Our Interview with ACE: 3D Generalist, Writer, Game Director, and Solo Developer at the helm of AIKODE. From his background to his first steps into the world of video game development, leading up to the development of his debut video game… Here’s all you need to know about AIKODE and its ingenious creator.
“A caterpillar must transform into a butterfly to take to the skies. It has no alternative but to change, or face its death within the chrysalis. Freedom follows a similar pattern – to break free you need to accept the change, like a being that embraces its morphogenesis.” – Puppet: AIKODE.
Today, we are finally diving deep into AIKODE, the upcoming Action RPG Hack and Slash solo developed by ACE (you can find our main coverage on the game here). However, this time, we’re coming back to you with something truly special and unique, something we’ve been eagerly anticipating for quite some time but couldn’t reveal until now. It’s content that addresses all our (and your) questions about the project, its progress, and what you can expect from AIKODE in the near future.
From the title, you’ve probably already guessed what it is. Yes, the moment has finally arrived… Our interview with ACE, the solo developer behind the development of AIKODE. The only one who can unveil the secrets of his project, shed light on its mysteries, and answer all our questions about the project.
So, we’ve taken a step back in time, delving into the developer’s background, retracing his experiences from his past to the present, and, of course, delving into the world of AIKODE.
But, before we proceed with the interview, allow us to say a few words about ACE. He is an extraordinary individual, delightful to listen to, warm, and friendly, who has shown great openness in responding to all our questions and curiosities about his project, providing us with in-depth and content-rich answers, demonstrating a rare willingness both on and off-screen.
For this reason, we strongly recommend you stay tuned until the end and enjoy all the insights and fascinating revelations that the developer has shared.
With that said, enjoy the interview and happy reading!
Indie Games Devel:
For the first question, let’s dive right in. We’re well-versed in what AIKODE is, but we still have too little information about its ingenious and brilliant creator. So, who exactly is ACE? Would you like to tell us a bit more about yourself, your experiences, and your background as a solo video game developer?
Well, as you said I’m ACE, I’m 23 now and well there’s not much to say about me, to be honest. I’m just like a normal dude. A lot of people think I’m some kind of genius or something. I’m not, I just work a lot in the game. I have a lot of passion and also a big obsession for what I’m doing. That’s the main reason why everything looks the way it looks right now. In terms of experiences I don’t have a lot of it, I’m pretty new to the industry and I’m pretty young, so I’m a student, I study a lot. I did some work as a freelancer two years ago or something like that, but not a lot to say about me as a developer and as a person. I’m just a normal dude, doing something I like in the end.
Indie Games Devel:
You’ve just celebrated your 23rd birthday, and despite your youth, you’ve already gained considerable experience and honed impressive skills in video game development. Looking back, could you share with us your initial foray into game development?
I started working in things, in terms of game development, just messing around and playing around with Unity, like back when I was 13 years old. Like putting a character in there, just walking around, simple things. Then I did some stuff, in terms of RPG’s, a super small RPG with RPG Maker, but nothing supergiant but pretty easy to use. I didn’t have anything like what I’m doing now. I was just playing around with some things to do and trying to tell smaller stories and stuff.
Then, I started doing 3D stuff 4 years ago, and that’s when I started looking around and saying: “maybe I can tell a story with this”. I’ve always had a passion for storytelling and have been writing stories for about 8 to 10 years. Naturally, I wanted to tell stories through these media, but it was challenging. However, it wasn’t until around one year ago or a year and a few months ago that I began seriously experimenting with real development, coding, and programming. That’s how my journey began, maybe like not a lot but that’s it.
Indie Games Devel:
AIKODE is your debut project, the ambitious video game that will mark your official entry into the gaming industry. Could you tell us how this significant journey began? And why did you choose to develop such a large-scale video game as a solo developer?
Like I said, I started messing around with 3D stuff like 4 years ago. I started this project basically when I started doing 3D stuff, maybe 3 years ago; so 4 years ago I started 3D stuff and I started the first idea of the project and everything about it 3 years ago. Obviously, I didn’t in terms of development, because you can count it as development but in reality it I was just trying to have an idea and search for teams in pre-development stage, basically pre-production and all of that.
So, then I started one year and some months ago (I don’t remember exactly), when I posted the first video on X, the first gameplay video, that was Aiko running in Shibuya. That’s when I started the real development of the game. In terms of origins, like why I decided to do this instead of something more simple, actually this is more simple that what I had planned. That’s the funny story! Because, AIKODE in reality it’s like something I did to improve my skills and abilities to do something I really wanted to do. That’s something like the actual game that I was writing for 7 or 8 years ago. AIKODE, it’s part of a saga, something that you can actually see on Steam, like if you go and check for “(Morpho)-Genesis saga” you’ll find it’s three games.
AIKODE it’s going to be like this, one of its saga. In reality when I started planning all of this, I started writing the sequel, because AIKODE wasn’t even a thing, at that time. So, I started doing that game and then, like 4 years ago, during that time I was kind of merging when I started AIKODE and then 2 or 3 years ago I started merging the two projects. I was like, you know, this project it’s too ambitious; I need to do something less ambitious and that “something” was AIKODE. That seems kind of weird because AIKODE, kind of looks too ambitious and really big as a game but in reality, if compared the two things, AIKODE is something smaller, compared to the original project.
For me it’s not that big, that’s what I’m trying to say, for all the people it is so. My perspective it’s different, because I wanted to do something even bigger, so AIKODE was like the prequel of that bigger project that I didn’t know how to do it. So, I needed to start with something more simple. Obviously, it’s complex and it’s really big compared to other games out there, especially indie games or solo developed games, it’s true. As I said, from my perspective, this is actually a simplified version of what I originally envisioned. It’s a smaller scale that I wanted to do even if it’s a bigger scale. So, that’s like the original story of AIKODE. It’s something I did to improve my skills for the future.
Indie Games Devel:
Building upon the previous question, in your view, what are the primary pros and cons of being a solo developer? Moreover, how challenging and resource-intensive is this in your daily life, particularly considering the substantial workload that a project like AIKODE entails?
Basically, I think the best thing about being a solo developer or an indie developer is the freedom it affords. When you have publishers you have a lot of people behind you, telling you “don’t do this because the game will have less sales” or “if you do that you’ll have less money”, and stuff like this. Even as a director in these companies you don’t have total creative freedom as a lot of people may think. So, a good thing about being a solo developer, is freedom.
I can have creative freedom over my game. I can put whatever I want even if it’s super impactful, because I don’t have anyone behind me telling me what to do. And if a publisher wants to force me, I can say goodbye to him. I don’t want to have a publisher that destroys my creative freedom for more money. AIKODE remains true to my original vision, and it will only change if I so desire. That’s basically a pro of being a solo dev.
