Less than one week ago I got the chance to do an interview with NikuTreat´s Nick Bemiss. So we talked about everything from NikuTreat´s upcoming horror/romance/RPG “A Sun of Salt“, Kickstarter, the development process of the game to NikuTreat´s plans for the future. So without further ado, please enjoy my interview with Bemiss =)

Robin TGG
Could you introduce yourself and tells us a little about your studio and “A Sun of Salt”?

Nick
Of course! The studio is named NikuTreat, and that’s just me and an artist by the handle of Esther-Fun-World. It’s really a small operation, this is a pretty personal project.

As for A Sun of Salt. It’s a narrative-driven horror/romance RPG that takes place almost entirely focused upon four characters in one small spaceship. You as captain, have the ability to read the thoughts of your crewmates. You get the option to use that information to inform your decisions in communicating with the characters and dealing with problems that arise. The story takes some turns from there, but that’s the premise.

a sun of salt haruka

Haruka is a proud, confident, young woman who believes in a natural order and has no secrets.

Robin TGG
How did you come up with the concept, plot and the name for the game? And why did you decide to go with RPG Maker MV?

Nick
As strange as it is, the way the concept came to me would give away the main ending of the game. If people are curious at all after the game comes maybe I’ll get it out there somehow.

The name of the game is basically just a reference to a conversation later on in the game. I liked the way the kanji looked for the Japanese spelling as well, which actually, fun fact, the way the title is written in Japanese that you see on the games promo images is actually incorrect. There’s a reason why in the game, it’s like what was done with “The Pursuit of Happyness” on the surface level.

Why RPG Maker MV? RPG Maker has a stigma that comes with it, and going in I knew it would be a challenge to overcome that. I drew every sprite in the game, I made the music myself, the portraits are done custom for this game, it’s going to be higher resolution than games made with earlier RPG Maker engines were able to do.  The choice in the end came down to having the least amount of resistance between having an idea and getting it into the game. At the same time, I’ve done my best to make it not feel like “just another RPG Maker game”.

a sun of salt nema

Nema is intelligent, calm, positive that order and fate only exists as each individual creates it. She is exactly as she appears. No secrets.

Robin TGG
As “A Sun of Salt” is said to be a Horror/Romance RPG, does that mean that there will be lewd, violent and tons of creepy content in the game? In short, is “A Sun of Salt” going to be a +16/+18 title?

Nick
Too far, too much, too little. Extremes are part of the design of the game in a ton of ways. That being said, there is no sexual content that would land the game in +18 territory. Sex is a part of life, and it has its place in the story, but my goal is to let players explore the relationships and personalities of these characters as they live out their lives in this unique situation. Sex is not a main focus of the game or a driving factor for the player character. The act of sex itself isn’t typically very interesting in most stories to be honest, it’s the circumstances around it that I care about. So, sorry to say folks, but while there are some suggestive designs in the game, you won’t actually see much more.

As for violence and the horror elements, those are more prevalent. The game isn’t constant dread. It has peaks and valleys. I just try to maintain a strong tone and atmosphere whether it be more light-hearted, or a bit darker. That’s really what these darker elements are in service of as far as I’m concerned.

a-sun-of-salt-crews-living quarters

I bet that there will be quite a lot of action taking place in the living quarters * cough cough*.

Robin TGG
Is it true that there will be no traditional RPG combat in the game? If so, what kind of combat will “A Sun of Salt” offer? And can people die in the game?

Nick
You will not be able to die in the game. People can think of it more as a visual novel, only with more interaction. There are non-traditional puzzles in the game, and there are some sort of mini-games that I suppose you could consider combat in a way, but no traditional battle systems makes an appearance.

to the moon

“A Sun of Salt” has been inspired by games such as “To the moon”, “Persona” and “Earthbound”.

Robin TGG
What games, movies, mangas and whatnot has inspired “A Sun of Salt”? By the looks of the trailer, I would say “To The Moon”, “Persona” and “Earthbound”?

Nick
I definitely would say that “To The Moon” and “Persona” have been influences, and to a lesser extent “Earthbound”. Of course I’ve gone through and played all the classic RPG Maker horror games as well (my favorite is “Ib”, but I’m very impressed by the recent “Pocket Mirror”).

Really, my biggest inspirations come from outside of video games. Lars Von Trier is my favorite director, and his philosophy on films has played a huge role in the formation of this game. He has a quote; “A film should be like a rock in the shoe”. Anyone who’s watched any of his films knows what this means and how it feels. I don’t want to reaffirm what people already know or believe.  If you twist that around and expose the other side, that gives people something to think about.

As I’ve mentioned, the game wont be miserable from start to finish, but it will have some moments that I hope are challenging emotionally for some players. I love a sappy love story probably more than the average guy, but I think you can call that outcome in this game the exception and not the rule. It’s a horror game after all right? I’m sure people expect everybody to die in this game, but horror isn’t always violent.

a sun of salt dialog

I wonder what the captain asked her to do?

