Indie Solo Dev: Nick V

Hi there! Tell us a bit about yourself and your studio.

Hi, my name is Nick V and I’m a solo indie developer, working entirely in my free time. By day I’m a software engineer, so I’ve got a lot of experience keeping a large code-base well maintained and writing complex code. But I’m a closet creative person, so I do all the pixel art, and music, and writing as well.

What game are you currently working on?

My game is called Song of Asirra. You play as Elia, who is training to be a Healer, when her brother contracts a deadly plague. The ingredients to the cure are hidden in temples around the world, so she has to travel around and find them all. It’s a side-scrolling action-adventure game (I like to call it an “Adventure-Platformer”).

What inspired Song of Asirra?

Song of Asirra is heavily inspired by the Legend of Zelda franchise, and shares a handful of its trappings such as an open world to explore, dungeons full of monsters and puzzles, etc It was actually originally inspired by Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.

Thinking of how it was the only side-scrolling game in the franchise, the original exercise was “What if we tried to make a new side-scrolling Zelda-like game, but with the extra depth added by later series entries, and with all of the lessons learned by modern game design?”

I’ve been inspired by lots of other modern/indie games as well, particularly modern side-scrolling action games. Momodora Reverie Under the Moonlight is one of my big inspirations, for how great the action feels, and for how expertly that game crafts its mood and scenery.

From a non-game perspective I also love to take inspiration from the real world. I love getting out in nature, and traveling, and taking inspiration from that.

What makes Song of Asirra special?

Song of Asirra has a large cast of characters with their own lives and personalities. It will have a large interconnected world, with secrets in every corner, that I hope will be a lot of fun to explore. It has a real-time day/night cycle, with characters following a certain routine throughout the day, and certain events and interactions that can only happen at certain times of day.

How is Song of Asirra different to other games in the genre?

I think my game has a lot of heart. The characters and the plot are really going to set it apart. I think players will enjoy interacting with the cast, and with exploring the history and back-story of the world of Asirra as they go.

I prefer to call Song of Asirra an “Adventure-Platformer” where some might call it a “Metroidvania” because Metroid and Castlevania and many games from that genre are very methodical in their exploration. They have maps that you fill out as you walk around, they have completion percentages. Song of Asirra’s exploration, more in the vein of Zelda games, is not tracked so meticulously. I don’t want players to know whether they’ve found everything or not, and I don’t want them trying to scour every pixel for every secret. Completionists will probably hate that, but I think it makes for a more immersive world.

What’s currently happening in development for Song of Asirra?

I’ve been working on Song of Asirra for nearly 4 years. Like I said before, it’s entirely a free-time endeavor, but I make time for it. My goal is to have a large playable slice of the game completed by the end of this year, at which point I may try to take things to the next level in terms of pitching to a publisher or indie fund of some kind.

When is Song of Asirra being released?

I’ll be honest, it’s really quite far from being released. The timeline in my wildest dreams looks like this: I complete Demo 3 by the end of this year, successfully pitch it to somebody and am able to make Song of Asirra my full-time job, hopefully even hiring one or two people to help, and we are able to release the game by early 2022? More realistically it may take even longer than that. I’m in it for the long-haul, whatever that may look like.

There are two demos that currently exist, from very different points in the game’s development. The first demo, from late 2018, is free to play. Nearly every aspect of the game has changed since this point, but it gets the idea across: https://nickavv.itch.io/song-of-asirra-demo-1

The second demo, from mid-2019, marked a point of reworking a lot of graphics and a lot of systems, so it’s much closer to how the game looks and plays today. It’s set in more of a gauntlet level to test the combat and platforming, so it doesn’t involve any of the exploration or NPC interaction that I consider a key part of the game. It’s also currently free for my Patreon patrons only, as a benefit for them, and non-patrons can purchase it: https://nickavv.itch.io/song-of-asirra-demo-2

As I’ve mentioned before, a Demo 3 ought to exist by the end of this year, and I envision that being everything from the start of the game up through the first dungeon, which should be one or two hours of content. I’d say a quarter of that content is completed at this point.

Where is the best place to get the latest news about Song of Asirra?

The absolute best way to get news about my game is by joining my Patreon, at https://patreon.com/nickavv I post weekly behind-the-scenes updates every Thursday, as well as music, art, demos and more. Even better, you’ll be directly contributing to the game and keeping me excited and working hard.

I also post about it quite a bit on my Twitter, (@nickavv), although I don’t post exclusively about the game there. Third up, I run a Discord channel all about Song of Asirra, where I’m hoping to grow a little community. It’s linked with the Patreon and there’s channels there that are exclusive to patrons, but I’ll post news and updates there for everyone: https://discordapp.com/invite/peXDcr3

Is there anything else you’d like to mention about Song of Asirra?

Song of Asirra is totally a labor of love, and I just want to make something that will stick with people after they play it!

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