On June 12, I was able to sit down with Eric Zheng, Cassidy Phan and Michael Shistik, the Producer, Character Artist and Art Director, respectively of the upcoming title Sands of Aura what I was shown displayed a stunningly created brand new title that seems like it would deliver on all fronts.
- How long is the game set to be?
- How many people have been working on Sands of Aura?
- Which gameplay aspects are you most proud of and you think will stand out in the game?
- How much was the budget for the Sands of Aura?
- Were there any games or pieces of media that served as an inspiration for the design of Sands of Aura?
- What are the available accessibility options in Sands of Aura?
- Are there any tips or pieces of advice you have for other studios or even aspiring game developers?
1. The game’s Early Access will last for 6-8 hours, and according to the developers, the full game will be 20-30+ more hours
2. Originally, the team started at 6 people but has since doubled to 12 members of a team working on it.
3. The team I spoke to had said that they were most proud of the customization options, particularly from the effects that happen in combat, as well as the sailing mechanics spotted in the trailer.
4. While I did inquire about the production budget, this was something that had to be kept confidential by the team.
5. While their combat looks like it’s inspired by Diablo at first glance, the developers explained that the gameplay feels more like Dark Souls, as the player has to carefully go into each encounter instead of rushing things, even if that may be possible with some character builds, in addition to having older Final Fantasy games be the large inspiration of the character designs seen within the game.
6. Sands of Aura does plan to have button mapping for comfortability, and while the team hasn’t delved deep into other aspects of accessibility like colour-blindness, they are putting an emphasis on the experience before working on it while also looking to other good examples to see how to do accessibility right.
7. The three team members that I spoke to collectively said to use the internet to your advantage, as there is a lot of information for one to use to be able to learn how to develop games, and that one cannot do it without the energy and willpower to put in hard work. Another tip they gave was to take all feedback into account, as critiques can damper motivation but ultimately improve the work.
During the preview of the game I was given, I was shown a certain area within which the player could explore and caught a glimpse of how the mechanics work. It features a forging system, which will allow you to customize your loadout, with different abilities and bonuses for each item you equip. The game boasts over a thousand load-outs and setups, and despite this, players need to keep their weapons intact through cleansing them. Within the world, there are bells that work similarly to bonfires in Dark Souls, restoring your health, saving the game and respawning the enemies. With enemies come NPCs, who often give quests, but can also be attacked, with the player being given a large range of options regarding what to do with them.
Parrying is also present, and when timed correctly, gives the player enough time to attack the enemy when they are left open. A skill tree is present, further allowing players to choose how they go along the vast open world. Tons of armor options and sets are available, with unique sets in areas able to give unique effects, and the game focuses heavily on melee combat, with ranged options available in the form of a few special moves. The options for what to do with your character are plentiful, and one would surely be able to find their desired manner of play.