Last month saw indie game developer Aeon Dream Studios release the stunning "To The Edge of the Sky," an unofficial, fan-made BTS visual novel demo set in the future and starring each group member as special agents, which has been incredibly well-received by ARMYs everywhere.
Needless to say, the last few weeks have been quite big for Aeon Dream Studios - but we've managed to squeeze in a chat to the team's creative director, Ajané Celestin, their lead creative writer, Eglė Dilytė, and their lead artist, Chieu Nguyen, about their BTS game and how it all came to be.
Tell us a bit about Aeon Dream Studios, and the team!
Ajané: Hello, I’m Ajané Celestin. I have many titles, but some of them are CEO, Creative Director, Lead Writer and Editor. I lead the company and manage the projects, while also directing them in every aspect. Before all of that, I am first and foremost a writer. Aeon Dream Studios is a very small, but very ambitious truly international English visual novel game company consisting of three women at its creative core and a few contractors we regularly use for everything else.
Eglė: Hello! I’m Eglė Dilytė. Like Ajané I have quite a few titles and positions, but mainly I’m the Lead Creative Writer, Lead Scriptwriter, Assistant Production Coordinator, Social Media Coordinator and CEO’s Personal Assistant. I’m the person responsible for all the world building for everything and I work with Ajané on the plots, before she goes to expand on them.
Chieu: Hello, I’m Chieu Nguyen. I’m the Lead Artist and Art Director at Aeon Dream Studios. I’m in charge of overseeing all visual aspects of our games. My main tasks are creating character art (sprites and illustrations), user interface, background special effects, and promotion graphics. I also provide direction and ideas to our contract artists to make sure that what they’re working on is consistent with our vision.
What inspired you to make "To The Edge of the Sky"?
Ajané: Back at the start of 2016, Eglė basically pulled me into it. She had seen the lyrics of "Dope" and she came to me basically saying “Look! Look! We can relate to this!” and so I had to take a look and I really did agree. By the time "WINGS" came out, we noticed that their music was inspiring our work.
Uncannily enough, I had also had an idea pop into my mind for a promotional poster for the game demo featuring a canyon - and when the "Not Today" MV came out, we saw a very similar canyon. It’s such a small thing, but I think in my mind that was sort of a sign to go ahead and take the time to make the demo. We created the demo from start to finish in just two weeks, working with little sleep, just to make sure we could promote at the Newark, NJ and Chicago concerts. We handed out about a thousand cards of promotional art to ARMY to jump start the demo!
Eglė: BTS’ lyrics always spoke to us in one way or another. Somehow there would always be a moment in our lives that could be connected to a song of theirs. When the short concept films were being released, that really piqued our curiosity. It wasn’t anything we’ve seen musicians do before and when we started discovering more accidental parallels in our works that really got us thinking. The visual novel idea specifically actually didn’t occur to us until a friend brought it up out of nowhere when we were talking about the similarities with what we could see in their work and ours, and the possibilities of what we could do with themes like theirs and so on.
Chieu: I really enjoy BTS’ music for their relatable lyrics. They tackle many topics that are prominent among young people today, and continuously give their audience hope and encouragement through their songs. I have heard many stories about how BTS’ music has changed people’s lives for the better. Therefore, I want more people to know about them, and I thought a BTS game would help attract a wider range of audience: those who are from the visual novel community.
What has the response been so far?
Ajané: It’s been amazing, better than we could have expected. ARMY is a very large, very passionate fandom and we were quite nervous about stepping into that arena. From the response we’ve received over social media and in person it seems like ARMY is extremely interested in the idea too. We’ve had many offers for fan translations as well. When we were giving out our promotional cards before the U.S. concerts, ARMYs would occasionally scream and say that they had been wanting something like this. It was a surreal, but great experience.
Eglė: As the person who looks through social media the most, I can say that it’s been overwhelmingly positive. We weren’t really sure what to expect when we released the demo, we didn’t really think about it beyond trying to do our best and putting it out there in the world. We didn’t really dare hope for anything, I think. But the responses we got are something beyond anything we could’ve dreamed up.
Chieu: It has been very positive so far. It looks like many ARMYs are willing to help us bring the project to life, and it’s a surreal feeling to go through the hashtags and see how excited people are for our demo. I’m really glad they enjoy it, and am extremely thankful for their support.
Any future installments planned for "To The Edge of the Sky"?
Ajané: Yes. Right now we’re working on developing an Android and iOS version for part one of the demo, and ARMY all over the world have stepped up to provide fan translations. We have small teams working on the demo as we speak, to which we’re very grateful for. We have offers for fourteen languages, currently, including Korean. Beyond that, we still have part two planned, which will show more of the organization the members belong to, and the other half of the team.
Eglė: We are intent on releasing part 2 of the demo eventually. As for the full project? Well, it’s hard to say exactly. But we’re never short of ideas, so if we feel like there’s something more to add to the story later, then we will of course do it.
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