Re:Legend checks every box for a certain kind of gamer: It’s got monster raising, farming, crafting, and fishing. It smashed through a bevy of goals on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter, pulling in $630,700 in Singapore dollars (that’s $463,967.25 U.S.). The original goal? $70,000. The enthusiasm was more than enough to eclipse the platform goals: It’s coming to PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and the Xbox One.
Not a bad start for Magnus Games, a two-person studio in Malaysia.
A few weeks ago, I dialed up Magnus cofounder Dong Chee Gan — “DC” as many know him — and chatted about Re:Legend. In addition to running the studio, DC works on storyboards, environment backgrounds, and game design for Re:Legend. We dove into what inspired this enticing mix of Monster Rancher and Digimon, Stardew Valley and Rune Factory, and, well, anything that ever had a fishing minigame.
Here is an edited transcript of our interview.
GamesBeat: Why are you making Re:Legend?
Dong Chee “DC” Gan: We’re gamers since we were young. We have a lot of ideas, and we’ve tried to make those fit in the game. We do everything, from sketches to storyline, everything. We don’t really rest. If we’re having dinner, if we’re in the shower, we’ll run out and say, “Hey, I had this idea. I think we can implement this.” We’ll start writing it down.
GamesBeat: How big is your team?
Gan: We started as the two of us. Now we have six, and we’re still expanding. We hope to get more people because we really don’t want to underdeliver on the game and the promises we have for our audience.
GamesBeat: One of my favorite old games is called Mail Order Monsters….
Gan: Yeah, the dinosaurs?
GamesBeat: You take giant monsters and buy items for them and fight them in an arena. And I never played Pokémon. I played Monster Rancher instead.
Gan: Yeah, Monster Rancher is one of the big inspirations for us.
GamesBeat: I know that games like Rune Factory and Digimon also play a role here. Did you play Stardew Valley?
Gan: Stardew Valley wasn’t as much of an influence. We played Harvest Moon a lot, Rune Factory, Monster Rancher, stuff like that. Those were the main inspirations.
GamesBeat: How long have you been working on Re:Legend?
Gan: We started two years ago. We faced some financial issues because our investors have their own problems, and they backed out. We were left helpless. We had a lot of problems. People were asking us what we should do next. My brother and I had to stand up and tell the team that we would find a way to solve these problems.
After a few months of dilemma, we decided to start a new company together with the same team and the same idea we have in mind, Magnus Games. We started developing the game from scratch. We changed the whole direction of the art starting last year.
GamesBeat: One of the little monsters is called Magnus. Is there a connection there since the company is named Magnus, and your brother’s named Magnus?
Gan: Magnus is a Latin word that means “strong, great.” We were thinking that naming the monsters as something that’s good and strong and can help you along your journey. That’s why we picked the name. We googled a lot and looked at a lot of different names and how they came up with them — Pokémon from Pocket Monsters, Digimon from Digital Monsters. We did a lot of brainstorming, and we were thinking, “OK, the company is called Magnus Games, so we’ll just call it Magnus.”
GamesBeat: You have investors, and you have your Kickstarter backers? Did you go to Kickstarter to gauge interest and see if people would want to buy a game like this?
Gan: We do need the funding because before this, we used to have investors, but they pulled out due to their own financial issues. We didn’t want to give up on the project, so we continued, and that’s why we turned to Kickstarter. We finished our Square Enix Collective campaign in April. We’d gone too far to stop, so we wanted to continue the project, and we thought that Kickstarter would be a good place to get funding and build an audience that’s interested and get back some confidence for the team. The world is waiting, so we won’t give up. We’ll believe in what we’re doing and keep going.
Magnus spokesperson: Did we tell you about the Square Enix Collective campaign?
GamesBeat: No, what was that?
Spokesperson: That was the first step in engaging reception and interest. It did so well there that it was an early sign of interest in the game.
Gan: We were trying to get some proof of concept earlier on. We were showcasing it on the Square Enix — it’s an indie platform for indie companies. We tried it out there and got a really good response. We got 99 percent upvotes. Basically, we broke every record for the history of Square Enix Collective. So we knew we had to make the game. We’d gone too far to back out and stop development.
GamesBeat: Are you looking for more funding after this, as your Kickstarter money seems like only so much for a game of this scope?
Gan: Because we’re from Malaysia — there are different exchange rates and different wages for different countries. It might be all right. But we’re still open to working with different publishers. We’ve been approached by some publishers, but we’re still negotiating and talking about some of the deals they’re offering with the team.
GamesBeat: When Re:Legend launches, will it be on Steam first or another platform?
Gan: We’ll start on Steam, but luckily enough, we just hit our stretch goal for Nintendo Switch, and we have a few thousand left for PS4. We’ll start on Steam and continue to porting it over to Switch. If we hit the stretch goal for other platforms, we’re definitely porting it to other consoles as well.
GamesBeat: Considering how hard it is to get found on Steam, I’ve noticed that some indies are going to Switch first and then to Steam. The Switch has a smaller player base, but it’s much easier to find things.
Gan: Yeah, we did think about that, but our team is not so much in the business. We’re not looking for money. We’re looking to complete the game first on PC. It’ll be easier for us to port it to consoles later. We just want to finish the game and share what we’ve played in our younger days. The quality of the game is what we want to produce. That’s our main point.
Spokesperson: It’ll depend on future publisher deals and whatnot, too. It’s worth saying that they’ve gotten tremendous support from the Switch community. A bunch of Nintendo fan sites have been all over this.
GamesBeat: How important is fishing to this game? I see fishing stuff all over the place.
Gan: Fishing is really, really important because in fishing, you’re not only fishing, but you have to put them in your own fish farm. They’re different sizes, and you need them to travel around. It’s an island, so to travel to some other places, some mysterious places, you need to breed and cultivate your own fish that are large enough — L size or XL size — so that you can ride them and off you go to explore the ocean, places like other islands. That’s very important to the game.
GamesBeat: Why did you decide fishing would be about both catching and raising fish?
Gan: We love simulation games from when we were young. We were thinking, everyone’s doing fishing. Harvest Moon had a fish farm, but you’d just get a fish and dump it in your well. I can’t remember which title it was, but it was definitely one of the Harvest Moons. You’d breed the fish in your well, but you couldn’t see them. There were just more fish. We wanted to take that to another level, where you could catch fish and breed different sizes and cultivate them. Maybe you could find a mystery egg that would hatch into a Magnus underwater.
Spokesperson: It helps bridge into a bunch of features because it’s also a game where you can go out and explore a lot. Having this fish-raising mechanic allows you to use those fish and explore the islands. I’ve been describing this game as a sort of all-encompassing simulation RPG because it does so much, but I think it’s really fitting that raising these fish then allows you to engage in so many more features. There’s a screenshot I love where the character is surfing on the manta ray.