It’s not unusual to find Polish game developers, developing really interesting games. Poland itself has recently become synonymous with quality game design, but what is perhaps unusual is finding a Polish development team working on an RPG that takes a lot of its cues from Asian culture. The studio is Warsaw based Another Angle and the game, Shadow of the Road, is a turn-based RPG brings you to the dusk of Japanese feudal era and lets you test your skills against multiple enemies of different origin. You create your own path by making multiple decisions that will eventually influence the outcome of this immersive story. We first came across Shadow of The Road at Poznan Game Arena but due to some conflicting schedules only had a chance to recently catch up with the studio founder Marek Oleksiak.
PK: What was the lightbulb moment that sent you down the path of game development?
MO: To answer this question we have to go back, far back to my childhood. As a kid I’ve spent countless hours playing video games. Starting with NES and progressing through nearly every PlayStation console game release. Then with PC I explored the video games industry from the consumer point of view. Video Games pushed me into the direction of IT in general. I graduated with a master’s degree in IT and started working in the IT industry as a software developer a couple years before even graduating.
I’ve gained a lot of experience in managing IT projects while still
being active in development (I have never let go of doing the actual
programmer’s work). Then around the year 2012, aside from regular web-based /
mobile projects that I was typically involved in, something new appeared. The
company that I used to work in decided to build an app for real estate
developers that would present their projects in 3D environment. It was a turning
point for me – this shifted my mindset into more 3D oriented way. I started
discovering a whole new world: terms, tools & technologies that wasn’t in
my area of expertise before that. I knew from the beginning that this is a way
I would like to pursue.
With a couple of years to build proficiency under my belt in terms of making some interactive 3D experiences, I started discussing some game ideas with my colleague at work. We started to experiment with some prototypes and we eventually were ready to take it to the next level.
PK: Is Shadow of the Road, technically Another Angles first game?
Yes and no ^^. Shadow of the Road is indeed our first game we planned for release as a premium product, but we’ve participated in some game jams before and made a couple of mini-games that we intend to develop in the meantime.
Combat Rescue Guardian Angel 3 – CRGA3 on itch.io
is a physics based arcade game about a chopper that have to rescue thumb-people from the battleground.
Ping Win – Ping Win on itch.io
Is a local multiplayer couch brawler about penguins fighting each other in order to survive on a cracking floe.
PK: A story line which firmly grounded in Asian (Japanese) culture is an interesting choice for a Polish based game design studio – how did that come about?
MO: It is an outcome of a couple different things: some of our team members are interested (not to say obsessed) with Japanese culture – for example we have Ania, our social media expert that studied Japanese culture at university, speaks Japanese and travels a lot.
On the other hand, we wanted our game to be serious and kind of dark in terms of violence, morality and choices. Additionally, when we were designing game setting the idea of colliding different cultures was appealing. Japan was a perfect fit for all those things. We started digging into Japanese culture more and more, and with every further step we were assured that it was the right choice.
PK: A turn-based RPG is considered a very difficult balancing act – what are the challenges you have had so far with getting the balance right?
MO: It is and will be a challenging aspect of development for sure. In our case it gets even more difficult because of some of the abilities that our characters have. For example: using one of our characters, we are able to possess and take control over any enemy unit that is still alive. Other aspects that impact our turn-based combat is the fact that we are introducing units of different sizes – some of them are four to five times bigger than the others and their movement abilities becomes an issue.
PK: The game (Shadow of the Road) shown at Poznan looked amazing, how long have you been working on it and what’s the timeline to we see a launch date?
MO: Thanks, but it isn’t our final form yet! The idea of Shadow of the Road was born back in 2016, but we haven’t had a chance to work on it full time right away. From my current perspective I think it has turned out to be very good for us. The idea has matured, we’ve had time to validate our initial ideas & work on a story in the meantime. Starting with 2019 we were able to put more effort into actual development of our game and started to work on it full time. We have a tremendous amount of work to be done and because of that we are aiming to release our game in Q1 2022.
PK: Hard launch or early access – what’s your preference and your opinion of the pros and cons of each?
MO: Hard… to tell at this moment to be honest. We are still in a very early stage of the development and approach about a release will surely be influenced by a publisher we are looking for.
PK: Multi-Platform or single platform focus?
MO: As we like to think that we are taking the gaming industry by storm one step at a time we are now mainly focused on a PC platform. We have plans to port SotR to the Playstation/Xbox consoles next and eventually to the Switch. It will require some work though, especially the Nintendo’s version.
PK: How big is your team and what’s the growth plan over the coming twelve months?
MO: Currently we are working in a team of 4 full time members and a couple of part-timers. We are aiming to have a team of 12 by the half of 2020.
PK: What’s the theme of specialty of Another Angle – RPG or is this the beginning of a longer journey through all genres?
MO: We’ll try to find out after the release of SotR 🙂 We would love to explore all genres and mix them up really bad, but the time will show what can we do about it.
PK: I ask everyone this: How do you browse games on Steam – how do you select a game to play on the weekends?
MO: It – probably as for most of the game developers – depends. There is some time when I am trying to get inspired for Shadow of the Road. I try to search and find similar games and find out how their developers has done some things or games that have something new that we can adapt and use in our case.
Apart from that, when I have the ability to chill out a little bit – I am looking for games with strong narrative or the complete opposite – puzzles and logic games – just to switch my mind.
You can find another angle at: