A.N.N.E is an indie platformer\space shooter\RPG hybrid developed by Gamesbymo – a one-man game development studio. We sat down with Moise Breton (the aforementioned one man) and spoke to him about A.N.N.E – a game by Mo.
GamersPack: Hello Moise, thank you for sitting down with us and talking about your game. First of all, tell us and our readers a little bit about yourself and your studio – Gamesbymo.
Moise Breton: Hey guys and fellow readers. It’s a pleasure to spend some time with you guys. I have been working in the gaming industry for more than ten years now. I started as a 3D artist and made my way to Art Directing. I started Gamesbymo soon after leaving Beenox back in September of 2012. The easiest way for me to explain the drive behind Gamesbymo is my love for NES and SNES era games. I want to take the best from those games, mix in modern gameplay elements and create exciting new experiences for myself and for retro loving gamers out there.
GPack: And what about A.N.N.E?
MB: A.N.N.E is at its core a Metroid-vania type game with a twist: you can travel on foot or by ship at any time and you must use both to explore every corner of Planet Gomi. Basically when you are in your ship you can travel much faster and the camera zooms out to give you a better view of the environment. You can also lift heavy objects that are blocking your path or move them around to use them as platforms for your character. On foot it’s a blend of platforming and shooting and the whole game is wrapped in an RPG coating since defeating enemies will reward you with XP for leveling up and Energy Crystals that can be used to purchase upgrades.
GPack: Can you tell us a little bit more about the story and characters? What about the settings?
MB: The hero is called number 25, he’s devoid of a name since he was a simple worker bot back on his home planet. A.N.N.E is a standard nanny bot and both robots happened to be in love. Unfortunately it is against the law for robots to love each other, it is considered to be a virus that cannot be “healed”. Robots running “love” applications are sent into exile to Planet Gomi; a planet with an icy surface that is home to all outlaws and obsolete robots. Our Story starts when our hero attempts a rescue mission to save A.N.N.E before she is disposed of…
GPack: What are the key ideas or themes in A.N.N.E?
MB: The power of love ! Lol. That couldn’t sound cheesier. Number 25 chooses to do the impossible and recover all 110 pieces of A.N.N.E that are scattered on a planet he has never been to. To me it’s a way to express how powerful love can be and how far we are ready to go to help the ones we love. Number 25 has the chance that his girlfriend can be put back together and he won’t stop until she is re-assembled. A.N.N.E is also an acronym that has the same meaning as A.I.
GPack: What about the actual gameplay? What are main gameplay elements in your game?
MB: During the platformer gameplay expect a blend of platforming challenges and fast paced shooting action using a weapon switching mechanic. When flying the ship expect to be shooting down bigger enemies that cannot be shot down by Number 25 alone and get ready to use your brain to move objects around in order to create platforms and reach new areas and solve puzzles. There are also some NPCs that will request specific items for you to gather in exchange for upgrades, accessing new areas or a piece of A.N.N.E.
Currently the weapon system in the game is based on 4 different weapons that can be mixed with 5 different elements or bullet types for a total of 20 weapons. It is really up to you, the player, to try those combinations and play the way you want to. Additionally specific elements may be needed to reach new areas.
GPack: How’s the gameplay divided between platforming with “Number 25” and flying the spaceship?
MB: It is up to the player for the most part. I am doing my best to propose a path for the player by putting lower level enemies in the path that should ideally be taken by the player, but if you want a challenge then you can be level 2 and go up against level 30 enemies, just expect to die in one hit though. J For the most part I want to have multiple places the player can explore at any time, of course some areas will only accessible once the player acquires a specific weapon or piece of hardware, but in the end my goal is to avoid the feeling that this is a linear game. I really want the player to feel in control and excited to explore the world. Just make sure you keep an eye on your map!
GPack: Apart from using it for exploration and puzzle-solving, what other uses does the spaceship have? Will we get to participate in space battles?
MB: The ship can be very handy again enormous bosses that must be defeated with the ship. The ship is generally ten times stronger than the hero’s weapon, thus making it quite a useful weapon. Some bosses must be defeated with the ship and on foot. And it is the mean of transportation between the main areas of the game. It is also where you get to store the pieces of A.N.N.E that you collect and also where you get to purchase upgrades.
GPack: From what we’ve seen so far, A.N.N.E looks like it’s going to be an open-world kinda game. Exactly how big is the world? Are there levels or is it all one giant environment?
MB: Currently the game is divided into 5 distinct areas of Planet Gomi. Each of the 5 areas is big and contains different sub areas/stages. In order to travel between the 5 main areas or “worlds” the player must use his ship. I am taking advantage of those travel moments to throw in classic space shooter gameplay in the game. So when you travel between the areas it becomes a classic side scrolling shooter.
GPack: Tell us more about the whole development process. What difficulties you encountered along the way? What was/is the hardest part so far?
MB: The hardest part was the physics in the game. I had a friend help me with the initial physics engine but it just wasn’t up to par and buggy. He was way too busy to be able to polish it and fix the bugs so I was forced to completely trash his hard work in order to incorporate Box 2D which is an open source 2D physics engine. In the end it was worth it! The objects you get to lift with the ship behave really nicely and it makes for a fun experience.
GPack: You used for a big company, as part of a team. What’s it like working on a game all by yourself?
MB: Well I won’t hide the fact that I always did work on personal projects at home after work, but none of them released commercially. Actually I have done so for more than 14 years… When you love making games as much as me it’s hard to just do one thing on a game. In my career I have always been attracted to smaller teams since it is easier to be heard and participate to different aspects of the game creation process: You can throw in game design ideas, sound ideas, music ideas even; for me that is important. I care about the whole game, not just the art or the story or the level design. Working on a game by myself is simply realizing my full potential and really enjoying myself while driving every aspect of the game and making sure that it is exactly how I envision it.
GPack: From what we’re heard so far it sounds like A.N.N.E boasts a killer chiptune soundtrack. Are you creating the music as well?
MB: I wished! But a friend of mine introduced me to Miyamo-san, of Conagusuri.com, and I was blown away by this guy’s talent and great attitude. He has an impressive portfolio of game music remix and original compositions but he always wanted to work on a game soundtrack and this is his chance. I was originally planning to make the music myself, I even did a few songs for the game, but I really prefer having that genuine Japanese sounding/catchy soundtrack. Plus it is very motivating to have talented people like Miyamo contribute to the game.
GPack: You’ve shown the game IGDA Demo Night in Montreal. Where (and when) will you be showing it again?
MB: The next time will be at PAX East and GDC Play at the end of March. The game will be playable at my booth so please come by and give it a try!
GPack: So… You’re opening a Kickstarter for A.N.N.E? When will we be able to throw some money at you?
MB: Thank you!!! Very very soon. I am hoping to have the campaign run from the end of March through April but I have yet to shoot the Kickstarter video and finalize all the pledge swag. One of the gifts I am finalizing now is a SNES box of the game. It looks just like the real thing. For retro game lovers like me this is a great pledge item to look for! I am also working on having some SNES controllers of the game with the buttons matching the hero’s colors and the game’s logo on the controller. Fun stuff!!!
GPack: Before we let you get back to working on A.N.N.E, tell us to what platforms it will come out.
MB: Right now the main focus is on PC, but I am targeting an iOS and Android “remixed” version (in order to be fun to play with touch controls) and eventually depending on the Kickstarter support I will get the game on Ouya, Mac and potentially Wii U! But all those other platforms would come after. So I will make sure to include some special stuff in those versions. I am also, secretly, looking into releasing a version of the game on the SNES as one of my Kickstarter milestones… It’s a crazy idea let’s see if gamers like it!
GPack: And when?
MB: I am targeting an end of the 2013 release for PC. But if I am not a 100% satisfied with the quality of the game then I might push it back a few months to be sure that the game is awesome. Even if that means selling my car in order to afford delaying the release of the game. Lol. That’s the level of dedication and love I have for the craft I guess.
GPack: It was great talking to you, Mo. Thank you so much for your time!
After reading this long interview, you probably want to see A.N.N.E in action. Well, you’re in luck! Below you can watch a video of Moise present the game during the IGDA Demo Night in Montreal, showing about 7 minutes of gameplay.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.