Rayark Games is at the forefront of creating a whole new universe. The universe is one that is not only being created for gamers, but all who enjoy the art of good storytelling, fine art and are willing to expand their minds venturing into what could be. One way to describe Rayark Games is a Taiwanese company that is a multimedia juggernaut.
I have been closely watching the rise of Rayark Games since they released Cytus and Deemo. Even then I was, as many of you were too, impressed by the art, story and production quality of those games. DroidGamers is extremely pleased to have the opportunity to go behind the curtain and interview Rayark Games, so that we can help you see a little bit of the magic that is taking place. Earlier this year, Rayark Games released the much-lauded game Implosion: Never Lose Hope. Recently they announced they would be making a movie based on the Implosion story entitled: Implosion: ZERO_DAY. They have launched a KickStarter Campaign and it has just over a month left to go to reach the $400,000 goal. They passed 35% after the first week. Let’s hope it goes all the way, because what we have seen thus far is simply amazing.
We had a chance to interview Rayark about the movie, the game and all that is on the horizon. Trust me… we are not ready for the brilliance that is coming forth, but we can’t wait to see more.
Jaymes Carter: I believe gamers in general have been very impressed with the games that Rayark has created. Can you give us a brief introduction to Rayark? How did you get started and where are you located globally?
Rayark Games: It’s probably not your run-of-the-mill story, but Rayark’s Genesis has a lot to do with our CEO and his decision to start a new life after battling with stomach cancer. As you might know, the odds of survival are very low for that particular affliction, but it didn’t stop Ming Yang Yu from saying “The hell with it; let’s start a game company”. Rayark was born out of a fight, and we took that will into the gaming industry, where we started as an unknown team in a hugely competitive world. We fought hard to be where we are today, and we are proud of our entire team who have stayed with us these four years.
JC: First, let me say congratulations to Mr. Yu on his triumph. I am sure that is encouraging to hear for many people that have battled and/or continue to fight against that disease. Four years? It is hard to believe that Rayark has only been around for four years. That is quite impressive. You have done quite a lot of work in four years. Is there a significance to the name Rayark? What does it mean?
Rayark: We get asked that a lot; The Ark of Ray, all Rayarkers are on the same boat.
JC: Okay… Today we are talking primarily about Implosion in this first of our two part interview. Where did the genesis of Implosion come from? It seems very different than say Cytus or Deemo. One thing that is consistent… amazing game play and visually stunning artwork.
Rayark: So, Implosion was the first title we ever started working on, but it ended up taking the longest due to a few setbacks. Before the titles you mentioned, we began work on an XBOX console game, which would become the Implosion you know today. Halfway through production, we switched to mobile and decided to make something that would stand out on that platform. We felt the console market was crowded with AAA titles. There was a space that we could fill in the mobile platform, and so Implosion changed course. The original concept for Implosion was by our CEO, Ming Yang Yu. He came up with character names, the races in the game, a basic outline of the technology and the timeline of when things were going to happen. After that, we contacted a writer to take the five-page English document and flesh it out into a coherent universe.
JC: What is the basic narrative for Implosion: Never Lose Hope? We know the game has been a huge hit on Android and iOS?
Rayark: We happily received the iOS Game of the Year award in Asia this week, as well as runner-up in the USA for iPad; it does make all of this hard work feel validated. Under the hood, Implosion is about a young man trying to connect with his only living relative. It’s about people returning to times and places in their lives that didn’t make sense the first time round, and then is wrapped up in a Mecha vs Alien motif.
The first layer tells us that humanity as a whole was treating the planet very badly and began research in star-travel to find a new home. This new technology brought an enemy to earth that the characters have never seen before, and after a valiant fight, Earth falls and the survivors manage to flee. The game begins twenty years after the evacuation, when two pilots, armed with the most deadly weapons ever created “The Warmech series III battle suit” launch a mission to intercept the invaders, as they have found our new home. One of the pilots has a strong connection to Earth, which unfolds in the story; but we wouldn’t want to spoil it for you.
JC: Yes, definitely don’t spoil it for us, because we know there is so much more to come. Recently we have learned that you are expanding the Implosion universe. There are a lot of great things on the horizon. We will go over them one by one. Can we start with the next major project: Implosion: ZERO_DAY the movie. What is it about, and how does it tie into the Implosion saga that has been set up with the game?
