a final judgement on that. It's been mostly quiet, though. Generally the few who do play tell me they enjoyed it and that the effort I put into it shows. But part of me fears that commercial games are much harder to get reception flowing than it would have been if I released it for free. If I end up getting half the attention/downloads as Three Ghostly Roses, I'd consider that to be a huge success. For now, everything is very slow. And that's kind of expected.

Do you think your next project will be commercial as well? How would you rate the experience of going commercial so far?
My next project will be commercial. Not counting if I end up doing a small RMN event. (I most likely won't.) Going commercial is challenging. There is a lot less lenience on just about everything. Every word in your description is important. Every image. The timing of the images you show. The timing of the trailer. What the trailer is. And you have to practically prostitute your game to everyone and anyone who has any sort of following on review sites, youtube, and twitch. After you send it out you just hope SOMEONE bites and hopefully someone else will bite after. Going commercial is not easy and I do not recommend the move unless you have a history of game projects behind you first. I learned that making the game is the easy part. The hard part is getting people to play. But I plan on continuing down this path because if I want to be successful off of this, I have to keep trying. I learned a ton from my commercial experience so far and I can only do a better job next time.

Cope Island: Adrift

What is Cope Island: Adrift about? What is special about it and why should people consider playing it?
Cope Island is about finding one's self. Now, I do not expect anyone to play the game and have major breakthroughs and that is not what I promise. But that is still the theme of the game. I always found video games therapeutic. I am the type of person who enjoys losing in them, because I know I am still getting better as I lose. The best feeling in the world for me is getting good at a video game I was not originally good at. I don't like being bad forever, but I just more or less enjoy the ride of getting good and enjoying the progress. Video games are like this place I can temporarily escape to and just have fun while I improve. Cope Island, more or less, is kind of me painting a portrait based off my love for video games. So many times I would play a game and get better at it as I thought of difficult truths about myself. What is special about Cope Island is the fact it's, well, me. No one else could have made this game. I'm not saying I'm this special interesting person you should learn more about. It's just, I made sure I was honest in this game. There's no message I preach. It's simply my thoughts made into this strange world I constructed. All in all, I think people should consider playing it because I think it's fun. That was my goal more than anything. To make sure the player has fun playing it. You can play it merely for the combat and still have fun. And if the story appeals to you enough to finish it all and find all the secrets, even better! I did not make Cope Island to make anyone cry from a emotional story or make anyone depressed. I made it so the player could have fun and hopefully enjoy this world of me.

Do you think Cope Island: Adrift is your best game? How would you compare it with some of your previous projects such as Amort or Three Ghostly Roses?
I definitely think it's my best game. When I finally made the last trial and finished it, it was very emotional. It was everything I hoped it would be. Three Ghostly Roses had a lot of different things going for it that could possibly be more appealing, but I'm not satisfied with it the same was I am satisfied with Cope Island: Adrift. Three Ghostly Roses does not feel like I lived up to my true potential. Not yet at least. I feel the same for Mownt: For Peace. If I had a few more months with that game, who knows how special it would have been. All in all, Cope Island: Adrift managed to dethrone those two as my personal favorite of my projects. Comparing to Amort, however, is like comparing a finished game to a proof of concept prototype haha.

Do you have any project of yours, which you think gets overlooked?
So far it's Cope Island: Adrift. But time will tell there. Barring that, it would be Mownt: For Peace. It got way better reception than I ever dreamed of, though I don't think people compare it as fondly to Three Ghostly Roses. Mownt has a special place in my heart, as I made that in a little pocket of time where so much bad things happened in my life happened. My brother and I should have never finished it, but we did. It was a complete blank canvas going in. We improvised just about every idea. The end result was something I'm very proud of. I know why it doesn't get compared as favorably, it's hardly even a finished game. Sure, it is done, but a lot of the concepts were not fleshed out at all. But it was still my favorite finished project until Cope Island: Adrift (also I want to point out that it doesn't truly get overlooked!).

A rumour is you've been working on Amort 2. Is it true? Do you have any other plans for the foreseeable future?
Esby is going to kill me for this, but that was always a joke. There are no plans for Amort 2, haha. Right now I am kind of in game dev limbo. I have ideas, but none have solidified into something I am actually starting yet. I am pretty sure that I will at least attempt to remake Three Ghostly Roses into a game I am happy with, but I won't promise to go through with that until I build a proof of concept I am happy with first. I have some much bigger game ideas cooking inside my brain, but I still need more time before I making that into a reality. For now, I am going to stick with RPG Maker.

Cope Island: Adrift

I take that as a confirmation, that Amort 2 is in development. You're a great inspiration to many young devs. Do you have a basic game design advice for beginning RPG Maker users?
I'm an inspiration to young devs? Oh no, I'm not a young dev anymore. Welp. Jokes aside... The best thing to do is simply sit down and make something. You will make mistakes left and right. That's okay. Learn from them. I won't tell you not to make your magnum opus. Chances are, you'll learn that was a huge mistake during the process and learn a lot of lessons. Your idea of a magnum opus will most likely change drastically throughout the time. For real though, it is always better to start small. Start something and finish it. Don't half ass anything. Don't leave gaps. And try not to join every single game jam and event there is. That will leave you with a graveyard of unfinished efforts most likely. There's so many little things I can say. Keep your games tight. Length is not a pro, do not force length. And HAVE FUN. Do not suffer for your game. It will NOT make it better.

Are there any creators in the community, who inspire you? Where do you draw inspiration from in general?
Sgt is first to mind. Brave Hero Yuusha and Soma Spirits helped me loosen up severely in my game dev. I did not even realize how uptight I was about everything. It was holding me back. Unity seems like such a genuine person and she is not afraid to make the game she wants to make. A lot of people inspire me, such as Red_Nova, Housekeeping, Badluck, and even kentona. (don't tell him) I draw inspiration from anyone who does anything creative. I love listening to interviews of people I consider the greats. It makes me feel like I am one of them, in my own small way. This one may be strange, but I find a lot of wrestlers very inspirational. They do what they do because they love it and all they want to do is keep doing what they love and get better at it. I'm probably forgetting a ton of users.

Have you played any 2019 on-site game you would consider nominating for Misaos? Are there any upcoming releases you follow and are hyped for?
Unfortunately, I have been very bad about playing new RM games this year. I feel guilty. I am looking forward to Prayer of the Faithless by Red_Nova, Crescent Prism by Sgt, Weird and Unfortunate Things Are Happening by unity, Hero's Realm remaster by kentona, and Rise of the Third Power by Badluck. I would say I'm hyped for whatever ESBY is making, but he will continue to break our hearts.

Anything else you would like to say?
Not sure what to say other than... Try not to be cynical. Life is hard. At times, really hard. That's why I personally believe it is best to find the good in stuff. I'm not telling you ignore the bad things that are happening, but to not search for bad in the good things life.

And cut! Thank you for your time and for your patience! It was great to be able to talk to yet another dev I look up to. Good luck slow burning it big with Adrift and with your next project!


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I can be cynical if I want to! You're not the boss of me!

(great article/interview btw)
"Not sure what to say other than... Try not to be cynical. Life is hard. At times, really hard. That's why I personally believe it is best to find the good in stuff. I'm not telling you to ignore the bad things that are happening, but try not to search for bad, from the good things life."

Really good quote here!

Great Article!
extreme disappointment
you explained the joke :(
In all fairness, bird shrapnel isn't as deadly as wood shrapnel
Dang good article, and fantastic to take a peek into the mind of zDS. He's one of those few on RMN that I actively look up to. uwu
Thanks you everyone for kind words. It was really great to be able to talk with zDS like this!
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