Interview with Aviv Salinas

We did an interview with Aviv Salinas, the creator of the upcoming game Twilight Oracle (you can find the demo here), about his game, game development and games in general. Here's what he said:

1. Hi, tell us a bit about you:

Hey! My name’s Aviv Salinas (aka Cosmic Void), I’m 36 and I’ve had the fortune of making video games the past 3.5 years. I’ve also had a book called No Grave for the Orchids published under JC Linden (co-authored) and a short story Counter Revolution published in the A Tail of a Mouse anthology under my real name.

2. What were you favorite game or games when growing up?

There are many! Obviously the adventure genre is near and dear to my heart and games like Space Quest II, The Legend of Kyrandia, and The 7th Guest have always meant a lot to me. Outside the adventure genre, I pretty much annually play games such as Thief II, Quake, Starcraft, Banjo Kazooie, and many others.

3. When did you start making games?

I started at the end of 2019 / early 2020. My first game was Void Breach.

4. What made you start developing games?

Love of the point and click games, love of fan-made adventure games, the desire to create games myself. It’s been a fun ride!

5. You are currently making a new game, Twilight Oracle, can you tell us a bit what it is about?

In Twilight Oracle, Leo’s a failing student who’s sent on a mission to find the fabled Oracle in order to graduate. It’s not an ordinary school, you see, but a special institution for kids with unique abilities, and it’s run by a cult of people called the magistrates. It’s fantasy comedy with a colorful art style.

6. Why did you decide to make this particular game, what was your inspiration? How did you come up with the idea and story?

I wanted to create a comedy game whose main setting is a desert island of sort. I wanted to draw beaches and underwater locations. Sandy dunes and funky rock formations. I had a jab at it right after The Corruption Within had been released, but I wasn’t very satisfied with the results at the time.

In terms of setting, the EcoQuest games have been an inspiration, and as for the art style, I have to say the first two Kyrandia games have played a role in shaping it. Everything else has stemmed from this - the setting I had in mind, and the art I wanted to make the game in.

7. What are your characters based on? For example real life experiences, movies, games etc. Who would you be in your game?

Leo’s character is inspired by characters from other comedy adventures such as Simon the Sorcerer and Guybrush Threepwood. I can definitely see Simon’s irreverent humor in him. I suppose when it comes to how he looks I’ve also been inspired to an extent by Adam from EcoQuest II who sports a bit of a funky hairstyle.

8. How would you describe the style of the game?

I suppose I’d describe the game as fantasy comedy (or comedic fantasy?) The setting is definitely fantastical, filled with absurdity and humorous situation. But it has a serious story to tell about friendship. In terms of the art style, I’d say it’s clear, colorful, and perhaps alternating between cartoonish and realistic.

9. You have also made other games (Blood Nova and The Corruption Within for example). What experiences, that you gained from making them, do you think will aid you when making this game? Are there any similarities between those two games and Twilight Oracle?

For sure, making those other games has shaped my approach to Twilight Oracle in terms of narrative structure, puzzle design, characters and dialog. For example, in Blood Nova I felt the highlights came when Princess Love interacted with other characters, so it was important for me to have a bunch of characters for Leo to interact with in Twilight Oracle. There are three such characters in part one and seven (I think) in part two. My previous experience in designing puzzles for my games has enabled me to do a better job in signposting puzzles in Twilight Oracle.

10. What have been hardest so far in the development process of Twilight Oracle?

Marketing it. As a solo indie dev I lack the funds, contacts, and knowledge to effectively promote the game and reach a wider audience. Also, people might not realize, but making games can be an awfully lonely task!

11. Will there be any easter eggs in the game?

Yep. You’ll have to find them. :)

12. When do you expect the game to be finished?

Hopefully it will be released in early 2024, so January or February if there are no big hiccups!

A big thank you to Aviv, for taking the time to answer these questions. It will be interesting to see how Twilight Oracle turns out.

If you're interested in trying the Twilight Oracle demo, you can find it here. You can find some of his other games here as well. There are also a few more of his games that can be found elsewhere. :)