Kien Lead Game Designer Fabio Belsanti Interview

Publié par Incube8 Games le

As we announced the publishing of Kien, we wanted to get to know the game a little better, from the perspective of the developer! So, we had a quick chat with Fabio Belsanti (Lead Game Designer of AgeOfGames (formerly PMStudios)) to talk to him about his vision for the game, some of the inspiration behind it, and his experience in developing a Game Boy Advance game in the 2000s. If you’re as curious as we were, you can read the full interview below!

What’s the story behind your game?

    The dev story is here in these 2 additional docs:

    Fabio-Belsanti(Lead Game Designer): Memories of Kien's development


    How has the development process been?

    Foolish, idealistic (as a young twentysomething), romantic, devastating and heroic.
    More details in the aforementioned additional documents.

    What’s unique about your game that made you realize it needed to be made?

      I believe that the uniqueness of Kien lies in the harmony of opposites which represents the foundation of its creation. Kien follows the great classic mechanics of platformers, but it is a very serious action fighting game. The aesthetic is cartoonish, the narration rather simple and linear, but the contents within the setting and in the narrative engine, even when not clearly visible, are very complex and archetypal. The two playable characters are characterized by classic gameplay elements and rpg upgrades, but also represent two macro-categories of fighting styles, and eventually come to a fusion. So it's this continuous journey between light, shadow and fusion of simple elements in larger constructions that prompted and exalted us to create this game that already in its name recalls the millennial culture of the Ching and the Yin and yang symbol.

      What would you say are the influences behind your game?

      When we developed Kien, our very first video game as independent developers, we were young and at the beginning of the new millennium. Thinking of a platformer, it was impossible not to have the first Super Mario Bros in mind. However, Kien detached himself a lot from that classic gameplay by inserting really tight fights. The influences were certainly many, but for ranged combat, for example, I remember Turricane, although in this case too Kien opted for less frenetic phases with Eladen compared to a shooter, also because the player could face the game with a style of hand-to-hand combat with the character of Kjan. In the final mix of Kien we certainly cannot fail to mention Castelvania and the overall playful culture of the 90s beat 'em up.

      Are there any funny or unexpected things that occurred during the development of your game?

        Mmm, the absurd cave where we developed was a lair of sweat, (cigar) smoke and blood. A very unhealthy place. But we were very young and it was our lair. We started developing Kien with about 500 euros of cash and our own computers. It was all difficult and exhilarating. It very often happened that we also worked at night, that we ate and drank together. Those who had love affairs found themselves having to choose between the project and the girlfriend ... and in the "office" everything happened during the endless development sessions. I don't know that any of this qualifies as "funny," but it was cool that it happened and I wouldn't change that time for any reason.

        How have your previous experiences helped in the development process?

          Kien was our first real video game. Neither of us had actual game development experience. Nonetheless, we were all very determined and, above all, all ready to study and work tirelessly. On a personal level, having studied history at university has given me a method of bibliographic study that has allowed me to range in the study of many subjects. I had graduated in 1999 and already in 2000 I started studying all the best Game Design books I could. Kien's game bible was praised by various veteran developers and publishers for the quality of its structure and content.

          What kind of lessons did you learn in the development process?

            The lessons were many, but the main one was that the will is an indispensable key to being able to finish a videogame project which is always a complex construction to complete.

            What do you hope players take away and remember from your game?

              Kien is a sort of pre-souls-like-game. Aesthetically it is colorful and carefree, but difficult and challenging in terms of gameplay and narrative "meanings". We hope that in addition to immersing themselves in the epic adventure and world that we have created, players will feel proud that they have managed to pass the difficult quests that are present in Kien.

              Do you have any plans for what’s next?

                Yes, absolutely. We have already started working on a spiritual sequel to Kien: Astral Equilibrium. We have reached a very early demo for PC and Switch. After the first release of Kien (22 years after its development!) we hope to be able to create a KickStarter campaign for Astral Equilibrium or who knows, maybe even a Kien 2!

                Do you have anything you’d like to end on?

                  We really want to thank Incube8 Games for making possible what we thought was impossible by now: publishing and playing Kien on the GBA for anyone who wants to discover our dear old production and hidden gem.

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