It would have been a real injustice if Soul Saga didn’t make it onto a PlayStation platform. The brainchild of former Microsoft employee Mike Gale is pitched as a love letter to the PSone JRPG era, but was originally only confirmed for the PC, Mac, and Linux. Fortunately, the success of the title’s Kickstarter – which has almost doubled its initial target at the time of writing – has allowed one-man development outfit Disastercake to pledge support for both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita. We caught up with the studio’s founder to talk consoles, daily routines, and the future of a fatigued genre.
Push Square: For those that haven’t had a chance to peruse the Kickstarter page, could you just give us the elevator pitch for Soul Saga?
Mike Gale: Soul Saga is a three-dimensional, anime-themed JRPG inspired by the classics that I grew up with in the SNES, PlayStation, and Dreamcast days.
PS: When did you originally conceive the project? It seems like this is something that you’ve been thinking about for a while.
MG: I originally conceived the idea about five years ago – and have been teaching myself how to make the game ever since. I even moved across the country to get a job at Microsoft at the time to help pick up some skills in the industry. Now I'm ready to use the project management and development skills that I've learned over the years to finally make Soul Saga a reality.
PS: You quit your job at Microsoft to build this game. Can you talk a little bit about the personal sacrifices that you’ve made in order to construct Soul Saga?
MG: The sacrifices included leaving my family, living as frugally as possible, avoiding eating out or hanging out with my friends to save money, selling my car, and countless other ways to save up my pennies in order to get the art that I currently have.
PS: How much of the game is already finished, and how are the Kickstarter stretch goals going to affect its development?
MG: The game's prototype is basically done. At this point I just need finished art assets so that I can plug them in and get them moving. Since the Unity game engine allows me to work on the game instead of reinventing the wheel, the development process is completely streamlined. I estimate it taking a total of three to four months of development time after all of the art assets are in my hands. But the assets can take a while to acquire. I have a schedule planned out on how to streamline the art development pipeline, however.
PS: You’re building the title alone, but you’re collaborating with other renowned artists and musicians. What noteworthy names can we expect to see in the title’s credits?
MG: I would say that the big indies that are working on Soul Saga are Aivi Tran, a talented musician with a very noticeable musical style, Todd Haberkorn, who voices Natsu from Fairy Tail and Ling Yao from Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, and Kira Buckland, who has voiced Chou-Chou from Mugen Souls and Kuroyukihime from Accel World.
PS: What does a typical day of development entail? Do you set yourself strict hours, or work when you feel like it?
MG: I work when I feel like it – which is 12-16 hours a day usually. I absolutely love working on Soul Saga. It's a great feeling to be working on something that you're so passionate about that you feel dirty calling it work. I want to do this forever!
PS: You recently revealed PS4 and Vita versions of the game. Have you had much communication with Sony yet?
MG: I've had quite a bit. It's all hush-hush NDA stuff though, unfortunately.
PS: What’s been the platform holder’s response to the game?
MG: I'm not sure if even this is covered under the NDA, so I think that I'll just nod my head slowly.
PS: Soul Saga is a love letter to the JRPG genre, but some would argue that it’s well past its prime. What do you make of the current status of the genre, and what’s your favourite most recently released JRPG?
MG: I think that the genre has definitely swayed towards more twitch-based gameplay mechanics and super flashy effects. I think that that's entertaining, but I really wanted to bring a breath of fresh air to the classics that I adore by taking what I love, and removing what I dislike about them. One of my favourite recent JRPGs is Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. It's an absolute work of art from the amazing Studio Ghibli. However, my Persian friends inform me that "Ni No Kuni" is a very naughty word in Farsi...
PS: On that note, we’ll leave you to get back to the game. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat to us, and best of luck with the remaining days of the Kickstarter.
MG: Thank you for interviewing me!
There’s still time to invest in Soul Saga. Click here to peruse the Kickstarter page, and put your money where your mouth is. Do you intend to cough up some cash for the promising indie title? Let us know in the comments section below.