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Onsen Master

AnimeChicago Spotlight is an interview series highlighting  leaders and personalities from local organizations. Today we’re chatting with Derrick Fields about his team’s upcoming video game title Onsen Master, which exceeded its Kickstarter goal a few days ago!

AC: Tell us a little bit about yourself, and what inspired Onsen Master.

DF: Like most anime-loving adults out there, I’m sure we can all recall the days of hitting up Suncoast and FYE for the latest VHS anime release you were saving all of your allowance for. For me, anime came into my life around when I was fresh off from drawing my favorite Marvel superheroes (usually Spiderman) and making my own little comics. That all shifted pretty abruptly when Pokémon and Toonami came around; I was passionate about creating characters from Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, and Outlaw Star. Bringing us to the present day, I wanted to share  my love of anime with my wife and stepson. I couldn’t think of a better way to do this than with Studio Ghibli films. Together we watch some of Hayao Miyazaki’s greatest works like Howl’s Moving Castle, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away. Of them, Spirited Away has always been my favorite film and after visiting some bathhouses in Japan myself I couldn’t stop thinking about how wonderful it was.

Screenshot of Mu (the main playable character and future onsen master) showing guests to their healing bath.

Also at this time, I had been trying to rediscover my passion as an artist and what that meant for me today. I thought about my degree in 3D modeling and thought “Maybe I could make a video game?” I couldn’t tell you how naive those words were back then, haha! However, I still wanted to combine my passion for anime, Japanese culture, and hope for a career in gaming into something tangible.

AC: How does your studio WakingOni operate? Who’s part of the team?

DF: WakingOni is actually my artist name and so I really consider Onsen Master a collaborative project between myself and the other talented individuals involved. We all wear many hats and so I’ll condense those titles as best I can. Tim Robinson is the co-designer and producer on the project. He is one of my closest friends and the first person I came to with the idea for the game.  We always bounced fun projects off of one another while hanging out. He and I kept poking the idea until we felt like there was something really there. Sometime later we brought on Leo Riveron, a programmer who Tim was working concurrently on another project. Leo is an incredibly skilled weaver of code and the three of us started creating some rough versions of the game. As time went on, we started to really have the beginnings of a prototype worth showing. Equally so, I was becoming pretty short on time and couldn’t handle much of the artwork needed; that’s where we brought in Sarah Gavagan. Sarah’s illustrations are so beautiful and captivating and having her on board as the environment artist has brought so much energy to the game. The last layer to this bathhouse cake is Dorrell Ettienne, a composer based in London. He and I had been interacting some online and really got to talking when it came time to add music into our current version of the game. Dorrell’s compositions, in my opinion, are very reminiscent of JRPG music which made me feel confident that they would understand the mood of Onsen Master.

Shout-outs to the team! They are all so great!

AC: What has been the biggest challenge on Onsen Master to date?

DF: TIME! Without a doubt, time! Onsen Master has always been a part-time project as all of us maintain full-time jobs, continuing education, and  families. While WakingOni currently stands as my artist name, I’d very much like to make that leap into becoming a studio and enabling myself and others to create games full-time.

AC: What’s your favorite feature of the game that players can anticipate?

DF: The locations! We really want to throw a lot of fun at players with all the different environments that they will visit. I hope that you will love them.

AC: Do you have any tips for aspiring game developers?

DF: Oh, this is a loaded question, haha! Learn and keep on learning! There are so many resources out there, even free resources that can assist you in learning how to build games, 3D model, and code. Learning has to be my favorite part about all of it because someone next to you is always innovating and usually willing to share the knowledge.

AC: How can AnimeChicagoans support Onsen Master?

DF: Right now, you can support Onsen Master on Kickstarter! So tell a friend and be sure to give us a follow on Twitter for more updates. We like to have fun there.

Thanks so much for your time, Derrick! We hope AnimeChicagoans will check out the downloadable demo and contribute to the Kickstarter campaign by backing and sharing. Also, download this awesome wallpaper for your desktop!

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