Dr. David's Indie Spotlight: Interview with A.N.N.E creator Moise Breton
Developer Moise Breton, the sole operator for Gamesbymo, is currently toiling away on A.N.N.E, a Metroidvania that fuses several gameplay elements together and draws influence from a number of revered classics. (Hey, look! A wild preview appears!) The Kickstarter crowd immediately accepted the project with open arms and it wasn't long before its main goal and even a few stretch goals were reached. I had the chance to chat with Moise about A.N.N.E, and he was more than willing to share information about the game, his personal influences, and even his thoughts on the next generation of gaming hardware.
GameZone: First, I would like to congratulate you on successfully getting funded. It looks like A.N.N.E reached its Kickstarter goal with no problem, and you even got a little extra cash for some stretch goals. How did it feel to reach your funding goal and to see the support from fans?
Moise Breton: It felt unreal. I am in love with A.N.N.E and obviously make the game because I want to play it, but to see that many people show their support after seeing only a trailer and a short video explaining the project is pretty amazing. It’s a big pat on the back.
GZ: Can you describe A.N.N.E for folks who may not be aware or don't know too much about its premise and gameplay?
MB: A.N.N.E is essentially a Metroidvania type game with a twist. It is a platformer and space shooter hybrid: You get to explore on foot or inside your ship. When on foot the camera zooms in to give you a closer look, and when inside your ship it zooms out to reveal more of the environment. It’s all about exploration and finding ways to access new areas using both your character and the ship. It also has RPG elements such as levels and upgrades.
GZ: There's a strong emphasis on allowing the player to both travel on foot and via airship. Can players freely choose between the two modes of transportation, or is one more ideal in certain situations than the other?
MB: Both are necessary. The ship cannot get inside small caves and ruins while the hero cannot fly. The ship can also move around heavy objects that can be used as platforms or solve different puzzles in the environment. The ship is also 10 times stronger than the character, so it may be a good idea to run back to the ship if you ever encounter a strong enemy.
GZ: What's the scope of the game in terms of sheer size? Are there secrets to discover? Easter eggs? References? Are there open world elements in A.N.N.E, or is this a strictly linear affair?
MB: The game is open world and yes there are “secret areas” that at the moment are set as optional challenges. So far I really want the optional stuff to tie into the game, so who knows, maybe there will be a best ending for completionists out there.
GZ: You previously stated that some of your favorite games include Contra, Metroid, Castlevania, Gradius, and Dark Souls. How much of an impact did these titles have on A.N.N.E? What can fans of those games expect from your upcoming project when it launches?
MB: Well, A.N.N.E is a big mixed bag of all these games or elements found in these games. Imagine a Metroid-like game in which you can get inside your ship anytime you want, Equipping options that spin around your ship, shooting in eight directions when you’re on foot and losing some crystals and seeing enemies respawn when dying. Now if you are a fan of any of the above games, what I just wrote will make sense to you.
GZ: What separates A.N.N.E from the games that inspired you? What inherent qualities have you injected into this endeavor that makes it stand on its own?
MB: The art direction, music, gameplay. The big picture sure makes A.N.N.E something original. Being able to move physics-based objects with the ship and use them to damage enemies as well sure makes A.N.N.E stand out amongst other games of the same genre. I made A.N.N.E because I really needed a game that would serve me a variety of different gameplay in one sitting — that’s something people will hopefully find refreshing!
GZ: Ideally, if you could go back and release A.N.N.E on any legacy platform, what would it be? Were you a loyal NES player? Would this game have fit on the Genesis as it competed with the SNES? Are you part of the cult-like TurboGrafx-16 crowd?
MB: Definitely the SNES. The NES was amazing and it got me into gaming, but the SNES for me was and still is, for me at least, the best console ever. You look at the gap of evolution between the NES and SNES and it’s incredible. I like to say that my number one dream would be to release a game on the Super Nintendo. Unfortunately, I don’t have a time machine, or a million dollars to hire programmers that are crazy enough to code in assembly.
GZ: Do you have any other projects currently in the works? Anything you can share? Do you perhaps have some cool ideas floating around for a possible game once work is complete on A.N.N.E?
MB: I do have a few ideas, but all my focus is on A.N.N.E. It’s a complex game and I wear a lot of hats, so I need to constantly ping pong between design, art, and code. I will see when I get closer to releasing A.N.N.E which one of the game ideas I should tackle next.
GZ: What platforms will A.N.N.E be available on?
MB: Initially PC, Mac, and Linux and later on for Wii U, PSN, Ouya. I want to get the game on as many consoles as I can. It’s mostly a matter of time since I can’t allocate much resources to porting at the moment, but we are starting slowly on that nonetheless.
GZ: E3 2013 has come and gone and left its mark on the industry. Did you catch any of the press conferences? What are your thoughts on the next-generation of video game hardware? Is there a particular platform you're excited to work with? As an indie developer, what do you hope to see out of these new consoles?
MB: I guess for me it’s all about how simple it is to get the game on the console. Sony and Nintendo definitely improved a lot in that regard. Both are more accessible than ever to indies and that’s exciting. Especially for a gamer like me who prefers gaming on console over PC. Can’t beat a good old couch and a 40 inch screen.
GZ: Last, is there anything you're currently playing? Do you even have time to play video games? If not, what are you most looking forward to checking out?
MB: I shouldn’t be playing video games but I just had to play The Last of Us. I want to start Ni no Kuni — put a few hours in here and there — and I should definitely finish Xenoblade. One day. LOL.
I'd like to extend both a thank you and a congrats to Moise Breton. Bringing an idea to Kickstarter can be pretty intimidating, but it's obvious that game players care about everything that A.N.N.E can be. As a side note, I'd like to point out that he'll probably release two or three games after A.N.N.E before finishing Xenoblade Chronicles. That game's, like, a busy person's worst enemy. We'll finish it someday, Moise. We'll finish it someday.
Want to talk about indie games, Kirby, or cheap pizza? Follow me on Twitter @dr_davidsanchez.