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#IWOCon Dev Talk: Song of Asirra

Song of Asirra is an adventure-platforming game. You play as a young woman named Elia who is thrust into adventure when her brother contracts a mysterious illness. You'll explore a large interconnected world, gather materials from the environment to cast magic spells, and delve into temples full of monsters, traps, and puzzles. Along the way you'll meet a colorful cast of NPCs who all have their own schedules and routines they live out via a live day/night cycle. Uncover the secrets of the past and save your brother's life!

Song of Asirra creator and solo-dev Nick Ver Voort has been interested in making games and telling stories right from childhood, long before the term "indie game" even existed. He learned to program by checking out books from the public library, paving the way to a present-day full-time career as a software engineer! He remains fully committed to his game development passion on the side, with Song of Asirra being being his most ambitious undertaking yet. To support this project and try the demo, please visit their patreon page.

Q: How hard is it for you to survive as an indie? I'm really fortunate in that I have a day job that pays me well and lets me live a comfortable life. Unfortunately that also means that I don't get to spend as much of my time or mental energy as I want on working on my game. Between my day job and Song of Asirra I end up not with a work/life balance, but more of a work/work/life balance. So for me survival is not a problem, but I don't make progress on development as fast as I'd like to in an ideal world. Still, the process of development is fun, so even if it takes a long time I've found a comfortable rhythm where I am making progress I'm satisfied with.


Q: How many times have you reworked the art of the game? I've been working on Song of Asirra for over 3 years now, and I've gone through one major art-style overhaul where I redrew every single asset. But the vast majority of the art in the game has gotten at least a few once-overs, and the main character Elia is on her fourth design... The problem is that over the course of the 3 years I've been working on the game I've just gotten so much better at pixel art, and I keep improving! When the new stuff I draw looks better than the old stuff, it makes me want to go back and re-draw the old stuff. Needless to say I'm trying to learn to be a little less of a perfectionist, so I can have a hope of some day finishing the game!

Q: What pieces of advice would you tell to new people trying game dev? I want people to be passionate and ambitious, and not get discouraged by failure. Over the course of my life I've tried to make a lot of big games, absolutely biting off more than I could chew. Being that far in over my head meant I never finished anything, but with every new project I learned so much about how to make a game. I think game jams are a really fun way to get practice with the full process of designing, creating, and shipping some kind of finished product, and I definitely encourage people to try them out, but if you're talking about day-to-day game dev I think you should be working on the big crazy idea that gets you excited! If it doesn't pan out, just think about what you learned and apply that knowledge to the next big idea.


Q: What (indie?) games have acted as a source of inspiration for your project? It's no secret that Song of Asirra is heavily inspired by various titles in the Legend of Zelda franchise. But as far as indie games go, one of the original inspirations for Song of Asirra was Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight. There's a certain magic to the movement and flow of your character in that game that just feels great. I don't think I've captured it yet but it's an ongoing process. I also really love indie games that tell an engaging story, so I've taken inspiration from games like Owlboy, Hyper Light Drifter, and Dandara. I hope I can get people invested in a world and in characters the way that those games did for me!

Q: What do you do when you run out of ideas or lose motivation? If I'm really losing steam I'll do a weekend game jam, or spend some time developing a tool or doing some other small project. I can ultimately apply the skills I learned or use the tool I created to help me continue working on Song of Asirra. The other thing to do is just straight up take a break. Read a book, play some video games, go for a walk. Not every day has to be a day where you do game dev, and coming back to it later I always feel some kind of pent-up energy and end up getting a lot done and feeling good about myself!



Wishlist IWOCon 2020 here.

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