Rayark: Sure, so let’s talk about “blanks”. In a mobile game like ours, where we pushed the dial of graphics and recorded voice acting, the capacity to tell a story reaches a limit where the game is going to be simply too big to install nicely onto a phone. Encumbered by the limits of the hardware, we are left with blanks in the story, and our movie is going to set it all straight. What are the XADA? Why did they attack Earth? How did they get here? Why is Jonathan Carloway so revered among Humans? All of these questions are answered in the film, and the result is a bit of a “meditation” on existence, balance, social prejudice, and many other real-world issues we face today. As our writer/director put it, “It’s aiming to bend temporal boundaries and analyse how we interact as a species, with each other, with our home and with our own thoughts. I would love every member of the audience to go on a journey of self-reflection, just like the characters. The audience, after all, is a character in our story.”
JC: Okay, I think my brain just started buffering there. I think that is what I really appreciate with the medium of video games. When it is done correctly, you are able to wrap so much into a small package, story, game play, art, social impact and so on. Thie fact that you mention how humans have treated earth is an ever-present and critical topic. I was a bit confused by the concept of “blanks” when you first mentioned it. It makes much more sense now. Thank you for expanding on that. Now, I see why the movie tie-in is important.
When I first saw the trailer for the upcoming movie I was blown away. My first thought was that everything Rayark does is brilliant. The anime type art seemed perfect. Can you tell us more about the style of art in the movie and why it was chosen?
Rayark: Sure, the art is something we love ourselves very much, and we have a hugely talented team. The film is a high fantasy and science fiction epic; a fusion of several sub-genres. There is going to be a stark contrast between the environments and set-pieces in the film — from cloaked underground security facilities to living and breathing alien rainforests. Imagine a Miyazaki film collided with Blade Runner.
JC: You had me at Blade Runner, but Miyazaki too! The first images reminded me a bit of Robotech: The Macross Saga. Did any of the imagery of that series set a precedent for what you wanted to do? What are some of the influences that drive the Implosion Universe? Are there any particulars stories or artists that you are fond of?
Rayark: Our writer/director has a love of art in all of its forms, and this sense of colour and composition is what enables him to ask for alterations and choose from the wide variety of concept art that is created by the art team. Likewise, our amazing animation director is a painter, among other things, and so when they combine their senses, the finished products are fantastic. The art team themselves have been watching comments trickle in about certain anime they have never seen, in which people are asking if they were references. For robotic technology, I think there is so much out there since transformers, that everything looks a bit like everything. For Zero_Day, we have some very original surprises; we have mechanical designs that have never been seen on the big screen before. Stay tuned.
JC: I would imagine that creating a story for a game and creating a screenplay for a movie are a bit different? Are they, and if so, how do you balance the two?
Rayark: For the game, our writer created a screenplay for all of the cutscenes followed by in-game dialogue. He wrote about 50,000 words all up, including settings. For the film, he gave us a 101-minute screenplay that could be boiled down to a 90-minute feature. Writing a screenplay for film involves a tricky set of considerations. If you write the “greatest film ever”, with deep characters and complex twisting situations, the target audience may be lost, and the commercial value diminishes. It’s an unfortunate reality that commercial value dictates what you have to write.
The way to succeed, however, is to balance the two and not make it overly complicated at the expense of having it appeal to a wider audience. Our writer described the difference between the game and the film as follows, “The game characters had a cheesy comradery about them, partly because holographic tech raised them. They don’t take anything seriously, and they live in a painless bubble on board their floating habitat. The film characters feel everything. Everything is visceral, and their world is on fire; they leap from ash pile to ash patch. Any cheesiness has exited stage left.”
JC: Who are the main drivers of the content for Implosion the game and the movie? Are they one in the same?
Rayark: If you mean the teams involved – they are more or less the same. Just one person created the brilliant CG intro we have for the Implosion game, Yin Zhen Chu, and he has joined the movie team to create the amazing character and mechanical concepts you see. The writer and voice director of the Implosion game returns to the field as well. Our CEO and Exec VP are commanding the troops as Producers, and the Hong Kong Animation Studio Paperbox Creations has come onboard to deliver the teaser, led by multi-award winning Animation Director Tommy Ng.
JC: How many staff members are working on Implosion the Game versus Implosion the movie? Will everything be done in house here at Rayark? How does Mentat Studios tie into the movie? What part do they play? I noticed their name on the KickStarter Campaign.
