A Bloody Good Time, Quintillion Games Owner on Blood of Yamin Development

A Bloody Good Time, Quintillion Games Owner on Blood of Yamin Development

The indie scene is full of fun experiences, and the Metroidvania genre is one that’s flourished in recent years. Quintillion Games has recently announced its newest project, Blood of Yamin, which is currently in development for PC. We got to talk with Johnathon Brown, Creative Director and Owner of Quintillion Games, about Blood of Yamin and the independent gaming landscape.

Chasing XP: Thanks for letting us ask a few questions about Blood of Yamin! How did the initial ideas for the game come to be?

Johnathon Brown: Of course! Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity. As for the initial idea, well, Blood of Yamin has been something that has been toiling in my head for some time now. Over the years I would create sprites and concepts for the environments, knowing that the project was going to be a side scrolling game set in fantasy world. It wasn’t until I sat down and said, “Ok, let’s plan this out!” did it form more into a Metroidvania. I grew up on that stuff so it was something I held very dear to my heart and feel like I could make a meaningful contribution to the genre.

Have there been some things since the original concepts that had to be altered during development?

Oh yeah, for sure. A lot actually. Over time, one of the main focuses I had was to streamline our Game Design Doc (GDD) and the core pillars of the game into what it is now and I am quite proud and happy of it. We used to have an amalgamation of ideas and systems that needed tweaking. I pulled what I love from other Metroidvanias or RPGs and said, “How can we take these systems and mechanics that I love and marry them here?”. Over time, things were cut and others combined into what we currently have today, systems built on player identity and a choice in how they want to go through the world.

What were the inspirations for Blood of Yamin’s artstyle and gameplay?

For the artstyle, I wouldn’t say that I have a direct inspiration but one of the types of media that I have always enjoyed were western animations such as the DC animated films and things like Avatar: The Last Airbender. I grew up on Batman: The Animated Series, Gargoyles or Sunday cartoons. They always had a strong shape language to their design and that lends well to pixel art. Using those as inspiration, they became a jumping off point when creating the characters or environment. Alongside films like ‘Gangs of New York’ helped build some of the environment influences.

Gameplay wise, I would say that Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is a very high bar in this genre and one that I think of often when talking about Metroidvanias. So that game is always in the back of my head when designing and has been a study for the game we are making. But another big inspiration would be Action-RPG’s or RPG’s in general. As they are something I have played almost all my life. Trying to find a sweet spot with the melding of those 2 genres, leaves a lot that can be done. But build identity and allowing the player to have the ability to choose how they are going to tackle a problem is a big design philosophy I am bringing over from the RPG realm.

The Metroidvania genre is one that has been popping up in the indie scene this past decade. What is something that will make Blood of Yamin different from the competition?

Metroidvanias are very versatile and we have seen a lot of iterations over the years. One of the ways that we are separating ourselves from the crowd is through allowing the player to build out their character in a way that caters to their playstyle. Whether that is through playing a mage, a warrior or a rogue; giving the players tools to change how they want to play is key to this design philosophy. These tools can range from different weapons, stats, talent trees, Yaminite Beads and more. For example, for the Yaminite Bead feature, this is our way of taking something as simple as a double jump or a dash and giving it an active role in your combat with enemies. Like, a double jump that shoots lightning under you, doing damage and applying vulnerability to the enemy or a dash that throws daggers out in a cone in front of you and applying bleed to the enemies for each dagger that hit them.

What is your favorite part of developing Blood of Yamin?

Creating levels and environment design. It can be a lot of fun setting up the look of areas and figuring out how they flow. When you are in the middle of the workflow and you are creating items for the world on the fly and designing the level, it can be very rewarding and cathartic. I have always loved building things, like in Terraria, Starbound or even Fallout 4 modded. So, designing levels on the project can kind of feel like that but with so much more freedom.

What is something about Blood of Yamin you would want gamers to appreciate when playing?

Build diversity and worldbuilding. I have put a lot of time into both of these. They rank very high in my book, and I am very passionate about them.

As an independent developer, you have some different challenges when creating and marketing your game. What is something that you had to think of differently in developing the game due to the size of the team?

Scope and scope creep. This has been something I feel had to be managed well and to be cautious of. We have seen it time and time again in the gaming industry that something like scope creep causing many issues, leading to very surface level mechanics or giant world with nothing to do in it.

What is some advice you could give to our readers that would want to make their own video game?

