The Nintendojo Interview: Eden Industries

We got to chat with the Citizens of Earth developers about their new game for Wii U and 3DS!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 01/26/2015 09:00 1 Comment     ShareThis

Citizens of Earth was a pleasant surprise when it launched last Thursday. The RPG has a retro feel to its gameplay, but the implementation of a clever battle system and hilarious narrative add contemporary sensibilities to balance the experience. Citizens of Earth started off as a Kickstarter project, but after falling short of its initial goal, the team at Eden Industries vowed that development of the title would continue unabated. Eden Industries was true to its word, and not long afterward partnered with publisher Atlus to bring the game to multiple platforms, including Wii U and 3DS.

From its humble origins to the end credits, Citizens of Earth comes across as a genuine labor of love, and left Nintendojo wanting to snatch a glance from behind the curtain at the steadfast developers who fought to bring their creation to players everywhere. Luckily, we were able to get in touch with Eden Industries founder Ryan Vandendyck to do exactly that. So sit back and enjoy our chat with him about his company’s wonderful new game and what the future might have in store!

Nintendojo: How big of an influence was EarthBound on development of Citizens of Earth? What did the team hope to do to connect Citizens of Earth to that game, and what did the team do to ensure that it would differentiate itself, as well?

Ryan Vandendyck: We all love EarthBound and for sure that passion fueled the inspiration for Citizens of Earth. But I think it’s important to note that when making Citizens of Earth, we really did want to make our own unique game, as opposed to an homage, spiritual successor, etc. So by popular demand of EarthBound fans we included a few staples from that game like auto-win, funky backgrounds in battle, etc. But overall I’d say we really did make Citizens of Earth its own game with a huge cast of recruitable Citizens, each with totally unique battle abilities and a unique talent, a non-linear world you can explore, and a pretty neat cartoony visual style.

ND: What lead to the implementation of the energy system for battling?

RV: Early on in the development of Citizens of Earth, I had a lot of discussions with Chris (the other game designer on the game and primary level designer) about a lot of aspects of how we wanted to shape the game. As a first step, I was programming RPG systems that provided us a baseline for what we wanted to achieve. So more or less just things that got us a playable game off the ground, without too much focus on exactly where it was all leading. So one day Chris and I were discussing the battle system, and he suggested the idea of the energy system, and right away it felt like a great fit for what I was trying to achieve with the game.

I typically don’t like systems involving “Mana” or “MP” in games, since I feel as a player I’m forced (at least if I want to play optimally) to save my MP for the boss and spam regular attacks for normal fights. But that’s not very compelling, and doesn’t really let the player see the full depth of the battle system. So the energy system allowed us to focus the combat around every ability available to a Citizen and create a tug-of-war between abilities that consume Energy and those that regenerate it.

ND: Are there any particular Easter eggs or elements of the game that you would like to point out to fans? Things that might go unnoticed?

RV: The big elements we hope people notice are that every single Citizen has a unique Talent available to them to change up how the game is played. From the School Mascot’s ability to modify the difficulty to the Used Car Salesman’s ability to change how you navigate the world, you can customize your experience in almost every way imaginable. So whether you wish the game was harder or easier, or you could move around the world easier, or gain EXP faster, no matter what you have a Talent available to accomplish that!

ND: Can we look forward to a sequel?

RV: I would love to do a sequel! I have a ton of ideas for sequels and spin-offs. But it really depends on how Citizens of Earth is received. I’d love to say “We’re working on a sequel no matter what!” but the reality is the majority of the team has worked for three years with no pay. So we’re pretty dependent on sales of the game to fund our future endeavors. But suffice to say, if the demand is there for more Citizens of Earth, we have ideas and plans and would love to do more!

Nintendojo would like to thank Ryan Vandendyck for taking the time to talk with us, and we’d also like to thank PR Manager John Harden of Atlus for getting us in contact with one another. It’s not every day that we get to peer into the minds of the folks who develop the games we play, which made learning some of the intricacies behind Citizens of Earth all the sweeter. If our review didn’t make it clear, this is a great, fun game that is worth your time. Vote with your dollars by downloading Citizens of Earth and giving Eden Industries the support to bring us more misadventures with the Vice President of the World!

One Response to “The Nintendojo Interview: Eden Industries”

  • 75 points
    Robert Palacios says...

    Always interesting to hear from devs. People sometimes forget that real people make these games and the time it takes to make a polished product is substantial. I’ll be checking this out…

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