What is the story of Neostream? How did it start? Is there a story behind the name “Neostream”?
Neostream originated back in 1998 as a multimedia company producing various multimedia content for a vast array of clients worldwide but our passion has always been in games. Although we have experimented with several game concepts in the past, it was always difficult to really focus and drive all our energy into game development whilst catering to daily business which in itself was no small task – at one stage running two studios in two different countries.
The name Neostream was decided from a few brainstorming sessions by the three co-founders – Kody, Jae and John. Can’t exactly recall which of us put the idea forward but it’s derived from “neo” meaning new and “stream” to suggest a new stream of guys coming into the scene to face new challenges. No one really needs to know that though :)
So in the end, our hearts got the better of us and so we decided to go all in resulting in what is becoming Little Devil Inside.
How many people work at Neostream and what do they do?
As of shifting direction completely to making games, just 3. We’ve basically downsized everything from a multimedia company to a new indie game development studio.
Neostream Creative/Game Director
Little Devil Inside is a result of Kody’s childhood humble dream inspired by many games from the early 8-bit era and to create a world from digging back into the memoirs and emotions that have made him who he is and also a way of finding tribute to all the amazing creators that have influenced him and pioneered the industry.
Neostream / Lead Programmer
A game lover and lead programmer of Little Devil Inside, J.J. isresponsible for putting together all the designs and assets so wecan all make better sense of what goes on in Kody’s head.
Neostream / Project Co-ordinator
Best of friends with the Lee brothers since school days and coming back to Neostream after going walkabouts for a few years managing IT projects, John is here to try and decode the game concepts so that earthlings can understand the world of Little Devil Inside.
What projects have team members worked on previously?
Apart from the many multimedia production projects, we have developed small casual games for some local clients in Seoul but nothing significant enough to satisfy our taste. We’ve also tried to work on some original concepts ourselves but once again, with other work in the way, these were not getting very far. However, we still think there is value in these and we intend to reincarnate these sometime in the future after Little Devil Inside. So basically, Little Devil Inside is our first “real” game project.
Why did you choose Kickstarter? If you are seeking a publisher, why are you taking it to Kickstarter too?
One of the important reasons we chose Kickstarter was to gain attention and feedback from an existing community of gamers quickly. Of course funding is crucial but we felt that with little or no exposure and feedback from the community, seeking out publishers first and entering negotiations would be like knocking a brick wall with an egg.
For the past two years, we’ve basically shut ourselves out from the outside world, became geeks (and probably social outcasts for that matter) and just put all our tiny minds and effort into creating the world of Little Devil Inside. So we had little idea how anyone would react to what we have created.
What are your opinions of the South Korean game development community? Does it deserve more international attention?
One aspect of the Korean gaming community that I think is quite distinct is just how much proportion or the extent of majority gamers exist in online and mobile games rather than PC package or consoles platforms.
South Korea being if not the most advanced, certainly one of the most advanced countries that provide the most extensive coverage in IT and communication infrastructure, has to do a lot with this reason and also the size and pool of PC and console video gaming generation was relatively minor to begin with. It’s almost perhaps accurate enough to say that the gaming boom began with online gaming with multiplay as a required key feature and the market being flooded with MMOs.
However, it is great to see more and more indie developer enter the local scene with great passion for video games and it will be great to see them get more international attention. To my knowledge also, Korean developers use Unity the most worldwide.
Is there a particular style of South Korean game, in your opinion? Does Little Devil Inside reflect this?
Perhaps relative and an extension to the previous question, I see Korean games are typically fast paced. It’s said that Koreans as a cultural group as a whole are known being quick at everything which is probably true :)
However, the pace of Little Devil Inside is quite the opposite. Visually, I’m perhaps not the most objective one to state on this but I logically assume that something “Korean” may have influenced the art style but on a more personal note, it will be have been affected more by my personal experiences in my life, all the design & art, games that I have gone through and also my experiences overseas taking in a lot of western culture as well. But honestly? I’m really not sure.
How would you sum up Little Devil Inside in a few words?
In a few words? Little Devil Inside is fundamentally a survival action RPG set in an unrealistic world with realistic environments, interactions and emotions. But is this enough to really describe the game? I think it falls well short. I Hope the reader will get a much better understanding by the end of this interview.
Little Devil Inside will have the features found in RPGs such as character traits, stats, weapon & armour upgrades but the focus of our design concept was not so much ON each of the features but HOW they can be delivered to the player so as to create that emotional link to keep the player immersed and make them live the game rather than just play it.
How did you arrive at the concept for the game?
As a gamer myself, I have grown up hand-in-hand with pretty much the entire video game era beginning from the early 8-bit days. This was a time when before making a purchase decision, there was little or nothing to go on except for a little cover art. The cover art often just had characters and the world at a glance but somehow encouraged the gamer to picture game in their imagination.
