Paige Marincak Discusses Steampunk JRPG, Gataela
By Julie Morley
Gataela is a multilingual, mobile JRPG that just started its campaign on Kickstarter with a funding goal of $5K CAD. It’s not very often we see an RPG of this design, so naturally I am very excited. Recently, I had the pleasure to discuss Gataela with its sole developer, Paige Marincak, and ask her a few questions about the game. Here’s what she had to say.
Cliqist : Firstly, for our readers who are unfamiliar with Gataela, could you tell us a little bit about it?
Paige Marincak : Gataela is a tablet RPG I’ve been working on for the past two years. It’s about a country (by the same name), which had a devastating civil war a decade ago. Although the country has recovered, the victims have not, which has led to tensions rising. Zack, one of these victims, notices that they need help and heads off to the Lord to request aid. However, his journey leads him as far as the capital, stirring up the old flames of war along the way.
Cliqist : As mentioned on the Kickstarter page, you’re influenced by Tales of Symphonia and other RPGs like Illusion of Gaia. What elements from these games, and any others not mentioned, are incorporated into Gataela or have influenced the gameplay? Have they inspired anything in the story?
Paige Marincak : I think the elements that most influenced Gataela came from Symphonia. For instance, I enjoyed the skits, the open world, the costumes, and so on. It was my first JRPG since Gaia so I was first introduced to those elements then, even though they showed up in other works.
I’m not a fan of the story pushing the player from one area to the next, or having dungeon-like areas in between each city or destination, which seems to be fairly common nowadays. Sometimes I like to wander off and visit the starting town to see if my journey has changed anything. I also have a bad habit of going to explore the world more right before the final boss battle. That’s also the reason why I haven’t finished more than a handful of games right now.
Some other notable influences were Pokemon and Eternal Sonata. You’ll see a large influence from the Pokemon Contests in the Debate battle system, and Eternal Sonata’s battle system in the turn-based battle system.
Cliqist : A post-civil war angle for the story is interesting and unique. I’m very curious about the story for Gataela. What inspired it and the array of interesting characters?
Paige Marincak : When I was first thinking of what to do for the story I thought of the most common plot line I have seen in RPGs, that is saving the world or the kingdom, and thought that it’s can’t be as easy as just defeating the Demon Lord. One of the things I love most about Symphonia was how it took the notion of saving the world, and showed that there is more than meets the eye.
So I ended up taking a kingdom and thinking about what problems it could be facing that would need a hero to try and save it. I had also wanted to do a more steampunk setting, and avoid magic all together, so I decided on a country that was transitioning from one era to another. The back-story for this country, which tied in nicely to the theme I was going for, was that ten years earlier there was a civil war, but even though the country was “saved”, it didn’t mean that the country was actually truly saved.
As for the characters, I mainly started building them off of this back-story to fit the roles that I needed to tell the story. Each character simply started off with a trope, a general age, and how I wanted to fit them into the story. Only after the overarching plot was finalized did I go back and decide on their names, appearances and detailing out their back-stories.
Cliqist : Can players who’ve played the games previously mentioned expect to see any references to them in the story or dialogue?
Paige Marincak : Probably the most likely reference people will see is in how I go about telling the story. I strictly avoided gaming for about half a year while I was working on the story so I wouldn’t be overly influenced.
Cliqist : Why did you want to design the game for mobile devices rather than for PC first?
Paige Marincak : Since before university I had been tinkering around with making games. Usually things I wanted to try out or trying to mimic certain features from other games. Around two years ago my Dad had pointed out to me that Blackberry was going to allow Android games to work on the Playbook (we own a Playbook) and he knew that I was quite proficient at Java. So I figured why not make a mobile game; it would be something different after all.
Of course, I ran into quite a few roadblocks early on while trying to develop something for both Playbook and Android tablets. Most of the problems stemmed from the fact that Android wasn’t entirely supported at the time for Playbook and so I couldn’t use any of the game engines available for Android.
Although I had thought of just dropping the project all together, I was honestly annoyed by how little good RPG games were on the devices. Plus, I was interested in using the touchscreen for games, so I decided to stick it out.
Thankfully, the game engine I ended up basing everything on supports mobile devices as well as PC. Since I’ve gotten lots of requests for PC, I think if I get enough funding for it I’ll look into releasing a version for that as well.
Cliqist : Why is Gataela divided into four different parts and how will this be organized (i.e. as different story segments or designed as expansions, etc.)?
Paige Marincak : Gataela is divided into four parts for two reasons: time and file size. Originally I was planning to have it only split into two parts, but as my original completion date for the first part passed by, I figured that I should split the story up more so that I could get it out into people’s hands quicker. Plus, unlike the console or PC market, the mobile market is a lot more fickle; who knows what the market will be like in a year.
As for the second reason, as I was working on it I also noticed that my plans for the world were more than a little ambitious. A world 384k^2 pixels large can lead to quite a large file size. I doubt that many people would want to download a couple GB-large game. I’ve reduced the file size quite a bit since then, but if I can leave out a fair amount of areas by splitting it up, I think that might be for the best.
I’m splitting each part of the game up on important plot points.
Cliqist : The combat system will not include magic but gunpowder and science. How will science be utilized?
Paige Marincak : Since there won’t be any magic, you’ll find that there won’t be skills like “Revive” and such at all. Instead you’ll have to rely on your weapons and items. Most of the one-time use offensive items are bombs and a lot of weapons are guns or gun-like items (although not everything is a gun!). I hope to implement a fairly basic crafting system where you can mix your own medicines and bombs to get different effects.
The most important part though is that you utilize these items well, since I’ve placed quite a few limits on the number of items and skills allowed in battle so you’ll have to use a little bit of strategy.
Cliqist : I really like how you’re designing the game for multilingual support. Why did you choose only English and French for translation? Will Gataela be translated into other languages, such as Spanish or Japanese, down the line?
Paige Marincak : From the very beginning I had planned to make it multilingual. Not just for English and French but any language. Since I’m Canadian, I decided the best two languages to first release it in would be the official languages. I hope in the future to translate it into other languages, but that would require both demand and money.
Cliqist : Players have a lot of customization with their parties. What are the party limitations? For example, many RPGs allow up to four characters in a party at a time or only a certain combination of characters.
Paige Marincak : For parts one and two the maximum number of characters allowed in a party is three. I’m still deciding if for parts three and four I should increase the number or not.
Cliqist : Do you already have the beta release date projected for Gataela?
Paige Marincak : I had originally planned a beta release date for early/mid-July, but as I mentioned in the risks portion of the Kickstarter, I am a student in my final year of university. In fact I’m even attending classes right now. If things do get delayed, I hope I can at least open up the first round of beta testing before September.
Cliqist : I have to ask because I’m curious, how did you come up with the name?
Paige Marincak : I actually get this question a lot. I’m really bad at naming things, so I decided to just throw together some sounds to make up words. I ended up with 12 or so of these and just went through them and said: Hm, which one sounds the best. As for the other 11 names, I used them to name other places within the game.
Cliqist : If you could sum up Gataela in 5 words, what would they be?
Paige Marincak :
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[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/julie.jpg” ]Julie Morley is a freelance writer and comic artist from Spring, Texas. She attended the Academy of Art University for two years, studying Animation and Illustration. Whilst here, she learned about writing comic scripts, storyboards, and general storytelling. Since leaving college, she has been working on personal comic projects, stories, and illustrations. She aspires to release a self published comic within two years. For the majority of her life, she has been playing console games, typically being third-person shooters and sandboxes. Her favorite game of existence is Dark Cloud II (Dark Chronicle) and her favorite Indie game is Gone Home.[/author]