Aarus Awakening

Aaru’s Awakening Interview with Jóhann Ingi Guðjónsson

The Lumenox Team
The Lumenox Team!

Thank you for joining us! Tell us about yourself and your studio!

Thanks for having me! My name is Jóhann Ingi Guðjónsson and I’m the Marketing Director at Lumenox Games, basically taking care of all the marketing and PR related things. All in all we’re a team of 9 people, apart from me the team is assembled of programmers and artists – 3 programmers and 5 artists basically. The company was founded in 2012 in order to make Aaru’s Awakening a reality. The studio is located in Hafnafjörður, Iceland – which is part of the greater capital region of Reykjavík. We’re mostly Icelanders, however there are 2 artists from Denmark who do most of their work from their home country. So a lot of Skyping everyday!

For those that might not be familiar with Aaru’s Awakening, what is the game about?

Aaru’s Awakening is a fast-paced 2D action platformer. Everything that is on screen starts on paper with pencil drawings giving the game a unique raw look. We have been working on the game for just over a year now and expect to release it sometime early next year.

The setting of the game takes place in a fantasy world called Lumenox. The world is ruled by four gods – Dawn, Day, Dusk and Night. Each one of the god has their each domain and they share the responsibility of the world. This creates a balance in the world that we call the day cycle. However Night gets greedy and threatens the balance that the gods have built. As an answer, Dawn sends out its champion – Aaru – to travel through all the domains and restore the balance. So your mission basically to travel through Lumenox – encountering awesome landscape and creatures – and teach Night a lesson!

The way you travel through the world is actually the biggest part of the game. Aaru – the protagonist – has two unique mobility abilities: to charge through the air to break walls and get a second jump as well as shoot his soul out of his body and teleport to where it goes. All the level designs in the game are built around these mobilities. The player will have to use the charging ability to break through certain walls, boost to double jumps and use it as a safety when suddenly falling to an unexpected death. The teleportation will work to reach places that would otherwise not be reachable, both overcoming long gaps and shooting through small openings, this also speeds the game up a lot and gives it a nice fast-paced tempo.

Aaru's Awakening

How long has the game been in development for?

The game actually started as a school project in a class where three of the founders were in, back in spring 2012. They had to create a video game during that semester and they came up with the idea of a 2D sidescroller using a teleportation mechanic. The game got the highest grade and that encouraged the guys to enter a video game competition – Icelandic Game Industry: Game Creator. They went on to win the competition and getting a cash prize which they decided to use take the project to the next level – go all in and make the game appealing to the indie market.

So the production of Aaru’s Awakening actually started after all that happened – around August 2012. So development has been going on for a little over a year now.

Aaru’s Awakening is a very interesting concept, from both a gameplay perspective and an artistic perspective. What inspired you to create a game like this?

We knew that the indie market is packed with platformers so we knew we had to make a game that would differentiate from the rest. We felt that we had already achieved that gameplay wise with the teleportation mechanic, but Tyrfingur Sigurdsson got the idea for that from a teleportation gun in Unreal Tournament.

But we wanted to make the game stand even more out, so Ágúst Freyr Kristinsson, an artist was hired and given the role to take care of the art in the game. He wanted to make everything hand-drawn, even the cut-scenes in the game. Everything that you see on the screen starts on paper actually, which can be seen with the rough pencil mark outlines. Ágúst says that he was very inspired by 70’s cartoons/comics.

Aaru's Awakening

How do you come up with the environments you create? And is it harder to work with hand-drawn art in development?

The art director had a very clear vision of how he wanted the fantasy world of Lumenox to look. He’s built this whole world around the game, which can be seen more clearly with the world map – but he’s actually pretty influenced with nordic heathen religions.

How do you feel the platforming mechanics of the game innovate on traditional platforming gameplay?

We’ve actually never seen a game using these teleportation mechanics the way we do – and actually never been aware of another platformer using teleportation. The game is very fast paced and focuses a lot on taking split second decisions and we feel it plays different from other platformers for sure.

Aaru's Awakening

What is your favorite feature in Aaru’s Awakening?

That’s a hard one! Me personally? I’m really just in awe of the work the art team does. I often get lost in the whole environment and look at the backgrounds. However, I feel as you progress and get the hang of using both the charging and teleportation mechanics together it’s awesome to go through hard levels as quickly as you can. Feels really rewarding actually – I’ve been pressing the guys to get the last levels ready sooner so I can have a go at them!

So the answer to the question is actually rather boring and bland I guess: it’s the look and gameplay. Sorry for that!

Can you give us a glimpse into what the “Four Domains” are and what they might have in store for players?

So basically the world is ruled by these four gods. Each one of them has their own domain – named the same as them – Dawn, Day, Dusk and Night. Each of these domains has their own unique theme. Like in Day, you have to travel through cave systems because the eternal day has made everything extremely hot. So there you have to watch out for sun rays, tar pits and lava pigs. I guess you can kind of get an idea of how these themes are from that – but there will definitely be some surprises, but I don’t want to give too much away.

When will gamers be able to play it!

Well you can actually play it now! Try out the demo and tell us what you think. The final version will be for sale early next year – sometime in Q1 for sure. So be ready soon after New Years.

How can gamers support the game and your team during development?

They can head on to our pre-order site and pre-order the game. If people want to support us even further there is a tip option for them. But even those who can’t or prefer not to support in monetary terms, we’d be really grateful for a vote and comment on our Steam Greenlight page. Everything you want or can do is perfect for us.


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