Marvel’s blockbuster movie, Thor, shows that a Norse hero fighting his way through various beasts of the Nine Worlds can be glorious. It tests his mettle as an honorable warrior. With the adventures of Norse warriors still fresh in peoples’ minds, Milkstone Studios has picked a great time to bring out their own Norse adventure, Raventhorne.
Raventhorne is a side-scroller beat-‘em-up that puts players in the boots of the brave title character, having heroically died in battle. Raventhorne has risen from the dead and looks to avenge his own death. He’ll do so by battling across the worlds of Yggdrasil to reach Asgard before Ragnarok tears the world asunder. The game will feature melee-based combat along with various magic spells that can be used to take down the mythical warriors and beasts that stand in Raventhorne’s way.
With weeks to go before Indie Games Summer Uprising, I was able to talk to Alejandro González about Milkstone’s contribution to the event, the promotion itself, and Milkstone’s other contributions to Xbox LIVE Indie Games.
IGC: Tell us a little bit about Milkstone Studios.
Alejandro González: Milkstone Studios is currently formed by two people: Alejandro González, who performs mostly the programming, administrative & PR tasks, and Miguel Herrero, who is in charge of graphic design, sound & music, tool development, and the website.
Both of us are working on this since 2009 as a hobby, but we switched jobs on 2011 and started doing this full-time.
IGC: Where did the idea for Raventhorne come from? What are some of the games that influenced its design?
AG: The main idea for Raventhorne came after playing Muramasa for the Wii. We liked the game and its unique game perspective a lot and decided to try to do that ourselves. The Norse mythology setting and character design was proposed by our main artist.
IGC: Raventhorne is described as an epic 2D adventure. What are some of the gameplay elements that make this game stand out from other games of this genre?
AG: Mainly the combat system. Apart from the usual combos and spells, in Raventhorne blocking & carefully managing your stamina become part of the mix. If you spend all your stamina, you’ll become defenseless for some seconds, so it’s important to have a little rest or use less demanding attacks for some time until it replenishes.
IGC: The title character is a fallen hero looking to avenge his own death. Where did the inspiration for this character come from?
AG: We’re not sure about that. No, really, it just came to our minds while doing the script and thinking the setting. Initially we wanted to start the game with a big battle, but due to deadline issues we had to cut off that part, so we only show the results of that battle.
IGC: What are some of the biggest challenges you faced during the game’s development? With a history of developing for Xbox LIVE, has the process become easier or more difficult?
AG: The biggest challenge has been creating the studio and switching to full-time jobs. Now we have more time to develop and we’re more relaxed at work, but other issues have arisen: Now we have far more expenses than before, and need a constant cash flow.
From a technical point, the biggest challenge right now is to keep having good game ideas (both from the gamer side and the economic side) at a monthly rate.
The process has become easier with time, since we know the platform better and our engine grows with more features and stability.
IGC: Raventhorne was selected to be a part of Indie Games Summer Uprising. How does it feel to be among those games selected?
AG: Not only that, but it also came out in second place (along with Speedrunner HD). We’re glad people liked the game, since it has been our biggest effort on XBLIG. We’re also one of the few teams that are making a living on XBLIG, so of course we want the Summer Uprising to have the biggest impact possible to improve the platform renown and people perception of it.
IGC: Indie developers often have a difficult time creating awareness for their games and making enough of a profit to continue making new games. How important are promotions such as Indie Games Summer Uprising, in terms of helping smaller developers meet those goals?
AG: Well, Winter Uprising didn’t seem to have much impact from the sales perspective, so I wouldn’t expect much from this one. There are some things that should make it more effective, such as the capability to set release dates (that wasn’t present 8 months ago), more strict candidates selection, and more time to finish the games, so the results should be better. But it can’t be guaranteed though.
IGC: Coming off Raventhorne and several other titles that you’ve worked on, is there any advice you can offer aspiring game developers that might be looking to start development on their first game?
AG: Our best advice: Start small. Feature frenzy will be one of your biggest enemies, so try to focus on small projects. You’ll have more chances of finishing them and you can get some earnings from them faster.
IGC: What’s in the future for Milkstone Studios?
AG: We plan to keep doing games for XBLIG, trying to mantain an approximated rate of one game per month. We are currently in process of developing a game that should have some commercial success, and after it we’re not sure: It could be a MotorHEAT sequel, or a new game we have thought of. Time will tell.
IGC: Thank you, Alejandro González, for talking to us about Raventhorne!
Raventhorne is one of ten games that will take part of Indie Games Summer Uprising, beginning on August 22. Indie Games Channel will continue to follow the progress of Milkstone Studios, as well as the other studios that will take part of this year’s Indie Games Summer Uprising.
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