After an unexpectedly long time in development, the sequel to the RPG Rainbow Moon is finally coming out today. Just in time for Rainbow Skies’ long-awaited release – you can catch our review here – we got a chance to talk with the CEO of SideQuest Studios, Marcus Pukropski.
TSA: Rainbow Skies is a follow-up to your 2012 RPG title Rainbow Moon. Why did you and the team at SideQuest Studios decide to return to the Rainbow world, rather than develop a new IP?
Marcus Pukropski: Although we’ve been very happy with Rainbow Moon, we felt that there was much more we can do with this kind of game. We got a lot of feedback from fans and players all over the world and most of them overlapped with our own ideas. Plus, the overwhelming love we received from many fans made the decision to develop a successor really easy.
There are also technical advantages. For a small team, building a game on an existing system is always much easier.
TSA: Rainbow Skies feels like it brings together ideas and styles from so many different classic games. Were there any specific RPGs or tactics games that influenced your team and the development of Rainbow Skies the most?
Marcus: Absolutely! We all are fans and gamers ourselves and have played tons of other games.
When you play Rainbow Skies or Rainbow Moon you might discover similarities to other games. For example, I’m a big fan of Final Fantasy (including the tactics games), Disgaea, Dragon Quest and much more. At the same time, we always bring in our own new ideas. So, both games are a very unique mix and have their own style.
As an example, you’ll find traditional elements like a turn-based battle system in Rainbow Skies but it’s still very modern and polished. The controls are fast and easy to use and the overall handling allows a nice game flow.
TSA: Coming from Rainbow Moon, were there any big changes that you felt the team needed to make in the sequel? Were there any ideas or mechanics left on the cutting room floor from the first game that the team wanted to put into Rainbow Skies?
Marcus: Of course. One of the biggest new features is the monster taming. We already thought this would be a cool idea, when we were running around as a monster character in Rainbow Moon and we had many ideas what gamers could do when playing as a monster, so this is something we’ve now realised.
Another major update was the entire redesign of the menu and UI system. There are so many details we’ve improved, that you could write several articles just about the UI.
There are plenty of other details that are improved in Rainbow Skies. Whether it’s the possibility to accurately track your progress at any time, having a lexicon for all items or the possibility to open the book menu during battle. These are small details, but the sheer amount of all these changes make Rainbow Skies much more enjoyable.
TSA: How important was the community to the development of Rainbow Skies? Did you make any changes or additions to the game based on fan feedback from the first one?
Marcus: Yes, the community is very important to us and there are tons of improvements that are inspired by feedback. The expandable turn order view is on example and I could list many more features.
By the way, we want to thank you all for these constructive criticisms! This is much appreciated, even if we cannot thank everyone personally.
TSA: Rainbow Skies is a game that was originally slated to release in 2014, but with it going through some extra dev time and finally dropping now in 2018, what were some of the notable roadblocks or reasons for the massive delays the game has faced?
Marcus: We haven’t spent the entire time on Rainbow Skies development. If you look back, we’ve released a Söldner-X 2: Final Prototype port on PS Vita, we’ve developed a PS4 port of Rainbow Moon and other things.
But you’re right, the delay was exceptionally long. Rainbow Skies has become bigger than originally planned and we have hardly made any compromises. If you develop a game like that on three platforms with a core team of four people and a strong focus on quality at the same time, it’s hard to speed it up that much. Our biggest fault was probably that we’ve announced the game so early. This is something we regret, but at the same time, we’re very proud and happy with the result and I think that’s what counts in the end.
TSA: With the challenges of developing Rainbow Skies behind you, do you feel like the next game from SideQuest Studios will take less time to develop? Or are you expecting a similar 4-5 year timeframe?
Marcus: That’s really hard to say at the moment. I don’t think we’ll be able to make a similar game like this in the near future. In fact, it strongly depends on the success of Rainbow Skies.
TSA: I think Rainbow Skies is incredibly impressive for being part of a rare group of games that still fully supports cross-buy and cross-save functionality across PS4, PS Vita and even PS3. With few other games offering true cross-platform play lately, what made your team decide to implement those features in the Rainbow series?
Marcus: Both Rainbow games are very long games. You can easily put 100 hours or more into Rainbow Moon and even more into Rainbow Skies. Rainbow Moon was first released on PS3, but when Sony announced the PS Vita, we fell in love with it and wanted to bring the game to the Vita. We wanted to make the transition for players as easy as possible, so Cross-Save is a great idea, because it allows players to transfer their saves from one platform to another. It’s especially cool if you want to play on your big TV at home, but also on your Vita when you are outside.
Since we already had the system in place in Rainbow Moon, we decided to implement it into Rainbow Skies as well, and because Rainbow Skies launches on all three platforms at the same time, we added Cross-Buy support on top.
TSA: I remember so many moments back on my PS3 of scrolling through the new DLC releases that week, and seeing a dozen new Rainbow Moon microtransactions available for different types of bonus packs and coins and amulets. Is that model of microtransaction add-on content something you look to continue with Rainbow Skies?
Marcus: Not really. Although we actually also received positive feedback from users that enjoyed using the booster packs and they really helped us turn Rainbow Moon profitable, we have decided against them in Rainbow Skies. There are currently no plans for any DLC or booster packs whatsoever.
TSA: Before SideQuest Studios made Rainbow Moon, you guys made a really fun sci-fi shoot-em-up called Söldner-X. I’m a bullet hell fanatic and I see Touhou bullet-patterns when I close my eyes to sleep at night, so I’m wondering if you and the team have any thoughts on returning to your roots and making another shoot-em-up game.
Marcus: We currently don’t have any plans for another shoot ‘em up game, but you never know…
TSA: SideQuest Studios has been making games on the PlayStation family of consoles for over ten years now. Do you ever see yourselves making a game or porting your existing games to other platforms, like PC or the Nintendo Switch?
Marcus: Originally, we started on PC, so we already switched platforms a few times. First, we’ve added support for PlayStation 3, followed by PlayStation Vita and finally PlayStation 4. Because we’re using our own in-house engine to guarantee 60fps and short loading times on all platforms, it’s not that easy for us to add new platforms. Although the Nintendo Switch is a nice platform, we currently don’t have any plans for it.
Thanks to Marcus for talking to us. Rainbow Skies is out on PS4, PS3, and PS Vita today, and you can catch our review here.