By Quentin H. / September 17th, 2020
Last week, I was given an opportunity by Natsume, Inc. and Lucid Dreams Studio to see a gameplay demo of Legends of Ethernal, the latest title to emerge from Natsume’s indie program. While I could not go hands-on with Legends of Ethernal myself, I found myself captivated by the gorgeous art style of both the characters and world at-large. It was seriously a very pretty indie title with an art style that will hold up no matter how far in the future people pick up this game. The combat looked like it was fluid and easy to grasp as well, as Wilfred slaughtered many enemies on his quest to find out what happened to his parents.
After the demo, I sat down with Francis Lapierre and Maxime Grégoire (with Natsume popping in later to help answer a question) to talk about this upcoming title. In Part Two of this two-part interview, we talk about the game’s music, how they first got involved with Natsume, what they see of themselves in Legends of Ethernal, and more.
You can check out Part One of the interview here.
You can also wishlist Legends of Ethernal on Steam now. The game is scheduled for release in October 2020 for $19.99 USD, and will be coming to PC (Steam), Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch.
This interview has been edited for content and clarity.
Operation Rainfall: William Gough is composing the music for Legends of Ethernal. Why did you select him for this game, and what has it been like working with him?
Francis Lapierre: So William Gough is a good friend of mine. We grew up together [and] in high school, we used to play music together. I was playing drums and he was really good at the guitar- some punk rock and stuff like that.
So he was really one of my good friends for a long, long time. And he’s a really talented musician. He has this special touch about melody- so he’s able to just come up with [a] melody that’s catchy, but well-developed. And when we got to the point where we needed music for Legends of Ethernal, me and Max just met with Will and William was already thrilled to make music for a game- something that he had never done before. He was a session musician doing shows and all this, but he never did music for games.
But he’s a huge fan of role-playing games and all of this. And so he was really excited to be working with us. And we were really lucky to have him with us, because then he gave all of this soul and talent to really create this amazing soundtrack we have. I don’t know how many songs, but I think the full soundtrack is more than twenty different tracks that he did throughout the three years that he worked on that.
“And at the same time, the type of game we were making is a game for everyone. And it did match the philosophy behind Natsume, because the game that they are doing is just like that. So it was, in our opinion, a perfect match.”
OR: This is a first game from Lucid Dreams Studio, which came into being in 2017. What has it been like developing your first game as a three-person studio?
FL: Well, since we worked for a long time in the industry, me and Max, we knew what we could do. For us, it was making a choice to make the game with the small team of three people- full-time. And we worked remotely, so Maxime lives somewhere and I live somewhere else. So everybody just worked from home. So we had to be really careful with how we plan everything.
For us, we had enough experience to do this without much challenge or concern. Max?
Maxime Grégoire: Yeah, for that first year we worked, it was me and Francis alone. So we mainly worked on the system used for the physics for the different interactions that we had in the game. We did some programmer art to be able to navigate into, but yeah. So the first year was mainly me and Francis. After that, Véronique joined the team in December. [OR NOTE: Véronique Bellavance is the Art Director at Lucid Dream Studio.]
So mostly a year alone [with just] me and Francis. So yeah, this is how we worked. We knew that we defined the pipeline of prediction for the assets like Francis said, directly from Photoshop doing the concept- importing that into the game. And we were able to do that as a team of three people. So once we knew that, we were ready to do the whole game.
And at the same time, it helped that me and Francis did work for bigger studios, because I had the chance to work on platforms like PS4 and-
FL: Xbox 360 and Xbox One, so for the port, we are seasoned programmers. So we know how it works, so we’re able to do it ourselves without needing to ask externally for programmers to do it.
MG: And that’s one of the reasons why we’re able to pull out the 60 FPS [OR NOTE: Frames-per-second.] on Switch. There were so many optimizations that you need to make for this to [happen], it’s not really a strong console. So without this experience, you’re really throwing yourself into a big challenge.
But for us, it was under control.
OR: You are publishing Legends of Ethernal in a partnership with Natsume Indies. What has it been like working with them?
MG: The whole thing- we went to some events. We went to Gamescom, Tokyo Game Show, to the Mix at E3. So we went to different areas and we were looking for a publisher for the game, because we felt that it could help us [to] get more coverage and helping us with all the elements that we didn’t think about because we knew how to do games, but not how to sell games- which is a publisher’s strongest strength.
So we contacted a company in Japan that gave us a lead- ‘contact Natsume.’ So we sent an email. Like other games, we sent a pitch [and] we sent a demo. So Graham and Taka from Natsume played the game, and well, we sent each other e-mails. So this is how the relationship came to be, because they enjoyed it.
And at the same time, the type of game we were making is a game for everyone. And it did match the philosophy behind Natsume, because the game that they are doing is just like that. So it was, in our opinion, a perfect match.
FL: It was important for us to find a publisher that was doing something like we were doing. Because otherwise, it doesn’t work. So for us, it was really nice to have seen interest from Natsume, because it was the perfect fit.
MG: Maybe Graham can add some stuff regarding that?