It is very demanding and requires you to plan out as much as you can. Even if that means taking shots in the dark. Getting your hands dirty on the engine you are wanting to build your game on is also key. Get in there, experiment and keep calm. It can be very frustrating to spend 3 hours on something that once you know how to deal with is a 5-minute task. Learning what things do and how to deal with them is a majority of it. Another node of advice is that word of mouth is incredibly important and something Indie games live and die from. Sharing articles like this or social media posts is truly helpful and allows us all to grow and create games that we enjoy!  Secondly, take care of your mental health. It can be hard out there and remembering to take care of yourself if very important.

For those who are interested, how can our readers stay updated with Blood of Yamin? Will you make any appearances in local conventions soon?

Wishlist our project on Steam, follow us on twitter, join our mailing list on our website and follow our Kickstarter. The best place to stay up to date with us is Twitter as that is our main line of communication with our community and engage often on it. You can get sneak peek looks at behind the scenes and updates on the project like when our Kickstarter debuts!

            Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1960250/Blood_of_Yamin/

            Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bloodofyamin/blood-of-yamin

            Twitter: https://twitter.com/QG_Studios

            Website: https://www.quintilliongames.com

As for local conventions, quite possibly. We are based out of Las Vegas and there are a few conventions that come through yearly. So, keep an eye on our twitter and we will let you guys know when that comes to fruition.

Finally, any last words for our readers? Maybe favorite foods or music recommendations?

Yeah, for music recommendations, I am a big fan of Lofi while working. It is something that is calming and helps me focus on the task at hand.

Blood of Yamin’s Kickstarter campaign will be released to the public soon. Stay tuned for more interviews and gaming features here on Chasing XP.

The June 2022 Nintendo Direct Stole My Heart This Summer

The June 2022 Nintendo Direct Stole My Heart This Summer

Nintendo has a weird way of showing off its recent works in the Switch era. On the one hand, you have astronomically hyped projects getting mentioned and then not seeing the light of day (Metroid Prime 4, cough cough). Then you have things like Paper Mario: The Origami King coming out of nowhere on a random day of the 2020 pandemic.

It’s advertising decisions like these that make me enjoy what the publisher has in store, and their Nintendo Direct presentations have taken off since 2017. I was wondering why Nintendo didn’t make their mark during “Not E3” week, but after seeing what the Nintendo Direct Mini: Partner Showcase offered… I think they just wanted to give Sony some breathing room before inundating us with announcements.

The Nintendo Direct June 2022 Will Not be Televised

What surprised me was that the Nintendo Direct Mini wasn’t a live premiere; rather, it was a scheduled upload that was delivered all at once. While content creators were frantically scrubbing the video to cover announcements first, it was also in stark contrast to the recent livestreaming events we had in the past month with the Summer Game Fest. The company’s trying something new, and I respect that.

Nintendo’s gonna Nintendo, after all.

A Monster Opener

One of the several new monsters in the Sunbreak DLC, pitted against three hunters.
Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak just looks better and better

It seems like Capcom wants a piece of gaming glory, as it was the company that opened for this month’s Sony State of Play and the June 2022 Nintendo Direct.

Of course, we all knew that Monster Hunter Rise’s expansion Sunbreak was coming soon, but this was a great look at what’s in store for players that have grinded in the original game. An extensive roadmap and pre-order details were announced, making for a meaty inside look.

I’m excited to see what Capcom does in the future, and with their support of Switch in the past few years, I can’t wait to see what’s next. (Perhaps a Nintendo version of Street Fighter VI? Pushing my luck here.)

A Great Partnership

As the name suggests, we got more third-party reveals with the Nintendo Direct Mini: Partner Showcase. We FINALLY got more details about Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, which looks like it’s going to be a magnitude greater than its predecessor. The strategy game will feature more units, zany antics, and the ability to recruit Bowser. Considering this title was announced quite a while ago, I’m glad we’re getting more concrete details about the game.

Speaking of more concrete details, who would have guessed that we would get a fleshed-out look at Sonic Frontiers here?

I’m personally fine with 3D Sonic games, but after the initial footage of Frontiers, I was as skeptical as the last Sonic fan. However, the Nintendo Direct Mini assured me this game will be better than the previous previews have shown, with tighter combat mechanics and a lengthier look at the graphics engine.

I still don’t think it’s screaming GOTY right now, but at least it’s shaping up to be an entertaining Sonic game.

(Fingers crossed this isn’t Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 Part 2.)

Room for the Little Guy

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the indies in the Nintendo Direct Mini!

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes, and Blanc, had contrasting black & white aesthetics that helped separate themselves from the rest of the announcements, with some excellent puzzle mechanics that will make for a relaxing experience.

