We’ve got another Final Fantasy Tactics-like game on the horizon, or is it? Daniel Xu gives the full rundown on his upcoming RPG!
Chase: Explain the general fundamentals of your game here to ones who have never heard of it?
Daniel Xu: Certainly. Singularity: Tactics Arena is a turn-based, tactical RPG that takes place in a scifi/fantasy setting. If I could namedrop a few inspirations, it would be a combination of the SCP Foundation and Shadowrun in terms of setting, and Final Fantasy Tactics with D&D 5e for gameplay mechanics.
It’s a story-driven game with a bit of mystery to it. You wake up in an abandoned research/containment facility filled with strange creatures, and you work to figure out who has you captive, what they want, and how that relates to the history of the world.
Chase: Now, this is apart of a series? Is there a video game universe you’ve got going on?
Daniel Xu: Yes! Singularity: Tactics Arena is the second installment of the Memory of Eternity franchise. The series deals with the topics of technological singularities and simulation theory.
Chase: What inspired you to make this type of game?
Daniel Xu: I’ve started building the idea for this series about a decade ago, so it’s hard to remember what inspired me initially. I think it was really an exploration of many different themes, mythologies and theories. The greatest single inspiration is probably Planescape: Torment, a RPG that is very near and dear to my heart. The question at the center of Torment was “What can change the nature of a man?”
The question in my work is “How far will a man go to change his nature?”
Chase: How deep is the customization here?
Daniel Xu: I want to say pretty deep. Not on par with the largest RPGs of course, but for a game with a 10-hourish run time? There’s a lot to play around with.
Things that can be customized include anything from character classes, subclasses, which skills to pick up, body augmentations, and loads of items, weapons and armor, which can in turn by modified with attachments.
For example, if you want an axe that can set itself on fire and shoots out a hook that grabs enemies, you can do that. Or a sniper rifle that you can slap a bipod on and shoot bullets that freeze enemies in place. Or a machine gun with a bayonet, a sword with a gun built into it, polearms that give you reach attacks, hammers that shoot daggers, underslung grenade launchers on your pistols, etc.
I’m looking forward to seeing what builds players like best.
Chase: What type of narrative-driven choices are we going to have? Can two characters romance?
Daniel Xu: There’s a few choices that will change the course of the narrative. On the lighter scale, there’s the Trust mechanic, which changes how your party members interact with you. On the heavier end, there are choices in the game that will open new story branches or close them off. These will also result in different endings.
There is a romance option, although I can’t say much about it without spoiling it.
Chase: Explain the story of this game to a newcomer if you could!
Daniel Xu: Imagine a setting where someone applied a coat of cyberpunk to traditional fantasy. Sprinkle it with a touch of Lovecraftian horror and set the clock to “perpetual near-apocalypse.”
The game is set in the island city-state of MoonFall in the aftermath of the technological singularity. The player finds themselves and three of their former co-workers trapped in a large facility they later find out to be run by the covert agency known as the Travelers Mandate. The Mandate studies and contains dangerous anomalies, entities that violate natural law. Something they’ve been working on caused the singularity, which itself has gone horribly wrong.
Chase: Now, your project has been funded via Kickstarter. What’s your experience with Kickstarter?
Daniel Xu: Kickstarter is wonderful. I can’t say I’ve had anything but a great experience working with Kickstarter and my backers. I will say that while many in the gaming community have a lack of confidence in Kickstarted projects, due to some high-profile flubs, it remains a great platform for a tiny indie such as myself to gather a community, encouragement and funding.
Chase: Some people tend to have a negative reaction towards crowdfunding in general, assuming a crowdfunded project usually is a bad one, using examples like Mighty No 9. How to you ensure your game prevails where that didn’t?
Daniel Xu: I’ll be completely honest, this isn’t my first foray into Kickstarter, and I was very inexperienced when I ran my first successful campaign. I think a few things are key to maintaining good faith with your supporters:
Honesty: I know it’s overstated, but it’s really imperative for developers to be transparent and honest about their intentions. Projects that fail or get showcased in “worst of kickstarter” videos tend to be secretive, aggressive with their critics, or just disappear entirely.
Communication: Keep your supporters up-to-date on what’s going on. They’re providing you with a budget, so the least you can do is make sure they’re informed.
Have a plan for failure: This may seem counterproductive, but a lot of crowdfunded projects fail, even after funding. Believing that yours won’t is reckless. When I recognized that my first project was going to take much more time than I anticipated, I notified all backers of the change, offered full refunds and let them know what my plan was moving forward.
Also, my game is already about to enter its beta test, so I suppose that boosts confidence. Not forcing people to wait a year+ always helps.
Chase: Will the game be accessible at all to gamers of recent generations, such as difficulty tuning or no level grind?
Daniel Xu: There are two difficulty modes. A more difficult mode where player characters are afflicted with Trauma status effects as they play through the game, which confer various downsides and bonuses, and a mode where Trauma effects don’t take place.
I’m aiming for that sweet spot where people who want to grind can, and where people who don’t like grinding don’t have to, but takes more skill to get through the game. So ultimately, the difficulty is up to the player.
Chase: When is this coming out and on what system?
Daniel Xu: Coming out on PC and Mac, on Steam and Itch.io. I expect the beta test to start in August and the full release to take place after that.
I wish the best for this game, like any interesting one out there! For now, follow them up at https://www.memoryofeternity.com/!