Welcome everyone to April! While it may not feel like Spring depending on your location in the world (looking at you Canada), here at the HQ we want to enjoy this little middle ground between  the Center-Of-The-Earth Heat we’ll be getting in a few months and the Frozen Tundra that was Winter. So this month, you won’t just be getting one Interview; you’ll be getting FOUR. It’ll be a mixture of familiar faces and new interests: with each story reflecting what makes the EVN Community such a creative place.

So let’s get started with an incredible talent. Returning just for NaNoRenO; Auro-Cyanide! Enjoy!

VNsNow: You’ve been on hiatus for over three months now. How have you been?
Auro: Better! The end of last year was all types of crazy with me moving plus a number of family and work issues and by the end I was very, very tired. After talking to a couple good friends I decided to step back and take a break for a while. Generally speaking I either do something or I don’t. I can take small breaks but I can’t take longer breaks without unfinished work worrying me and causing me stress and feelings of guilt. Going on official hiatus was the closest I could come with letting myself not worry about everything for a moment without actually quitting.  But overall I have been feeling a lot better and being able to settle into my own place has certainly freed me from a lot of stress.VNsNow: It was very surprising to see you and Lorelei working on a NaNoRenO project. Was this always planned or was it something you decided on recently?
Auro: We talked about it on and off through the year but only really decided to go through with it in late January. Considering the mess I’ve been in that isn’t surprising. I decided I wanted to enter Nanoreno because a) I’ve done it for the past 3 years now and it would have been a waste to break the run goddamnit and b) it was a good opportunity to get myself back on the horse and see how I felt about it. I made the offer to Lore first of course, but if she had been too busy with school work like last year (school work comes first!) I would have probably gone through with it anyway. I wasn’t really willing to let it go just yet, I had to at least try! I think we have both enjoyed the experience again after missing out on working together last year.

VNsNow: Taarradhin has a very different visual style than the majority of EVNs. You already stated there are Arabic and African influences, but can you give us more details about the decision to go with this particular style?
Auro: The visual style is really a separate thing from choosing to use more African/Middle East/South American influences in the actual concepts and story. I mean, I could have still used the same style with a number of cultures as inspiration, nothing about it particularly speaks to the theme. I choose to use the painterly style because I am a fan of it (for example Loish) and because it was a challenge. I had been feeling very restless, that nothing I was doing was good enough, thoughtful enough, innovative enough, so I was looking for a challenge in the hopes I could create something I could be proud of. Part of that was because I had lost sight of my goals, but a part of it is genuinely from wanting to push myself more. I am very happy and proud of the work I have done for Taarradhin. I think I have improved. But in the end it’s still sprites on backgrounds in a standard format with a standard GUI. I wonder if I can do more than that? This feeling I have might mean I’m ready to grow and I need to continue to challenge myself.

As for the African/Middle East/South American theme, there is nothing about the story that says it could have only been set in this particular setting since it’s fantasy, but really why not? I want to see more variation in visual novels in setting and characters (especially more diverse representation) so as they say, you must be the change! It also ties into my restlessness too I guess. I have a real aversion to doing anything I’ve done before, so I wanted to do something in a different setting. Looking at different cultures and people and places is definitely a good thing and I feel like this is something I want to see more of in my work. I used to default terribly with my art (and still do on occasions). My characters were generic white, from generic somewhere. That wasn’t what I wanted. So now I tend to go ‘this character will have this skin tone or gender or disability or personality’ almost at random because you don’t need a reason for those things. They exist in the world and can very easily be a valid part of your story if you give yourself a moment to think about it. Don’t let your brain get stuck in a rut when it comes to that type of thing. Your story will be better off for it and so will you as a creator.

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VNsNow: Before you went on hiatus, you were working on several projects; including Break Chance Memento (which I am NOT a fanboy of…I’m not!) and a space drama called Athena. Where do those projects stand right now?
Auro: As I mentioned, Nanoreno has been my testing ground to find out how I was feeling about the whole visual novel thing. Honestly visual novels are a loooooot of work and it can take a lot of will power to get through the hard work bits after all the fun of conception and long before the freedom of the game release. There are some days I feel like joining the jaded old person dev group where we can collectively go ‘I hate everything’. I’m still trying to figure out how I feel, but right now… I’m feeling pretty good about it. I’m starting to be reminded of what I loved so much about it in the first place. So I’m pretty optimistic about the future of those projects. At this rate they can never be my best work, just look at the quality of the art from the past, but they are good projects that deserve to be finished, one way or another. Plus, I’m living by myself now, I need something productive to fill in the time.VNsNow: Reflecting back on the projects you’ve done so far, is there any one of them that sticks out as a moment when you realized how much you’ve progressed as an artist?
Auro: I think whenever you look back at your work you get a small shock about the improvement. It’s something to feel proud of. I feel each project I’ve taken on has been a step forward for me. It tends to be most obvious when you directly compare something, like when I’m redoing old BCM CGs. But I think the project that sticks out the most at the moment is actually Taarradhin because it’s the only one where I have genuinely surprised myself. I walked into it not even sure if I could do the style I was going to attempt to do. The sprites, the backgrounds and especially the CGs have come out far better and faster then I expected to the point I’m actually a bit mystified. I’m going to relish the feeling since I usually have the opposite problem and struggle with things I felt sure I could do.

VNsNow: Do you have any particular goals you still want to reach as an artist?
Auro: Originally I answered this question in a different way, but since then I feel like I’ve actually figured out a couple things on reflection. I think recently I’ve let my goals be clouded by other people’s opinions and I forgot what it was I was doing and why I was doing it. I of course want to continue to develop as an artist in the wide range of subjects it covers. I want to get better at anatomy, colour, backgrounds, expressions, composition. That comes with the field. I also want to get better at creating art that speaks better with the medium and the mechanics. But most of all I want to do what I find fun, what I love, and have confidence in it. Sometimes the voices that say your work is bad or boring can get to you, so I need to get past that. Life is too short to try and please people who don’t like what you do.

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VNsNow: Do you have any advice for the artists out there looking to create their own visual novel?
Auro: Just do it. Really, that’s it. There will no doubt be a whole heap you will have to learn and things you want to improve on , but you aren’t going to get there any faster by not just doing things. My first pieces for visual novels weren’t great. JP here can testify for that as he publicly ridiculed them on this very review site. And you know what, that’s okay. Because that was the best I could do at that point in time, it said nothing of my potential. I kept drawing and studying and I got better. It takes time and work but it will happen as long as you stick to it. Give yourself a chance to learn. Nanoreno is a great time to dive in, especially if you want to test the waters or try working with a team.The other piece of advice I can give is to try immersing yourself in the dev community. Watch what other artists do and how they do it. Talk to them, exchange information. There is a lot you can pick up that is specific to visual novels. Also it’s great having a support base of people who know exactly what you are going through that you can go to for opinions or just to vent.

VNsNow: Thanks Auro! Good luck to you!
Auro: Thank you for the interview, it was fun 🙂 Good luck to you as well!

Stay up to date on Auro’s adventures here!

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Founder of VNs Now.com. Long-Time Reader, Amateur Writer and Chef and Gundam Enthusiast. Opinions are Steve's, Facts are Mine. 'Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.' -Samuel Beckett