Another advantage is that, as a solo developer, you have a very clear and well-defined idea and vision. This can often lead to more efficient progress compared to working with a team. Working with a team necessitates documenting and explaining every detail to each team member, and this process can sometimes prove to be slower than the solo developer approach, which might seem unusual, but that’s just the way it is.
Among the cons, the need to handle everything by yourself is perhaps the most challenging aspect of being a solo developer. More often than not, you end up tackling tasks that you don’t particularly enjoy. Personally, I’m not a fan of design, but it’s a necessary part of the process. Creating entire cities with intricate layouts, both vertical and horizontal, isn’t a task I relish.
Another aspect that I find challenging is animation, even if the results look good. Animating objects and characters isn’t something I enjoy, yet it’s a task I need to undertake. This is a common challenge that solo developers face, and it can become quite complicated at times. There are moments when you reach a roadblock, and it seems like there’s no solution in sight. You’re all alone, with no one to turn to for guidance or assistance, and it can be a lonely journey. Sometimes, you have friends who can offer support, but sometimes you’re on your own. So, being a solo developer can be a messy and occasionally complicated journey, but it’s worth it.
Now, regarding the daily workload, as many people already know – I’ve mentioned this on numerous occasions – I put in around 16 hours a day. It’s an immense amount of work, so it’s not just about occasionally working. This workload is also the primary reason behind the frequent updates and the rapid progress, as there’s a substantial amount of work accomplished each day. The routine is something like this: you wake up, switch on the computer, and essentially live and breathe work throughout the day. It’s almost like a constant state of crunching.
Of course, I do have a life outside of this; I want to clarify that there are moments when I make time for other aspects of life. However, for the most part, I work seven days a week. I used to attend university, but now I’ll be devoting more time to working full-time, which means I’ll have greater opportunities to immerse myself in the game, resulting in faster progress. Nonetheless, I maintain a life outside of it, including spending time with my girlfriend and friends.
Indie Games Devel:
AIKODE, or AI-KODE, as you’ve chosen to name it, is a truly unique name that has captured our attention right from our very “first encounter” with the title. Upon closer examination, it reveals two intriguing interpretations within its nomenclature: AI-KODE, which by phonetics can also be pronounced as AI-CODE, signifying “artificial intelligence code,” or it might even be connected to a more intricate root of the word Aiko, the name of the main protagonist in the title. Does the name you’ve assigned to your project truly encompass such a complex meaning, born out of analytical study, or does it carry some other significance for you?
Well, much of what I do, including writing and such, involves layers of double meanings. There’s always a hidden aspect, a secret to everything I create. I’ve touched on this before, particularly in the Discord Server. Multiple interpretations abound, but the most important ones revolve around what you mentioned: AI-CODE or AI-KODE as Aiko. That’s why the key is right there. If you pronounce AI-KODE repeatedly, it starts to sound like Aiko, the name of the protagonist in the title. Essentially, it’s all about wordplay, a practice I indulge in quite frequently. You can even find it in the titles of the soundtracks; I’m obsessed with those tiny details.
So, when you explore the soundtrack and examine the song titles, you’ll notice some easter eggs and other elements. There are numerous secrets embedded in the names and titles, and even in the lyrics of the songs that haven’t been revealed yet. You’ll encounter plenty of double meanings and wordplay. It’s quite reminiscent of the wordplay and double meanings found in rap and old-school hip-hop, a genre I’m a fan of. I essentially borrowed that concept and incorporated it into everything I write.
Additionally, with regard to the titles, as I mentioned, there are sequels in the works, two more games that are part of the saga. One detail you’ll notice in each game is that the title includes the name of the protagonist and a deliberate misspelling error, just as in the case of AIKODE. Each game follows this pattern and the misspelling relates in a certain way to convey a double meaning. This is something you’ll be able to see in every title.
One more thing I haven’t mentioned is that the titles for the sequels aren’t simply AI-KODE 2 or 3; they take on entirely different names. AIKODE won’t appear in those titles at all. Instead, they will share certain elements, such as misspelling errors, the protagonist’s name in the title, or text beneath the logo – sentences just below the logo that’s consistent across all the titles.
Indie Games Devel:
AIKODE truly stands out with its remarkable and captivating animation style, the meticulous facial animation modeling of its characters, and the exceptional visual brilliance showcased in its cutscenes, just to highlight a few of the elements that make AIKODE visually awe-inspiring. During its development, you’ve thoroughly explored and acquired knowledge of the capabilities and potential of Unreal Engine 5, applying that knowledge to leverage its features for your title’s development. Would you be open to sharing your experiences with UE5 and discussing all the advancements achieved in AIKODE?
Well, there’s something I always need to clarify, and I’ve had to explain it to a few people at Epic as well because there was some confusion. Even though I’m using Unreal Engine 5, I’m not utilizing all the latest features like Lumen or Nanite or Virtual Shadows Maps. Instead, I’m sticking to a mix of things from Unreal Engine 4 and Unreal Engine 5, more in line with the Manila tools. It’s a bit of a hybrid approach, but I’ve chosen not to use Lumen or Nanite, not because they’re bad – they’re actually great – but because they can be quite demanding on system performance.
When it comes to optimization, it’s challenging to fine-tune the game with Lumen or Nanite. Nanite, for example, is an incredible piece of technology, but it’s primarily designed for high-end PCs. Even consoles can struggle a bit with large scenes, as we saw in The Matrix Demo, reaching extremely high FPS numbers, which isn’t ideal for an action game. Lumen is similar in that it requires high-end technology like Direct X12, which can significantly boost performance. However, I’m using Direct X11 and other older technologies to ensure the game can run smoothly on middle-tier and lower-end PCs. That was my primary goal. It will also perform much better on consoles, ensuring a smoother gaming experience.
Interestingly, even some folks at Epic believed that the game was utilizing Lumen and Nanite due to its visual quality. However, this was achieved through extensive post-processing, core corrections, and various refinements to make everything stand out. While Unreal Engine 5 provides a wealth of tools that simplify the development process, including Lumen, Nanite, and Level of Detail tools, my aim isn’t to create a tech demo; I’m developing a game for everyone. I want the game to run at the highest quality while maintaining good frame rates on a wide range of PCs. I don’t want players to need a high-end GPU like a 4090 or an RTX to enjoy the game.
My intention is for players to be able to experience the game even with a mid-range GPU like a 1060 or 1050, running it in ultra mode. That’s the idea. So, despite using Unreal Engine 5, I’m not taking full advantage of all its powerful tools. I do utilize them for pre-visualization and related tasks, but then I strive to replicate those effects with the vanilla tools.
