Exogenesis – Interview with Nico and Kuromai

[Version française disponible ici]

These past days, we talked a bit about Exogenesis, a visual novel by Kwan that got attention from all over the world. After a first demo version, the game landed on Kickstarter and Greenlight where it met with success. Covered by famous sites like Siliconera, Indie Statik and even Yahoo! Japan, Exogenesis got the honour to be tweeted by Kotaro Uchikoshi himself, writer for the Infinity (Ever 17, Never 7, …) visual novel series and the Zero Escape series which greatly inspired Exogenesis.

To bring even more spotlights on this great project, Projet Saya had been able to interview Nico, project leader and founder of Kwan, as long as Kuromai, french drawer and chara designer for Exogenesis.

Can you introduce yourself and talk a bit about Kwan as well?

Nico : Hi ! My name’s Nico and I founded Kwan out of a life long dream to make games that could impact people as much as I’ve been affected by games I’ve played. Kwan’s composed of mainly me and our programmer Alfie here in the Philippines, plus character artist Kuromai in France and background artist Vinsensius in Indonesia. We have a bunch of composers who do music for us, as well as animator friends who help us out.

As a special treat for French audiences, Kuromai will also answer the questions !

Kuromai : I am Kuromai, fond of video games, animes, mangas, japanese culture, and above all, drawing.

Can you tell us about Exogenesis? How did you come up with the idea for this game?

Nico : Exogenesis is a post-apocalyptic story where former treasure hunter Yu seeks to revive his younger sister Miho. It’s hard to think of any definitive moment that gave birth to the idea, but I thought post-apocalyptic Japan is a setting that would be nice to explore.

Kuromai : One day, I received a note on Deviantart with a single sentence saying « Hey, if you got time, take a look at that ad ». It was an ad for a character designer job for a game. Usually I turn down those offers, but this time I applied anyway, even though the ad didn’t give much informations, if any, about the game. After getting in touch with the team, I was immediatly excited by Nico’s motivation and serious behaviour. And characters, that’s what I love to draw.

Exogenesis miho
From the very beginning of the game, Exogenesis isn’t gentle with your feels.

How did you decide that you were going to use Kickstarter?

Nico : Funding was coming out of my own savings, which isn’t sustainable in the first place, but we also want to afford having everyone work full time. Otherwise, Exogenesis could take years before it’s completed. We believed Kickstarter was the plaform we needed, because it has a much larger user base than Indiegogo or any other crowdfunding sites.

Kuromai : I already pledged for some projects on Kickstarter, so I knew it was the right choice. Though it’s a bit risqué, it’s make or break. That’s very stressful.

Did you expect that much coverage from the whole world?

Nico : No, not at all. That I’m talking to French media now is something I never expected. We were optimistic that we could tap into the English visual novel audience, but not beyond that. Yahoo ! Japan’s coverage was a big surprise. Japan’s the capital of visual novel games, but they’re looking at ours – it’s nice to think about.

Kuromai : To be honest, just seeing how much backers we have at the moment, I just can’t believe it. How, and especially why are people so interested in us? In the beginning I thought I was going to work for a game that will draw just a few persons’s attention, a VN project lile many others, but I’m realizing it’s much more than that! I think we’re standing out thanks to the story that is way different from all the dating sims and eroge, all that are below the belt which are mass produced.

Exogenesis brooch
Like in every adventure game, you’ll find item that can be useful to solve puzzles.

Did your ambitions changed after getting so much visibility?

Nico : The pressure to make a great game has strengthened, but our direction remains the same. We don’t want to shoot for the stars given the limited resources we have, especially considering those who’ve had more to work with ended up going in hiatus or cancelling their projects. We have a gameplan that we intend to stick to if we are to succeed in releasing the game.

You often say that Exogenesis is greatly inspired by the Zero Escape and Ace Attorney series, but did any other work, video-game or not, influenced the creation of Exogenesis?

Nico : Any creative work is really a culminating point of what you’re into, like a reflection of yourself. With that said, I’m sure Cross Game must have had an influence on the introduction of our game where a character dies. I wasn’t thinking of Cross Game when I came up with it, but I thoroughly enjoyed how the author Mitsuru Adachi tackled the dynamics between people who were connected together by that death at the very beginning.

Exogenesis bar
A bar lost in a post-apocalyptic city.

As of now, what are the biggest obstacles you met during Exogenesis’s developpement?

Nico : The biggest obstacle was actually finding a partner who could put us on Kickstarter. We tried a relationship with a studio that’s mentioned in our pitch video, but it ended up setting us back a great deal. I feel wholly responsible for that, and it taught me to be cautious in giving people too much benefit of the doubt.

How is it to know that Kotaro Uchikoshi himself is waiting for your game?

Nico : It’s the highest honor imaginable ! At the same time, it puts a lot of pressure on us, but a good kind of pressure. Now we have more of a reason to make sure the game turns out great, in order not to disappoint Uchikoshi-san.

Kuromai : (I want to answer that too!!) Ahhh, what a shock! Being a great fan of the Zero Escape series, knowing that this Great Man took a bit of his overly precious time to look at my scribbles, it feels so weird. It remains to be seen whether he played the demo or not ^^

Exogenesis eiji
And the bartender who will give you a hard time.

Did you already think about what you were going to do after Exogenesis?

Nico : The story of Yu is just one of many in the vast world of Exogenesis. That’s all I can say at this point without spoiling anything. This isn’t to say we’ll be leaving Yu and Miho if we are to do a sequel. You’ll have to wait for the game to come out to see what I’m talking about. 🙂

Kuromai : Ohh I didn’t think about it. I prefer to focus on the present, nothing is set in stone yet.

Anything to say to our readers?

Nico : Thanks for your interest in Exogenesis ! I hope you can enjoy the game even in its originally English language. If ever the opportunity to translate the game to French arises, we’ll be sure to let you know !

Kuromai : What is good with our team is that there is many different nationality, you have to make yourself understandable in a language that is not necessary your mother language, but you have to try anyway. It may be silly, but I find that awesome ^^
Thanks for your interest toward our game, I’d like it to be translated into French because I know that lots of people here don’t like to read in english, but that’s another story.

Thanks to Nico and Kuromai for answering our questions ! At the time, Exogenesis is less than $20,000 away from its goal, so don’t hesitate to support them !

You can follow the project on Kickstarter, Twitter and the official site. Also, you can take a look at Kuromai’s artwork on her DeviantArt page.

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