Interview: Aeon Dream Studios, Part Two
In part one of our interview, The Kraze asked questions about Aeon Dream Studios’s formation and background. Now in part two, we bring you some interesting details about their upcoming BTS-inspired visual novel, To The Edge of the Sky! If you haven’t already downloaded the awesome demo, you can do so here! The team also recently released their fundraising campaign in order to support development of the full-length version. Check out the various fundraising tiers and score some exclusive merch with your participation!
Q: How did your team get the idea for a BTS-inspired visual novel?
Ajané J.K. Celestin (CEO): It was in late summer 2016 when I was showing my oldest friend some BTS music videos. We were chatting about BTS and she suddenly said, “Why don’t you just make a game? I’d play that.” It really blew my mind. Marta wasn’t yet with us, but I brought the idea up to Eglė and we just kind of went from there. I recently found some emails of Eglė emailing me with some ideas she had, and me just screaming about it and getting inspired. It’s hard to believe how far it’s come in a year.
Q: How does the planning process work for a project like this? Do you begin with the story, the characters, focus on what you want players to get out of it, etc?
Ajané: All of projects begin with a discussion between the team. I then take the idea and do what I call a “high level concept.” I think about the people who will be playing the game, and I also think about the kind of themes that I want to express, then take back my ideas to the team and get input. Overall, it starts with what we most want to show people, and what we want them to feel and experience. Those are the themes that then drive everything, from visuals to setting to what kind of gameplay we include.
Q: How closely are these characters based on the BTS members?
Ajané: For two years now, we’ve tried to study BTS through the perspective of a writer. While we’re aware of their idol images, we watched them with the understanding that they’re real people with their own hopes and dreams, needs, and emotions. It was nerve wracking for me to think of portraying real people fictionally, especially as we can only do it from our perspective of how we see them, but I realized that people do it all the time in fiction based off real life.
The goal for me has been to do it respectfully, and with their known preferences in mind. I’ve always tried to direct things so that if the members were to play the games themselves, they would hopefully feel like it was a respectful, fairly accurate fictional parallel version of themselves.
Q: What are your favorite aspects of the game?
Ajané: The visuals! I was so excited when Marta came aboard because I was able to really actualize the original vision I had for the game. I grew up watching a lot of sci-fi and playing sci-fi games and I’ve always held a love for the aesthetics of the genre. With Marta, we’re both always on the same wavelength about the visual feeling needed for a post-cyberpunk game, and I enjoy working with her to direct them so much because of our synergy, as well as her dedication to her craft and artistic talent.
Eglė Dilyte (Lead Creative Writer): I honestly can’t choose just one thing! The beauty of games has always been the blending of the different mediums of art to create something amazing. And with us three being able to work so well together, everything we do comes together in a very natural way. We feed off of each other’s creativity and ideas.
Marta Fernandes (Art Director): Contrary to what Ajané said: the writing! It was what made me decide to apply for the position at Aeon Dream in the first place, and it has remained my favorite thing. I think all of the characters are extremely well written and are very distinct. I believe both Eglė and Ajané managed to capture BTS’s personality traits while blending the PHASe* members' own traits into the characters. The end result is that they’re not BTS as video game characters, but video game characters that could represent a good parallel to BTS.
*Note: PHASe members are the in-game representations of the BTS members.
Q: Were you anticipating this large of a reaction and positive support for your project?
Ajané: Not at all. I can’t explain how terrifying it is to go out there and do something someone hasn’t done before in front of a large fanbase like ARMY. But they’ve given overwhelming support and positivity, and we want to give them so much back in return. Some people have told us they’ve even asked for the game on a survey BigHit Entertainment recently released or emailed them directly. We’re really thankful!
Eglė: Honestly? No, not at all. We only hoped that we could reach at least some people and make them happy with our game, but what we got was far bigger than we could imagine. When the first part of TTEOTS came out it was like a floodgate opened. Not gonna lie, it was really overwhelming! We didn’t know what to do with ourselves back then. But through doing this, we’ve been able to really see why BTS loves ARMY so much. It’s more than just getting them sales or trophies; the amount of love and support that ARMY gives is an amazing thing to feel, and it makes us want to work harder to make them happier!
Marta: ARMY manages to keep surprising us every day! Their dedication is absolutely heartwarming and inspiring; it makes us want to work even harder and to keep improving TTEOTS more and more! We listen to all of their feedback and try to implement their ideas and wishes as much as we can; there’s no one more deserving of our hard work. We’re all incredibly grateful to all of them, I hope they know that. ARMY truly is something special!
Q: When the game releases, what are you most excited for players to experience?
Ajané: I’m most excited for them to experience something like what it might be like to interact with the members. Also, for them to see the original world we’re working so hard to create for them. I want them to feel what it’d be like to put down their burdens for a bit and experience what it’s like to be the protagonist.
Eglė: I’d say the story itself and how the player character can and will affect the world and even characters. I look forward to seeing how everyone will react to the different storylines and since we love hiding small hints and secrets in things, I do wonder if they’ll find everything. I hope that they will love the world that we’ve created!
Marta: Ah, being the Art Director I have to admit I’m looking forward to the first impact that the artwork—from our characters and their expressions, to the backgrounds and even the GUI (graphical user interface)—will have on the players, as well as that initial curiosity to look at and examine everything. I hope the way we tried to bring our characters to life combined with the several different atmospheres we created will make the players immersed into the story, and of course, happy to be so.
A big thank you to the team at Aeon Dream Studios for taking part in this interview with us! We wish you the best of luck with the development of To the Edge of the Sky and your future endeavors. Missed part one of our interview? You can check it out here.