Indie Games Devel:
We know that NieR has been more than just an inspiration for you at the core of this project; it’s almost a tribute fueled by your deep affection for the series. However, to stay on the topic, what other sources of inspiration can we find in AIKODE, and where can we see them reflected in the game?
So, essentially, AI-KODE is a tribute to many games, to be honest. When I started the project, I had just finished playing NieR on PC, for the second or third time – I can’t remember exactly. As I played the game and observed the movements and combat mechanics, I thought, “This looks pretty fluid, and I love the animations. I’d like to do something similar for AI-KODE.” That’s why there are quite a few similarities in various aspects, though I wouldn’t call it a complete tribute to NieR. It’s more of a tribute to numerous other games I’ve played, particularly in the RPG genre, but there are also inspirations from outside that genre.
What sets AI-KODE apart is its game loop and narrative style. For example, I really admire the narrative of Yoko Taro, but I’m not trying to emulate its narrative approach. AI-KODE has its own narrative style, which is quite unique. The game loop is also unique. In the beginning, there are multiple game loops within the game, with each of the three sections having a different game loop. The first section, for example, is somewhat reminiscent of something you’d find in the Persona series, where you have a calendar and free time. Sometimes, there are limited timeframes or “dead ends” for the month.
During your free time, you can interact with various elements in the world, like entering an arcade or engaging in activities similar to Yakuza, where you can enter an arcade and play games within the game – it’s a mix of these elements. You can also go fishing, play mini-games, and explore various activities.
In AIKODE, there are relationships and romances similar to those in Persona, offering an abundance of secondary content, free time, and a calendar. It’s not just a typical day/night cycle; it functions more like the Persona trailer, where you have activity points to spend, and once you’ve used them up, you move on to the next part of the day or night. Time is crucial in AIKODE, and I didn’t want to stress players with a timer!
In terms of level design, Gravity Rush has been an inspiration. The verticality in the cities and the overall design are more similar to Gravity Rush, but it’s combined with the kind of environmental design found in Yakuza, where you can enter certain locations and explore interiors and such. It’s a fusion of various elements, a lot of verticality included.
Likewise, the combat draws inspiration not only from NieR but also from Platinum Games titles like Bayonetta and Devil May Cry. It’s truly a blend of various game genres. The inspiration for flight, for example, is more similar to Anthem. While Anthem isn’t an RPG, I admired how they handled that feature. The movement in the game is a blend of elements from FF15 and NieR, but ground movement is more similar to FF15, with the camera following suit. There are countless small details I’ve gathered from different games and incorporated into the game.
Indie Games Devel:
If we talk about inspirations, we can’t overlook uniqueness, a quality that your game unquestionably possesses. In your view, what features do you believe distinguish your video game as a one-of-a-kind project?
I’d say the story is probably the most distinctive aspect of the game. It’s not directly inspired by anything specific, but it draws inspiration from various sources. I’d go as far as to say that the story is not only unique but also the best part of the game. Kevin, the composer, and I both believe that the story is possibly the game’s standout feature. If executed correctly, it could be a significant and unparalleled element in the game, in my opinion. Of course, there are other unique elements in the game as well, mostly related to certain mechanics involving the Puppet. However, I won’t reveal too much about it as it’s part of a larger plot twist within the story.
In terms of general aspects, I’d say change is a fundamental and somewhat unconventional feature. It draws inspiration from various sources, but the best way to define the game is through the concept of change. I know it might seem peculiar, considering all the inspiration from other games, how can you make something that changes almost everything? I believe it’s the way the game is explained, the narrative, and the overall experience that sets it apart. It’s an experience that no one has encountered in a game before. I’ve played numerous games, and AIKODE is unlike anything I’ve seen.
What I’m striving for in terms of the general experience is a constant sense of change. Change is something players will notice even in the upcoming demo. The demo is always evolving – in 15 minutes, you’ll experience more than you typically would in a one-hour game. That’s the whole idea! If you were to watch a 30-minute walkthrough video on YouTube and skip ahead two minutes at a time, the game would still look exactly the same in every aspect. It’s incredibly static, from the colors to everything else. This has always struck me as strange, because in animated movies and similar media, almost every frame is constantly changing.
This happens in a two-hour movie, and yet a five-hour game remains visually static. It doesn’t make sense to me. I think it’s not a good idea from a visual perspective because it becomes monotonous. I’d get bored seeing the same things. When you’re playing a game and actively interacting, you might not notice as much, but sometimes it’s not the best approach.
So, with AIKODE, I wanted to introduce constant change. You won’t know what to expect next. Bosses are always changing, characters are entirely different. You may be controlling one character at one moment and then another with completely different mechanics and controls that you don’t recognize. It feels like you’re always in the process of understanding the game because it’s in a constant state of flux, but in a good way. You’re constantly eager to see what’s going to happen next, not just in terms of the story, but in every aspect.
Furthermore, you can look forward to changes in the music, which is quite distinct from many other games. Often, games feature a fixed soundtrack where most songs sound rather similar in terms of style. This can be a good thing, especially for creating a particular style, like the NieR franchise, but it can also lead to repetitiveness. When you’re playing a game for 30 or 40 hours, you need variety. With AI-KODE, I aimed to create that variety. The soundtrack offers different sounds, the colors are in flux, and the saturation and other elements change too. I believe it offers an experience that many players haven’t encountered in other games, making it a unique narrative and gaming experience that constantly evolves. So, I’d say that’s probably the most unique part of the game, aside from the story itself.
Indie Games Devel:
On multiple occasions, you’ve defined the concept of freedom in AIKODE as not something “you have to do in-game” but rather as something “you’re free to do,” without pressures, obligations, or goals. With that in mind, what does the concept of freedom represent to you in AIKODE, and how is it translated within the game?
Well, as you mentioned, it’s about having the freedom to choose, like having wings, even if you don’t necessarily need a bike. It’s not always about necessity; it’s about having the ability to choose. That’s the core principle of game development, and it was my guiding principle when I was creating AIKODE. Sometimes it’s not a question of why you need a particular mechanic, but rather the freedom to use that mechanic.
In real life, we have the freedom to make choices, and that’s how everything works. In the game, players can customize many aspects. My main goal when creating Aiko as the main character was to make her unique for each player. This idea led me to integrate an outfit and hair system and various customization options. I began expanding on this concept because it’s fascinating to see the same character visually differ for each player. I wanted to create a unique experience for every player.
This concept also extended to giving players choices within the game. You are free to explore secondary content, such as playing an arcade game or building relationships, and your choices shape the stats of Aiko. Similar to games like Persona, there are emotional stats in addition to the usual attack and strength stats, including categories like knowledge and courage.
