At Playcrafting’s Spring Expo, we met Bria and Kara Jordan, sisters and co-founders of angryottergames. We sat down with them to talk about the upcoming JRPG Pure: Birth of the Goddess and find out more about what it’s like to make an RPG, being an indie game developer, and the challenges of working with family.
TechRaptor: What was the draw for making a JRPG-inspired game? That is, why this genre as opposed to an adventure game or a shooter? What unique opportunities did it offer for the story you want to tell?
Bria: Well, JRPGs tend to focus more on character development and relationships more than other games. You learn so much about the world and the characters. There’s so much world building, and it was like creating my own little universe. That gives me so many opportunities to make characters and scenarios that players will hopefully be able to relate to.
TR: Pure: Birth of the Goddess is very clearly inspired by ’90s RPGs, what were some of the specific games or other media that contributed to the inspiration for it?
Bria: Our biggest inspirations are definitely Threads of Fate (Dewprism), Mega Man Legends, Star Ocean 3, Nier (Gestalt), Tales of series, Dark Cloud 2, and lastly, Xenogears, the very first JRPG I ever played.
Kara: We’re also inspired by the various anime, music, and movies we’ve gotten to experience in our lives.
TR: Why did you decide to get into making video games?
Bria: When I was a kid, I wanted to make a game super badly. I tried to get into 3D design—however, it wasn’t as accessible as it was today (yay Blender!). At the time, I was playing Tales of Symphonia, the original .hack// games, and a few other JRPGs. I’d write a bunch of stories—crafting worlds and characters—and I would imagine playing them in their own game. I remember trying an early version of Game Maker trying to follow the very few tutorials I could find in about 2004–2005ish. Then I found RPG Maker 2003 and RPG Maker XP—which started my first go at Pure in 2005.
TR: What’s it like working so closely with a family member? Do you think this presents unique challenges to the development process or does it make it easier?
Bria: I think for me working only with a family member (specifically Kara!) gives me more control of the development process. I’ve had friends and other game devs interested in working with me, but the idea of anyone else working with me gets me nervous since Kara and I have worked on it so long. I know Kara’s schedule pretty well, and it’s so easy to bounce ideas off of each other, rather than waiting for an entire group of devs to decide on various things. Luckily we’re on the same wavelength for most Pure decisions, so it’s working out pretty well. And she’s been making the music on and off for a good chunk of our lives, so it’s easy to re-design areas while I replay the music over and over.
Kara: Bria inspires me! I honestly would not be writing music today if it wasn’t for her idea of making a game when we were kids. The best part of any day is when we’re both at work and she sends me a screenshot of something she was working on the night before. It’s a funny experience to be able to walk our dog together and talk about this little world we’ve made. I can’t imagine making a game with anyone else.
TR: Tell us about the characters and world of Pure.
Bria: Pure takes place in a world where, two hundred years ago, magic mostly disappeared. The starting party is Abner, Adamina, and Camille, a group of friends who met at Doveport University. They are currently researching why certain people can use magic and if it’s possible to bring it back to the world.
Abner is a little rash—he rushes into situations, but he always tries to do his best for his friends. He wasn’t originally into research, he got a job at his university and found it interesting enough to continue with it. He’s not formally trained in fighting so he uses his fists in battle!
Adamina is one of the most powerful of the group. She’s intelligent, easygoing, and levelheaded. She’s an engineer trained in sword fighting
Camille is a mage who comes from a family who still has the ability to use magic. She wants to use her powers to help heal people, so she became a researcher to help the others find out the mystery behind the disappearance of magic.
There’s other characters, but they’ll be introduced in trailers, demos, and the full game.
TR: Why “angryottergames”?
Bria: Angryottergames came into my head very last minute. I searched “company name generator” on Google and all of the names generated were weirder. One had otter and studio in it, and for some reason my mind was like, “How about angryottergames?” Nothing else came into my head for months so I decided to go with that and let Kara know. She laughed and said alright.
TR: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as an indie developer entering the scene?
Bria: Marketing. I love showing people what I’m working on and getting feedback (I generally post the weekly WIP Wednesday thread on Reddit’s r/gamedev if I’m not too busy). Posting consistently on Twitter during days such as #screenshotsaturday would definitely be helpful.
I enjoy chatting with people and other game devs! But, hashtagging posts always makes me feel a little awkward at times. I wonder if I’m putting too many or too little hashtags. Do my posts sound cheesy? Marketing is pretty daunting, but I think I’m getting the hang of it.
TR: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from working on Pure: BOTG so far?
Bria: I’ve learned that you don’t have to give up on your dreams, no matter how long it takes. Pure started as an RPG Maker XP project in 2005. I went through middle school and a bit of high school before my laptop crashed and lost the entire project. I knew it was something I wanted to work on again, but I always told myself I didn’t have the time. In college, I got into 3D design. I definitely didn’t have time to work on a 3D project then, but after graduating I told myself that I should just try. I created Adamina’s model and a little test area where she walked around. Next thing I know, I had the beginnings of an RPG (a menu system, the beginning of a battle system, and different party members). In 2005, I had big dreams of making a 3D celshaded RPG. I never thought I would actually have the skills to do it. It’s something I want to finish for the both of us!
Kara: I agree. I also lost a chunk of the soundtrack back then, and it was devastating. But, 10 years later, the songs that I’ve made for the current rendition of Pure are so much better than what I did, including remakes of some of those very same songs. We wouldn’t have any of this growth if it wasn’t for our losses, and getting to the end of it will be fulfilling by virtue of those experiences.