Kickin’ it With Elemental Labs – Reborn
It’s not everyday that you come across a Kickstarter campaign for a PS4 game, so we got in touch with Franz Tissera, CEO of Elemental-Labs, to talk about their ambitious new game Reborn.
4cr: Welcome to Kickin’ it with. Elemental Labs is a relatively new game developer in the industry. Could you please tell us more about the company?
For me, it all began in my parent’s home garage. I created Elemental-Labs, Inc. in December 2010 in hopes of becoming a Sony vendorized web development agency. With the help of a great friend, Benjamin Rinaldi who at the time was employed by SCEA Foster City as the peripherals manager, I was fortunate to be connected with the director for all we development over at SCEA Foster City.
Elemental-Labs become a vendorized web developer for SCEA where my cousin Mark De Almeida and I worked on microsites, community sites, and interactive flash marquees for games like Assassins Creed, Battlefield to say the least. Creating websites was fun and rewarding, but my true passion was in video games, and as such, I leveraged my excellent work relationship with SCEA to get the application for becoming a licensed indie developer started. As a first time video game developing studio, we have much to prove, but my vision for Elemental-Labs is clear in that, I knew that I had to work extra hard to get SCEA something more concrete and cohesive if they are to take me seriously. So during the application process, I continued to work on my research on REBORN. After a good six months of research and writing, I created a video Game Design Document (GDD) while working on forming a strong team of individuals to create an early prototype. The end result of all the hardwork we invested as a team was an approval by SCEA for Elemental-Labs to become a licensed indie developer.
4cr: Last week you launched a Kickstarter campaign for Reborn, and ambitious Action-RPG that will try to fuse ancient Japanese lore and a cyberpunk twist. What do we need to know about the game you’re creating?
The game is inspired by the adventures of Musashi Miyamoto and the 17th century Japanese history. Basically, I wanted to make a samurai game that centered on Musashi, but rather than having it take place in 17th century Japan, I thought a hyper modern setting would be an interesting approach. With the help of Eric Thuan, we managed to extrapolate ideas for a society that is full of turbulence all the while yearning for the next stage of transhumanism. On that note, we came up with the idea that one of the themes to make the story balanced, rich and dynamic, was to have a theme of self-discipline and progress, usually maxims of martial arts, juxtaposed against technology, which is supposed to make life for mankind easier.
4cr: What platforms is Reborn targeting for release?
REBORN is targeted for release initially on the PS3/PS4 consoles and PC if we are able to reach our minimum goal of $200,000. Through our stretch goals that we have laid out, we want to bring REBORN on the PSVita, Wii-U and Xbox One coupled with the myriad of great feature sets to make it complete.
4cr: With so many platforms to work on (and even more if the stretch goals are reached), how many people will be working on the Reborn project to make sure there are no delays?
Since we are using the Unreal Engine 3 for the consoles already released (PS3, PSVita, Wii-U) and Unreal Engine 4 for PC and the consoles that will release soon (PS4, Xbox One), we are given the power to be able to export out to the various platforms without too much difficulty thereby alleviating the need for a great many programmers. That said however, we currently have six dedicated and capable programmers, including myself (if needed) to be able to jump on the porting process. We also have the ability to tap into USC’s School of Viterbi Engineering for additional programming interns should the need arise so that is why we are confident in stating that even though we are a first time studio, we will be able to deliver on our said promise.
4cr: The game is set for a potential release in December 2014 which isn’t that far away. Do you already have an idea of how long the game will be? How much time would it take someone to play it from start to finish?
This is a question that we keep asking ourselves as well because some of us love to camp and level up while some of our other teammates love to race through and finish it. So coming to terms with the actual length is somewhat arbitrary at the moment. We are however planning on making REBORN to have 15 playable levels with each level set to be an average of 30 minute of gameplay time. The game is also set to have an additional 20 side missions which are also set to be an average of 30 minutes of gameplay. This is still depending on the speed of the player, and if you are like some of us, you will spend much more time per level.
Furthermore, without the proper funding in place, it will be difficult for us to create a larger scale game with the content needed to drive not only the interest of those who love to explore our lush and harsh environments, but rather for those who want to achieve Platinum level trophies. We want to make the best game possible with high quality content, but again we cannot do this without our fans and the crowd-funding community’s backing.
4cr: Since the main goal for Reborn is set at $200,000, and there are several stretch goals already set for extra features and porting the game to other platforms, are you considering any additional stretch goals if extra funds are secured from backers?
Yes, if we can procure our SG-Tier 6: $1,500,000 then we will add our additional stretch goal for SG-Tier 7 (big surprise!), so here is us hoping!
4cr: Reborn will have a single player campaign once the main goal has been reached, but there is also a multiplayer component that could be integrated into the mix if the corresponding stretch goal is reached. What will this potential multiplayer mode be like in Reborn?
That’s an interesting questions, because we’re still working out exactly what it will be like. We have some great ideas that we’ve been playing around with that we’re not quite ready to share. If we meet our stretch goals we’ll be able to fully explore those ideas and get feedback from our backers on what that multiplayer experience should be. Bottom line is that we’re going to make a solid single player experience and if we hit those stretch goals we’ll be able to add multiplayer support that is meaningful and true to the spirit of REBORN.
4cr: I definitely like the concept art, target screenshots and renders that have been shown so far. Will you be offering an art book for Reborn?
Yes, I also love the concept art and we will work with our good friends over at SGXPrint (http://www.sgxprint.com/) in order to get some high quality art books printed.
4cr: Will Reborn be a digital-only release or are you considering having a full retail physical release as well?
My goal is to have both the digital and physical release. The digital release is more immediate and can be attainable if we can reach our minimal goal, however the physical release is another matter entirely different. It is very expensive to do a physical release of a game and therefore, if we cannot reach our SG-Tier 6: $1,500,000 then I am afraid REBORN will only be a digital release.
4cr: Thanks once again for taking the time to do this. Would you like to add something more?
We are grateful for our fans around the world who have expressed their interest and support for REBORN. Although we are an indie studio, and regardless if this is our first time making a game or not, we did the time, working for the past three years diligently, learning the various parts of game development and design down to contractual negotiations. Quite frankly speaking, we are here because of our hardwork, passion and many countless sleepless nights in order to see this project through, and in this process we have gained the support of SCEA, ACTTIL and many others in this industry. For this reason alone, we say to ourselves, not only are we blessed to be in this position as a fully licensed developer with SCEA, but we are here because SCEA believes in our ability to make REBORN. Lastly, contrary to most video game community beliefs, given the proper support by way of software and hardware, even a small indie studio like us who has formed a team of skilled industry veterans, can in fact make a high quality game. Together, as a community, let us break this age old misconception, support indie developers with faith that they can deliver, and nurture future indie IP’s like REBORN into reality. Thank you very much!
We thank Franz Tissera for doing this interview and we’ll closely follow the development of Reborn. If what has been shown so far is any indication, this game has a lot of promise.