The game changes these stats subtly without overtly notifying you. For example, if you commit a harmful act like harming civilians, your aggression stat will increase. As I mentioned, these ever-changing stats affect how the main story unfolds, not entirely but on an individual basis. It influences aspects such as the tone of the voice actress, dialogues, and even animations. So, not only will each player’s Aiko look different, but the dialogues, voice tone, animations, and visuals will also vary based on these choices. Aiko starts as an empty vessel, and as players progress through the story, they create their own version of Aiko, forming a deeper connection with her because she acts as they wish her to.
This is essentially what I aimed for: freedom with an understanding that every choice has consequences. In the end, everything ties back to the game’s plot, especially the concept of the Puppet. Despite having the freedom to make choices, you ultimately end up in the same way as everyone else, just like in real life. That’s the fundamental irony of the game – even with all these choices and Aiko’s changes, her various outfits, and other customizations, in the end, you’re still just a puppet. That’s the essence of freedom in AIKODE.
Indie Games Devel:
The lore narrates to us about fragmented memories, reset identities, a world where the distinctions between humans and machines blur, ultimately propelling the world of Somnium into an irreparable fragmentation. The plot intertwines a cryptic and enigmatic narrative that links the symbolic dimension to the metaphysical one. Would you like to share more details about all of this, if possible?
All the elements I’ve revealed so far may seem cryptic, and that was intentional, of course. However, there’s also a significant narrative aspect to the game, which you can explore on the website. I’ll likely showcase more of this narrative in the coming year through trailers, shedding light on the less cryptic parts of AIKODE. Although it may appear cryptic, the first part of the game is not as cryptic as I’ve portrayed until now. It’s more of a straightforward narrative that’s easy to understand, filled with plot twists because I enjoy continually expanding and adding depth to what initially seems simple.
In the second part of the game, things take a more cryptic turn, as you’ve seen so far. This section delves into metaphysics and quantum mechanics, exploring the world’s underlying physics and quantum physics. This is when the Puppet, though always present in the background, truly emerges as a central element of the storyline.
In the third section, which returns to a more narrative style, things take on a more realistic tone, departing from the pure fantasy narrative with a touch of sci-fi that characterized the first part. It may seem strange, but it will all make sense within the context of the entire game. These three sections are distinct from each other, not only in terms of narrative but also from a gameplay perspective.
Indie Games Devel:
“A Child, a Puppet, a Contract.” This is one of the few hints you’ve provided for us to ponder upon, in order to unravel the narrative. “A Child” (Saya?), “A Puppet,” which we know is one of the key characters in comprehending Somnium, and…”A Contract,” the object through which it’s possible to heal a diseased world and break the bond to this realm. Can you tell us, between the lines, why this triad is the key to breaking the cycle?
So, it’s always like that, and when I say “always like that,” I’m referring to the entire saga. Three key elements are consistently present in the series, in the sequel, and will continue into the third game: A Child, a Puppet, and a Contract. I can’t reveal too much because it would be spoiler, but in terms of the contract, it’s essentially what it appears to be—a contract of terms and conditions. Think of it as when you read and accept the terms and conditions of an application you want to use. You agree to abide by the rules laid out in those terms and conditions. This is the closest comparison I can provide to describe the concept of the contract.
On the other hand, the Puppet and the Child are intricately linked and share certain similarities, but I’m intentionally avoiding spoilers here. It’ll be something you’ll be able to see in the future things that I’ve planned in the sequels. What I’m emphasizing is that these elements are at the core of the series, and that’s the fascinating part. The Puppet isn’t a single character; it’s more of a concept. In AIKODE, you see a character that might remind you of Nia in terms of design—white hair, a similar style, and a similar face. The outfit is also quite similar but with variations in colors and other details. While this character is a significant part of the concept of the Puppet, there’s much more to the Puppet concept than just one character. What you’re seeing is a visual representation of one aspect of it.
Indie Games Devel:
One thing we’ve always wondered is… Is AIKODE, in some aspects, an autobiographical video game? Or, to phrase it differently, can we expect any easter eggs or cameos tied to your persona, a part of you, or even your in-game alter ego?
To be honest, that’s a pretty good question. Answering it isn’t easy, I won’t deny that, but I appreciate your asking it because, honestly, you’re on the right track in a way. In all the interviews I’ve done, nobody has posed this question. It’s something many people don’t typically consider, but I won’t give a simple “yes” or “no” answer because it’s rather intriguing.
So, let’s consider the very first information I shared exclusively with the members of the Discord community. If you revisit that initial teaser, it might not align seamlessly with the entire game’s narrative now. You might wonder, why is Ahiko featured prominently in the trailer when she isn’t even the main character in the game? Why did this serve as the primary teaser for the game? Well, to me, it wasn’t simply a teaser; it was more of a way to convey a message. It might sound a bit unusual, but if you return to that teaser and pay attention to the actual words spoken rather than just focusing on the visuals and music, you’ll discover that Ahiko’s words essentially reflect me communicating with people about AI-KODE.
In that teaser, which begins with the “Brilliance of the Achiever,” people are applauding the brilliance of achievers ignoring all the corpses around them. This concept essentially means that people often celebrate those who achieve success, whether they’re solo developers, composers, musicians, or others. People tend to view these successful individuals and think, “Well, if they can do it, I can do it too.” It’s a common belief that if you work hard and pursue your dream relentlessly, you can turn it into a reality and achieve it. However, life doesn’t always operate that way. Some people become obsessed on this idea, ignoring the failures of those around them. This darker aspect is depicted in the trailer with the imagery of numerous people’s corpses, representing those who attempted and failed to pursue their dreams.
The dialogue in the trailer carries a message that essentially says, “Even if I don’t succeed, I will be evidence of someone who didn’t succeed.” So, I would die pursuing my dream, serving as proof that I didn’t achieve it, validating my initial point. When I started AIKODE, it was a relatively small project, and very few people paid any attention to it. I was a no name, as Ahiko mentions in the trailer. No one was familiar with ACE, AIKODE, and just 12 people followed the project at that time. That was my way of confessing or telling the world, “I want to achieve my dream!” because that’s how I’ve always thought. Even if I work diligently, perhaps only 100 people might play the game, at best.
I realize it might not make much sense now, especially when you look at the game and see all the fans and followers who are excited about the project. However, at the time, there were only those 12 people, and from my perspective, I was uncertain whether I could achieve my dream. I knew I would complete the game, but I wasn’t sure if anyone would even notice it, and it might remain an obscure creation that nobody would experience. This was my way of saying, “I don’t care if I attain my dream or not, but if I don’t achieve it, at least it’ll serve as evidence that working diligently and sacrificing everything in your life doesn’t guarantee success.”
