I had the chance to talk to Sherveen Uduwana from Team Midautumn about the Midautumn game of the same name. First of all, I’ll show you the new trailer for Midautumn:

Tobias (Game-Releases): ‘Can you please describe short what Midautumn is about?’

Sherveen:‘ Midautumn is a game about asian culture and I would say it’s about blasting evil spirits, because it deals with a lot kind of fun lighthearted things as well as some serious things at the same time. It’s a Rogue-like Game where by day youre exploring the town, where you as the player moved to and are crashing at your grandmother’s and you will go underground, beneath the town and enter the spiritworld where there are monsters, spirits and demons and thats how youre making your living in the town. Essentially youre grandmother is letting you stay with her in exchange for clearing out the spiritworld of unwanted pests. That’s what youre doing most of the game. We’ve been working at it since the end of 2020 so its been full in development.’

Tobias (Game-Releases): ‘How are the Rogue-like elements of the game worked into the story or are they worked into the story?’

Sherveen: ‘Yeah absolutly. So in the game youre the latest in the line of guardians of the spiritworld and when you first begin the game our character Robin has just entered this world. So their still very new to everything and they dont know how to it works and most of your abilities comes from a magic staff that powers your abilities. And so as you go through the game and you pick up resources in the spiritworld that can be spend in order to upgrade your abilities and as thats happening Robin is essentially learning more about their powers, learning how to understand their new role in kind of filling in the role as the guardian of the spiritworld.

Tobias (Game-Releases): ‘I have read that there are different solutions to solve the problems in the town. Is there any example how different this could be?’

Sherveen: ‘I say that is more of a narrative element in terms of the problems that we’re presenting the player are often problems with no easy solutions and so I think what we’re saying there is, it’s not essentially that you’re going to be given this big mayor like gameplay choices where you’re going like “Oh I’m going to pick option A or option B”. We do have, because it’s a prozedual narrativ, there’s a lot of ways that the narrativ can change based on when you’re experienced things, who you decide to talk to when and in that case, yes there are ways like “Oh you decide that you talk to a bosscharacter about something and you immediatly go and talk to someone in town about it, you get a slightly different answer based on that”. As the player you feel you make your decision based on what is the right and what the wrong choice. But it’s more about the idea that gentrification as a concept is really messy and when you’re trying to deal with it in the real world there’s no real easy answer. So we wanted to present that in the game and have it feel true to life.’

Tobias (Game-Releases): ‘How important is the aspect of representation for you and the story?’

Sherveen: ‘That’s definitly something that is very important to us as a team. A little bit of background about me is, that I’m orignally from Sri Lanka, however I grew up all around south east Asian mostly. So I grew up mostly in Vietnam and Singapur. Midautumn is a game I pitched around a lot before I decided to start working on it indepedently. So I think I probaly spend 2 or 3 years kind of saying this is a game interesting to make and I think a lot of people would be very interested in this concept. It unfortunally didn’t gain a lot of traction in kind of typical studio development channels. So I decided to working on it outside my mainwork. One of the first things I did was I approached our narrativ lead Sisi, who is eastasian of descent. Part of the reason I felt I’m going to do that, is because I feel like the story we’re are trying to tell is something that feels very universal to people but also feels specific. So when you’re going through being someone from the asian diaspora or experiencing gentrification those stories feels very personal and specific to you because their happening to you and the people you care about. So it was important to us from the beginning to allow the story to work for different type not just one type of asian person in the world and even not just for asian people. To have other people come in and be able to experience the story in the game we’re trying to make in a way that allows them to engage with it. So that’s really important. Working on it, we made sure that we have a team that has a personal connection a lot of the stuff we’re making. So our core team is entirely asian diaspora , the devs from various backgrounds from asia. Everyone is asianamerican with different origins. In terms of like who are we collaberating with and things like that, we’re also trying to make sure that we’re thinking about that as much as possible and trying to force ourselves to do that more and to have a conversation every single time if we can have better represantation here and be more divers. In alot of the work I do normaly it’s something that I don’t get to do and it’s been a nice exercise to kind of force ourselves to grabble with the logistics of how you actually do that and how you go a step above what the expectations are for something like that.’

Tobias (Game-Releases): ‘Have you any idea on which plattform you intend to release the game once it is finished?’

Sherveen: ‘Since we’re a small indieteam, I will say that initially we currently worrying about a PC release and keeping it there. I’ve released things on consoles before just as Playstation to focus on that. We’d definitly love to do that. We’re developing as if we’re going to eventually have to release on consoles. We’re already working with controller support and making sure all that works. We have the different UI signatures that are necessary for example. But the main thing there is just going to be as a small studio the logistics and certification and all those end up being very difficult to do unless you have a certain amount of popularity around the game. We’re really exicted to do it, I’m really hoping that the game gets a good enough response for us to actually do it. I’m keeping my fingers crossed and I’m seeing what happens with that. We definitly love to be on more plattforms.

Tobias (Game-Releases): ‘Which languages will be featured in the full game besides english?’

Sherveen: ‘I am still finializing which languages we’re are going to target. I think one of the nice things about a kickstarter campaign is that we’re going to see, who seems to be interested in the game. It’s usually very difficult to do otherwise. I think for us, probably the weirdest languages I’m going to localize are member of eastasian languages. I think doing something like mandarin localization is pretty standard these days but I’m really interested in seeing if we can justify doing something like vietnamies or thai or something like that. It would be really cool to do because I think there are a lot of people who would be interested in the game. So that’s what I’m thinking about. Other than that it will be based on where players are coming from.’

