TGON Interviews: Z from Serenity Forge

 

Serenity Forge is a video game developer based in Boulder, Colorado specializing in PC and console games. The company has two games coming out in 2019 in addition to the multiple games that the company has already released. The King’s Bird is their most recent game and is currently available on PS4, Xbox One, Siwtch and PC. Their founder and CEO, Zhenghua Yang (Z), was kind enough to sit down and talk with us.

TGON: Tell us about Serenity Forge.

Z: Serenity Forge is a small team of 13 developers out of Boulder, where we strive to make games that are meaningful and value-driven.

TGON: Why start Serenity Forge?

Z: When I was 18 I was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder that required me to have extensive hospital stays. When I was hospitalized, the only thing that I was really able to do was play League of Legends, and through there I was connected with a lot of supportive people. Games like this were not made to help me the way they did, so I thought that there need to be more games meant to support and inspire people.

TGON: Why base the company in Boulder?

Z: Initially, Boulder was a convenience since I went to CU Boulder and started with my college friends. Eventually there was a point where we considered moving to San Francisco because that’s where all the large companies were, but ultimately decided to stay in Colorado to create an impact in the local communities and stay somewhere familiar.

TGON: When making games, do you want to create a variety of genres, or stick with something you are familiar with?

Z: We like to do a variety of genres, but the more successful games stick to something that everyone is familiar with. Over the years we change our formulas and genres to make something fresh, but we want to stick with narrative driven games.

TGON: Do you want to make games that are basic in story and with simple controls for beginners to introduce themselves to your company or detailed plots and complex controls for the gamer to really immerse themselves in your games?

Z: I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. What we do is we develop the controls first and create the world around it, or vice versa so that the two can play off of each other and create a unique experience where one matches the other. In The King’s Bird we developed the controls first based off of games like Super Meat Boy. Then we developed the narrative we wanted to tell so that they could blend together.

TGON: When working with developers, do you have ideas and tell them what to do, or do you collaborate and work together?

Z: We absolutely collaborate on ideas as they come from all over the place. I do a lot of the developing and audio myself, but everything we do is a collaborative effort, especially since we are a small studio.

TGON: Where do you get your art styles and inspirations from?

Z: We want to make styles and visuals that are timeless and can evoke the same emotions a hundred years from now as they would today. We want to stray away from games that are going to look dated in a few years. Emotional engagement is our number one priority, and the art should engage the player in some form.

TGON: Do you have an in-house musician or do you hire independent artists?

Z: Initially we had an in-house musician who was also a lead developer, but as we grew we shifted to using independent, local artists. We have one guy who has done 4 of our games so far.

Find Serenity Forge on their website or on twitter, where they are very active.

Z and Serenity Forge will be appearing at Denver Pop Culture Con 2019, which is made possible by Pop Culture Classroom. Pop Culture Classroom is an education initiative that aims to inspire a love of learning through pop culture and entertainment like films, television, games, comics, and more. Pop Culture Classroom inspires a love of learning, increases literacy, celebrates diversity and builds community through the tools of popular culture and the power of self-expression.

 

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