Many people mistakenly believe that working hard is the key to success, and sadly, I’m presenting a contrasting perspective. This was part of my plan, and indeed, these were my initial words in a way. That’s why this teaser served as the very first introduction to AIKODE, as it was my means of communicating with people through the game. This is also why Ahiko bears some resemblance to me in this psychological aspect. She’s essentially an anonymous character, a no name, much like I once was, and continue to be, despite all the accomplishments and milestones.
Indie Games Devel:
An image featuring Saya displays a sequence of 0-1 that immediately caught our attention. When decoded, it corresponds to the letter “A.” Can we interpret this as a hint that will be followed by others as you reveal more content, creating a kind of “clue hunt” for a larger pattern, or was it simply a coincidence?
So, if you go back to the Instagram post, that’s where all the images are. You’ll see about seven images, and four of them are different. All of them contain codes. This is something you can find on Instagram. Also, if you check the descriptions of the other images, you’ll discover another easter egg just before the Saya post. They are all grouped together, so you’ll encounter seven images in total, and then four images with binary codes. Saya was the second one, and there are three more. The first one is Aiko, the profile photo I had for a long time. The second is Saya, the third is Izagi, and the last one is Emma.
But there are four images, each with a different code. As I mentioned in response to previous questions, when I create something and focus on minor details, everything is there for a reason. Most of the time, all the tiny details, secrets, or easter eggs have a purpose, and everything holds a double meaning in what I post. So, if you analyze everything a bit more, you’ll uncover more and more things. If you combine everything, you can arrive at something more and more substantial. These cryptic elements are designed this way to give a double meaning to everything I do, and it’s intentional.
Indie Games Devel:
Continuing with the theme of the blue butterfly, we know that it metaphorically symbolizes life and the choices that come with it. It signifies that the present and the future are entirely in our hands, and any success or failure depends on us. Does this suggest that the character (Aiko) who carries the blue butterfly on her face is, throughout the story, called to reconsider her existence?
Well, the butterfly has become an icon of AIKODE, especially in relation to Aiko. However, it’s not limited to AIKODE; it’s connected to the entire saga. You can interpret it as a symbol of evolution. Before a butterfly, there’s a caterpillar, signifying change. A caterpillar must enter the chrysalis to transform into something more. There are only two options: either it dies or it undergoes a transformation and becomes a butterfly. Similarly, for humans to achieve true freedom, they often need to endure suffering and undergo changes. Aiko’s journey is quite like that; she needs to undergo these changes if she wants to transform into something more. This complexity is at the core of what AIKODE represents, and it ties into Aiko’s origins. For her to transform, she must go through these changes, like a butterfly.
So, Aiko can be symbolized by the butterfly, and the butterfly also represents the “Butterfly Effect.” This effect is about how small actions in the past can have significant consequences in the future, especially in the context of time travel and related concepts. That’s the idea – the butterfly represents both change and the Butterfly Effect.
Indie Games Devel:
The game world, or more precisely, the various game worlds of AIKODE, are diverse facets of the same universe, represented in a duality between the metaphysical and spiritual dimensions. How did the concept of AIKODE’s multi-world originate in your mind?
It might seem like a multi-world, but it’s all part of a single world. The apparent confusion arises from the coexistence of conflicting elements within this world. For example, there’s Sector F, which has a unique steampunk ambiance, characterized by Victorian-style clothing, a specific culture, and somewhat archaic steam-powered machines. Then, there’s Sector N, a sci-fi futuristic area with holograms, towering skyscrapers that obscure the ground, and a completely different vibe. So, even though these sectors seem like different worlds, they all exist within the same world, and they’re interconnected. When I say interconnected, I mean you can hop on a train and travel from Sector N to Sector F without leaving the same place. It’s just that the culture and other aspects vary between these two sectors.
Simultaneously, Shibuya isn’t there in the same way we know it today, but if we talk about its past, it was part of this world. So, it’s not about transitioning from one disconnected world to another; it’s all within the same world. Even when we delve into metaphysical aspects or what appears to be outside this dimension, technically, it’s all part of the same world. Saya’s Mind is one of those enigmatic elements that’s hard to grasp if you approach it from the perspective of a typical world. It exists in an in-between state. It’s not a single world, yet it is in a way. This may sound perplexing to players right now, but it’ll become clearer as they progress through the game. This world is one of the most significant aspects of AI-KODE, and I’ve invested a substantial amount of time in shaping it.
This world is filled with elements from the past, the future, and sometimes it blurs the line between them. It’s challenging to explain without giving away spoilers, but I’d like to emphasize that it is indeed one world in a technical sense. The concept was to create these distinct places due to the theme of “Change.” I didn’t want a static world. In AIKODE, you’ll encounter post-apocalyptic elements, but everything is in a constant state of flux. Different lighting, color corrections, and various music genres add to the uniqueness of each sector. For example, Sector N’s music genre is entirely different from other areas like Sector F. The game offers a unified experience while constantly changing, keeping players engaged throughout.
Indie Games Devel:
AIKODE, as you’ve revealed, includes 5 fully playable characters for both combat and exploration, totaling around 12 in all. Character design can indeed be considered one of the major strengths of your title, serving both gameplay and narrative purposes. Could you share insights into how these characters were initially conceived and how they evolved during the development process over time?
Well, the initial designs were quite different, and you can find some of those early images on Discord or my Reddit. For example, Nia went through significant changes. She used to be a blonde with a different face and a completely different dress. She had a white dress initially, and even Aiko had black/gray hair and a different outfit. Many characters changed over time in terms of their designs and quality, and these changes were ongoing; I’m continuously upgrading the models from a design perspective.
While I had an initial concept in my mind when I started, I don’t create traditional concept art. Most of my work involves going directly into 3D, essentially creating a 3D concept art. Some artists use 3D concepts, so it’s a relatively new approach. I have a general idea, especially when it comes to color schemes, and you can find many videos on my Instagram showing how I textured Emma’s dress, for example.
In one video, you can see I started with a green color but later changed it to red. I often experiment while I’m texturing the models, so it’s not a rigidly defined process. I do maintain a folder with references, a mood board, and some ideas, but it only becomes concrete when I actually create the model. This flexibility is also why you may notice small changes in designs, whether it’s in the hair, faces, or even complete overhauls.
For example, I was certain that the Puppet would have black and blue in her dress to represent the butterfly. If you look at the puppet’s dress, it shares similar colors with Aiko’s butterfly. I knew I wanted gray hair for the puppet, as a nod to Aiko, but with Nia’s hairstyle. So, I had some ideas in mind, but there’s room for adjustments and tweaks. Sometimes, when a character doesn’t appear as I intended in the game due to technical constraints, I make changes to make it look better. So, it’s not a process with a fixed framework.