Rayark: We have our game team continuously working on providing free DLC and game expansions, as well as the Implosion sequel team and then we have Paperbox creations who flew in to help us create the teaser with our director. Of the 100-strong team at Rayark, we have about 1/5 currently working on the game and movie. Mentat Studios have helped us through every step of the Kickstarter.They support artists in financing, producing and distributing their creative works globally. In the case of a previous Kickstarter hit UTD, they supported Kinema Citrus and the other creators in managing the finances and contracts of the film production. They do it all in the true spirit of independent collaboration.
JC: 100+ Team. That is quite a bit to manage. The more intriguing thing is that you said 1/5th working on the game and the movie. So, it sounds like you have a lot going on. And, yes, I did hear you say Implosion sequel. I will hold my excitement about that right now, and move on to the next question. Who is the lead scriptwriter for the movie and what is his/her background?
Rayark: There is only the one writer for the game and film, who doubles as voice director, sound designer, and for the animatics he also composes music. His name is Anton, and he is our Aussie “jack of all trades”. Thankfully, he has a keen eye, and he gets into everything. We scouted him while he was working in a team with gaming gurus such as Nobuo Uematsu and other creators from the Final Fantasy, Diablo and Halo franchises. His background extends from Medical Science and Clinical Physiology to acting, music, art design and writing. We pulled him on board the Rayark while he was living in Tokyo, as Implosion was hitting the final stages. When we asked him what brought him to Japan originally, he said, “I had to play a few tours of Rugby Union here”. So yeah, like we said, he gets into everything.
JC: You just mentioned some of the most popular game franchises ever created. How long of a film will Implosion: Zero_Day be? Will it be available digitally via Google Play, Amazon and iTunes?
Rayark: The film will be a 90-minute feature, and the delivery methods are still being discussed.
JC: Music is an integral part of all of your games. Especially with titles like Cytus and Deemo. How will music impact the movie? Are some of the same people that created the music for Cytus and Deemo also working on the soundtrack for Zero_ Day?
Rayark: Music is very important to us, and the director is steering the moods of Zero_Day. Being a musician himself, we placed him in charge of the sound and music for the Film. Cytus and Deemo exist in a different setting to Implosion, and so Kevin Penkin has thankfully taken the reigns again and was our composer for the teaser music.
JC: Now that we are learning more about the fully-realized universe that Implosion is set in, Rayark has already teased us with a short story in a comic book format. Can you tell us more about Implosion: Obelisk and how it ties into the settings and time period of the movie or game?
Rayark: The comic is telling you what happens when you look left, and the movie is what happens when you look right. The comic flashes to different places in time and sets up the story, showing you how some of the main characters met in the first place. We have a lot of surprises in store.
JC: I can never say enough about the amazing artwork that Rayark produces. Can you tell us more about how the art is created? How many people are part of the art studio? Is everything drawn digitally or are some things still drawn the old-fashioned way… by hand?
Rayark: It’s a mix and match regarding creation. Each artist has their own preference, but all of them are versed in traditional and digital mediums. Whatever the situation calls for is what they do. We have six artists working on the movie at this moment.
JC: Can we expect the comic to be coming out at the same time as the movie? Will we be able to buy it directly from Rayark, or will it be picked up by a common distributor like Image Comics or Dark Horse Comics?
Rayark: We haven’t ruled out going through a distribution channel. As it stands right now, the comic is available as a reward on our kickstarter, and we will sell the physical comic in complete form from our Rayark Concept stores, which are currently being built. We may also sell online from our website etc. The comic is going to be released, issue by issue, until the film hits the screen.
JC: How far do you want to get into anime as it relates to comics?
Rayark: We are in this for the journey and we will go as deep as the rabbit hole goes.
JC: What would you say the studio’s top three favorite anime comics are?
Rayark: We have one hundred staff here, and so the studio is such a multitude of tastes and opinions, that we couldn’t pick just three. We can take a pole for you another time.
JC: Fair enough. Going back to the movie. What would you say the top three anime movies are? Who would you consider your inspiration, or what quality film would you liken the Zero_Day movie to?
Rayark: We will hand this over to the director – (Anton Mark-Hitchman): G’day, ok, for myself… favourite three, if I had a gun to my head, would be Akira, Ghost in the Shell and Miyazaki as a whole (yes, I’m cheating). Luc Besson, Quentin Tarantino, Guy Ritchie and Edgar Wright are my four “well known” live-action inspirations, among a sea of others. Zero_Day is Blade Runner wrapped up in Labyrinth, and then mashed into the Fifth Element while the Animatrix and Pulp Fiction play in the background.