Tobias (Game-Releases): ‘How important is the contact to your community for you?’

Sherveen: ‘I think that that’s incredibly important. I would love to be able to develop this with a lot of input from our community. So that’s part of why we’re doing a crowdfunding as well. I think it will be a big error to make this game complete secretly in a vacuum without talking to a lot of people about what we could do to resonate more with the people who play it. So that’s absolutly important. I’ve just been past year showing this to various people, doing playtests with different people and it’s been very interesting to see the different things that people bring into the game and the different things that people see. In fact one of the most interesting things has been just the shared kind connection between people with different backgrounds. For example we have some enviroments in the game that our Lead Artist Kiana put together and their based on stuff from their background. Other people would play it and be like “Oh that reminds me of places I grew up in” and things like that. It’s people of completly different parts of the world or different frames of reference. So that’s been really interesting to see these kind of shared similarities between people from different asian ethnicities and how they deal with the games narrative and the stuff it’s presenting to them.’

Tobias (Game-Releases): ‘To the kickstarter campaign. Is there something special planned for this?’

Sherveen: ‘We have a number of cool rewards planned. The kind of things you expect from a kickstarter. We have some physical rewards, things like stickers and pins or more expensive tiers where you can take part in the game get made with us and contribute to the game. Other than that we’re also going to be in a number of festivals and conferences during the time. We’re planning to have a free demo available during the kickstarter so people can try out the game. It will have a limit kind of content from the first chapter of gameplay and some early parts of gameplay segments that people can check out. We definitly want to get people a sense of the vision we’re trying to create with the game and to be part of the journey with us. It will be a really small slice of what we’re hoping to get to with the kickstarter. We hope that the people are going to be as exicted as we are. ‘

Tobias (Game-Releases): ‘How will the demofeedback slide into the work on the game?’

Sherveen: ‘That is actually one of the things I’m really looking forward to. As a small studio it’s very hard to organize, setup playtesting and things like that and you really can’t compete with large AAA-studios in that sense. So tying a free demo to a kickstarter campaign is in my opinion one of the best ways to get a lot of feedback really quickly on what you’re making. We’re definitly looking to take that feedback into the final game. Right now with our early testing I think we feel comfortable about the games direction and about the core elements of the game, something like the Rogue-like elements, the core combat. I think what I will be paying attention to with the demo is “okay we have this first kind of 10 % of the game for people to play” and the question I want to answer is “Where should that go?”. We have our ideas and our thoughts about where we want to take it and I think either we will put the demo out and we will be like “Right, what we wanna do is absoluty correct” or we find something suprising. I kind of hope we find something suprising that makes the game more interesting when it does come out. I think that is something I’m really excited to see how that plays out during the campaign.’

Tobias (Game-Releases): ‘Will the demo be bound to the kickstarter campaign or is it free for everyone?’

Sherveen:The demo is gonna be free for everyone. I’m planning to have it available on Steam as a free demo and then it will most likely also be available on itch io as well. I wanna make sure that’s a satisfying arc and not leaving people in the middle of something that feels unsatisfying.’

Tobias (Game-Releases): ‘When all is done with the kickstarter campaign have you any idea when you want to release the game?’

Sherveen: ‘We’re keeping the development very flexible. We’re trying as much as possible to not get tied down to “oh this is what we gonna do” and just kind of looking at what the reception and kickstarter is and based it around that. I don’t want to developing a game 2-3 years in a cave somewhere (laughs), so I prefer having a kind of very public game development. I like working on things like 2ish years and we’re already working on this for a year. But everyone on the team has dayjobs, so we’re working on this in our sparetime. Based on the success of the kickstarter there a chances for more of us to work full time which will definitly speed up the development process. A lot of the tricky stuff has been worked out in terms of the games development.’

Tobias (Game-Releases): ‘How long do you think players will need to finish the game?’

Sherveen: ‘That’s a good question. I think one of the interesting things about the game and how it’s structured is that right now I would say that there are hours of content in the demo because it’s a Rogue-like and because so much of the game is narrative driven. We already have like 200 unique narrativ events that you can see in the game. If you imagine you’re doing a run of the dungeon and you see 3-4 narrative events every time there’s quite a lot for you to discover in the game already. Definitly we’re paying attention to how long people take to do things during the campaign. The game feels like a typical player could finish their first run in like a weekend or a long weekend. I know there’s definitly going to be people that are playing the game for weeks before they finish their first run. The idea of the game is that this entire process should be enjoyable, you should meet lots of interesting characters and being excited in the thought of your next run instead of being frustated that you haven’t gotten further.’

Tobias (Game-Releases): ‘So the characters are all going to have different personalities?’

Sherveen: ‘Yeah we trying to have different personalities and members of the town. You have different reasons you might wanna talk to them. It’s a simple straight forward system where when you die in the dungeon you wake up in the town and there will be 3-4 characters with little exclamation points above their heads, you’re gonna talk to them and you get little tinbits of story. They can happen out of order sometimes. So like somethings are randomized and somthings are based on if you’ve talked to them before, they have different things to say. It’s meant to be a very simple and relaxing part of the game where you’re not forced to do a lot of thinking. You just kind of letting the story happen in comparison to the parts in the dungeon where you’re thinking a lot and be more focused. I really wanted to give the players the feeling of tension and release.’

That ended the interview. For more information about Midautumn you can visit the official Twitter page or the Kickstarter campaign.

Below are a few screenshots from the game:

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Hi, this is Tobias. I'm currently studying and I like to spend my free time cooking and gaming. I prefer games with a good story, long-term motivation or a couch co-op mode.

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