Kickstarter Interview: Play as that wronged NPC bystander you stole from in You Are Not The Hero

Back when I was teaching, I always went out of my way to show my students the “other side” of what they’ve always been taught. For instance, instead of teaching the Crusades from the Christian perspective, teach the Crusades from the Muslim viewpoint. This opens the doors to themes never comprehended by minds and tells stories never heard before. Often the winners write the history – funny how that works.

This is my segue into the Donn Manalili and his team’s project on Kickstarter, You Are Not The Hero. In this game, you play as an ordinary woman in a classic roleplaying game environment named Petula. The so called “heroes” of the game barge into her house, steal a pendant from Petula, talk to her like it’s nothing, and then leave. If you think of this from her point of view… that’s pretty [email protected]#$ed up right there. Thus, this game is the story of Petula trying to get her family heirloom back.

The thing is, Petula is just a common woman. She’s not a warrior, her father wasn’t a great mage, and destiny wasn’t written for her to save the world. She just wants justice for being wronged. That’s pretty damn fair if you ask me. Instead of fighting, she will hide, solve puzzles, and run from conflicts – the direct approach isn’t Petula’s way. What she can do is make gold through tasks in town like fishing and waitressing. Petula can even become a homeowner if you play your cards right.

Just because Petula is a regular woman doesn’t mean she won’t impact the world. Decisions you make will have huge outcomes on the world and local environments. Yes, this means there are multiple endings all depending on the choices regular old Petula makes. As a classic SNES RPG lover, I’m excited as hell for this game and concept. If you’re in the same boat as me, you’re going to want to watch the video below, check out their Kickstarter page, and read our interview with Donn Manalili.  

What exactly is You Are Not the Hero?

You Are Not The Hero is an action platform RPG. We got rid of the battle system and added more action elements. Think of it like a cross between Final Fantasy and Zelda. You've got the dynamic storytelling from traditional RPGs and the personal quest-like structure and mechanics of the Zelda series. The unique thing about You Are Not The Hero is that you don't play as someone who eventually saves the world, you play as a bystander to the people who save the world. You get to feel the effects of what the heroes do, both positive and negative.

Where did the idea for You Are Not the Hero stem from? How long have you had a project like this in mind?

The idea came from my first playthrough of Final Fantasy IX. In the beginning, you played Vivi the black mage. You unknowingly steal 10gil from a house that you later find out to be their life savings. I felt very guilty at this point and wanted to return it. Of course, they didn't have some kind of 'come clean' mechanic to return the stolen goods. At this point I really wanted to learn how the other side lived.

In traditional RPGs you play the almighty hero so often that you begin to play thinking you're entitled to everyones' treasures. I've had years to ponder this game, and now that I have the chance to share it with the world, I'm going all out.

What games inspired you during this project?

Other than the obvious traditional RPGs like the Final Fantasy and Breath of Fire series', modern non-Japanese RPGs like the Dragon Age and Mass Effect series' have also influenced me quite heavily. They're so great with world building that you want to experience every single corner of the world within your reach. There are a few other strange inspirations, like the God of War series. I always wanted to see those spartans live and struggle in the midst of Kratos' devastation. Didn't happen, of course.

You hint at there being multiple endings, will this be the case?

Definitely! At least, that's the plan. I'd like to have four alternate endings, but if things get too hectic or out of hand, I'll cut it down to two. I don't want to compromise the rest of the game for something that many people will just YouTube.

Cecelia YANTH

Will Petula be a solo protagonist, or will she pick up a party along the way?

She won't be picking up party members along the way, this is very much a solo game. She'll have a large cast of allies however that will aid her in her journey. They might tag along for the ride sometimes, but nobody will be a permanent addition to her journey.

What sort of side jobs can Petula pick up along the way, how many can she have at once?

This is something that's still up for discussion with the development team and our backers. There will be many side jobs that she can do for extra cash or to complete certain objectives, but sustainable jobs that she can keep will be scarce. We at least want her to be able to run her own shop.

Through being a bystander, have you removed grinding from the game altogether?

Grinding in the traditional sense will be completely eliminated from the game. She isn't here to fight, really. There are other ways of 'grinding' however. Doing more odd jobs to gain cash to expand her home or buy extra costumes would be another type of grind.

What will Petula use to avoid combat and getting crushed by rampaging monsters/heroes?

She's got an array of tools to help her do the trick. She starts off early with a basic shovel that she can use to fend off 'easy' enemies and stun unwary guards. She won't be digging with it however… I think.

She'll be able to collect random things to throw and distract enemies, and she'll be able to use her environment to her advantage as well.

Huge Fing Ghost

How will home owning work? Will there be options and customization? What are the benefits?

Home owning will be tricky to implement, but it's something I really wanted to do. In Skyrim, it's there because it's fun, but also to provide you a place to store your items. I liked it because it gave me a sense of belonging in the world, and I loved upgrading it. I want it to be very customizable, with collectible, rare things to fill it with. I want to be able to move everything exactly where I want it, down to the pixel.

We may expand the gameplay of owning a home to something more functional, but at this point its more cosmetic.

How is the Steam Greenlight process going? Can we expect the debut release to be on Steam as well?

The greenlight process is going great, in fact we've already been greenlit! It's taken us about three weeks, which is much faster than our initial estimate of 'never'.

Historian, teacher, writer, gamer, cheat master, and tech guru: follow on Twitter @AndrewC_GZ