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RPGamer Feature - Alpha Kimori Episode One: Great Doubt - Interview
Alpha Kimori Episode One: Great Doubt
Platform:
Developer: Sherman3D
Publisher: Sherman3D
Release Date:
04.07.2011











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Sherman3D is an independent developer whose work you may have seen in Lock's Quest and Scribblenauts. This time around, Sherman3D is working on its own episodic RPG titled Alpha Kimori. Full of love-triangles, polarizing ideals, and troubles with the potential apocalypse, Sherman3D has focused on making an RPG that story-oriented and packing a lot of punch. RPGamer had the chance to talk to Sherman Chin, the founder of Sherman3D about Alpha Kimori and what this little episodic game has in store for newcomers.


Greetings Sherman3D! You've recently released the first episode of your new episodic RPG. Can you please tell us a bit about who you are for the readers?
Sherman Chin: Sherman3D is an indie game development company that strives to create cute, bright, and colorful Anime inspired games. Sherman3D was incorporated in 2003 in Malaysia and in 2007 in Canada but we have a truly global development spanning the globe from countries such as Japan, New Zealand, United Kingdom and America. While working on our flagship Alpha Kimori intellectual property, we fund our game development efforts by providing pixel art outsourcing services and have worked on renowned Nintendo DS titles such as Drawn To Life, Scribblenauts, Nickelodeon Diego's Build & Rescue and some undisclosed Disney web games.

Tell us a bit about the story behind Alpha Kimori. What makes it different from other episodic RPGs out there?
SC: Alpha Kimori is our first venture using our own intellectual property. Although we have worked on a lot of outsourced game titles, their brands do not belong to us. However, we have complete control over Alpha Kimori for now so we can bring you the story we really want to tell without being hindered too much by external control and we are only limited by project funding. In fact, we worked on a 3D version of Alpha Kimori first with our very own engine coded from scratch (of which the tech demo can be downloaded from the community downloads section of Sherman3D.com). However, we did not have enough funds to complete the game so we decided that we wanted to focus on the story instead. That is why we opted to make a 2D version of the game with a very simple game engine. Alpha Kimori has a very intricate plot line that starts out focusing on the characters so that the players care for them and slowly it builds up to an epic adventure that will affect the entire world. It is based on the underlying Great Doubt philosophy which is in turn inspired by the Japanese Zen and Chinese Tao philosophies. The story of Alpha Kimori is a metaphor of what is happening in our real world today. It tells the story of two opposing forces (Yin & Yang) but the lines are not so clear cut. Both are dependent on each other and there are always shades of gray. Alpha Kimori is presented with simple anime inspired graphics so that it is easy to get into despite its complex storyline. As such, it is accessible even to those who would prefer not to contemplate its metaphoric connotations.

How important is the romantic aspect of the game? Will players be able to choose which woman Rick ends up with or is this set in stone from the get go?
SC: Honestly, the romantic aspect of the game is not all that important but some might think of Alpha Kimori as a Romeo and Juliet story at first. Although we did allow Rick to choose who he ends up with at the beginning, we figured that it would be better for us to not allow the player too much freedom in the story of the game in order for us to tell the story like an interactive novel where the player gets to be in the shoes of the protagonist as he experiences the world beyond his control. In fact, this has a parallel in real life. No matter how we try to control our lives, we have to realize that we can't tell our bodies not to get sick or not to grow older. Sometimes things happen beyond our control but it is how we choose to see it that determines our perspective of life.

How many episodes do you think Alpha Kimori will span?
SC: Alpha Kimori will span 3 episodes. We have already thought of the full story and we are currently just working on the direction and character development. Each episode is designed to feel like a movie and can be compressed into one. Hopefully, we would get some movie production interest in the future.