Graham [Natsume, Inc.]: By all means. For us, it was a perfect match. Natsume, obviously, being a smaller publisher, had a lot of experience dealing with niche genres and new IPs. When we saw the game, we just knew that the love and passion that came from creating it was shown in [Legends of Ethernals]. And once talking with both Max and Francis about their background, their love of video games, and the heart and soul that they put into it- it fit with Natsume’s business philosophy.
And at the same time, as they mentioned, we loved playing it. Obviously, Adam [was] a little bit better at it, being a little bit more of a gamer, but we thought it was a perfect fit. We thought we could help Lucid Dreams on some of the things that they might not have known or were unfamiliar with when publishing a game.
They don’t need any help on the development side- they did a wonderful job. But we thought that we could help them out getting their brand more well-known, as well as letting people get to know both Max and Francis.
“When we met at the university in physics, I remember that we were at the cafeteria and we were just dreaming about making this [game].”
OR: Legends of Ethernal is billed as the first entry in the Ethernal universe. What does that mean, exactly? What else does Lucid Dreams Studio have in store?
MG: Like we said, this game is based on a twenty-years-old universe. So we have many things happening. In fact, the game- well, not only the game- but we have lots of content to say. So, for sure, we have events after those. They are not the prequel- expect the whole story [in] other ideas that we have for the Ethernal universe.
FL: Our goal in the long term is to really continue this [universe]. This is not just a game, this is a franchise that we want to build. And doing so, the lore and the world will make sense and will evolve as new games in the world of Arkanys comes out. And that’s another reason why we went to the high-res graphics- because if we release Legends of Ethernal 2, that just continued the story, then somebody could go back to the [first] game and it will still look beautiful. So this release sets us nicely in a position where we can keep creating games in this universe, and it will always fit together.
And the full story- it’s really amazing. We won’t disclose anything, because a lot of stuff is secret, but by the end of the first game, you start to understand what’s happening in this world. And there’s a big battle that happens after that, and basically, the world’s changed. But what’s really fun is that the first game- people will understand why the world ends in such a state. So for the next game, you’ll have reference to Wilfred and all the people that you met and loved.
OR: Francis and Maxime- this is a question for both of you. Donald M. Murray once wrote that “All my writing -and yours- is autobiographical.” What of yourselves do you see in Legends of Ethernal?
FL: I can start. For me, it’s really about somebody who gains confidence in himself and he’s able to overcome challenges by believing in himself. [This] is something that is important to me. So that would be- Wilfred is like, this young boy has something really special in his heart and he doesn’t let it go. He lets it keep going to fulfill what he wants to do. And that’s a little bit what me and Max did with the video game company.
When we met at the university in physics, I remember that we were at the cafeteria and we were just dreaming about making this [game]. But it’s really hard to get to this point. It’s really, really hard and it’s long and it takes a lot of work. But you just keep believing and keeping true to the goals that you’ve set for yourself. And you just continue to try to do it.
So that’s a little bit what Wilfred’s doing in the game. He comes back home. He’s lost his family. But he says ‘No, wait, I want to understand what’s happened.’ And then he goes on a really dangerous adventure. But he goes.
So that’s the parallel for me.
MG: Honestly, Francis, I think it’s the same thing [for me].
It’s crazy, because it’s the story that we went through. It’s not knowing always if what we do is ‘good’, if what we do is the ‘right’ thing to do, but in the end, we’re progressing and we are proud of ourselves- just like in the end of the game. It’s corny, but in the end, Wilfred understands better who he is and what he made as choices in the game.
And at this point, in development, we are at the end. And I think this is the same thing that happened to us, honestly. So yeah.
OR: Last few questions. When can we expect Legends of Ethernal to be released, and what platforms will it be coming to?
MG: The game will be released on Steam with PC and Mac OS. It will also be out on Switch, Xbox One, and PS4. The game should be released mid-October.
OR: Are there any plans to bring it to the Xbox Series X, the PlayStation 5, or Stadia consoles?
FL: We are always open to bring the game to more platforms. But as of now, there are no official plans.
OR: Now, to someone who may not have heard of Legends of Ethernal until this press announcement or until this interview, and are interested in picking up the game- what do you have to say to them?
FL: It’s really a game for everyone. It’s fun, there’s a good story in it, amazing soundtrack. The gameplay is challenging, but accessible. You basically can choose your own difficulty level. So this is really a game, in the end, that is for everyone.
You can play with your kids, you can play with your wife- everybody can just have fun playing the game.
MG: Exactly. The challenge part is really important, because if you want to play it more of a casual style with less challenge or more adapted to your skills, then you can do it.
And this is really something important to push, because there are some games that force you into a specific difficulty mode, and we didn’t want that. We wanted people to enjoy the game and play as you want.
OR: Thank you.
Are you planning on picking up Legends of Ethernal when it comes out later this year?
What do you think of this game being a franchise?
Let us know in the comments below!
Francis LapierreIndieLegends of EthernalLucid Dreams StudioMaxime GrégoireNatsumeNatsume indiesnintendo switchPCPlayStation 4Xbox One