An Interview With … – Emmanuel Salva Cruz

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.

I recently had the opportunity to spend some time picking the multi-talented Artist and Programmer’s brain about his life, his take on current events, and what it’s like in the Indie Scene.

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.

Me:    eSports?

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


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