The game has been described as a very casual experience. Can you elaborate on what makes this so?
SC: The game is casual in the sense that it is episodic and easy to get into and play without too many hardcore RPG aspects. It is really meant to be like an interactive novel where the story is the main aspect and everything else is just to give the player a feel of what it is like being in the shoes of the hero in the story. The battles aren't too difficult and repeated encounters can be avoided as enemies are visible. There is not much need for level grinding and story progression is the main focus. Although our Episode One is only 5 hours in average, the game has a lot of short cutscenes that gradually unveil the story of Alpha Kimori. We use a lot of cute, bright and colorful sprite artwork and animation to convey our story so even kids can enjoy Alpha Kimori without understanding the story. Our intention is to make the game easy to play but provide more depth for those who are searching.

What has been the overall experience in making an episodic title like Alpha Kimori? What have been some of the difficulties for marketing and developing an episodic RPG?
SC: We spent 5 years working on Alpha Kimori from story conceptualization to actual engine implementation. We already thought of the story of Alpha Kimori when we were still in college and our whole company was formed around its creation actually we needed a means of survival that is related to what we are doing while working on our dream. Alpha Kimori has been more of a passionate work of art for us rather than a commercial product. Hence, we have continued to work on Alpha Kimori even while we were surviving on outsourced game artwork jobs. It definitely was not easy as we could only allocate what free time we have to developing Alpha Kimori as we do our best to please clients who outsource game titles to us. The reality is that we need funds to continue working on Alpha Kimori and that is why we are releasing it in episodic form. Of course, we also want the game to actually see the light of day so that we can get feedback from players on how they would like the game improved upon. We can't expect to please everyone but we can improve the game based on constructive criticisms.

In terms of marketing, we have limited resources so Alpha Kimori is not getting as much publicity as it should. We also do our best to tackle each and every technical problem individually so quite a few of our customers have received customized versions of Alpha Kimori. If you write to us, we write back but we do encourage usage of our public forums at AlphaKimori.com so that it is easier for us to address repeated issues. Although the creation of Alpha Kimori has been long and arduous, we feel that the work we have put into it is justified from the number of people we have helped with Alpha Kimori. We have had fans, who suffer from physical and emotional pain, write to us and tell us how Alpha Kimori have brought joy into their lives. In more ways than one, Alpha Kimori is about being pressured by society to present oneself in a certain form that is expected by society and how one can believe in oneself to break free and yet still remain as part of the system to alleviate mental suffering. After all, we are still all part of the system that is One no matter how different we think we are.

When can we expect the next episode?
SC: The next episode should be done in a year at most. We want to keep the release date flexible as we think that the story and the way that Alpha Kimori is presented is more important than just getting it released just for the sake of funds. That is why we continue to work on outsourcing projects for our livelihood.

Do you think at some point you'll work on a game for consoles, or do you find that the PC is the perfect platform for a game like Alpha Kimori?
SC: We would definitely consider the console platform once our funding level is up to mark. For now, the PC is still the perfect platform as the target market really has to contemplate the story of Alpha Kimori and when a player sits in front of the PC, the player is also able to Google for more information that will be helpful in understanding the philosophy and metaphor of Alpha Kimori.

Any final words you'd like to share with our readers?
SC: We really hope that you enjoy playing Alpha Kimori. It is an accumulation of our life experiences that we have compiled and brought to you in the form of a game. We are always open to constructive criticisms which you can post in our AlphaKimori.com forum. We always placed a lot of emphasis on our community and we have had free resources and tutorials on our Sherman3D.com website for quite sometime now. Please do help support us so we can continue building the world of Alpha Kimori. All that we have experienced, including what we will experience in the release of Alpha Kimori Episode One, is shared in Alpha Kimori in metaphoric story telling and we invite you to be part of that experience. Thank you very much!


RPGamer would like to thank Sherman Chin for taking time out to share all of his insight into Alpha Kimori Episode One: Great Doubt. RPGamers can purchase the game at the official website for $14.99 or at other outlets such as Big Fish Games and Amaranth Games. Check back with RPGamer for more coverage on Alpha Kimori soon.



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