This applies not just to the characters but also to the world itself. If you look at the first images of the world, you’ll see how it has evolved significantly. For example, Sector N was initially planned as a dystopian cyberpunk area, but it has transformed into a more sci-fi futuristic and pleasant setting. Even these finer details constantly change as the game’s vision progresses from my mind to its visual realization. Therefore, there’s no rigid process, as things are always in flux, and it depends on the character and how well-formed the idea I aim to convey is in my mind.
Indie Games Devel:
There’s another aspect and “version” of your characters that deserves a highlight: The Kyao. This special kind of hybrid, half-android and half-human, conceived by the Order to protect the world. Could you share how this unique elite unit in AIKODE came to life and what its main and devastating features are?
So, the fascinating aspect about Kyao (there’s not a lot of information available) is its multifaceted nature. As I mentioned earlier, it’s not solely associated with “The Order” or a single thing. You see, in Aiko’s description on the website, it states that she’s a Kyao created by the Order to protect humanity, which is the first version of Aiko you encounter on the website. However, if you delve into another part of the website, you’ll find Aiko as a scientist, and she’s essentially a student of Kyao. It’s intriguing because she’s a Kyao herself but also a student of Kyao.
It gets even more complex when you realize that Joshua is also studying it. So, you might wonder, what exactly is Kyao? At times, it refers to a human, a machine, or a field of study. So, it’s essentially a concept that encompasses a multitude of things. It’s used to define various elements in different contexts. It can be the subject of study, an entity like Aiko labeled as Kyao, or even the constructed language in the game known as the Kyao language. There’s also something called “Kyao Parasite“. All these things are related and not related at the same time, which makes it intriguing. It’s not just about a hybrid like an android; it’s a broader concept.
Regarding the Order, the Kyao conceived by them is an interesting subject. The process of creating or conceiving a Kyao involves an element of suffering for the person who becomes a Kyao in some way.
It’s essential to understand that the Order didn’t originate the concept of Kyao. They’ve created their unique version, which is identified as a Kyao created by the Order. They’ve taken the concept of Kyao and used it as a foundation to create something new. So, Kyao isn’t solely a character but encompasses multiple elements. It’s a complex concept, and it will be explained in a more coherent manner within the game itself. I don’t want to reveal too much and spoil the experience. I can say there’s a lot happening within the Kyao concept, and it’s more than just a character type; it’s a multifaceted and intriguing aspect of the game.
Indie Games Devel:
AIKODE also features some notable peculiarities, like the Butterfly Rail System, a unique feature connected to the concept of identity. Could you explain what this means? What do you aim to achieve with this feature, and what implications will it have on gameplay, if you can share something about it?
So, it’s something you won’t find on the website or in the trailers; it’s exclusively revealed on Steam. This mechanic wasn’t originally part of AIKODE. When I was contemplating AIKODE, about a year ago, this particular element wasn’t in the picture. The second part of the game I mentioned was going to be entirely different.
Everything was planned on paper, even when discussing it with Kevin, the composer, he had a clear understanding of what the second part would involve. As I delved into the gameplay, I realized it would be a bit repetitive. It was similar to playing NieR Replicant, where you could achieve different endings but the journey remained mostly the same. In NieR, replaying the game simply involved redoing everything without significant variations.
I didn’t want to force players to go through the same experiences repeatedly. AIKODE is all about freedom, so in the second part, I introduced character switching, not just visually but also in terms of gameplay. While analyzing this, the Butterfly Rail System emerged. Originally, it was meant for the sequel, but I felt that AIKODE is my dream game, and the saga should be more unified. The Butterfly Rail System felt like something that should be a common thread throughout the entire saga, rather than just in the second game. So, I decided to introduce it in the first game, even if it would disrupt the “new thing” planned for the second part.
This decision brought a temporary halt to the production of the soundtracks. I informed Kevin that we needed to wait because I wanted to make substantial changes, including a revamp of the writing in the second part, unifying everything. So, the soundtrack would be put on hold for now.
A lot related to the Puppet underwent changes, and this should give you an understanding of the connection that exists between the Puppet and the Butterfly Rail System. So, I made these additions to the first game and reimagined the entire second part to make it more enjoyable. As a result, the Puppet has transformed into something fantastic compared to its initial incarnation, and the Butterfly Rail System turned out to be an intriguing idea. We resumed the soundtrack production with these changes in mind.
However, explaining what the Butterfly Rail System truly is remains impossible without revealing a spoiler. But I can tell you it’s a game mechanic integral to the lore, perhaps something the three games in the Saga revolve around. It’s crucial alongside the Puppet and the Butterfly, forming a trinity at the saga’s core.
I can provide you with this hint: the mechanic will likely change the way you perceive the game world. In the first section of the game, you experience the world in a standard gaming way—seeing it as you would in any game. In the second section, when you engage the Butterfly Rail System, your perception shifts. You’ll see the world not just as another game world but as if you exist in an intermediate state between dimensions.
It may sound clearer when you play that part of the game. It’s the best way to define it, as you traverse the actual world. These mechanics help you navigate this transformation. While it’s related to identity, it’s more about a lack of identity. The Butterfly Rail System connects with identity, but not in a constructive way. It won’t help you understand identity; it doesn’t function correctly due to the absence of identity. The contract, the Puppet, and everything else are intertwined with this mechanic. That’s the most I can reveal without giving away too much.
Indie Games Devel:
We know that the OST will be composed by the main composer Kevin Simon and an additional composer, Shibuya64, who will handle secondary and remixes. From an atmospheric and sonic perspective, what will be the primary themes conveyed by the soundtrack? And how did you approach this aspect in terms of tone and instrument selection?
So, the soundtrack in AIKODE is a rather intriguing aspect. Typically, in most games, soundtracks aim to convey certain emotions that players should feel when they’re experiencing a scene. For example, when a character is in a tragic situation, the music tends to be somber. However, in AIKODE, it’s a bit different. It’s not about when the player should feel or what the scene is trying to convey; it’s more about what Aiko, our protagonist, is feeling. The entire soundtrack is a musical reflection of Aiko’s emotions. That was the core concept I had in mind when envisioning the soundtrack. I aimed to create something that could narrate without words, effectively showcasing Aiko’s innermost emotions.
So, if a character is facing a dire situation, and Aiko has a strong aversion towards them, the music won’t be sad; it’ll be joyful. This may appear unconventional, but the primary goal is to convey Aiko’s emotions, not to dictate what the player should feel. As a result, at times, the music might sound sad or happy when it doesn’t seem to fit. It can even change in style depending on the specific area of the city you’re exploring, adopting a dynamic music system inspired by games like NieR Automata and Replicant.
