Kickin’ it with Eden Industries – Citizens of Earth
Kickin’ it with starts the week with a feature on Citizens of Earth. It’s a game that seems to ask, “What would Earthbound do?” Intrigued? Read-on and discover this quirky indie game!
4cr: Hi Ryan, and welcome to Kickin’ it with! What can you tell us about yourself and about Eden Industries?
Thanks, it’s a pleasure to be a part of this! I created Eden Industries back in May 2010 while working on our first game, Waveform, and actually also still working in the mainstream industry. At the time I was working on Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon, and continued on to Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, all the while developing Waveform in the evenings and weekends. Finally I quit my day job at the end of 2011 in order to finish Waveform, which we shipped on Steam in March 2012. And we’ve been working on Citizens of Earth essentially since we shipped Waveform.
Primarily I do design and programming, though being the founder I find myself also wearing a lot of other hats when things come up that our small team can’t afford to have a dedicated person do. So I also handle the business side, marketing, PR, maintaining our website, and even making particle effects for our games, which is about as far as my limited artistic skill can go.
4cr: Citizens of Earth was launched on Kickstarter a few weeks ago, and the first thing I heard for it was that it had a nice mix of combat and humor that reminded people of Earthbound (which is ALWAYS a great thing). How else is Citizens of Earth similar to Earthbound and what sets it apart from this cult classic?
Well certainly the modern setting of Earthbound was something that really inspired us, as was the humorous tone and interesting characters. In addition, a few mechanics were lifted directly from that game. Namely, that the enemies will come to join in combat if an encounter is initiated close by, and that you will automatically win battles against enemies weaker than you. This was sort of our tribute to these great mechanics from Earthbound that, despite how great they are, seem to be very rarely, if ever, utilized in other games. But in addition to that the combat system is heavily inspired by Dragon Quest and the various derivations thereof (including Earthbound), although we’ve done a lot in that area to make it unique as well.
But actually there is a ton that sets us apart from Earthbound as well. Although Earthbound was a primary inspiration for Citizens of Earth, we’re not trying to make an homage, or “spiritual successor” or anything like that, so we had no problem diverging from what Earthbound is all about. Certainly a core difference would be that in Citizens of Earth there’s a large focus on recruiting all of the Citizens and leveraging their unique skills both in and out of combat. This is similar to games like Pokemon or Suikoden, except that we’re actually going much further than those games and ensuring that every Citizen provides a unique benefit out of combat, which we’re calling their World Ability, that strengthens as you use them. Each Citizen’s World Ability is very different, with some providing access to new items, new content, new features, hints and secrets, etc. Because of this, there is a strong intrinsic reason to use every Citizen, as each one will help you out tremendously throughout the game.
Another big focus of the game is that of a Broad Experience. In line with this idea, a lot of the content in the game is optional. Moreover, every system in the game (equipment, character selection, battle mechanics, etc.) is designed with the idea of “Depth, if you want it”, and by that we mean that experienced or enthusiast RPG gamers will find a ton of depth and customization at their disposal to craft their perfect team of Citizens, but gamers that want a more streamlined experience will find that as well. So in this way you can get out of the game what you want to put into it, which we think will make it an appealing experience no matter what kind of RPG you want to play.
4cr: Once funded, the game is set for release on PC, Linux and Mac. Are you considering the possibility of porting the game to consoles or portables?
Absolutely! Nintendo has been very supportive thus far and has sent us a Wii U dev kit in the hopes that we’ll port Citizens of Earth to the Wii U. So we hope to be able to do that. And given our experience developing for the 3DS, that one seems likely as well. Truthfully we’re hopeful of releasing on as many platforms as possible. But since we’re a small team, it’s easier said than done. But certainly it’s something we want to do.
4cr: Speaking of that, How many people will be working non-stop while surviving on honey, crackers and rainbows in order to complete the full game?
Well there are 7 of us that comprise the core team, and then there are a few art contractors we’re working with in order to finish all of the art assets. An RPG, as I’m sure you can imagine, has a ton of art!
Luckily we do have some profits from our last game, Waveform, that we shipped on Steam last year to keep some fuel in our tank. But that is supplemented with hefty amounts of honey, crackers, and rainbows.
4cr: Would an increase in the size of the game (by reaching more stretch goals) end up delaying it?
Not appreciably, no. Since we’ve already spent a year and a half working on the game, we have a very clear process for adding new content to the game and we’ve taken that into account when constructing the stretch goals. Although each one does add some time, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the game as a whole, any platform port, etc. Moreover, we also hope to be able to use the stretch goal money to bring on additional help for the purpose of accomplishing those stretch goals, which would mean no added time at all!
4cr: How did you arrive at a funding goal of $100,000 CAD for Citizens of Earth?
Well we broke it down on the Kickstarter page, and even included a handy pie-chart! Basically, a large cut right off the top doesn’t even go to us. You may have heard horror stories of teams suddenly shocked when they receive a lot less money than they were expecting once Kickstarter takes its cut, payment processing fees are deducted, and the ol’ government demands its share (since Kickstarter money is obviously considered income). So actually we’d only have $75,000 of usable money once the dust clears.
About $50,000 of that money would go to making the art for the characters. As you may be able to tell if you check out the Kickstarter page (and certainly if you play the demo), the characters in Citizens of Earth are animated with a lot of detail. Well, that detail doesn’t come cheap! And given the vast array of playable Citizens we plan on having, and the similarly well-detailed enemies that populate the world, it’s a significant cost. But one that we feel really brings the world, and the characters, to life in vibrant and exciting ways.
The remaining $25,000 goes to environment art. We’re trying to not only make a large world to explore, but one loaded with intricate details. From the World’s Largest Donut display in the Bakery to the various vehicles around town, we want to make sure that the world is a fun one to explore. Again, that detail doesn’t come cheap. But, like the characters, we feel it adds a level of personality to the world that we feel is pretty important to the overall experience of the game.
4cr: Have you considered having a physical copy of the Citizens Encyclopedia available either as an add-on or as part of the rewards for higher tiers?
We have considered this, yes. While physical rewards are popular, they are a ton of work and almost always end up costing more than expected. So while the backer does receive a neat physical reward, the dev team ends up with less time and money to actually make the game. This story is repeated over and over with Kickstarter projects, to the point where we had to make a hard decision about what we would be able to provide to backers. Ultimately, we decided it’d be best to focus our time and money on making the game itself as good as possible.
Now that being said, it certainly is not the case that we’ve ruled out physical rewards altogether. At the end of the day, we want people to enjoy Citizens of Earth. And if a physical copy of the Citizens Encyclopedia is demanded by a large portion of the fan base, we’ll absolutely do what we can to make them happy.
4cr: Thanks for your time. Care to add anything else before we sign off?
We’re very grateful for all of the support we’ve received thus far, especially those that have played the demo and given us great feedback. So far people are loving the game, which we’re thrilled about! And I’d encourage anyone that likes RPGs to go give the demo a try and let us know what you think. We’re eager to work with RPG fans to create something truly special!
We want to thank Ryan for his time and hope that Citizens of Earth is funded soon because we’d love to have more more quirky RPGs in our daily gaming rotation.