Interview: Orion, Retro Game Developer

Few people have heard about the Atari Jaguar CD at all. Fewer still even bother to get one, or even ever had one at all. The never once stopped Orion when he created some of the best games on the system, post release. And his talents don't stop at the Jaguar CD. He continues to make games for the Dreamcast, PS1, PC, and a multitude of other systems. This French based developer has a passion for the games he develops, and I've personally been a big fan of his work. I got a chance to ask him several questions about his past successes and what we can expect from the future.

Influential Gaming: How did you get started in game development? Orion: When I was playing games on my Atari STe computer at the age of 8, looking at those nice graphics and thinking to myself "I want to do the same!" From there, I quickly began to learn the Basic language by myself, and finally made my first 'game' when I was 12 years old. When the internet became popular, I started learning other programming languages, and continued making small games as a hobby until I made it my full time job.

IG: What's your biggest hurdle when developing games for retro systems? O: The biggest hurdle is the systems limitation, sometimes you have something in mind and you just can't do it because the console you target your game have graphic restrictions, or not enough ram, or cpu speed.

IG: Your specialty is retro systems, such as the Dreamcast, PS1 and Atari Jaguar CD. You are most likely the only person left in the world who develops pressed, retail ready Jaguar CD games. The Dreamcast has a big independent scene, and the PS1 was a big seller globablly, but why do you continue to support the Jaguar CD? O: I did support the Jaguar CD for a long time because the community was very supportive. I guess that, the more a system have failed in the past, the bigger the supportive community is. The PS1 was a big seller but almost no body cares about homebrew on this console, where as soon as you make something for the Jaguar CD or the Dreamcast, people are going crazy happy about it !

IG: Your Myst-like point and click adventure games "Elansar" and "Philia" really re-creates a certain kind of atmosphere that only a game from that era can create. Do you think that games like Elansar and Philia fill a void that is missing in todays gaming world? O: Yes, some people told me they really enjoyed my "Myst like" games because they like the genre and there are almost no homebrew like this. And the reason why is, because this genre is not very popular. I did a recent poll about what my next game should be, I had 25% for a "myst like" game, and 75% for a "2D platformer".

IG: You are especially active in the genuinely awesome Jaguar Independent scene. Tell us your experience in working with the folks over at AtariAge. O: I don't work with folks at AtariAge, I'm based in France, so I work more with French based people like the Jagware team. If you are talking about the AtariAge community, they are the most supportive about my work, they offered me a Jaguar CD unit for free so I could develop new games for it, that is really something awesome.

IG: What inspires your games the most? O: My inspiration come mostly from games I played when I was a teenager, like Monkey Island, Riven, Kula world, Klonoa.

IG: "Alice's Mom's Rescue" is, so far, my favorite game by you. I'm a fan of platformers, and AMR is consistantly challenging and creative throughout. Is there a specific inspiration for this game? O: There is a bit of inspiration from Klonoa, which is a very nice platformer including some bits of puzzles.

IG: Your latest release, "Zia and the goddesses of magic", is yet another shift from your previous works. You did two Myst-styled Point and Clicks, a puzzle game, and a 2D platformer before. Now you have created a 2D RPG, showing just how versatile your game design skills are. Is there a reason for the constant change in genres? O: I played very different games and I like to reproduce the games I liked back then. But, changing genres means that I need to start from scratch each time, and that is very time consuming. Now that I have a bunch of different game engines, I should start making better games from these.

IG: If you can, tell us a little bit about any projects for the future. O: I'm working on a fast paced 2D platformer, you can watch animated preview and support me on my patreon page:

That's all we had time for, but like he said, you can help fund his projects in the link above. We at Influential Gaming thank Orion for his time and his contributions to gaming and all the retro game communities he has touched. You can find his website here!

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