Indie Developer Pow-Wow - Whisper of a Rose: Gold Interview
Whisper of a Rose: Gold
Developer: RosePortal Games
Publisher: RosePortal Games
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Whisper of a Rose: Gold may seem a touch girly on the outside, but inside it is like an onion: so many layers, each deeper than the next. Welcome to our final Indie Developer Pow-Wow interview, with RosePortal Games as our last guest to give us insight on the beauty that is Whisper of a Rose.

Hello RosePortal Games. I hope your doing well. Do you mind introducing yourself to our audience and giving us a brief overview of your history?
Arend-Jan van der Brugge: Hi, I am Arend-Jan van der Brugge, founder and chief executive of RosePortal Games. Did you just have trouble pronouncing my name in your head? Probably. It's Dutch, and I have yet to find a foreign person capable of pronouncing it properly in one try, haha. I find that simply 'AJ' works the best. Anyhow, RosePortal Games consists of a team of individuals who love to create games. We don't do it for profit – we do it for fun. In fact, I've been working with game production since I was 10 years old, in 2000. It wasn't until 2 years ago that I decided to try and sell a game. To see how it goes. To get some unique gaming ideas out there. And it actually went very well!

Let's talk about Whisper of the Rose. What was the inspiration behind the game and its concept between moving through dreams?
AJ: Actually, I have always been fascinated by dreams. At the age of 7, I was writing a series of stories called 'Nightmare'. It is the way dreams reflect our true desires and creativity. They're a place of inspiration, and a window to the soul. I wanted to recreate that feeling in a game. I've always liked games with something to think about. Nowadays, most games are quite shallow. 'Why is there a blue metal bridge of there? To enhance the scenery/gameplay.' Such an answer is very common now, and quite logically of course. In Whisper of a Rose, however, the answer to that question might very well be: 'Because when Melrose was young, she had a friend with blue-colored hair that was her bridge over troubled water.'

One thing I adored about Whisper of a Rose is the dungeon and mapping designs. One of the maps in the game has you traversing through Candyland, no less! What made you decide to create them the way that you did?
AJ: Everything in the dream world part of the game is based on the main heroine's personality and background. It does, after all, take place within her mind. Every character and every area represents a certain aspect. Not only did we want to create surrealistic and diverse areas to explore, but we wanted to give them depth and actual meaning. The Candyland you mentioned represents Melrose's childhood. There's a side-quest present in that area in which a black crow steals a piece of candy from one of the gingerbread men. Though it is not mentioned in the game, it actually refers to how her childhood was literally stolen from her. I don't want to give any spoilers, but you find out what I'm exactly talking about at the end of the game.

Although RPGs have seen many heroine’s like Melrose before, what would you say makes Melrose unique and distinctive on her own?
AJ: I'm not much of a hardcore gamer myself, so I actually haven't come across a character very much like Melrose. Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII comes to mind, but Melrose has a more gentle side. Melrose is just a very well-rounded character. If you play the first 30 minutes of the game, you may think that she is yet another cookie-cutter emo teenager. Gradually, however, you learn where her doubts and insecurity comes from. Quite literally do you enter her mind, and almost everything that you find reflects a certain aspect of her background and personality. That is what makes Whisper of a Rose unique: it's a character-driven and deep game, but it's not thrown in your face. You have to think about it. I've received quite a lot of messages from gamers who have done that, and were sincerely moved by the story.

You've mentioned on your website that there are over forty different tracks throughout the game. What is the inspiration behind all the music and who composed it?
AJ: The music was composed by a team of talented individuals, such as Brian Coffi and Glenn Murawski. Everyone has their own specialty, and we used that in achieving the best results. Glenn, for example, is great at creating atmospheric and detailed music. The game's theme song and world map song are his. We take a bit of a different turn on music, though. Instead of throwing a catchy tune at every area, we want music to actually create a certain atmosphere – one that may not necessarily match what is going on. For example, there is a certain scary area in Whisper of a Rose that features a cute song. The result is a rather twisted and disturbing atmosphere, which is exactly what we wanted to achieve.

What is the meaning behind the title “Whisper of a Rose”?
AJ: On the surface, it would seem that the rose only refers to MelROSE's name. However, the theme within the game refers to her inner beauty. Even though in the beginning of the story she is a troubled and angry girl, her true beauty gradually shows itself. The whisper is Melrose's cry for help and was actually directly inspired by the basement-scene at the beginning of the game, where she sits down on the ground and cries.

How difficult would you say is it being an independent company trying to promote your games to mass audiences?
AJ: It is very difficult. There are a few easily accessible ways of promotion, such as Big Fish Games and other various game portals, but actually 'getting it out there' remains difficult. Interestingly, whenever the game is posted somewhere, the sales have another increased burst. So apparently Whisper of a Rose is well-liked, but not very known.

What would you say is the most important aspect in developing an RPG?
AJ: If you had asked me that question one year ago, I would have given you an entirely different answer: something about gameplay, story and music. The truth is, however, that most casual gamers judge a game based on the first 5 minutes. The most important thing is to immediately amaze the gamer with a brief introduction, and then throwing him/her right into the gameplay. Most casual gamers don't like sitting through a long Square-Enix-esque cutscene.

Do you have any upcoming projects at the moment that you’d like to share with our audience?
AJ: We are currently working on an indirect sequel to Whisper of a Rose, called Sweet Dreams. It will be a rather experimental game, heavily focused on casual gamers. With WoaR, we just wanted to make a moving, emotional and great RPG. This time, we have a more specific goal: we want to make a game that best suits casual gamers as seen on Big Fish Games and Amaranthia and such. Therefore you will find a lot of cuteness, a brief but spectacular introduction scene, puzzle-based gameplay and simplified RPG elements. Beneath that, however, we are keeping the deeper and philosophical aspects that were also present in Whisper of a Rose. Sweet Dreams is like a $1000 cake with supermarket whip cream covering it.

Any final words you'd like to share with our readers?
AJ: Actually, I'd like to say something unrelated to RosePortal Games. This is a RPG-based website. Therefore I think it is safe to assume most readers will be men and women who enjoy fantasizing and dreaming. I just wanted to say that you should never stop dreaming. When you grow older and your view of the world becomes naturally more bitter and cynical, please stay in touch with your imagination. With the wonderful events that can take place in your mind. That's why dreaming fascinates me – and actually, the whole team – so much. Even when our minds grow more realistic and down-to-earth, our dreams will always be there. Uncontrollable, fascinating and moving.

What is your philosophy behind your process in making games?
AJ: As I mentioned briefly before, we want to create thoughtful games. Not games that throw philosophy in your face, saying: 'Hey, look! I'm a deep and philosophical game! Buy me!', but games that keep the deep parts optional. Whisper of a Rose may seem like a simple fantasy RPG on the surface. But it's really more than that. Every area represents something special, every character has a background. We have it all worked out, but it isn't all explained in the game. We'd like to leave most of it up to the gamers' imagination. Some of the untouched areas, though, will be explained in Sweet Dreams. The new game will be released in the spring of 2011. We're already quite far in production, and we have most things all worked out. Please look forward to its release, follow us on the RosePortal Games forum and thank you for this interview!

RPGamer would like to extend a huge thank you to Arend-Jan van der Brugge for all his insight. You can purchase Whisper of a Rose on the official website, as well as Big Fish Games. This concludes our Indie Developer Pow-Wow. If you enjoyed this feature, let us know on our forums, or feel free to e-mail me at Happy holidays, and thanks again for reading!

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