I had a good time reviewing Arcade Spirits on Nintendo Switch, so I got in touch with Fiction Factory Games to talk a bit about the game. Come check it out!
PS4Blog: Welcome! Thank you for joining us this morning. Could you please help us get this started by telling our readers a bit about yourselves and your work?
Stefan Gagne: I’m Stefan Gagne, and I’m project director and co-author on Arcade Spirits. I’ve been an indie novelist for the last twenty years, and this is my first foray into professional game development, but I’ve had some experience in the past — a few shareware releases in my high school years including Pong Kombat (seriously), and then some Neverwinter Nights modules, including Penultima, elegia eternum, and the HeX coda.
Aenne Schumann: I’m Aenne Schumann, first-time narrative designer and long-time writer (although they tend to go hand in hand). I’ve been playing games and writing since I was just a kid, but it wasn’t until relatively recently that I fulfilled my dream of writing narratives for video games! Besides Arcade Spirits, I also helped with the writing on The World Next Door, and several small indie game jam games. My path to narrative designer was birthed from my love of fanfiction and wanting to create my own characters in their own worlds.
PS4B: On that note, Arcade Spirits is now ready to go on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. How would you describe the game to someone who’s never heard about it?
Stefan Gagne: Arcade Spirits is a narrative game about searching for your hopes and dreams in the year 20XX, an alternate timeline where the video game crash of the eighties never happened. You’re hired to work at the Funplex, a mom ‘n pop independent arcade, and are tasked to solve problems and build relationships and perhaps even find romance along the way.
Even if you’ve never tried the visual novel genre or played a few and couldn’t quite connect with them, we think anyone who enjoys a good story will have a good time in Arcade Spirits — we built a game with tons of customization, roleplaying, and decision-making. You’re never just sitting back, tapping a button forever. You’ll be interacting with this world through the whole run of the story… the ups and downs, twists and turns.
Aenne Schumann: That sums it up really nicely!
PS4B: How long did it take to develop Arcade Spirits for its console debut? Where there any particular hurdles or challenges during the whole process?
Stefan Gagne: The original PC game took a little over two years to develop, and the console version was developed afterwards. Probably the biggest hurdle was voice acting, simply because we’d never done anything like that before – asking two novel writers to wrangle that much voice talent and audio work is quite a tall order. Fortunately, our excellent voice director Jacob Burgess really helped us bring everything together with a tremendous cast.
Aenne Schumann: For me, the biggest hurdle was time management. Both Stefan and I work full-time jobs outside of game development, so doing anything on the game required putting in a lot of our free time. And sometimes, life just gets in the way too. So it’s a huge balancing act. Luckily (and especially for the console release), our publisher PQubeour publisher PQube helped out in ways where we didn’t have that time or those resources. It was really nice to them as a partner during those times.
PS4B: Each of the characters in Arcade Spirits has a very distinct personality, bringing something different to the table. How did each of them come together during development?
Stefan Gagne: The first character we came up with was Naomi Fairchild, the Funplex’s techie. The idea for the game came from various arcade hardware restoration YouTube channels I was into at the time, and she represents those tireless hobbyists, tinkering away and desperately trying to bring a 1980s classic back to life. The other characters embody different aspects of arcade culture; Gavin shows his love of pinball as well as handling the ugly business of keeping an arcade afloat, Percy represents the classic retro game highscore chaser, QueenBee the competitive esports scene, Teo the amazing dance and rhythm game scene, and Ashley the fandom that grows around these terrific games.
Aenne Schumann: I remember when Stefan and I were at the very beginning of production, and we were sort of figuring out the archetypes of the character. Our characters didn’t even have names yet, but they had titles for who they represented. Naomi was “Fixer” since she fixed the arcade cabinets. Teo was “Dancer” since he played the rhythm games. Ashley was “Cosplayer.” Names like that. Once we had an idea of who they represented, I took half of them, with Stefan taking the other half, and we created stories about them, based on our lives and our experiences with arcades.
PS4B: Any chance of seeing a physical PS4 or Nintendo Switch copy for Arcade Spirits in the future?
Stefan Gagne: Already on store shelves! It’s out as of May 22nd and available at a number of different retailers worldwide. See the game’s website for full detailsSee the game’s website for full details.
PS4B: What’s next from Fiction Factory Games?
Stefan Gagne: We’re focused on Arcade Spirits at the moment… but keep an eye on the Arcade Spirits Twitterkeep an eye on the Arcade Spirits Twitter in June. We’ll likely be announcing the name of our next game project there, and you won’t want to miss it!
PS4B: And that’s all the time we have. Would you like to add anything else before we end this one?
Stefan Gagne: Thank you so much to everyone who’s supported our indie game dreams. Bringing a game this far is no small task, and we literally couldn’t have done it without the groundswell of support from our fans; they got the word out and really helped Arcade Spirits soar!
Aenne Schumann: Yes! Our hearts are so happy with the number of support people have given us along the way. We are so grateful to everyone who’s played the game. Thank you so much!