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!
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.