Continuing Gamasutra’s ‘Road to the IGF’ feature, which profiles and interviews Independent Games Festival 2007 entrants, today’s interview is with Amanda Fitch of Amaranth Games, developer of retro-styled RPG Aveyond.
The game, which is “packed with more than 60 quests, tons of places to explore, and over 40 hours of game play” reflects Fitch’s passion for 16-bit Japanese RPGs, and allows players to “join guilds, get married, be turned into vampires, cursed, and more”.
“You can also buy a mansion for them and oodles of pets,” adds Fitch.
Fitch - a full time writer - designed, programmed and worked on art for the game part time over 18 months, with assistance from artist Jim Moore and composer Aaron Waltz. After completing Aveyond, she now hopes to move into game design on a full time basis.
We spoke to Fitch about the game, its entry into the IGF, and whether or not we’ll be seeing more titles in the vein of Aveyond from her in the future.
What is your background in the games industry?
Er... background? What background? I'm as unlikely as they come... I'm a writer who wanted to make a game.
When was Amaranth Games formed, and what previous titles have you released?
Aveyond is my first title for sale. Before that, I made various freeware adventure and role-playing games.
What inspired Aveyond, and why did you decide to make it?
I missed my old Final Fantasy games. Since none were being released, I decided I would have to make one if I wanted to play it.
What were your expectations from your game, and do you feel the end product lives up to those expectations?
I wanted to make something nostalgic of the console-style RPGs that were popular in the ‘80s. I don't feel that I've 100% made the game I wanted to make, but I'm going to keep trying.
What do you think the most interesting thing about your game is?
The story. Unlike most games these days that focus on action, Aveyond is all about the story and exploration. It has lots of elements that you would find in any console-style RPG, but I've also added and adventure twist. For example, there are lots of quests that don't require any fighting. You've got to use logic and problem solving to get through the game.
How long did development take?
1 1/2 years, part time.
How did you go about writing dialogue and story for a game of this length?
I wrote it like I would write a novel - hey, I'm a writer, so this part comes natural! One draft at a time until I was happy with it. Aveyond has over 250 pages of dialog in it.
Do you think you'll produce more games in this vein?
Oh yeah! I love doing this stuff! I'm so addicted that I don't think that I could stop at this point.
What was the development process like?
Lots of planning, lots of writing, and lots of time waiting while resources were created. After all of the preliminaries were out of the way, it was a pretty smooth process. Built the maps, scripted, tested, retested, and poof! Aveyond was born. I will admit that there were lots of times when I was sick of working on it, but I'm was too stubborn to quit.
What do you think of the state of independent development, and how do you think independent games fit into the industry?
I think independent development is in a good state right now. With the rise of the Internet and wireless everything, it's the perfect storm for indies to do well. I think that the popularity of independent games is a barometer that indicates how well the giant game companies are doing. If indie games are popular, the big game companies aren't giving gamers what they want. If indie games are not popular, the big game companies are giving gamers what they want. I started making games because the big game companies weren't making anything I wanted to play.
Have you checked out any of the other IGF games?
Which ones are you particularly impressed with, and why?
Virtual Villagers is my favorite. It's the strangest little game, but darn addictive.
Which recent indie games do you admire, and which recent mainstream titles do you admire, and why?
Besides Virtual Villagers? I really like Cute Knight. It's a sim game about a girl who can have multiple destinies. It's so... well... Cute! And not very well known.
Do you have any messages for your fellow contestants or fans of the IGF?