Interviews

It’s your turn — Winterborn Studio Head and Community Manager on Externus – Path of the Solari

Winterborn recently released its Kickstarter campaign for the upcoming tactical RPG Externus – Path of the Solari, which currently has a funding goal of $50,000 by June 18. We got to talk to Studio Head Kent Gambill and Marketing/Community Manager Trevor Osz to talk about the inspirations for the game, as well as a look into the creative process of the studio.

So Externus – Path of the Solari is a modern take on classic tactical RPGs. What were some of your inspirations for the game?

Kent Gambill: I grew playing a lot of classic tactical RPGS and I would say we take a lot of inspiration from games like Final Fantasy Tactics, Shining Force, and Fire Emblem.

If you could only play one video game console for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

Kent: Sega Saturn, as it has the largest number of my favorite games on it like Shining Force 3, Panzer Dragoon Saga, and Dragon Force.

Trevor Osz: Xbox 360, it was a big jump forward for games with the addition of small indie games taking off in a big way. I’m the kind of person that plays pretty much every genre, so I just think the 360 had an incredible library overall.

How will Externus be different from the numerous other options in the tactical-RPG market?

Kent: We’re not doing the job class systems like some other games do as we are more focused on having well defined characters. We are trying to change the narrative surrounding permadeath for characters in Externus. We want to have a balance of both negative AND positive outcomes that happen when a character dies in our game.

Trevor: Player choice is at the heart of that, we want people to not want to reload a save because they lost a party member. Obviously, they can if they really like that character, but we want to encourage seeing how the game will change because of it.

How will player choice and Fate affect gameplay in Externus?

Kent: This is a good follow up to the last question. Player choice has a lot of small ripples throughout the game as the battle. Fate is a central theme in our game, and we dive deep into it in Externus, but we don’t want to say too much about that as it’ll give away spoilers. We want to make sure that choices make a lasting effect in our game and that they aren’t just throw away moments to be forgotten after a choice is made. We want them to be memorable.

Trevor: I think a lot of the thoughts surrounding Fate and choice are directly from the tabletop game and how we, as players, made choices that changed the story for our player characters. So, this is the way we can bring that into the video game adaptation.

Random question: You wake up and become your favorite character from the game. Who would it be and how would you get out of bed?

Kent: Sir Pendleton is my favorite; I’m a little biased because we made him as a representation of my corgis. I would have to jump out of bed since I would have small limbs, haha!

Trevor: Amante Steele, for sure. He was my character when playing the tabletop game and the one I spent the most time playing. His story is fantastic, and I can’t wait for us to tell it in the game. I imagine he would be one to wake up at dawn and go for a run to start his day. That is in complete contrast to me personally!

What were the deciding factors on utilizing full 3D battlefields, and what were the challenges in developing them?

Kent: We’ve always liked the look and style of 2D characters on a 3D battlefield. It feels nostalgic. We want our battlefields to feel like there are lots of different ways to strategize whether that be obstacles, different heights, etc. We also want players to move the camera and be able to see different ways to approach combat from a tactic point of view. Everything becomes a bit more complex when a game goes from 2D to 3D such as making sure the characters work properly and making sure they feel like they’re in the world. Camera positioning is a big thing to get right to make sure you can get the proper perspective without losing the detail of the world. In addition, we added 3D modeling software into the art pipeline instead of just having it be 2D. This added a bit more work to the process.

Winterborn is comprised on many industry veterans as well as experienced independent developers. How has your staff’s experience change the way you approach this game’s development?

Kent: We are aware of a lot of the pitfalls you can run into during development. We know how to properly prepare for multiplatform releases. Most indie developers will make their games on one platform and then port it to others while we have planned for day and date releases, if possible, to be the same or close. This is done at the base code level and has been planned from the beginning. Also, being able to plan for certification and knowing those requirements for each platform will help us get the game out to those platforms easier.

Kickstarter is perhaps one of the biggest funding options for indie developers. What made you decide on making a campaign for your game?

Kent: Apparently, we’re masochists! In actuality, the IP is very important for us and we wanted to make sure that we were able to keep the IP intact. We did this instead of the publisher route to keep control of our world as it’s one we created sitting in my parents’ basement playing the original tabletop game. We want to make sure the only feedback we get is from our fans and people who are backing us. Kickstarter is a great place to grow a community and that’s what we want for Externus.

Trevor: We love the world of Externus. Whenever someone new ever mentions they’re into tabletop games, I will instantly think of playing in Kent’s basement and have a fun story to tell. That’s why we want more people to be able to experience those stories, our world and those characters. We want Externus to have a community that will enjoy it as much as we do.

Other than the Kickstarter, what are some other ways fans can support your work?

Kent: Honestly, share us and talk about Externus and the things we’re working on. The single biggest hurdle for any game developer is being seen and we’re well aware of that.

Trevor: We’re trying to tell anyone who will listen about the game and what we’re doing. So, we appreciate any opportunity we get to chat about the game. With that, we could use the help in spreading the word and we appreciate this chance to talk about the game. For those interested, just make sure to gives us some likes, shares, and interact with us. I read everything we get!

Are there any other projects or ideas Winterborn is planning on doing in the near future?

Kent: No plans for the near future, as we are solely focused on Externus. We do have ideas for a few smaller games, perhaps after Externus launches that would help the team decompress after the massive undertaking our first game is.

Finally, any last words or pieces of advice for our readers?

Kent: Like, in general? Wash your hands! Actually, thanks for taking your time in reading this. We really do appreciate anyone who interacts with us in any way. We look forward to hearing from you all in the future.

Trevor: Thank you again for the interview, Elisha! Also, thank you to your readers for taking the time and we hope you’ll join us on our adventure!

Externus – Path of the Solari will be available to back on Kickstarter until June 18. Stay tuned for more news here on Gaming Trend.

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