|RPGFan interviews three members of Team XKalibur, the devlopers behind the tradtional RPG on Gameboy Color called Mythri. Employees featured in this interview are Tomm Hulett, Co-Founder and Lead Designer, Keith Martineau, Co-Founder and Graphics Supervisor, and Carolyn Carter, Character Designer/Artist.
StahnMahn: First of all, let me thank all three of you for taking time out of your busy schedules to talk with RPGFan.
Tomm: It's our pleasure
StahnMahn: I want to start by asking about Team XKalibur in general. How was your company created?
Tomm: I'd essentially gotten hired at a company. When I found out I'd have to design games that some other guy thought up, Keith and I decided to form our own company to make our own games. Thus Team XK was born.
Carol: Well..I went with Tomm to register the business. ::chuckles::
StahnMahn: How did you choose Team XKalibur as your company's name?
Tomm: We can't tell you that.
Keith: That, is a secret.
Tomm: ::innocent whistle::
Keith: We chose it because it sounds cool!
Tomm: Yeah, go with that. ::looks around::
StahnMahn: Ah, good answer!
StahnMahn: Do any of you have any past game developing experience prior to joining Team XK?
Tomm: I did some game testing and level design.
Keith: I don't, this is my first time.
Carol: None whatsoever...except playing them...and drooling over the art in the booklets.
Keith: Heh, yeah, I think all of us can say that.
StahnMahn: Actually that brings me to my next question. What's each of your favorite RPGs?
Tomm: I thought we weren't bringing politics into this? ;) I don't have a FAVORITE per se...Chrono Trigger, Seiken Densetsu, and Final Fantasy are cool (6 would be my favorite FF). I have a soft spot for the Lunar series.
Keith: I don't have a specific favorite, but I like Chrono Trigger, the FF games, and SoM.
Carol: Same favorites as Tomm and Keith, but I'd also like to add Soul Blazer and a bunch of other games I can't think of right now.
StahnMahn: Let's talk about Mythri. The Mythri petition has been up for a few days now. How have you and your team reacted towards the outpouring of support for the petition?
Tomm: The petition has exceeded our expectations. It's a bit frightening, now, to worry about pleasing all those people :) But we were anyway...it's just now they're actually there waiting. So it keeps us on our toes.
Carol: I was just simply amazed by the support.
Keith: Completely overwhelming reaction. Everyone is extremely happy about it and using it for inspiration. It's been a huge huge help, it really has. All the encouragement is just wonderful.
StahnMahn: What prompted you to create a Japanese-style RPG as opposed to a more Americanized RPG?
Keith: We love Japanese-style RPG's, it's what I enjoy playing the most.
Carol: I'm obsessed with Japanese stuff.
Tomm: Well this question'll send me on a small rant... There's really two types of RPGs. You have Japanese style like Dragon Quest and Lunar...and then you have American style like Ultima or Diablo. Both have a large audience. However, in the past when an American company's tried to make a Japanese style RPG, we feel they've put too many American RPG elements into it. They both have an atmosphere of their own, and mixing them doesn't always work. While I'm sure it COULD be done...for our first game I wanted to prove to the world that America could make a Japanese style RPG. That, and yes...we love Japanese RPGs, art, and storylines :)
Carol: The language and culture are nifty too.
Keith: That, and being the anime fans that we are, and being inspired by anime in general for this, it was the only way to go.
StahnMahn: Go with what you know and like, huh?
StahnMahn: Out of all the consoles currently on the market, what caused you to choose Gameboy Color for Mythri's development?
Tomm: It's the cheapest to develop for. It also wouldn't require any fancy 3D programming, super polygon graphic effects, or something like that...this format let us "stretch our muscles" as it were.
Keith: It's much friendlier to a team just getting started than a next gen system.
Tomm: Also, the GBC allows us to bring in innovations from the 32-bit era, and place them into an "old-school" game. This way you get the best of both worlds.
StahnMahn: Good point...besides, according to the petition signature comments, people really want a good traditional RPG on GBC anyway.
Tomm: It seems that way :) Another factor in the decision was us wanting a good GBC RPG too. A lot of companies don't seem to use the GBC to its full potential, and we'd like to show everyone what the system can do.
StahnMahn: The next few questions are for Carol. Is there any specific anime/manga artist that has inspired your work?
Carol: Oh gosh...::laughs:: ...not that question! CLAMP, Masamune Shirow, and then a bunch of other artists I can't think of the names of. Then there's a bunch of works that have inspired me too like Please Save My Earth, X, Rurouni Kenshin, Escaflowne, etc, etc...
StahnMahn: Sounds like quite a list!
Carol: Ohhh yeah... And of course, video game art has also been an inspiration.
StahnMahn: Any specific game art that you like?
Carol: Um... any of Amano's work (he's brilliant), Lunar series, Thousand Arms, and a bunch of others I can't think of at the moment.
StahnMahn: Could you explain to our readers what exactly you do in terms of artwork for Mythri?
Carol: I draw the characters, monsters, bosses, and manga stills; color all of them; stick them in the game after Keith shrinks them; and then any other odd illustrations they need. But my favorite part is doing the character design.
Tomm: Yes, all the monsters, bosses, and manga stills in Mythri are hand drawn.
StahnMahn: Okay, let's focus on character design. What process do you go through to create a character's artwork?
Carol: Tomm and Keith give me a list of characteristics that they want that character to have. Then I take those characteristics and try to infuse them with the character I'm trying to form. The rest of it is pretty much fooling around with any ideas I have for the character. ...and try to give a general feel for the character and their emotions.
StahnMahn: Sounds like good team work.
Carol: Tomm gives me the hardest time ::laughs:: but then again, I guess that's his job. ;)
StahnMahn: Tomm, what are you responsible for as the co-founder and lead designer of this project?
Tomm: I do a lot of things...as the Lead Designer I have to oversee all areas of the game. The parts that I actually did myself, however, are game design (engines/plot/concepts), scripting the game, town dialogue, area mapping, and pretty much dabbling in everything but programming ;)
StahnMahn: Keith, similar question...what do you do as co-founder and graphics supervisor?
Keith: Well, as Co-Founder I sign all the paperwork next to Tomm ;) In general, I keep the artists on track and motivated. I do graphics myself as well. Overall just about everything has to be approved by me just as Tomm has to approve it before it can be finished. I've had my hand in almost all the graphics, and a decent amount of input on everything else too.
Tomm: Keith also thinks up some cool characters.
Keith: Yes. Yes I do.
Tomm: Though we both do that.
StahnMahn: Wow, you two have quite a job!
StahnMahn: I know you can't give away any trade secrets, but how does one generally go about developing a title for the Game Boy Color?
Tomm: The easiest way would be to get hired by a company who develops GBC games :)
Keith: I don't know that we've gone about it in any traditional way. Heh, as for Trade Secrets? We don't really have any secrets, we've just "worked".
Tomm: Yeah, we kinda' went the long way...there's licensing and funding involved. ...and...er....Practice, practice, practice! Seriously, though... You need a solid team who you know will work hard. Dedication is very important.
StahnMahn: What do you mean by not traditionally?
Tomm: We just got lucky, I guess :) Luck and hard work..
Keith: We've done things our own way, the best we knew how, and we've had a lot of help and luck in various places.
StahnMahn: Let's go back to the subject of U.S. console RPGs.
StahnMahn: Are you discouraged by the past U.S.-made console RPGs and how their success was quite limited?
Tomm: It helps make our impact that much more impressive :) I'm not really discouraged, I just hope we've fixed the mistakes, and that people will give U.S. RPG developers another chance.
Keith: Not really. You make what you know how, and it's up to the people to decide.
StahnMahn: Mythri is still without a publisher, correct?
Tomm: At the moment.
StahnMahn: What would you want to say to any publisher reading this to convince them that they should pick up your game?
Keith: Mythri is a quality product, and it's worth it.
Tomm: It's good, people want it, and the GBC needs a traditional RPG.
Carol: It kicks butt.
StahnMahn: Here's a hypothetical question for you. If Mythri finds a publisher and is a commercial success, would you consider developing RPGs for other platforms?
Tomm: I think that's a given.
Keith: Well, we've got plenty of ideas, eventually the portable systems just won't be able to handle them.
Tomm: Yeah, Gameboy Color can only handle our ideas for so long :) We're excited about the prospects of the GBA.
StahnMahn: Any advice for young, aspiring game developers everywhere?
Tomm: Pay attention to what draws you to different games. Try to learn about many different aspects of video games. And most importantly, be prepared to work REALLY hard.
Keith: Yes. Go with your strengths, those will help you the most. Just cause you aren't a jaw dropping artist doesn't mean that you can't succeed. The things you know will find a way into what you do, and ultimately help you succeed.
Carol: For artists, don't be afraid to be creative...but most of all don't be afraid to try new things, or take a break once in awhile.
StahnMahn: Is there anything else you would like to tell Mythri fans?
Carol: Keep up the support! It really helps :)
Tomm: Keep believing! We're doing our best to create an awesome gaming experience for you.
Keith: The support and encouragement they've given us has been just an absolutely tremendous help. Keep it up! We'd just like to thank everyone who has given us kind words. Thank you.
StahnMahn: Tomm, Keith, Carolyn, thank you very much for taking time out to do this interview. I wish you luck on Mythri and all future endeavors!
Keith: Thank you very much, we appreciate it.
Tomm: Yes we do.