For example, when Aiko is in a crowded place, you’ll feel the layers of the music with all the percussions and complexities, mirroring Aiko’s experience. On the other hand, when you find yourself in a quiet alley or a small, serene place, the music will adapt accordingly, reflecting the tranquility of the setting.
It’s not solely about emotions but also about what Aiko feels and perceives. For example, If you encounter someone in the city playing an instrument or singing, this will be seamlessly integrated into the soundtrack for that specific location. Similarly, when Aiko’s mental state is in turmoil (without giving away too much), the music will also mirror this state, featuring distorted and dissonant elements, with instruments colliding and melodies intertwining chaotically. Sometimes, the lyrics are in english, while at other times, a constructed language is used to convey the emotions. It’s not a fixed approach. Sometimes, it may not even be pleasant to listen to, but it makes perfect sense within the scene. It may not be highly enjoyable, and that’s intentional, as it aims to reflect the chaos and inner turmoil within Aiko’s mind.
What’s particularly interesting is that this soundtrack consistently reflects Aiko’s emotions and her perception of other characters. In most games, character themes are designed to reflect the character’s essence, but in AIKODE, it’s different. Character themes are portrayed from Aiko’s perspective of that character. It’s a unique approach, and I haven’t seen anything quite like it in other games.
So, expect a wide range of musical variations in terms of genres and styles. While not every track may resonate with everyone, I believe it’s an interesting and dynamic approach. Similar to what Final Fantasy 14 does, with its diverse music, various genres, and vocal performances, I wanted to implement a similar concept in a single-player game. Some people may prefer certain songs over others, and that’s okay. Kevin and I are aware of this, and we anticipate that not all songs will be universally loved. However, with around 200 songs, it’s highly likely that you’ll find several tracks that you enjoy.
My approach to directing everything in the game is similar to creating a music video. It’s a creative aspect I thoroughly enjoy, and you’ll notice it in various aspects of the game, including the trailers and more. Everything is intricately synchronized with the music, creating a unique narrative style. The music is always tied to the visuals and the pacing, and this synergy is particularly evident in the cutscenes. The game as a whole feels like a living, breathing music video. Even certain boss encounters are orchestrated in harmony with the music, as demonstrated in some Twitter videos. Furthermore, there’s a dynamic music system that reacts to your in-game actions, a feature that’s seamlessly integrated in every town.
Indie Games Devel:
From Steam, we learn that AIKODE will be available in 11 languages and voiced in Japanese and English. Have you already thought about the voice actors (both in English and Japanese) you’d like to cast for the voices of AIKODE’s characters? How do you plan to approach this aspect of your project?
Well, I have some ideas, but they’re more like reference points at the moment. Sometimes, even if you aspire to have a particular voice actor, the financial reality for an indie developer often means you simply can’t afford it. Let’s be realistic, many of the things I desire might be out of reach at the moment. Perhaps in the sequel, I’ll have more resources, especially when we talk about it after AIKODE’s release. I anticipate having more financial resources by then, and I plan to use the proceeds to enhance the development of future games.
Naturally, this will also allow me to expand the voice actor department and offer more options. Some voice actors are truly remarkable and exceptional, and they’re here because they genuinely love the game, not just for the money I can pay. Being an indie developer, I don’t have the kind of financial resources I’d ideally like. Even with the support from Patreon, it can still be limiting, especially when you consider the fees some voice actors and actresses charge. It is what it is, and while the game might look like something from a major company in terms of quality, it’s a creation of mine.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the financial might of a company like Square Enix, just to give an example. So, I rely on people who are passionate about the project and are willing to accept these “Indie Conditions,” as it’s understood that indies can’t always afford the standard rates for voice actors. Right now, there are numerous characters, as you’re aware. The website showcases around seven or eight of them, but there are, in terms of main characters, 26 that I haven’t revealed yet. This ties into the expansive game world. I’ve introduced about seven areas, some of the most significant, but there are more, and more facets of the game that I haven’t unveiled. I intend to keep updating and enhancing the game, so the final version will be substantially different.
As I mentioned, there are 26 characters, and those are just the main ones. We also have secondary characters, so there’s a multitude of roles for voice actors to take on.
Currently, my plan is to announce a public casting call in the near future. While I can’t provide a specific date just yet, it’s on the horizon, and it’s going to be a public event for English voice actors. Everything will be accessible through various platforms, such as X, Instagram, and Discord, so it will be easy to stay informed. You’ll be able to view the roles that are available.
Additionally, I’m planning to create a brief trailer featuring the characters and their respective voice actors. This trailer will follow the typical format, where the voice actor’s name is displayed, and you’ll hear the character speaking with music in the background. This is something I intend to do very soon, so you can anticipate it. You can expect to see more posts about English voice actors because English is the game’s original language. Afterward, the game will be translated into Japanese, and I’ll conduct a casting call for Japanese voice actors. That will come later. Currently, the focus is primarily on the English part.
In terms of casting, I have certain preferences, but the individuals I desire for the game may not be financially viable initially. So, I’m not really considering those options at this point. Instead, I’m looking for someone who can truly capture the essence of the character. We might discover some remarkable talents that people aren’t very familiar with. Perhaps we’ll unearth some outstanding voice actors through this game, individuals who might not be widely recognized at the moment. My goal isn’t to include incredibly famous individuals in the game. I simply want someone who can bring the character’s voice to life as I’ve imagined in my mind.
The trailer featuring the voice actors will undoubtedly pique people’s interest. It not only introduces the voice actors but also provides some insights into the game’s narrative. This time, there won’t be cryptic elements; instead, it will offer a comprehensive narrative overview. With these voice actor trailers, you’ll get a glimpse of the game’s storyline and how these characters fit into the broader narrative. I’m genuinely excited to showcase this and believe that people will thoroughly enjoy this trailer, as it offers a deeper look into the first section of AIKODE’s story.
Indie Games Devel:
Your admiration for Yoko Taro is no secret, as he’s an artist who has profoundly influenced your work and personally thanked you for what you’re achieving with AIKODE. Have you had the opportunity to talk with him regarding the project? Do you believe there might be a chance for a collaboration with him on a future project, perhaps even an AIKODE sequel?
I haven’t had a direct conversation with him; we follow each other, as you might already know. Yoko Taro has his own ongoing projects at the moment.
Regarding collaboration, to be honest, it doesn’t solely depend on him. We’ve discussed the pros and cons of being a solo developer. You might remember I mentioned earlier that I appreciate not having people telling me what to do. Yoko Taro, on the other hand, has certain limitations because he is reliant on a publisher. This is the reason why he often says, “If you want that aspect in the product, talk to the publisher, not me, because I can’t do anything about it.”
