An In-Depth Chat With Kidalang, the Creators of the ‘Sage Fusion’ Series

Sage-Fusion-2-03From what I have gathered, all of the writing on Sage Fusion was handled by Yusdi Saliman despite the fact that it was first dreamt up by Yohan Alexander. So, what’s it like to do a lot of writing – since Sage Fusion features quite a healthy chunk of prose – where neither the setting nor the characters were of the writer’s design?

Yusdi: It’s actually still a lot of fun. If you think about it, fan fiction works much the same way. The writer takes an existing fictional universe and its characters, and incorporate them into his own story. In my case, I had a lot more liberty than that. If there was something I didn’t like, I just asked Yohan if I could change it, and more often than not he’d allow me to do whatever I wanted with the plot and the characters. This is even more true for Sage Fusion 2, where there are more action scenes in which I, as a game designer, wanted to make fit really well together with the story (see my remark about Uncharted above).

Furthermore, since I am the one who wrote the dialogue, I am also the one who in the end shaped the personality of many of the characters. For example, Yohan introduced Niven to the story because he wanted an esper-like character, but that she ended up being such a weird girl with messed up personality is entirely my fault.

Speaking of Sage Fusion’s writing, I noticed no mention of a translator in the credits to either game. The prose contained within the series would be exemplary for someone who was a native-born speaker to begin with, let alone a person where English was not their native tongue. If you don’t mind our asking, what life experiences lead Yusdi Saliman to becoming such an impressively fluent user of the English language?

Yusdi: RPG games. RPG games and the Internet. 🙂

Anyway, I’m glad you like the writing in Sage Fusion. I’ve read criticism elsewhere that Sage Fusion has poor translation, despite – as you guessed correctly – the fact that it was written directly in English.

Now, to answer your question, first of all I should note that schools in Indonesia do teach English as part of formal education, so it’s not like English is something completely alien to us. However, although what they teach can equip Indonesian students with the English proficiency required to communicate globally, you obviously can’t expect anyone to attain near-native fluency only from it.

In my case, I think I can write English fairly well because I read a lot of English text. I started playing RPG – Chrono Trigger being my first – in my early teenage years and have always loved RPG games ever since. This exposed me to English from a young age. Just think how much words you’d have to read to play a typical RPG from start to finish, so if you just play three RPGs per year, that’s like the equivalent of reading maybe two novels. As I grew older, I started to enjoy reading books too (fiction and nonfiction, but mostly fiction), and I had always preferred to read the English original rather than the Indonesian translation. Besides those, there are other types of games, Hollywood movies, TV series, etc, most of which are in English.

And I’ve been spending way too much time on the Internet.

(I also spent four years living in Singapore, but Singaporean English is, well, different.)

Although the coup d’état plot revealed at the end of Sage Fusion – Chapter 1: The Phantom of Liberty has now been resolved, do you think there will ever be a Sage Fusion 3 at some point? It just seemed that at the end of the story there was so much left to see and do, and a vast universe of planets still unexplored. Not to mention the fact that a certain inquisitor, who shall remain nameless for the benefit of those whom haven’t played the games yet, is still very much alive.

Yohan: I tried to conceive Sage Fusion not just as a story, but also a universe. There should be more planets and exotic cultures that we plan to think up but time and resource are our limitations for now.

If Sage Fusion 1 and 2 are well received, of course we will plan a third episode. Some characters’ background is still yet to be uncovered and we still got some ideas about the Alvonse character as well.

Populux___Space_Cyborg_Bunny_by_darth_iskanderIf a new adventure about the crew of the Sage Fusion spacecraft is not in the cards, then could there possibly be a spin-off adventure set in the same universe? I know that at least myself, for one, would love to see a story starring those two investigators from the Citywatch. Alternatively, what would the possibilities be of Populux getting his very own starring role?

Yusdi: Hey, we’d love to do a story with those two characters as main protagonists too! But no promises.

As for Populux: unlikely. From the beginning Populux was made to be just a joke, something for us developers to have fun for ourselves. That said, we do plan to have Populux appear in every Kidalang’s game, in one form or another.

The possibilities of a Sage Fusion sequel/spin-off aside, could I convince you to give us all some hints as to what Kidalang’s next big project will be? Would it be another Visual Novel/Graphic Adventure/RPG hybrid like Sage Fusion was, or is Kidalang planning for a more action based outing next?

Yusdi: We’re still thinking about that, actually. We definitely would love to do another game like Sage Fusion, but a big project like Sage Fusion is a huge undertaking for a small team like us, so we’re also considering different options. We could make a more traditional classic RPG, or perhaps target an even more niche market like a pure visual novel, or anything in between. What we’re sure is that the main focus will still be on the story.

And if our next story is not set in the Sage Fusion universe, we think we’ll take a break from science fiction. Does a Kidalang-flavored fantasy story sound interesting?

Because we’re still trying to decide on what to make for our next project, this is a good time for iFanzine readers to tell us what they’d like to see next from Kidalang. Feel free to comment, tell iFanzine staff, or even contact us directly.

sagefusionlitepcI saw that previously you had released PC demos of Sage Fusion chapters 1 and 2 to help drum up interest for the iOS release. Have you considered – now that you’ve completed the coup d’état story arc – the possibility of working on a full port of the series to the PC platform, or perhaps game consoles/handhelds such as the PS Vita? I myself know many of my friends were very intrigued by your well crafted tale, but not all of them had access to the requisite mobile devices.

Ivan: Actually we want to port Sage Fusion 1 and 2 to the PC platform. But before we do that, we have to tweak the game a bit so it will be suitable to be played on PC.

Finally, with two well received titles now under your belt, what advice does the staff of Kidalang have for all the hopefuls out there seeking to make their own dreams become a reality on the iOS marketplace?

Ivan: We’re still learning at this moment, and we are still trying to understand the behaviour of the iOS marketplace. So I wouldn’t call this as an advice, but more like sharing our experience trying to penetrate the iOS marketplace.

The first and most important thing: Do it! Don’t just dream about making a game, but create one. If you don’t take action, you won’t be able to find out whether your game is good or not. Create a game that you would like to play. Of course you gotta be honest with yourself, not just because you create the game then you said to yourself that you like it while in reality it sucks.

Another thing that we are trying to do with Sage Fusion is, we try to differentiate our games with million of games out there in the iOS marketplace. We are not happy to just copy a game that is successful and change a bit from there, but we are trying to add more value so that the player can experience something unique, Kidalang style.

And last but not least, don’t forget to market your game. It is useless when you have created an awesome game but no one knows about it. That’s when websites like iFanzine help us a lot. As a new indie game developer, we’re really thankful that iFanzine consider developer like us and give us exposure.

A huge, heartfelt thank you to Ivan, Yusdi and Yohan for taking the time to answer all our questions in such amazing detail. If you haven’t tried the Sage Fusion series yet, here are App Store links for both games: Sage Fusion – Chapter 1: The Phantom of Liberty and Sage Fusion – Chapter 2: Children of Deceit. Also, be sure to follow Kidalang’s Facebook and Twitter accounts to stay informed on what they’re up to next.