By Joe Sigadel / May 5th, 2016
When we were handpicking games to try out for PAX East this year, there was one indie title that stood out to me: an African fantasy action RPG called Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan. The game was created by Kiro’o Games Studio which is based in Cameroon. This makes Aurion the first title out of Central Africa and I had the pleasure of getting an interview with Madiba Olivier, the CEO of Kiro’o Games. We discussed Aurion’s long development history and some of the challenges he and his team faced to transform it from an RPG Maker project into what it is today. Below is a transcript from the conversation; I hope you guys get a kick out of it.
I’m here with Madiba Olivier, the game designer for Aurion. How are you today?
I’m fine. I feel the energy of PAX!
Have you had a good weekend so far?
Yeah, people are really nice. The PAX organizers are really great.
This game has been in development for over a decade. From the screenshots I saw on your website, it started out as a sort of RPG Maker project. But what you’re showcasing today looks very different. It looks like a very active Tales-like combat system where you’ve got a lot of action packed fighting going on. Could you tell me about the development process of Aurion?
In fact, ten years ago we started – not as a professional team, so that’s why the game looks the way it did [as an RPG Maker game]. But we’ve been a professional studio for two years and we used our own engine, a Pascal engine based off the Microsoft framework. And development was pretty epic, since we’d often have power outages and some problems with our internet connection. But the guys are really great; we’d have to work all night to catch up if we got delayed.
What were some of the challenges that you faced when you were making this game?
In our country (Cameroon), during some parts of the year, we faced problems with electricity, and not having enough water due to a dry season. We had a lot of power outages. When they happened, we’d have to brainstorm.
That must have made things very difficult for you.
Yeah, but I think other indie developers go through similar struggles. It’s easy for us to get funding because we don’t incur a lot of costs. Our brothers in America struggle to get visibility. So each developer in the world has his own struggles. That’s how we took it.
What got you and your team into game development? It seems like it’s an emerging field where you’re from.
Depression and the craziness, I think, but now we are here. What started it in my mind was when I was playing Final Fantasy VII when I was 16. I started to imagine how to make a game myself and that’s the beginning of the quest to make my own studio.
I actually wanted to ask you about that. Did you have the opportunity to play a lot of RPGs and fighting games as a kid?
Yeah, I played a lot of games on consoles until the PlayStation 2 because my parents still had money at the time. But after that I played only PC games. And I am a big fan of the Final Fantasy series, and the Tales series, as well as the Mass Effect series. I like the writing of Mass Effect; that’s something that was inspiring for me.
Who did the artwork for Aurion?
We have a team of 20 people with artists from Cameroon so we did the artwork ourselves.
It looks really good; I like the classical illustration style that it uses. There’s a lot of really cool effects going on for the attacks and buffs.
Thanks! The game is fully hand drawn. We didn’t want to make pixel art; we wanted to make something really beautiful, and have a deep story that lasts 20 hours with great gameplay. I hope people really like it!
Aurion is based pretty heavily on African mythology. Is that something that you had to do research for, or are these stories that you may have heard growing up?
I had to do some research, but also some of the stories I’d heard since I was a child. The main challenge was to keep it universal, not to make an “exotic” game. The main target of this game was US and European players since there isn’t a large market of video game players in Africa.
You have a goal in mind; to create games that promote harmony and unity rather than cultural conflict. How does Aurion play into that with its story?
Okay, I’ll try not to spoil the story, but what I can say is that you will never be able to predict what will happen in the first hour of the game. We focused a lot on writing it like a series.
Now that the game is out on Steam, what sort of feedback have you been getting?
For now we got around 34 positive reviews on Steam [averaging] 93%. We don’t have anything on Metacritic for now, but we are reaching out to the press to let them know that the game is now released, and we want feedback. So the feedback is good. The most difficult part is to get attention. Even at PAX, you can see people pass by, they look at the picture [of the game] and think, “this game is not for me.” But when they sit down [and play] they think “Wow, this is cool!” And that is the main challenge, to make people try the game.
So what’s next for you after this is all said and done? Are you going to continue making more games?
Aurion is intended to be a three game saga, for the moment. We’d like to make a lot more games if the fans want us to. We’d like to make mobile games for Africa. And we also want to become a publisher in Africa, not just to help African developers, but also to become a “world” developer. The American gaming industry welcomed me; I want to pay that forward and show [other developers] the same thing. I really want to build a bridge between our gaming communities.
That’s great! I really hope you guys can make that happen.
Thanks so much for your time Madiba.
You can check out Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan on Steam for $19.99 here.
Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-OdanImpressionsIndieInterviewKiro'o Games Studiopax east 2016PCRPGSteam