While I’m sure he wishes to create NieR sequels and more, it’s not always within his control. The necessary budget or team for a game isn’t his decision. It ultimately depends on those who provide the funds. So, a collaboration isn’t out of the question, in my opinion. I believe it’s something that could potentially happen in the future, especially after the release of AIKODE. However, this decision won’t be solely in Yoko Taro’s hands; it will depend on the publisher. I would need to negotiate with the publisher first, and if everything aligns, then I can approach Yoko Taro.
I can see the possibility of it happening if AIKODE becomes successful. Given that NieR: Automata has had collaborations with various games, it’s not an entirely far-fetched idea!
Now, if we’re discussing the creation of another game or a sequel, it’s unlikely to happen. This is because the sequels to AIKODE and the three games I’ve mentioned are already written, and everything is in place. I have a clear vision of how it will all conclude. I’ve even designed the characters for the second and third games, and there are already models of them. In fact, the production of the second part is closer to completion than some might think. It’s a bit unusual, but I’ve even completed the logos for the entire saga, not just the names but the actual logos.
I’m all set to go, and the sequels are further along in development than one might assume. This is mainly because they’re tightly interconnected, so I needed to have everything well thought out from a design and narrative perspective. Just like AIKODE, there’s a lot of foreshadowing, and there’s a significant connection between all elements, so I had to ensure everything was well-defined from the start.
As a result, the direction and narrative are well-defined and clear. So, introducing another director, for example, in the sequels would ultimately be something bad or senseless.
Considering another game or project is indeed an interesting idea, and I’m open to it, to be honest. However, I would need to complete the saga first before embarking on a new venture. Additionally, I don’t have a clear idea of what to do after finishing this entire saga. So, what’s going to happen at that point is uncertain, and even I don’t have all the answers, so we can expect anything.
Indie Games Devel:
We know that you are very close friends with developer Stephen Ddungu of Sword of Symphony. One detail we’ve noticed in both of your games is the presence of a blue butterfly. Is this a coincidence, or could it have something to do with a potential “encounter” between the two video games?
It’s true that in some clips from the Monthly Dev Summary, you can see a blue butterfly on Stephen’s Sword of Symphony. Well, that’s actually the AIKODE butterfly; it’s nothing more than an easter egg. It has no real connection to Sword of Symphony, and you won’t find a blue butterfly within the game itself. Stephen includes it as a subtle reference to my game. When you see the collaborations he does, he incorporates AIKODE into some posts. Especially on my birthday, he always creates a post featuring Aiko and Stephen, and when it’s his birthday, I’ll do the same. We’ll probably continue it in the future, so you can expect more related content.
Some people might think there’s going to be a collaboration or crossover between our games, but it won’t be exactly as they might imagine. The crossover will serve to reveal or explain aspects of Sword of Symphony’s lore or perhaps its future. It’s an interesting thing because Stephen will incorporate AIKODE themes, such as the Puppet concept and the Butterfly Rail System, to shed light on the future of Sword of Symphony in some way.
This crossover will be significant for the lore; it’s not just a random, non-canonical crossover. It will be canonical and intriguing for players. Stephen and I share many similarities and think alike, so when we collaborate in this manner, we come up with some cool ideas. There’s something in the works, but I won’t reveal any details because that’s no fun. However, you can definitely anticipate some type of connection. It won’t be what people expect; it will be unique in its own way, and even players of Sword of Symphony won’t see it coming…
Indie Games Devel:
AIKODE will be released soon on PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S. What are your plans for the near future? Do you have any intentions to release a demo? Also, do you plan to launch the game simultaneously on PC and Consoles right from the start, or are you considering first an early access release on PC?
So, AI-KODE will be available on all consoles simultaneously, including both PC and Consoles. The only difference is that the console demo might be released later than the PC demo, which is expected. As mentioned, there will be a Steam demo accessible to Patreons, and another demo for Patreons in the future. Additionally, there will be a demo available for players at events. I’m planning to attend events outside of Spain in the future, making AIKODE playable for people in other countries. When I say “in the future,” I mean it’s happening quite soon, likely next year. Furthermore, there will be a public demo on Steam in the future.
For now, the game will be on PC, as the console porting will be completed when the game is nearing completion, and it will depend on discussions with the publisher, as they handle the console porting. It’s important to clarify that the IP is still mine, and no one else owns it. I have the freedom to decide how the game is presented on consoles. Of course, there might be some changes for different countries due to censorship, like in the case of China. So, it does depend on the country in which you reside.
Indie Games Devel:
In conclusion, since you’re the only one who can answer this question, can AIKODE be considered the spiritual successor to NieR?
Well, the thing is, I don’t consider AI-KODE a successor to NieR, not because it couldn’t be, but because it’s going to be quite different, as I’ve mentioned before. The game loop is different, the narrative is different, and while there are some similarities, it’s evolving into its own unique experience.
At the beginning of the project, the combat and movement were more similar to NieR because it was something I had in mind. But as the project progresses and grows, it’s starting to develop its own identity. The combat, for example, is moving further away from that NieR feeling. While the first gameplay clip showed similarities, the more you see of the combat, the more you’ll notice the differences.
In terms of the narrative, gameplay loop, and other elements, it’s quite different from a NieR successor. I’d say it’s more similar to old RPGs but with contemporary graphics and gameplay. It’s a successor in the sense of paying homage to the era of old RPGs where you could interact with everything, including NPCs, even when you didn’t know the outcome. AIKODE is going to evoke a different kind of nostalgia in players who remember that era in terms of content and the level of interactivity it offers. Even though the game doesn’t look like those old RPGs, it will capture the essence of that era where games had these unique features.
While AI-KODE draws inspiration from various games, including titles like Final Fantasy, NieR, and Persona, it’s not a successor to any of them. It’s more of a spiritual successor to the old RPG genre, a love letter to the world of RPGs and games in general. So, I wouldn’t categorize it as a NieR-like game, and that’s something you’ll probably notice once you play the game or the demo. It’s a unique experience with features inspired by various games, but my intention isn’t to create a NieR 4 or something similar.
Anyway, if we’re talking about a successor, I’d say it’s reminiscent of the old RPGs era, because many aspects of the game center around interactions, and you can anticipate the kind of interaction that’s no longer common in triple-A video games. Everything comes to life in a unique way, as the world radiates vitality. This is how I perceive AIKODE.
Conclusions and Acknowledgments
We thank the developer, ACE, for this interview and for dedicating his time to us and for everything he was able to reveal to us during this interview. It was a pleasure and an honor for us to be able to discover more in-depth information on the world of AIKODE but also on the technical and human aspects behind the development of an Indie video game, directed as a solo dev.
And a heartfelt thank you to all of our readers for being with us today. We’ll be back soon with more news. That’s all for today; stay tuned with us!