Elementals Interview: Developer Ivan Ruiz Lozano Details Plans for Kickstarter Hit
I am a huge fan of Zelda and Wind Waker and Breath Of The Wild are my favorite Zelda films. But, the 2D Zelda movies are my favorites. A Link to the Past, Link’s Awakening, and Link’s Awakening were great remakes. Both are great, but I’d choose A Link Between Worlds. It’s not technically 2D, but it is based on a top-down perspective. It’s my favorite 2D Zelda game: it has smooth combat and movement, great music, and lots and lots of freedom.
Q: Can you give us a brief overview of Elementallis?
A: Elementallis is very easy to explain: It’s a 2D Zelda-like game where you use the elements (fire water wind ) to solve puzzles or fight.
It’s much more than that, though: a deep story exploring the theme of guilt, an aesthetic and music that mixes retro and modern techniques, systemic elements, and a nostalgia trip to the GB and SNES era.
Q: You met your Kickstarter funding goal in 24 hours. Is it surprising how many people responded to your campaign?
A: I have always been cautious about my expectations. I thought the campaign would’ve been funded, probably with a bit more than we asked for (based on the community we had before we started the campaign), but I was also worried in case we didn’t get there, which was definitely a possibility. We were surprised to receive funding in 24 hours. We got six times more than we requested!
It was exciting, and we were amazed. I can’t possibly express how grateful we are to everyone who helped us and believed in us and Elementals.
Q: Given the backers’ response compared to the low initial asking price, how will Kickstarter’s success affect the overall development of Elementallis?
A: This is a bit tricky since we are a very small team and we can’t scope too much, we don’t want to delay the release. Thanks to Kickstarter’s success, a few things were possible: More attention on the story and more languages.
We were able to add a writer to our team (Diego Freire, Summer at Mara). I can focus on my other tasks while a dedicated writer helps me to tell a better story.
We also have access to a lot more feedback by having so many backers. We’ve received a lot of feedback on the demo, and have been able to improve upon it. We will be able to balance and find bugs much more efficiently if we have the option of beta testing with them.
Backers made Elementallis possible. Not only that, Elementallis will be a better game thanks to them.
Q: Could you please describe the various elements of the magic system and their powers?
A: We aim to have all elements that can be used inside and outside combat. They can also help you to solve puzzles and traverse. Each one should be as versatile and adaptable as possible to allow the player to use them in different situations.
Water creates bubbles around you, for example. This bubble allows you to traverse water surfaces such as rivers and lakes. This bubble protects you from enemy attacks. The bubble bursts and wets enemies, slowing them down and extinguishes flames.
The elements can also be combined. As you can see, lightning strikes are more effective against wet enemies. If enemies have been frozen, you can also use the earth to shatter them.
Q: Tell us a bit about the combat system in Elementals. What distinguishes it from other titles that use top-down pixel combat?
A: Combat is built on the foundations of shield and sword. It’s similar to the Game Boy Zeldas. However, it’s more fluid and the enemies have more complex AI. You need to consider your position more and the button to smash the sword button is less important. Also, being able to change elements on the fly and combine them allows for deeper combat.
Q: It can be more difficult to balance puzzles and dungeon designs than battles. How do you know when you’ve hit the sweet spot between complexity/challenge, and discovery/fun?
A: It takes a lot of iteration. It’s hard to balance puzzles because when you design them you already know how to solve them. So that they have the best tools possible, we try to explain the basics as naturally as possible to players.
It is very helpful to observe how players solve the puzzles and take note of where they have difficulty or find it too easy. It has been a great help to create the puzzles and let the others solve them without me explaining.
Q: How large is the overworld in Elementallis, and what challenges do the unique regions present players with?
A: We don’t know how large the overworld would be as it is still being built. The eight biomes are being planned. Each biome will have a temple, town, secrets to uncover, and optional places. It will likely be quite large, although we prefer to keep it small and dense rather than big and empty.
Each region will have its own environmental challenges. You’ll need to cross rivers and lava in the volcano, while the mountains will have wind and the desert will have dust. Each biome is unique and has its own identity.