JC: Seriously… my brain is buffering again on that. It makes me want to pull out my collection of movies and binge on some of the ones you just mentioned. Based on some information you made available to me, I was surprised to find out about the great depth of talent of animators in Taiwan. It is not something that I think most people know about. Can you tell us a bit more? It is obvious in the work you produce that your studio is just as amazing as a Pixar, when it comes to animation.
Rayark: So Taiwan used to be a bit of a workhorse for Disney, until it became cheaper to send the work elsewhere. This meant the home-grown talent had to relocate or find completely different jobs. We know how talented the Taiwanese animators are, and for this reason we have decided to begin a rebirth of the industry here, beginning with Zero_Day. All we need is the public support on Kickstarter.
JC: Cytus was my first intro into Rayark. Implosion really just stunned me when I saw the first trailer. I was holding my breath hoping it would come to Android. Thank you for being committed to Android and iOS. Congratulations also for being chosen by Apple as being the 2015 Game of the Year. What happens next in the Implosion Universe? I am happy to see the release of Implosion Version 1.2 coming out in January 2016. Can you tell more about that? How is it different and even better? Will it be a paid download or free for those that have already purchased the game? I know, I have a lot of questions, right?
Rayark: Thank you, we love hearing that. Implosion 1.2 is free for all who own the game, and we will continue delivering free content to our fans who pay the “once only” fare for our game. This 1.2 expansion is the parallel story of Jake’s uncle, the revered Jonathan Carloway, whom we see leaving a message at the beginning of the opening cutscene. We have all-new mechanics, a suit built by him and his sidekick “K-10 AI” and new XADA to square-off with.
JC: What else does Rayark have up its sleeve? Are there more Implosion games coming?
Rayark: Yes, there is an Implosion Trilogy and a BIG DEAL surprise in the works, but that’s all we can say right now.
JC: This information is almost too much to handle. I have to upgrade my brain to a solid-state hard drive to take it all in. Rayark is also releasing Voez, Soul of Eden (WHICH LOOKS FANTASTIC!!!!), and Sdorica which shows off the brilliance of Rayark’s animating talent. Is there more Implosion coming next year, or will the primary focus be on the movie and the current game?
Rayark: We made Six huge announcements at our annual RayCon event in Taipei, and next year we will have more. Our teams are split up in such a way that we can focus on multiple goals without losing acuity.
JC: Why did you choose to do a KickStarter campaign for the movie?
Rayark: Crowdfunding is a revolution. Who would have thought this was possible? We live in an age where an idea can be fully realized without being diluted by greedy corporate agendas or otherwise. We chose Kickstarter to try and gain support from the people, deliver physical rewards to our fans and get a head start in the extremely hefty cost of making a quality movie. The most important part of our decision to go with Kickstarter is that we want to make this with the community. We want feedback, and we want to create this in partnership with the audience.
JC: Can you tease us with what we may expect in our next interview together? If I say a word, can you give us more information, or as much as you want to share?
JC: Implosion = First Person Shooter?
Rayark: More of a First Person Slasher! – with shooting.
JC: WHAT? (buffering….) Okay. Implosion = MMO?
Rayark: No comment… Wink. (who told you?)
JC: Implosion = VR?
Rayark: Exciting time for games. We have the hardware on our floor right now.
JC: Implosion = Figurines?
Rayarak: Yes, we have a two-metre tall Avalon Warmech guarding our head office. The smaller versions on Kickstarter are designed from the same base models. All under wraps at the moment.
JC: Implosion = Console game possibly? We have had this intent from the very beginning. We will come back to it when the time is right.
I want to thank Rayark Games for taking the time to speak with us. As you can see, they have a lot going on, and manage it all quite well. I also want to thank Ms. Susan Liu of Rayark Games, who has been excellent and kind, while working with us on this interview and connecting us with the various team members of Rayark.
The campaign for Implosion: Zero_Day is live right now. Head on over to KickStarter to support this really amazing team and project. Implosion 1.2 is just around the corner. We will have more on that soon, and all things Rayark Games, in our part two of this interview early next year. Rayark Games is definitely one to keep your eyes on.
PS: The first video below is the teaser trailer for the upcoming v1.2 update for Implosion. The second is the Zero Day movie trailer.
KickStarter: Implosion: Zero Day
Rayark YouTube: The Team Behind Implosion: Zero_Day