Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan is a 2D Action RPG that’s recently been greenlit. With an interesting style and some pretty flashy Devil May Cry-style combat, it definitely looks ambitious. What makes Aurion particularly interesting though is the fact that developers Kiro’o Games are in Cameroon and, according to them, are the first game development studio based in Central Africa. Not very many games seem to come out of Cameroon or Central Africa, and so I was able to interview Kiro’o Games via email, and find out more about the game and how indie gaming is growing in the region. Note: Some minimal changes to the phrasing of the developers’ responses has been changed for easier reading, because of English not being the developers’ first language. However none of the points or opinions they made have been changed, and are their own. Joe: For those who have never seen it before, what is Aurion? Sorelle at Kiro’o Games: Aurion is the first Action RPG game based on African Fantasy. It is a 2D high definition game for PC, we are working on the idea of having the game on other platforms in the future. You will be Enzo Kori-Odan and Erine his wife, the royal couple of Zama who are exiled after a coup d’état. You will have to travel the world to assemble your warrior legacy and regain the throne. Here, there is no old temple, prophecy with a chosen one. We bring in a new approach (based on an African mystical perception of Strength) that you will discover in the game. The game is in two phases; exploration and combat. Combats will be the main feature in terms of the gameplay of the game where we brought in a lot of dynamism. We are trying to bring in Homeric confrontations if you can watch our trailer. J: Have any games inspired or influenced Aurion’s design? S: Several people who tested Aurion described its design as ‘peculiar, original’ because it is real inspiration from the African world. So, we can say that our first inspiration has been our environment, our daily life, our culture, traditions, morals, etc. We also drew our inspiration from the history of some African people, their dressing code and way of life among, other things. For example, Enzo (the hero)’s equipment is a Massai tunic (from the people found in the Northern part of Cameroon, in Chad etc.). However, besides these elements, we drew inspiration from some games to bring more dynamism to the combat. Regarding exploration, you can find some aspects of Cadillac and Dinosaur, Streets of Rage, etc. in the sprites’ way of moving. As concerns combat, we drew our inspiration from the Tales of… series that we like very much because of the simplicity of its commands. It is obvious that once you begin to play, you realize that it’s not just a combination of other systems of games, we created our own sensation. With this inspiration, we had enough material to create, innovate and suggest something new. A real Gamer-Spirit-Design came to light and we hope had this feeling if you played the demo (laughs). J: You mention the game is based off of African fantasy, how does that differ from European or ‘standard’ fantasy? S: It is often said that every group of people have their own culture. From this approach, a game based on African Fantasy can never be like or compared to a European game. Except if they are both visually in an almost similar world. Now, the main difference is seen in what guides us when we create and reproduce the sceneries and other aspects of the game (music, characters, etc.). This means, it has a spiritual aura (or maybe is it the aurionic energy which possesses us!) During the live broadcast of a trial of the demo, a journalist said ‘Aurion is a game with real life’. Beyond this Gamer-Spirit-Design, it is a completely new genre that we are creating; the Kiro’o Tales. Moreover, we hope that it will bring about a change in the fantasy world and will be an inspiration to some. However, this first version will obviously have some classical aspects of manga, comics as well as J-RPG. The Kiro’o is under development, we will obviously master our narration in the next phase of the game. J: You’re a Cameroonian development team, what challenges did you face when setting up the first game studio is central Africa? S: To be the pioneer is very honourable but uneasy lies the head that wears a crown. Convince potential investors (especially Cameroonians) on the need to create a video game studio: there were many who were sceptical, thus making fund-raising difficult, especially since we failed our IndieGoGo campaign. Thanks to articles in the media we gained a voice, and now it’s getting better and better. Training and aligning abilities of the team: There is no training school for careers in the field of video games in Cameroon. Prior to the realization, it was therefore necessary to do refresher sessions. The designers made their sketches on paper (most of them). It was essential to teach them how to draw on tablets. It was the same for programmers who do not have practical know-how about game programming techniques at the University. It took us two months (December 2013- January 2014) to do this. Power cuts: We live in the tropical areas and usually at the beginning of the year (January-February), it is the dry season. The few dams we have no longer generate a lot of power. As a result, power cuts become recurrent and hindered our activities. For example, the month of February was catastrophe for us, we worked only for seven days (on the 28 days in the month). The digital divide: Internet access is not effective throughout the territory. Even at home, it is difficult to meet demand. As a result, there are usually outages, slow connection, etc. We hope that with the advent of the 3G, telecommunications operators will offer good services that can help us attain our goals without hindrance. J: How do you hope African game development grows from here? S: The video game industry on the continent is on its merry way. In 2013, the market was estimated at almost FCFA 300 billion (over 300 million Dollars). The video game industry is growing gradually, however we need to attain a number of objectives to expect more efficient results. We have as objectives to: Diversify the industry: All African studios (except Kiro’o Games) develop games for mobile and tablets. Aurion is, to our knowledge, the first game on PC. We hope to provide a breath of fresh air to this industry and would like other developers to follow our steps. The more we create games on PC or consoles, the more we will be competitive internationally and the consumer market will expand in size. Organize the distribution sector: we want Africa to join the global consumer market (which is not yet the case). To do so, there must be a well-established distribution channel to organize activities and manage sales. That is our long-term goal. It is our ambition to become publishers. For example, if we had publishers, we would not be currently looking for DVD producers to satisfy the local public. Cooperate with players: through meetings, regional events, etc. we will be able to discuss issues related to video games in Africa and propose solutions. The English-speaking part of Africa with studios in Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, etc. is the most advanced in the industry. However, evolving separately will not make us progress quickly. It is therefore important that we cooperate to give the African video game industry a prominent place in the world. You can find more about Aurion on the developer’s website!