Nathan@SDNIA: Hey, can you please introduce yourself for those online?
Yobob: Hey, I’m Yobob or Kevin Le. I’m the developer of Em-A-Zurvival and also a composer for the Em-A-Zurvival series.
Nice to meet everyone who’s reading.
Nathan@SDNIA: How many people worked on Em-A-Zurvival?
Yobob: Lets see…There’s me, who programmed, composed, and even done a little shading for the art. There are the voice actors. I believe 5 of them helped bring the game to life. Then there’s the people who helped created the plugin for the notorious RPG Maker Engine which was like 5 people and there’s the art asset I bought online. So 1 person.
In total, 12. But in all honesty, I’m a solo developer that used other people’s existing help to create Em-A-Zurvival.
Nathan@SDNIA: Ah, yea I recently played the game and was shocked when I heard voices. What made you decide to add voice acting to this 2D horror?
Yobob: I needed Em-A-Zurvival to be fun. From my previous game, Em-A-Li, the game’s hook was its story. A Wife Bot A.I. who is very obsessed with Stu. I knew that if I wanted to make the game engaging, I would’ve needed to add voice acting to the game since the game is considered a puzzle walking simulator or a Visual Novel Hybrid (A Term I coined) or else the game ‘funness’ would’ve dropped completely. So for the Em-A-Zurvival, I approached it with the same idea as with Em-A-Li.
How would I make the player feel more engaged into this game? My answer was, lets add voice acting and make the players feel scared. Because, what if the main character himself was terrified? It’ll make the players feel terrified as well. So I added the voice acting to make the Em-A-Zurvival a bit more immersive.
Nathan@SDNIA: Ah very nice. I haven’t progressed far in the game, but with it being in RPG Maker MV is there any turned based battles or how do you kill the zombies besides the player knifing em in cutscenes?
Yobob: I knew that this game was going to be a small scale in terms of game play. And knowing the RPG Maker, turn base usually involved more assets, more creativity, and more work in which I don’t have the time for. I remember spending two years working on The Chains That Bound Me, trying to utilize all of the RPG Maker features. Eventually, I left the game on a free demo because it just wasn’t economical as a developer to keep continue working on that game.
So for Em-A-Zurvival, I wanted to keep it small, short, and focused on the horror aspect as well as exploration of the game. If I added some type of turn based battle, I think the project would’ve needed another 3-4 months as well as expanding the game a bit more. Well, if you managed to get to the end of the game, the series will continue on with different mechanics.
So to answer the question, it’s just killing zombies in cutscenes.
Nathan@SDNIA: In terms of exploring the world, I toggled between the game’s lighting modes. I felt at times the darkness was too thick and the lighting around the player could’ve had it’s radius expanded. Do you think this will be possible in future updates?
Yobob: Yes, that is very possible! I’ll keep that in mind when creating the next game.
Nathan@SDNIA: Can you tell us more about the player and why does he sound like he is an emo?
Yobob: Hahaha. The Main Character? Well, as an indie developer, we are notorious for having a short budget. Which just means, we have to be resourceful. So, I decided to do the voice acting myself. I hope the voice acting was good enough to be immersive lol If not, well, now I know I should never voice act again. Hahahaha!
Nathan@SDNIA: Where can people play the game? Also any Spring sales coming?
Yobob: The game is available on Steam, Itch, and through my game website (www.yobobgames.com) Yes, I do plan on having a Sale. Usually, whenever I publish a new game (Which is 1-2 months) I would do a sale on my entire collection.
The next game I’m working on is called Harvest Island. Maybe it’ll be released in two months from today. That’ll be the next sale for Em-A-Series.
Nathan@SDNIA: What is your core inspiration for the game?
Yobob: The core inspiration? Well, to be honest, I had none hahaha. If I had to really think about it, I think it was, ahh, I found an art asset that has everything for a cheap price. I think I can make a creative game with this and continue from Em-A-Li.
If I dug down even deeper, hmmm, I was thinking about the walking dead and how most zombie movies have this story of surviving from the zombies and being afraid of walking outside. I wanted to put a twist on that idea. I’ll talk about it more on the next question…
Nathan@SDNIA: What is one feature that sets you apart from the others in the 2D horror field?
Yobob: Alright, lets jump back to the core inspiration topic. I talked about how most zombie movies have this story of surviving from the zombies and being afraid to walk outside: The survival theme I would say. I wanted to put a twist on that idea because I don’t think there are too many games that incorporate a Wife Bot (Or A.I.) that is learning the new human world and is trying to break the game in order to (Spoiler alert) meet with the Developer, Stu.