Little Noah: Scion of Paradise looks like a beautiful surprise shadow release that will scratch the itch of roguelike fans, and RAILGRADE is just the thing for vehicle simulator fans to sink their teeth into.

And while it was only a few seconds of footage, Captain Velvet Meteor: The Jump+ Dimensions is on my radar, if only because I would pre-order any game with Spy X Family and Kaiju No. 8 in it.

While I would be hesitant to call it indie, Portal: Companion Collection was an instant download for me (seriously, I purchased it right after the showcase was over). I can’t believe this duo of puzzle games has not been available on current-gen consoles until now (as a Switch exclusive for the time being, too!). I implore everyone to pick it up if they can. It’s only $19.99 right now, and I would definitely pay that price for the first Portal alone; it’s that good.

What’s Old(er) is New(er) Again

Remakes, reboots, remasters? Who even knows anymore?

All I know is I’m happy that I’ll be able to play Nier Automata on the go with The End of the YoRHa Edition (and at a cheaper price for the physical to boot!) Pac-Man World Re-Pac will be a reimagining of the first Pac-Man World title (which, coincidentally enough, is the one I skipped). At $29.99, it’s cheap enough to pre-order as an impulse buy.

I’ll definitely mourn the loss of Ms. Pac-Man, though…

However, the announcements of Super Bomberman R 2 and Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection really had me crying tears of gamer joy. Seeing new installments of two of my favorite childhood series in succession was just too much for my heart to handle.

I’m probably one of the only people still playing the excellent but underrated Super Bomberman R Online, so hearing that game shutting down made me sad…

Until the announcement that R 2 would have the Battle 64 mode included in the package, making the loss a little easier to swallow.

The fact that we would get an announcement of all 10 Mega Man Battle Network games in one package with no clue beforehand was shocking. It’s announcements like these that make me feel like a kid on Christmas morning. In my eyes, Nintendo had already won my heart…

But they were already set to steal it.

A Last Surprise: Living With Determination in the Backside of the TV

Okay, blame me for shoehorning Persona music tracks in that last header. Still, it feels like the Nintendo Direct Mini mirrored the Sony State of Play in more ways than one: Closing with an update for a highly anticipated JRPG series.

While Sony got Final Fantasy XVI details, we finally got the news that Persona 3 Portable, Persona 4 Golden, and Persona 5 Royal were heading to the Switch and other consoles! While I haven’t played Persona 5 yet (gasp!), I can vouch for P3 and P4 as excellent turn-based RPGs that are perfect on the go.

I mean, considering the former titles were available on PlayStation handhelds, it’s a no-brainer that they would fit perfectly on the Switch. I’m also shocked that Persona 5 Royal can run natively on the handheld (and the fact we’re getting a port of a PS4 game rather than the vanilla PS3 version). Square Enix, you done goofed with the Kingdom Hearts titles on Switch (and this is coming from a Stadia stan).

The Sony-Nintendo Synergy

In a way, the Sony State of Play and the Nintendo Direct June 2022 were similar in their announcements: Chock-full of AAA and indie titles with some fan favorites and shocking surprises to boot.

There was so much in the Nintendo Direct Mini that I didn’t even cover all the announcements in the latter! (Sorry, No Man’s Sky on Switch.) I feel like this rapid-fire pace of announcements works wonders for gamers, and while I know there are still a few titles from both companies that still need more details announced, these showcases paved the way to an amazing 2023 and beyond.

Get your holiday wishlists ready, because we’re moving full steam ahead!

How Sony State of Play won “Not E3” Week

How Sony State of Play won “Not E3” Week

It’s been more than two weeks since the Sony State of Play premiered, and I still can’t stop thinking about it. Even after the countless Summer Game Fest livestreams and surprisingly shocking Final Fantasy VII anniversary showcase, I’m walking away thinking the Sony State of Play stream reigned supreme. It was a nonstop flurry of game news and announcements, plus some showstopper premieres that everyone was waiting for.

Short and Sweet

The main advantage the Sony State of Play had over the main Summer Game Fest stream was the shorter length. While the latter’s livestreams would last hours on end, the Sony State of Play ended up clocking at under 30 minutes. Taking from a page from the Nintendo Direct’s book, there were a total of 13 games announced, which was nearly one game announcement every two minutes.

I like developer commentary and behind-the-scenes footage as much as the next gamer, but respecting my time and showing me what I came for is refreshing in the age of talking heads and teasers of teasers. The Sony State of Play also knew how to manage its time, with a range of indie releases sandwiched between some heavy hitters. The pacing was relentless and entertaining, and it didn’t dwell on any one mood for too long.

What’s Old is New Again

RE-RE-Remake time.

