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Tom Gunn April 18th, 2024

Spotlight on Silkroad Studios

Get the lowdown on this indie studio and their upcoming game Yokai Tales: Fox

  The header image used for this article was provided by Silk Road Studios. View here

Great to meet you. Please tell us a bit about yourself and your journey up to now

Hi! My name is Mia and I am one of the co-founders at Silkroad Studios, a game development studio based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Together with my other two co-founders Stella and Maximos, we founded the company back in 2021. We are currently developing our first title, Yokai Tales: Fox (working title used to be Project Foxtale).

What led you to set up Silk Road Studios?

After finishing our Masters degrees in Game Design and Development, we wanted to start something on our own and use our newfound time and dedication to develop a game we would genuinely be passionate about. Maximos has been ideating on the concept for the game ever since his Bachelor in Greece, so the idea for it has been in existence for quite some time. I still remember our first discussions back in 2019, planning and thinking of how we can each contribute to start making this idea into a perfect game we’d all love to play.

Your website says you’re a ‘systems first studio’ what does this mean to you?

A focus on systems-driven development and design has been at the forefront of our work philosophy. First of all, we are creating a game in which we want the players to sense true immersion and feel as though their actions matter and shape the gameplay experience. To be able to design such an experience, various gameplay systems have to be set in place and communicate with each other.
Second of all, when it comes to our own workflow, we want to ensure that we are as agile as possible as a small team. Therefore, developing systems and tools internally ensures that we can meet any deadlines and deliver high quality results in good time.

What would you say is Silk Road Studios’ USP?

I’d say our USP as a studio is our agility as a team and the systems-driven approach I’ve just touched upon. That together with the versatility of specialised experts we have in-house from each field of game development (be it programming, design, 3D, concept art, animations, sound or tech art), combines into a powerhouse team that can carry out all kinds of projects.

Project Foxtale looks exciting - what more can you tell us about it?

Yokai Tales: Fox is an 3rd Person ARPG, set alongside the fantasy version of the Silk Road. You play as Lionna, the last Kitsune alive, and your goal is to save other Yokai (spirits/gods from Japanese folklore) from humans that have been capturing and killing them to harvest power for their technology. Besides saving them from captivity, you are also tasked to build a safe haven for them - in return they will help you by teaching you magic, crafting you new weapons and revealing to you the secrets of the world.

You seem to have a very distinctive art style - how would you describe it and how has it been developed?

Stylized art style has been one of the most recognizable things about Yokai Tales: Fox. We draw a lot of inspiration from the artistic direction of Studio Ghibli and general anime style. Our secret sauce comes from using a unique blend of PBR, cel-shading and unlit handpainted shaders to bring out the best Ghibli-anime style.
Our style has been developed as a part of our goal to develop a new type of interesting anime games and thankfully it has all been possible due to the great collaboration between our artists who are truly some of the most talented individuals we have had the privilege to work with.

How have you used the CG Hero platform so far?

We found CGHero when we were looking for artists to collaborate with on a project-basis. Before that I have been reaching out to people on Artstation, which required a lot of work in just scouting and writing dozens of emails, hoping people would follow up. That’s why with the discovery of CGHero platform, we saw an opportunity to cut down on the time spent for scouting.

What is it about the platform that you like?

The concept of it was very appealing - every part of the process in handling a freelancing gig is covered with CGHero - from recruiting and onboarding, handling files, following up on milestones and guaranteeing a safe and reliable transfer of the freelancer fee. To be honest, I wish we found CGHero earlier in our development journey because it would have made a lot of things easier, so I’d recommend it to any gamedev studio looking for talent, especially newer studios and indies.

Have you also looked at picking up projects posted by other studios on the platform?

Because of the great experience of using the platform for finding talent, we wanted to try using it also for our own company as an outsourcing opportunity. We have had experience outsourcing before, so we wanted to see how the platform could help us find new gigs. Sam from CGHero helped us set our profile up and now we can happily say that our company is officially one of the Heroes. We offer all sorts of services, from concept art to 3D, programming and design, animation and audio - to put it simply, we cover the whole development pipeline.

With the changes the gaming industry has been going through over the past 12 months do you see this, at least from a creative point of view, as an opportunity to work on a wider variety of projects?

The current changes in the games industry have had a great effect on indies, so as an indie ourselves, we started seeing and experiencing that more and more studios are going via the outsourcing route to stay afloat and mitigate any financial risks. For us it has also proven itself to be a great strategy for gaining more experience, since we worked with bigger companies and learned how to communicate and deliver a product that satisfies client expectations. As scary as it may sound to newer companies to outsource their talent, we can confidently say it is a good way to navigate these times, and with CGHero all the daunting tasks that come with finding a project have been made so much friendlier and simpler.

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