This nostalgic essence is what we wanted to create with Little Devil Inside by using what was just sufficiently required of the technology available today hence our main design concept – minimalism. We want the players themselves to create their own experience and for this to happen, we will need to carefully build in many detailed content.
What are your influences? You have mentioned X-Com, Zelda and System Shock on Kickstarter. What aspects of those games are in Little Devil Inside?
There are almost an endless amount of influences from Karateka and Wonderboy 2 to Relentless, Little Big Adventure, Alone in the Dark, Betrayal at Krondor, Ghost House (Casio), Xak… the list goes on but just to mention a couple, it would be Zelda and X-Com.
With Zelda, I must say quite many influencing aspects especially with Ocarina of Time more than Wind Waker. The targeting system but more relevant to the design concept, how the game uses simple, stereotypic expressions and symbolic elements to create the overall mood and consistently provide contrast in mood to emotionally engage the player deeply into the game and keep them there.
With X-Com, mainly the management system has influences and the fact that in the original version, the game actually can be endless.
On Kickstarter, you say: “The game focusses more on ordinary everyday life”. Is Shenmue an influence?
A-ha Shenue!!! Actually, Shenmue I have forgotten about until you just mentioned it! Now if I think about it, it would have directly or passively definitely influenced the game. It is certainly in my opinion one of the greatest games in history of video games and I really hope they release the 3rd sequel. Now if that came to Kickstarter, I’ll be backing a million (if I had the money)
Just getting back to the question, we definitely wish to build the atmosphere and mood to that level since Little Devil Inside’s direction of concept is similar. Thank you for reminding me of this masterpiece!
What is the moment-to-moment gameplay like? What are players doing at any one time?
Basically, the players will be living the world and surviving their journey to achieve missions. Or, they may be just investigating around for information, talking to NPCSs, researching the library… there’ll be plenty to do or little to do depending on how the player plays the game. Our focus and design goal is not to force or influence player decisions. We want them to explore the world and learn and actually accumulate experience.
The setting is pretty much open so the player controls the pace of the game. Some may just follow the main storyline, do the missions as quickly as they can and be done with it whereas others may do more explorations, spin off into multiple side missions and events and get the most the what the game has to offer. However, even in the first case, we don’t wish to add conveniencies too much which means a player will not be able to just click on a certain part of the world map and teleport themselves there.
Is there an overarching storyline in Little Devil Inside?
Yes there is a main storyline but the story itself we hope to most players, will not be the focus of attention. Rather, the experiences they will encounter within the story will offer and have more meaning and eventually give more satisfaction. There is a professor, he hires you to investigate the outside world by giving you missions, your achievements will twist and thicken the plot and yes we’ll try to give you goose bumps in the ending but if it’s ok, we don’t want to be spoilers by telling the main storyline :)
What characters do you meet in the story? Who is the player in this world?
A great question since especially in our game this is actually part of our design goal.
The player is your protagonist but there is an element of focus we want to create and that is the level of emotional relationship you will have with your character. Your character is not an avatar but a being that will require care and management.
The character is not a super hero or supernaturally gifted with powers in any way. In other words, don’t expect him to become Gandalf. Through the game he will develop and become strong but within reasonably forseeable human limitations. The character will be vulnerable and can be sick, be hurt, diseased etc.
For a character with such characteristics, he will need to rely on common sense, awareness and technology to survive journeys and confront enemies and gain experience and strength along the way.
To shorten the level of psychic distiance with your character as much as possible for you to effectively manage him, we will deisgn a minimal UI system. It’s probably going to take more than a few hours to elaborate on this so simply, this means that if your character is sick, he will cough and give you indications. If he is tired, he will look and act tired. So we wish to design the communication UI system where we keep menus and button off screen as much as possible and add in visual or animatic indicators as much as possible.
Apart from the professor, his assistant, NPCs relevant to each scene and missions, the game also has what we think a very unique way of connecting other players into your same world. Can I just leave it at saying this much? because to explain this, I’ll need to go deeper into our multiplayer feature which is still under design.
Being part of the Faculty and undertaking risky missions as a work-for-hire adventurer will certainly attract encounters and run-ins with interesting characters such as another nutty professor at the university, a one-eyed merchant who is actually a demon and a wandering knight. With NPCs, we’ll be including many characters that typically stereotype their trade and personality.
There seem to be lots of different environments shown in the trailer. Where is the game set?
The game is set perhaps somewhere between heaven and hell – in a surreal, unrealistic world, with fictional Victorian-like era, with unrealistic creatures, monsters and demons but your character is very much a realistic human being and the physics of the world will be within the boundaries of mother earth. In other words, there is a dragon, there is a Kracken but you’re not going to be able to just leap over it or cast some magic to blast it away.
How big is the world? Do you have any numbers to illustrate its size?
Physically, about as large as Borderlands but a more realistic and relevant answer would be – as small or large as you feel it to be since the game experience for each player we hope, will differ.
If you’re going through a tough journey unprepared, then each encounter and each day will be a struggle then the world would seem endless. We don’t want you to get stressed out by all means. After all, many people play games to get away from everyday stress! We’ll balance it out nicely enough.