Speaking of heavy hitters, who was expecting another iteration of Resident Evil 4 at the Sony State of Play? (Okay, everyone was, but it was still a great debut!) There was a lot to love here, featuring graphics made from the ground up in the new RE Engine and a new third-person mode. While the “haha, ANOTHER Resident Evil 4 remake?” joke rings true, there’s something about how the reimagining of the survival horror title still manages to impress even after countless generations of video game hardware.

Speaking of Resident Evil, we also got a glimpse of some new DLC for Resident Evil Village, which includes some choice footage of everyone’s favorite overgrown villainess, Lady Dimitrescu. But what could prompt another REpeat (sorry, I had to take it) playthrough of the game for veteran fans?

PSVR… 2.

Back (PSVR) 2 the Future

It seems that the Sony State of Play offered up an inside look at the recently unveiled PlayStation VR 2 headset, which is currently in development. I personally just took up playing in the virtual reality space last year, and oh boy it’s something that I can see myself getting into in the coming months.

A glimpse of the upcoming VR headset.

Seeing as how I skipped the original PlayStation VR headset, seeing the enormous amount of support that the PlayStation VR 2 received during the Sony State of Play made me feel like they’re in it for the long haul. Besides the aforementioned RE Village port, we also got word that No Man’s Sky will also be supported for the PSVR 2. Considering the underdog journey that Hello Games had gone through with that game, I’m excited to have PR players finally experience one of the best VR titles for PCVR.

In terms of brand-new titles, we got some more footage of Horizon Call of the Mountain as well as The Walking Dead Saints & Sinners Chapter 2: Retribution (which is a mighty long title, if I say so myself). Honestly, if not for the other big hitters in this showcase, I would have already called the State of Play a winner at this point. I’m going to be guessing we’ll be seeing a PSVR 2-centric State of Play in the next few months, but a writer can dream…

With great (PC) power comes great responsibility

I have no dog in the fight when it comes to PlayStation games coming to PC since I’m a diehard console fanboy, but I’m glad that Marvel’s Spider-Man will be heading to PC very soon. It’s one of these moves that makes me glad that more gamers will be able to play one of the best superhero games last decade, and I definitely can’t wait for the mods that will inevitably come out of this new version.

Of Indies and AAAs

Finally, I wanted to lump my thoughts on the last few titles shown in the Sony State of Play together, which all vary in shape and form.

Stray is probably my highlight of the showcase due to how adorable and realistic the premise of controlling a cat in the neon dystopia of a cyberpunk-esque town. This title really shows how far the independent gaming scene has gotten; the graphics really look like something a AAA studio would have made years ago, but the fact that small teams can come up with something this beautiful is charming. It was also a great way to reference the new PlayStation Plus tiers (as the game will be available for Premium and Extra subscribers).

Look at that cute lil’ cat.

While personally still confusing for the general public, this was a great way to sweeten the pot for anyone still thinking to upgrade their PlayStation Plus membership.

In my eyes, the Sony State of Play for June had a great mix of titles for everyone, and it shows gamers that the PlayStation brand is prepping the big guns for the coming years with huge titles like Street Fighter 6 and The Callisto Protocol on the way.

Of course, these games were wedged between things like Eternights, Season: A Letter to the Future, Rollerdrome, and a Tunic port as well. Even the most jaded gamer had at least one thing to enjoy in this showcase, and the rapid-fire presentation with minimal fluff made for a speedy watch.

And finally, boy howdy was that Final Fantasy XVI footage a sight to behold! While last week’s 25th-anniversary stream of Final Fantasy VII ultimately overshadowed it, spending more time with the story and characters of Final Fantasy XVI while also announcing a release date (Summer 2023; a bold move, to be sure) was a great way to cap off an already bustling State of Play presentation.

Final Thoughts

With June almost over, the “Not E3” E3 week demonstrated why we need E3 more than ever next year. First of all, it wasn’t even a WEEK. I feel like most of the official Summer Game Fest livestream presentations were bloated with banter and mostly uninteresting behind-the-scenes footage. Most of the specialized showcases (looking at you, Sonic) just couldn’t hold enough content to justify a separate video event.

If any event screamed, “It could have been an email!” most of the presentations would be it.

That said, the Sony State of Play surprised me immensely. It was a tightly succinct showcase with some developer input peppered in, but mostly it did what great showcases did best: Showcase games.

The State of Play was a great way to have indie representation alongside AAA greats without the video teetering too much between either. I honestly think PlayStation has a great year ahead of them, and if they can keep the momentum with future virtual events, they will be a force to be reckoned with this generation.