Rainbow Skies, SideQuest Studios Interview
RPGamer was able to talk with the CEO of SideQuest Studios, Marcus Pukropski, about the upcoming RPG Rainbow Skies. This follow up to 2012’s tactical RPG Rainbow Moon is releasing in just a few days on June 26, so Marcus was glad to chat with us about the game’s development, features, and lessons learned during its creation.
Michael A Cunningham (RPGamer, Editor-in-Chief): What lessons from developing Rainbow Moon did you take into consideration when starting on Rainbow Skies?
Marcus Pukropski (SideQuest Studios, CEO): We learnt some interesting things from Rainbow Moon’s DLC. Some people loved it, others hated it. (Laughs) Apart from that, the overall reception of Rainbow Moon was very positive in general. So, we’ve focused on expanding the game and consequently tweaked details to improve the player experience even more.
MAC: What fan feedback from Rainbow Moon did you take to heart most when working on Skies?
MP: There wasn’t one big wish, but we’ve indeed collected a list with many suggestions and wishes from Rainbow Moon players. And a lot of them have been considered in Rainbow Skies. For example, the turn order display can now be expanded by holding down L1 to show the next twenty upcoming turns. Although it’s just a minor feature, this is an example for an improvement based on players’ feedback.
MAC: As a proud member of #TeamHandheld, I love that you are still supporting the Vita. What made you decide to support three systems for Rainbow Skies, especially the PS3?
MP: We started development on PS3 just because our development environment was optimized for PS3. I think we’re one of the few teams that develop natively on console hardware. Many teams nowadays develop on PC and create a console version at the end of the project. We’re using our own technology to ensure 60 fps and short loading times on all platforms, and we had a PS Vita version of our engine already available. So, it wasn’t too much of an extra task, we just had to keep the performance aspect in mind all the time.
MAC: What aspects of Rainbow Skies are you most proud of and why?
MP: The hardest parts in development have been the implementation and tweaking of some internal systems that probably no one would expect. We’re aware many people classify games like this as “mobile-games,” just because of the comic style, but there are indeed some very tricky mechanisms in the game. I won’t go too deep into detail, but for example all assets are loaded seamlessly in the background.
There are no loading times in battle or when entering a battle, regardless how many skills you use or how long you play. To bring this to the Vita with full 60 fps was also a big challenge. But all in all, we’re really proud of the game as a whole. I think that’s the most important thing.
MAC: Could you give us some details about the monster taming process and how it blends into the game?
MP: Once this is unlocked, sometimes you’ll find eggs after defeating monsters. Take the eggs to a monster tamer and after a certain period of time, your monsters will hatch. Once a monster is in your team list, you can add it to your party or you can even make it the leader and run around with it on the world map.
In terms of upgrades, monsters are very similar to main characters. Their stats can be increased with skill stones, they can use equipment, learn skills and so on. Monsters are far easier to level and to upgrade, but they can never get as strong as the three main characters. So they are a very handy support and good help characters. They can heal, buff or make battles easier for you.
MAC: Can you share some details about the character upgrade system; what options do you have and what types of upgrades are available?
MP: It’s version 2.0 of the old savant from Rainbow Moon with many advantages. You no longer need to visit an NPC for upgrades, which reduces back tracking a lot. Instead, this is now available in the menu, so you can upgrade after every single battle. You can upgrade all attributes (Strength, Defense, Luck and Speed), your main stats (Health Points, Mana Points) and some extra stats like number of turns and more. Upgrading is simple, you need skill stones that monsters leave behind after battles or that you can obtain from quest rewards. In exchange for skill stones, you can raise your attributes.
MAC: There were some who thought that Rainbow Moon was a little high on the grindy side. How does Rainbow Skies compare in that area?
MP: It depends on your play style. If you just focus on the main story, there is no grinding required. You can play the game by only winning the story battles without a single random or optional battle. Story relevant battles are even marked with a special icon on the map, so you will know exactly which battles are important and which are optional.
MAC: How does Rainbow Skies manage overall in terms of difficulty? Is it aimed at gamers looking for a high challenge or for a more casual audience? Maybe a blend of both?
MP: It’s really designed to play it in both ways: with a well-balanced decent difficulty when just playing the main story and not doing any side quests or with the extra challenge, when increasing the battle rank whenever you can and complete all side quests. Everything in between can be adjusted to your liking. We’ve spent a lot of time until we were happy with the difficulty balancing.
MAC: What plans do you have for any future RPGs? Another Rainbow game or something new? Anything else you’d like to tease?
MP: That’s really hard to say for now. Currently we are completely focused on launch preparations for Rainbow Skies. If and what upcoming projects we might do also strongly depends on the success of Rainbow Skies.
Many thanks for giving us the opportunity for this interview.
RPGamer would like to thank the team at SideQuest Studios for answering our questions as well as to Plan of Attack for facilitating the interview. Rainbow Skies will be available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and PlayStation 3 on June 26.