Emmanuel Salva Cruz, the creator of the Crystal Story series, is no stranger to dungeon crawlers and eSports. Emmanuel has worked Quality Assurance on many great Activision titles, such as: Guitar Hero III, Call of Duty: World at War, and Call of Duty: Black Ops. Now, while working his way into the game development scene, he has recently graduated from California State University – Northridge with a Bachelor of Science.
Me: Evening, sir. Thanks for agreeing to this interview.
Emmanuel: Hey! Thanks for this interview. I really appreciate it.
Me: Tell me a bit about yourself.
Emmanuel: I love playing Role-Playing Game’s, Strategy Games and Adventure Games. My hobby is making video games. I procrastinate a lot. I made a little game called Crystal Story 2. I also like The Art of War, Boxers & Saints, and A Drunken Dream and Other Stories.
Me: What got you into the Gaming Scene?
Emmanuel: When I was 7 years old, my mom got me a Famicom and Super Mario Bros 3 for my birthday. My life changed ever since. I was playing video games every day. It was nice. I used to play a lot of Starcraft. Now it’s DotA 2.
Me: What experiences led you to become an Indie Game Designer?
Emmanuel: Choose your own adventure books. I think Hostage! was the first one I read. The page turning interaction blew my mind. I also discovered Starcraft’s campaign editor and I had fun making maps. Later, found out about GameMaker and started making terrible games.
Me: Perfect segue. Tell me about the Crystal Story universe.
Emmanuel: It’s a fantasy world filled with monsters, swords, guns, dragons, robots flying islands, crystals and other Role-Playing Game stuff.
Me: … I like guns.
Emmanuel: I try to have violence in Crystal Story to be as tame as possible. I don’t like showing blood or creating excessive violence. I also got the name from a random RPG name generator.
Me: Do you feel like you’ve hit on the right formula for you Design work?
Emmanuel: Back when I was working on Crystal Story 2, I pushed myself really hard to get it finished and get all of the features working. I wanted to finish the game I’ve been making. There was a lot of stuff that was cut in Crystal Story 1 that I was able to implement in Crystal Story 2. And even then there was a lot of stuff I wanted to implement in Crystal Story 2 that never made it. I had to draw the line somewhere and make a realistic decision on what is doable with the current resources I have.
Me: How has your Game Design process through the years been?
Emmanuel: Crystal Story 1 took about 3 years. Crystal Story 2 took about 2 years. I had to work on the project on and off because I had to juggle job and school. Right now I take it a bit easy, since I’m currently learning the new stuff.
I’m currently working on an untitled project in 3D on Unity. It might be a successor to Crystal Story, but I’m not sure if I’m going to rename it for a fresh start since it’s in 3D. I’m usually updating the game’s progress on my blog.
Me: Do you feel you’ve been successful, overall?
Emmanuel: I’ve always thought releasing a game on Steam is success. Even though Crystal Story II hasn’t been greenlighted yet on Steam, I think it’s successful just because a lot of people played and liked the game. The community made a full on wiki with all of the bestiary stats, characters, skills and everything game related which was really, really cool.
Me: Have you had any problems getting people interested in your work?
Emmanuel: Marketing is definitely a lot harder when you’re an Indie Dev. It’s a lot harder to get noticed unless your game gets picked up by social media. I think small developers still have a chance with some luck and a good game. I have a free version of the game, so I could reach as much people as I can. I think going fully paid if you’re not well known yet is really risky and you won’t reach as much people as you would like.
Me: What kind of Developer would you like to ultimately be?
Emmanuel: Shigeru Miyamoto. I think his approach on games is really interesting. (We have the same birthday!)
Me: I think I saw a torrent of one of your games floating around the Internet the other day.
Emmanuel: I don’t really care if people pirate my game. I’m glad someone is playing it.
Me: If you were to step away from Developing games, would you still want to be apart of the Industry?
Emmanuel: I would probably be a Q.A. for a game company or maybe play an eSport.
Emmanuel: Yes! eSports is probably the best thing that has happened to gaming right now. I showed my mom the Free to Play documentary one time, and I guess it opened her mind to what the eSports scene is like and what gaming as a culture is.
Me: What would be your top pick for a Game Design Project?
Emmanuel: I love the Avatar world. (Airbender. Not the blue people.) I think it would make a good RPG. (Airbender. Not the blue people)
Me: What do you do when you’re not in the development process?
Emmanuel: Besides playing games… drawing. I love drawing. I watch eSports Tournaments. I also watch movies or read a book.
Me: I’d like to end with an off-the-wall question. Does this Interview make my butt look big?
Emmanuel: I like big butts and I cannot lie.
Me: Thanks again for your time, Emman. I look forward to talking with you again soon.
Written by Ryan Helms