Old School Gamer Magazine chats with Beidi Guo / Freelance illustrator animator and Visual Artist of Lantern Studio, who lets us know why Luna is a special game that will tickle the fancies of retro gamers and those looking for something different.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How was this game born?
Beidi Guo: The original idea was based on one of the student animation film made by me years ago. It was a story about a man who pilots the moon around and his long-distance relationship with his family. The setting of that world inspired the making of this game, there was a tower, a moon and a family in the story, I love all the elements.
Meanwhile as a player who especially enjoys puzzle game, sometimes I like just doodling some puzzle ideas myself. in 2016 I shared my thoughts with my game developer friends Fox and Wang Guan and they both showed strong interest in it. Since both of them have been working in large game companies for years, with many experiences to share, then half year later, while the story and research almost completed, followed by the joining of the 4th member, Wang Qian the sound artist, the production of the game officially started.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What was your role in the game?
Guo: Visual Artist and part game design. However, due to the lacking of manpower in the team, everyone will try to do anything that they can help with. Like QC, Marketing, IT, etc.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How did you get involved in the industry?
Guo: I used to design a small mobile game in a company, two of our team members also use to work in the game industry, it is exciting for us to make a game ourselves the first time as an indie team.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What was development like?
Guo: The whole team(4 of us) scattered around China, UK and Canada, covers 3 different times zoon, so there’re always somebody working in a day. It is very challenging to work together closely for such a long time as a small team. Passion is just not enough, I am grateful that everyone is very hardworking and talented.
We had a very limited budget, part from the Kickstarter Campaign funding, we all more or less contribute our savings into this game. It is a lot harder than we expected but we’ve also appreciated the freedom and challenge that you don’t usually find anywhere else.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What makes this game special?
Guo: LUNA is a story-driven adventure game without any dialogues, so there will be always something mysterious or unexplainable about it. It can also be introduced to anyone anywhere without a language barrier. We hope players will enjoy the animations in between the chapters, they are all hand drawn and with fantastic soundtracks.
We also chose to use the traditional frame by frame animation as the technique when animating the characters, it is very time-consuming, but the result is charming and rewarding.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What games influenced this one the most?
Guo: The biggest video game inspiration was a 90s clay animation point and click game by Dreamworks called “The neverhood,” also the games from Amanita studio, eg. Machinarium and their Samorost series gave us the motivation of making our game. The art style and story of LUNA were inspired by many other my favorite artists, from Studio Ghibli, illustrator Shaun Tan, the novelist Ursula le Guin.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Any fun stories or wild moments during development?
Guo: I haven’t met any of the teammates face by face until almost a year into the development. Sometimes my cat jumps on keyboard cause major disaster of file losing. She also likes to block my camera during skype meetings.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What were the major lessons learned?
Guo: Always backup important files. Be patient to my teammates when sometimes have disagreements. Learn to hear from a different point of view, even when the issue might not be their expertise.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Do you think preserving older gameplay mechanics in new games is important?
Guo: Yes, generally people like the things that feel familiar. So when trying to introduce new mechanics, a good tutorial or user experience design becomes crucial.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What’s your favorite memory as a gamer?
Guo: My favorite memory as a gamer is to look at the sunset, walk in the snow, sit by the campfire… doing almost daily mundane things in the games that I loved. The visuals in the games usually artistically designed to magnify the mood in an almost perfect way. Also, I feel that if one was never experienced or appreciated daily life then one can never redeliver the same experience via his/her game with the players.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How do you want this game to be remembered?
Guo: I hope this game can bring happiness to people, warm their heart or at least become a relaxing and enjoyable experience like when you watched a good film or read a nice book. During the making of the game, it reminded me of some of my childhood memory, they are mixed with both happiness and sorrow, it made me who I am and it is important.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What’s next?
Guo: We will then try to bring LUNA to as many platforms as possible, showcase it around the world.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Anything else you’d like to add?
Guo: As a small indie team, we really appreciated any shout out for LUNA. We update our process of development every other month on all social media, building up the community bit by bit. We’d always enjoy talking to people who interested in our game, answer their questions, making friends. We also shared our story with other indie game makers all over the world, helping each other promoting their own games. It is not easy to get your Game out there while so many games to play every day, but we believe being honest, genuine and hardworking will slowly get us out there. I hope LUNA can reach to more people all over the world.
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the author of the book, “The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews With Cult and Classic Video Game Developers,” from McFarland And Company. Featuring interviews with the creators of 36 popular video games–including Deus Ex, NHLPA 93, Night Trap, Mortal Kombat, Wasteland and NBA Jam–the book gives a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of some of the most influential and iconic (and sometimes forgotten) games of all time. Recounting endless hours of painstaking development, the challenges of working with mega-publishers and the uncertainties of public reception, the interviewees reveal the creative processes that produced some of gaming’s classic titles.