Basically, there is a main city (or town) safe or should we say safer than the outside world. You can stroll about, gain news, gossips, shop and repair gear, loot etc. For the outside world, each main area will have different physical sizes but this is probably going to be irrelevant to gameplay experience. For example in a desert, our design goal for the world is not to just make the desert seem physically endless, but create the atmosphere (effects, particles, shading etc.) and the character’s adaptation and reaction to all the elements within the environment so the player senses the enormity more than anything else.
Another example would be; since the main character is very much human and behaves within realistically human limitations, the actual animations such as walking and running are all very much realistically relative to the laws of physics. A little difficult for me to explain more simply but I hope you get the overall idea. I guess what I’m trying to say is that in the end, the physical size of the world may turn out to be smaller than Borderlands but it will feel much bigger in the game.
How do players travel around the world?
There will be a world map to select destinations and travel from the word map and when within a scene, the player will be controlling all transportation other than public transportation such as a train.
Travelling to a scene whilst in the world map will not be quick nor can it be fast forwarded and unexpected events will arise on your way there. A most similar comparison would be the world map travelling seen in Kentucky Route Zero or Oregon Trail.
Just to confuse you more, an intuitive combination somewhere half way between a sandbox model and one that’s not?
Other than legging, there will be vehicles (can be upgraded, requires maintenance etc.), and ships. Actually we are still discussing whether to add any elements of flight but we’re undecided on this at this time.
What technology is available in the game? There are cars and guns, but swords too?
Other than methods of transportation, there will be swords, knifes, guns and shield as well as survival gear such as tents, cooking gear, lantern etc.
Yes you will be able to upgrade them or obtain different ones and graft them but don’t expect it to be a super light saber or a nuke bazooka and no invisible magnetic force shields either. You will need to repair and maintain them and you will need to keep count of your ammo where at some point you may wonder – “was there one left in the chamber?”
As you go through the game, you will acquire new skills and moves so don’t worry we won’t be just leaving you for dead. However, there will also be tougher enemies and encounters as well.
How does combat work? How many different types of enemies are there?
The combat mechanics will be different when using a sword and shield and when using a gun or rifle.
Basically when using your sword, you will be able to toggle between auto and single lock target. The auto will be more suited when confronting a group or hoard of enemies where as the single target is suitable for a 1 on 1 duel with an elite enemy.
When shooting from a vehicle, you will also be able to target your enemies. Each time you browse through, a crosshair with a % will appear around the selected enemy that shows the probability of a hit. The basic system is somewhat similar to the turn-based combat system in Fallout but in real-time.
The size of the target area will change dynamically depending on how close the target is as well as your skill stats so a larger target area with a high % will have a high hit probability where as a small area will have a much lower hit probability since it will be harder to hit.
Being real-time and when confronted with a hoard of enemies, you will be required to make quick and bold decisions. You can quickly skip around to different targets and just blast away or you may aim, hold your hot, increase the hit percentage and then make your shot.
“Each monster or creature or enemy will have different characteristics and stats”. How do players research these?
Well it’s up to the player to find out I guess. We’ll add in and provide all the means.
You can find out about it simply by repeated trial & error (that’s going to be tough) or prepare for it by gaining info or intel around town by listening to gossips/rumours, looking it up at the Great Library etc. Other than that you may run into bits of info during spin-off missions. You can always try and ask other players in your friend list of course.
What engine is Little Devil Inside being build it? What does this allow you to do that other engines won’t?
Little Devil Inside is built with Unity 4.6 but we are looking into switching over to Unity 5 or move onto Unreal since we think the size of our assets and the way they all inter relate may just be a little too big. Just need to work out the feasibility of the whole process.
What’s great about Unity is it’s ability to bring together a wide variety of existing assets available from Unity through the asset store. For example, we conveniently used what’s named as a Suimono 2.0 for our water.
Do you hope to bring Little Devil Inside to consoles?
Yes definitely. The game was designed with consoles in mind from day 1 and the PC version is also controller supported. We’re just not 100% sure with WiiU at this stage though. We’d certainly like to release it for this as well.
What happens if the Kickstarter doesn’t succeed?
Although things have been crazy after being Greenlit and being in the middle of our Kickstarter campaign and all, we are still developing. Funding is important at this stage but as we’ve told many already, we are committed for good. We are all in.
Especially with all the feedback so far from the gaming community, it is a relief and it is reassuring to find out that we’re not the only ones who think Little Devil Inside may become something special.
Although we’ve come this far to have the core mechanics and fundamental game design tested, there is still much to develop and physically add in.
We have sincere interests from publishers and will be looking very much forward to discussing further with them but just focusing on our Kickstarter campaign first.
If all does not work out, we will still try and find ways to get the game across the finish line – not just for our sake but from all the feedback and response so far from our community, I think our life expectancy will be cut down severely if we don’t!