An interview with Croatian developer from ShuffleGames about his game Aboleo: Shadow of the Crown

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in Gaming, Interviews

Aboleo: Shadow of the Crown caught our eye with its interesting graphics and the promise of a huge, complex world where all your decisions have significant consequences. Intrigued by the rough potential, we invited the Croatian developer Lovre Gobin for a chat and picked his brain about the development process.

Who’s behind ShuffleGames? What can you tell us about your studio, in terms of size, previous experiences and your mission?

ShuffleGames is my YouTube channel that started back in 2014. It was first my brother who was running it and in 2020 we switched. It’s just one person who is working on the game, with very little experience in video game development before this project. Fun fact – Aboleo was meant to be a 2D pixel art souls-like game back in 2021, but my friend and I scrapped that idea because we lacked art and knowledge in general. But yeah, in conclusion, it’s just me working on it!

What is that one thing that makes Aboleo Shadow of the Crown stand out from other, similar games? In other words, why should we play it? 😊

I’m trying to make a game where the player’s choices will actually matter. It is meticulously designed to reward exploration, ensuring that every venture unveils meaningful and worthwhile content. Also, I’m trying to make a cartoonish style of the game (low poly, stylized) feel more serious. Most importantly – my biggest goal is to make one HUGE open world without a single loading screen. There won’t be a single invisible barrier or anything like that – the player is free to explore whatever he wants from the moment he enters the realm of Veridia! I think that will make every playthrough feel unique, and that is my goal! The players shall have no limitations on where to go and what to do!

What can you tell us about the current state of Aboleo Shadow of the Crown? How happy are you with the development, and when do you think the final version could see the light of the day?

Aboleo is far from seeing the light of the day, haha! It’s far from alpha even! The development is going great! I don’t think there was a single day since the 15th of May 2023 that I didn’t boot the engine and did just a little bit. I would say that on average I spend around 5 hours a day (at least) working on the game. Keep in mind that I’m a 3rd year college student studying Computer Science, so yeah… With Unity and college, I don’t really have time left for anything else. Of course, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies, there are some stressful parts too! But I try to focus on one thing at the time and everyday I’m closer to this goal and that makes me really happy! Aboleo will see the light of the day when it’s done, I don’t want to sell copies of the game that I think are not of top-notch quality. I want to deliver everything I promised, so sadly, I cannot talk about a specific date or even a year of the release. Ask me in about a year, and maybe I’ll have an answer! 😛

How hard was it to come up with the numerous gameplay mechanics; what were some of the biggest challenges you had to deal with? 

Was there a certain mechanic that you wanted to introduce in the game, but then decided against it?

A: Well, so far, I think every game mechanic that I implemented already exists in other games. It’s hard to come up with something new and unique, especially for someone who is not very experienced with game development. The biggest challenge for me is map design, and I think it’s the game’s biggest flaw. I don’t think I’m a good artist, and that really blows as a solo developer developing an RPG. But I believe I’ll get better at it and more used to it. The other issue is that I’m developing the game on a laptop with 8GB of ram and that is an issue because very often my laptop shuts down because it ran out of memory and I lose all progress because I, dummy, forgot to save it. Honestly, I think developing a game is a challenge on its own. It is extremely hard, but very rewarding. Seeing your ideas come to life is brilliant!

There are many mechanics that are still not in the game (building, mounted combat, a lot of abilities, many other kinds of weapons, more armors, etc…) because it’s been just 7 months since I started developing it and I mainly focused on other bigger things that were worrying me at the time!

What inspired you to create the world in Aboleo Shadow of the Crown? What are some of the positives and negatives of using the Unity engine?

Any favorite or most memorable moment that you could share with us about your game?

 I always dreamed of making a game, ever since I was a kid I was making up imaginary games with my brother, writing them in notebooks haha! I also made those little mini-games in Roblox where I first learned what coding meant. As I got older I started studying programming, so I took interest in that and I actually started to understand what meant what. So when I felt comfortable, I decided to make a game. I had some experience with Unity, so I chose that to be my main engine. I never thought of actually making something big, just some stupid game to show off to friends or just joke around with it. But as time went on, I started to spend more and more time on it, and then I started to see its potential.

As I stated before, I’m using the Unity game engine to develop Aboleo. Unity is good for many things – it’s easy to use and understand, programming is in C# and I’m quite familiar with it, and it doesn’t require a lot of memory to use (which is important because my laptop only has 8GB of it) but some things do worry me about it. For example, I’m scared because I don’t know if it’s even possible to optimize such HUGE worlds in Unity but rest assured I’ll do everything in my power to leave a smooth experience even on lower end machines.

One of the most memorable moments in the development was the creation of the first-ever quest. As I penned down the lines and intricacies of the narrative, it marked not just a milestone in the game’s progress, but a moment where the world within Aboleo came alive. Witnessing the quest unfold in-game, seeing players engage with the characters and story, and feeling the essence of the journey—that was a deeply gratifying experience. It’s these moments of seeing the virtual world breathe that make game development an exhilarating and rewarding endeavor.

 Just like your studio, we have a lot of ambitious developers in the SEE region. What advice would you give to anyone that’s just starting out?

Game development is a challenging yet immensely rewarding field. Here are a few nuggets of advice:

1. Keep Learning: Imagine game development as a universe of possibilities. Just like exploring a new city, the more you venture into it, the more you discover. It’s an always evolving adventure, so enjoy the journey of constantly picking up new skills and techniques.

2. Embrace Failure: Failure is not the opposite of success; it’s a part of it. Don’t fear making mistakes; instead, view them as stepping stones to improvement.

3. Passion is Key: Stay passionate about what you’re creating. It’s the fuel that keeps you going, especially during challenging times.

4. Feedback Matters: Look for feedback on your work. Constructive criticism is a powerful tool for improvement. I for example alone tested my game for over 200 hours, I think I did every quest at least 10 times and tried to break it any way imaginable, so yeah – the development of it may take a long time but testing it will take 10x more!

5. Most importantly – enjoy the Process: It’s not just about the destination; relish the journey. Game development is a creative endeavor, and finding joy in the process is crucial for long-term success.

Any final words you would like to say about your game, team, or anyone who has supported you along the way?

A: I want to prove to everyone that you don’t need a big team or some huge investors to create a good game, you just need passion, love and of course some general knowledge about what the hell you’re doing haha! Everything I bought came out of my personal budget, and that’s okay! I’m making the game that I love, and I want to share it with you! There are not many people that supported me or that even think that I can manage this, but for everyone that does, thank you! I want you to know that I look daily for everything that is posted about this game, and those posts make me extremely happy! I love working on it and I will never stop, not until it’s finished and not even then! This is just the beginning, and I hope you’ll be there to see the end! :)

The ITLogs team would like to wholeheartedly thank Lovre Gobin for the insightful talk and wish him nothing but success in his future endeavors.

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