Based in Quebec City, Canada
ARELITE CORE bridges the gap between traditional and modern JRPGs, bringing new concepts to tried and true designs and presented with high-definition retro inspired graphics. Follow the adventures of Karden, a blacksmith on the path to mastering his craft, forced to take a stand against Talameq, an ageless entity bent on devouring the world. Journey across the world and find allies in your fight against darkness while fending off Talameq’s disciples.
One man, on a mission
ARELITE CORE began as Kevin Giguere’s first large scale game. After programming a new RPG engine in 2012, he set out to design a game inspired by how he remembered his childhood JRPGs to be, very story driven and with engaging battle mechanics. He especially wanted to avoid the typical tropes that the game genre tends to attract, such as a sword wielding amnesic soldier protagonist and scantily clad female characters that are supposed to be “tough” but always need saving. Instead he aimed to create a unique cast of characters of varying backgrounds, each of them fully capable in their strengths and grounded in their own personalities. A lot of time was also spent developing the world itself, with different countries having their own cultures and politics.
Assembling a team
In early 2013, with the initial design complete and the second draft of the script written, Kevin started assembling a team to bring this vision to life. Over the next three years, he would work with over 20 artists from all over the world to make the massive world of Arelite Core a reality. The game is now well on its way for a 2016 release, aiming to a 8 to 10 hour experience with heavy emphasis on storytelling and player immersion, exactly like a JRPG should be.
Live a cinematic story driven adventure
Customise heroes with unique stances and techniques
Battle over 80 fully animated monsters
Forge unique master weapons and armor
Immerse yourself with an amazing retro styled soundtrack
Relive the glory days of JRPGs as you remember them
Discover a plethora of secrets, collectables to gather, secret bosses to fight and find the famous developer room
Play with a completely custom game engine, with advanced interactions and visual effects
Interview by Peter Ward
First of all Welcome to Retrogamesmaster.
I’m happy to be here!
What is your first gaming experience?
I think the first game I played was probably Super Mario Bros 1, back in the mid 80s, but I can’t say I remember much about it. I’d say the more memorable “first” for me would be completing Mega Man 2 on a rental. I remember reaching Dr. Wily on the final day of the rental, going through the final stage with the blood drops again and again, and finally getting to one hit of defeating him. And then I put it on pause and waited for my dad to come home from work. I was so proud so I wanted to show him the completion of that game.
What got you into programming games?
I started programming in Basic when I was a kid, back when we could borrow programming books from the library with the full source code to games. Even outside of that, I would draw maps and game play things on paper. I guess I always loved video games, but even as a kid, the more mechanical and developmental aspects of games were what attracted me to them.
More recently, and with the burst of indie games on the market, I felt that I could bring something new to the market, which influenced a lot how Arelite Core was created. I just felt that there was room for something different, away from the common tropes of the genre and with a larger scope than it typically associated with independently created JRPGs.
What development tools or coding did you use?
Arelite Core’s engine and development tools were built in C# using Microsoft’s XNA framework. The engine itself was coded in Visual Studio, but the scripting of the game’s events was done in Open Office Calc, including character and monster stats, as well as the story presentation. I especially wanted to avoid using RPG Maker, since I wanted to freedom to expand the game in any way I would want to. There are definitely a few surprises I could not have added to the game if I had used RPG Maker, but I’ll leave the players to discover them.
What hurdles did you have making your current game?
Because Arelite Core is a mostly one man operation, the biggest hurdles are always the requirements to accomplish the tasks of so many people, but on my own. On any given day, I can do programming and game design, which are pretty commonly thought of when it comes to game development, but I might also spend hours doing other related tasks.
For example, I often need to look over assets provided by the artists I’ve hired to work on the project, to ensure that they fit the context they’re meant to, or I might work on developing the website, or writing blog posts, or even routine accounting requirements for Dragon Slumber as a company. Lately I’ve been working on getting the game into PAX East 2016 through the Indie Megabooth which took quite a bit of time between producing a new trailer, website, and all of the other requirements for an application.
Add on top of it all a full time job which I need to finance the project and it definitely ensures that there’s never a resting moment to be had if I want to bring the game to a proper completion.
Right now, my full focus is set on Arelite Core, since I still have quite a bit to do before it’s ready to launch. Once that’s complete, I have a few concepts I’m throwing around my mind which I’d like to work on, but it’ll depend on which of those excites me the most at that time.
A few years ago I worked for a small company which produced Flash games for other companies, like Disney and Nickelodeon. These were always a few weeks of production however before moving on to the next title, so they weren’t very complex nor interesting. Arelite Core is the first game of this scope that I am working on so I’m doing my best to ensure that my first release starts with a bang!
My favorite console is probably the Super Nintendo. I really appreciate how instantaneous cartridges were back in the day, you could press power and be playing 5 seconds later, as opposed to all of the loading times and logos in today’s games. I also love that era of video game music and SNES tracks were among the best for me.
As for computers, I never got to play around too much with Commodores and Amigas, my first real computer was a Pentium 1 so nothing fancy there. I do love to read about those however, I love video game history in general so I find articles about old computers, including the japanese only PC-88 and PC-98, absolutely fascinating.
What is your favourite retro game?
I absolutely love Chrono Trigger, it’s a game I’ve looked to several times as I was making Arelite Core. It really brought a lot of gameplay mechanics as well as an amazing storyline and memorable characters.
Outside of the RPG spectrum, I think Actraiser is one of those titles which doesn’t get as much love as it deserves. Its unique blend of action and city building really made it stand out back in the day and I don’t feel like there’s been anything remotely similar since.
Do you still game on the current consoles if so whats your favourite game?
I don’t game on consoles as much, nowadays I’m more of a PC gamer and even then I’m falling behind because my time is so taken with developing Arelite Core. I’d say the last game which really left a mark on me was Antichamber, made by Alexander Bruce. It’s a brillant first person puzzle game set in a non eucledean world, so when you travel around, things might change once they’re out of sight. It’s an amazing experience to behold and I’d recommand it for anyone looking for a brain twister.
What’s the most disappointing game you’ve ever played
I really love Bionic Commando 2009, I think the swinging mechanic is on point and the character controls great. Furthermore, there are a lot of environments, it’s obvious a lot of hard work was put into this. However, I’ve always felt that it had a lot more potential than the developers managed to craft out of it. Most maps don’t feel like they’re taking advantage of their main mechanic, navigation feels very constricted, combat was alright at best. I also think it’s a shame that they redesigned Rad Spencer to look more like a generic grunt.
I don’t have any insight into the development of that game, but I’m guessing there was a lot of internal struggles and that a lot of features had to be left on the cutting room floor. I think it’s a shame, the game was immediately forgotten by the player base, sales were abysmal but with maybe 6 months of extra development and especially opening the maps up with less linear progression, I think it could have really stood out as a title on the market.
Finally what game or feature would you like to see on Retrogamesmaster in the future?
I’ve spent a lot of time learning about the 8 bit and 16 bit era of consoles, but as I’ve mentioned before I don’t know as much about the old computers and what games became classic titles. That’s something I’d love to discover more about, just interesting games which I’ve never heard about. I know they’re out there!