In the past few years, Video Games have taken a new turn in Indie development. Thanks to the use of such crowd-sourcing websites as Indiegogo and Kickstarter, there has been a explosion of opportunities for game developers across the globe. We came along and discovered a project on Indiegogo named “Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan”, created by developer “Kiro’o Games” whom happen to be based in Yaounde, Cameroon, near the heart of Africa.
“Aurion” is a 2-D action-fantasy RPG, with a unique twist, having visuals and story inspired by African mythos and folklore. Said myths have been rather unexplored in the gaming world, which has the potential to be a creative burst of a nearly untapped culture and history.
I spoke to the head of Kiro’o Games, a Mr. Madiba Olivier, who gave me a history of his company and detailed his goal and some info about his project:
Guy: So Mr Olivier, could you give us a little background history of yourself and Kiro’o Games?
Madiba: Hi I am a young 28 year old Cameroonian writer, entrepreneur and Programmer. I opened a web startup MADIA LLC, when I was 22 years old, but my passion has always been to create video games. After 10 years of preparation, KIRO’O GAMES project is now on a phase to become the first video game studio in Central Africa. I had this idea since 14 years old but you know I have tried to think “realistic” and to do something else. During my empty time I learned professional game-design since 2003. I have focused on programming, gameplay, staging skills. The studio has several names : Madibao corporation studio, Madia game studio and finally Kiro’o Games. I think it will be the name for at least 10 years.
G:What or whom would you say inspired you to found your company, and start developing games?
M: In fact the idea to make a game started when I have finished Final Fantasy 7 for the 5th time. On the final battle against Sephiroth when Cloud launch “Omnislash” (the final limitbreak), something “popped” into me (I was 14 years), a question : how will it be if Sephiroth can respond to it directly? That’s the question which triggered the “game-design sense” in me. And so I have tried to think about create a game, a perfect Action RPG with epic battle and soulful story. That was the 1st part (the dream part). Then I have made my skills up, day by day, focusing and learning the “gamedesign rules” by “decoding” why this game is great and why this one is not.
But at the beginning of 2012 (after 5 years of business life in Cameroon) I have made a little simulation about the viability of a studio in Cameroon, and the result was awful!! In fact when I simulate the worst conditions (low sales, big local charges) the margin profits stays big (the business part)!!. I started to think that I have maybe discovered the potential “next big thing” and since everything blew up, we made conferences, we have gathered the support of our Ministry of Culture, we are on the top 3 of VC4Africa (Venture Capital For Africa) etc.
And the actual conditions of video game industry also plays out well for us : innovation crisis, economic crisis, new generation of games (PS4, XboxOne, etc) , everything shows that it is the “good moment” to jump in and propose a new kind of game.
G: Understandably, games development, even in the United States or Japan, is hard to accomplish or even to start out in. Being located in Africa, where game development is rather unheard of in the West, what sort of impact has it made on your company’s founding? Easier? More Difficult? And How have fund-gathering websites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter affected your development?
M: Being in Africa has a double-edged effect on us :
- The bad effect : We have difficulty to have the basics of starter funding because there is not a “credit” industry there. Banks only gives credits to governments of real big company. We have also some difficulties reaching players because we can’t easily be at international events such as E3, GC, etc. And African investors, especially francophone ones are not used to “venture capitals”, like to invest in already working product.
- The good effect : We are outsiders, so when you say “African games” it sound new for everyone so they check in. But, and there is a big “BUT”, you will have only one chance to seduce the public. That’s a good point but also a burden for the 1st African game-designers. If we fail to create great games on our first attempts we will close the door to the rest of the continental industry for years again. That’s why you can see that before our actual screenshots we avoided at Kiro’o to call real gamers on our fan page because they wouldn’t have understand that “we have a great game in mind” when there was just our old RPG Maker XP version online.
Kickstarter was our 1st choice for fundraising at the beginning of this year, but we discovered that if you do not live in USA or UK you can forget about it. Indiegogo is more opened and we hope that it will show the interest of gamers for AURION. One of the rewards is the pre-orders that are included.
We started our campaign since one week and we are already on the 1st page of the popular gaming project, we hope that it is a good sign.
G:In your own words, describe what “Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan” is and what are your plans for it.
M: AURION is now the 1st game inspired by the Kiro’o Tales. “Kiro’o Tales” can be taken as a new kind of “dungeons and dragons” world and rules, but in African fantasy. Our goal is to create a masterpiece in the genre, not only visually (you have seen the prototype of the visuals) but in gameplay as well. The game will be designed for the epic gamer in everyone. We want to create an A-RPG where the players will not endure a boring farming-fest but will enjoy many soulful duels versus bosses, and plenty of mini-bosses. Every duel must be unique and must put you in the sensation to be a real warrior with your [game]-pad (listen our music, and you’ll understand!).
But, even if the game will be an “action” one, we put a lot of [focus] for the “strategy” in battle. For example, the managing of your AURION POINT (the mana of the game lol) will be essential to win.
And the last but not least big part of the game will be the “kiro’o effect”. We want players to feel themselves synchronized with the characters (good or bad) so you will have a lot of relativity, regrets, fear, hope in the psychology of every characters. A good hero is “mister everyone” who can push himself instead the fear and cry. The thing is, even if the game is made by African, the game will be for everyone, we will consider that we are successful if even someone in Alaska can tell us that our game speaks to his inner-him.
G: You mention how “Aurion” is heavily drawn from African Mythology. I must admit that I am not well learned in the mythos beyond simple children’s folktales about Anansi, the Spider Trickster. What are some key elements about your game that you draw from African culture?
M: I hope I will not spoil on that. We get inspired by a lot of traditions to build AURION. For example, if you see Zama, which is the 1st city, the design is based upon the general architecture of some villages here. The houses are built in circle around a big tree. Under this big tree there is the griot who deserves the local wisdom to the young ones by telling stories.
For the clothing also and the manners of the people we tried to symbolize some ancient tribes of Africa. One thing is that in most of our myths, the “Ancestors” have a great place. You are always the son of someone and your mission has been prepared by long generations before you. That’s why we focus the “AURION” energy on the “Legacy” concept.
An Aurion comes from the sum of emotions and thoughts of one or more individuals, and can be completed in, progressively generations by generations of the same family. That is the concept of Legacy.
That’s already opened the question about the free will and those with a little lineage. If you see in another angle that’s a little bit how the real global business world is moving: great families, relations, etc. So you start to have a glimpse on how we can use African’ story pitch to inspire on real global dilemma by using a virtual world.
G: With such a focus in story and game-play innovations, when could we potentially see “Aurion” out for release?
M: If we get funded in time, the game must be released between June 2014 and November 2014. In fact we have worked on AURION for 10 years and especially since 2010 we have started a “full scripted” version on RPG maker XP. The story and the game-play bible are ready and we have already done research on the most complex problems we will solve.
So the conception is okay at 80% and the coding must be readapted to the new framework XNA/Monogame (far away much easier than RGSS!!). We also have an “army” on 16 illustrator ready to works at Spartan when the studio is up.
Project Aurion is currently underway with funding on Indiegogo.com, and here’s the link for more information if you want to find out more, or simply to support it: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/aurion-legacy-of-the-kori-odan
This is Guy, signing off!