Robin TGG
If I´m not wrong now, the players will be able to play as either a boy or a girl, so how will that affect the actual gameplay parts of “A Sun of Salt”?

Nick
Not too much, honestly. It’s the same general story and the same romance options are available. It was an easy addition so I threw it in because, why not? On the other hand, there is an epilogue that will allow you to play as one of the female characters that will take the gender change a bit more seriously.

Robin TGG
Will there be any alternative endings or twist plots in the game? And how deep of an impact will the players different actions make on the outcome of the game?

Nick
Absolutely! There originally was I think 4 or 5 endings planned, but with the extra money I’ve made with the Kickstarter, I’m planning on doing a few more that are a bit more… out of the ordinary. Not goofy or anything like that, but just a bit more unconventional.

As far as plot twists, I’d rather not say too directly, but the story will end up in a much different place than you’d expect, regardless of the ending you land on.

For the players’ choices and how they’ll change things, I’ll say that it will change more than just the end. Depending on how much characters like or dislike you, entire days will be different. You might even just completely miss events, different character outfits, and other random things depending on how you’ve handled choices in the game. Each member of the crew is pretty different from the next one, and depending on how you play, it will generally push you toward one of them. This will sort of change the tone and feel of the game as a whole.

a sun of salt sexy girl

I take it that the Steam community likes
Adventure/RPG/Horror/Lewd games, since they helped “A Sun of Salt” on Steam Greenlight (the game got greenlit just recently).

Robin TGG
How many hours of gameplay will the final version of “A Sun of Salt” offer?

Nick
My goal is 4-6 hours and I feel pretty confident it will land in that range. There is an epilogue that will be coming a bit later, but that wont be more than 2 hours max.

Robin TGG
Based on what I´ve read about the game so far, there will be social puzzles in the game? I also heard something about “hidden knowledge”? So could you perhaps elaborate and explain more in detail what that means exactly?

Nick
The social puzzles are something I’m really excited about. Essentially, the puzzles in this game are the characters. You see, a big feature of the game is that through some method, you’re able to read the thoughts of your crew. Nobody knows you have this ability, so this puts you in a unique position. You get to choose how to progress and what to do with this secret knowledge of what the rest of the characters think. This allows you to creatively solve problems with the crew, and steer situations in your favor with the secret knowledge that you’ll have to remember from the crew.

a sun of salt death

The moment when you realize that you’re stuck on a space ship in the middle of nowhere, all while death is lurking around in the shadows of that very space ship.

Robin TGG
There is about six days left on the Kickstarter campaign at this moment, and so far you have managed to collect +2,300 USD. So that´s way above the original 800 USD Kickstarter goal. That´s also why I would like to ask how you felt when you saw that you reached your Kickstarter goal? Furthermore, you have already reached three extended goals so far, so I´m curious to know what the other three extended goals are?

Nick
I was excited! And a little scared. I had a vision for what I wanted to make and I tried to make the Kickstarter lean in both the prices for reward tiers, and what I was asking overall. I don’t want to waste anyone’s money, so it’s been a bit difficult coming up with stretch goals that don’t bloat the game, but also give people something extra for all the awesome support. The last three rewards will probably be posted by the time this review goes up, but I’m still trying to nail things down for the last two of the goals right now so I don’t want to say what it is before I’m 100%, but if things work out it they’ll both be pretty big. The first of the goals will be for extra endings. That is for sure.

a sun of salt logo

“A Sun of Salt” is set for a PC release in July next year.

Robin TGG
Is it correct that “A Sun of Salt” is set for a PC release in July next year? And do you have any plans to release the game to other formats as well? I would also like to ask to ask you how your Steam Greenlight campaign is going so far?

Nick
The game is coming for PC for sure. Mac is second priority, but it will be coming. After that I’ll look into Android and iOS but no promises. I think the format of the game will lend itself well to mobile. It’s broken up into days, so there will be lots of good jumping off points.

The Greenlight campaign has just succeeded! I’m very happy about that, it made me nervous!

Robin TGG
What kind of feedback and response have you received from the Gaming community uptil this point? And finally, what´s your plans for 2016 and 2017?

Nick
Most of the community has been very positive! I’ve loved getting to chat with some of the backers, and I’ve met some other really awesome game devs so far that have been extremely supportive. I’ve been chatting a lot with the dev of the game Tumbling Apart. I recommend looking it up, they’ve been awesome. Of course there are people who think I suck and the game will suck, but overall it’s been surprisingly positive.

For the rest of this year and next year, I’m just going to be working on the game. It’s been my dream since I was a kid to put a real game out, so my full attention is here!

tgg author avatar robin ek
Robin “V-Act” Ek
The Gaming Ground
Twitter: @TheGamingGround

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