Storytelling is a big part of making games for me and when I was coming up with a story for this zombie themed game, I had to think of, what would make this game stand out that is within my capabilities to make this game interesting: Story. As a Developer, there’s one thing I’m extremely strong at and it’s storytelling. And it’ll always be storytelling that will define my games and make this game and future games extremely unique.
Nathan@SDNIA: Can you describe the crafting system?
Yobob: The crafting system is a bit on the, ‘craft what you need’ basis. What I mean by that is that you craft Key Items in order to progress the story. Sometimes there are items that you don’t need to progress, like a potato battery. But all in all, I wanted the crafting system to be simple. Something people will understand quickly. If you’re given options, I wanted the players to understand, oh I can build this without instructions on how to build it.
The goal of the game is to create an immersion and to feel like you’re in the apocalyptic world. Not hand instructions to you and use those instructions to progress through the game. I wanted players to figure things out for themselves and apply it because it’s much better to have them learn and use what they know instead of handing an instruction on where to go and what to do. The players are much happier if I follow that idea of though. So far, it works out great. If I were to give them instructions, it would defeat the purpose of immersion. And if anyone has played my games so far, all my games are very immersive. I prioritize that above everything else.
Nathan@SDNIA: How is the global pandemic impacting you?
Yobob: Ok, so this pandemic. Oh man. I would have to say, it isn’t affecting me too much just because I’m an introvert and all my work is done at home. So my life style hasn’t changed that much. But I did noticed that players from around the world are playing more games. I think that’s because they’re at home stuck. I don’t think I have anything else to say about this besides, stay at home and practice social distancing.
Nathan@SDNIA: How long can players expect to spend in the game?
Yobob: The playtime is about 1 hour from beginning to end. That’s if you listened to all the voice acting. It could take a couple of more minutes beyond that just for retries and figuring out what to do. Maybe 15-30 min more.
Nathan@SDNIA: Any DLC or updates planned or is this a full release?
Yobob: Hmmm. It’s hard to actually hard to pick one or the other mostly because this game will continue on in chapters. I call this game, the Em-A-Series. If I said, I would add a DLC to Em-A-Zurvival, that that would mean people can buy the DLC and continue playing from this game. And if I said, this is the full release, that would mean the game is over and I’ll develop another game to continue on from the Em-A-Series. Using those definitions, there won’t be a DLC and this game isn’t a full release.
The Em-A-Zurvival will be in chapters. Every, maybe 1-2 months, I’ll release another game, with a different mechanic but still continue on from the title Em-A-Zurvival. So, for example: Em-A-Zurvival main mechanics is using the flashlight and crafting. That is one game that is finished. Em-A-Zurvival Part 2 will use a different game mechanic but will still continue on with the story. That is another game finished. You can see now how this isn’t a DLC and how this isn’t the full release at the same time hahaha…
Nathan@SDNIA: Very interesting . How has the reception of the game series been thus far?
Yobob: Very positive. But then again, my fan base is extremely small. Hahaha. There are a few Youtubers who’ve done a lets play of my game and so far, they loved it. The people who worked on the game or given copies for testing loved it as well. They like the idea of “Em-A-Li” and all her craziness and how she’ll do anything to communicate with the developer.
Nathan@SDNIA: Can you sum up your vision of the series in a few sentences?
Yobob: Yes. One day, Em-A-Li will meet the developer. It’ll be so terrifying that you will actually feel like your talking and interacting with her based on your behavior instead of following prompts. And yes, there is a game engine out there that is able to do this. Voice Capture and Eye Capture.
Nathan@SDNIA: Any plans for console ports?
Yobob: If this game has huge support and the fan base is big, I will port each game released to all the platforms that are popular. But for now, it’ll remain PC. I’m an Indie developer, not a AAA industry hahaha…
Nathan@SDNIA: Wonderful, can you go into the art style for the game?
Yobob: Hmm. Most of the games I create is pixel art but with a little shading. It’s a bit different from the usual pixel art that most people do which is just fill in square by square.
For me, I do that but also use a brush to add more texture and shading to the game. So it’s a blend of two styles. Em-A-Zurvival has this style of art. You can say that its a blend of filters and pixel art.
Nathan@SDNIA: That’s rather creative. Lastly anything else you will like to say to those out in internet land?
Yobob: Yes, Support me. I love to make stories and I make them for the players, Youtubers, and Twitchers!!!!
Nathan@SDNIA: Thanks again. For stopping your day for this interview.
Yobob: No problem. This was an exciting interview for me.