A 3D side scroller set in a futuristic Tokyo-style Detroit. The storyline consists of the main character, Wally uncovering some sinister evidence that might change his life, where he has to run to survive.
Who is Aerial_Knight?
Made solo by Aerial_Knight, better known as Neil Jones, a multi-skilled individual based in Detroit, Michigan. His main skills involve being a 3D artist and game developer who specialises using the popular game engine, Unity. A passion he first started developing around 6-7 years ago, which also helped, as he is also an avid gamer.
When watching the trailer above, did you enjoy the soundtrack accompanying it? Inspired mainly by the combo of hip hop and jazz from the anime, Cowboy Bebop. Neil alongside his Detroit friend, Dan ‘Danime-Sama’ worked on it back and forth for around 3 months to get the right musical harmony.
Prior to Never Yield, Neil’s previous indie work includes credits to his other solo stuff, Murder The Reaper. Meanwhile he’s also collaborated on the games JETT, Bloom and Clique. Check those out if you haven’t.
Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield is published by German independent publisher/developer Headup Games, who reached out first after seeing an early trailer for the demo. What set them apart, however from the rest of the publishers who were keen to grab Neil’s talents was their amazing email that really understood what he was going for.
Influences and inspirations
Neil states his inspirations and influences (apart from video games), being film, anime and audiobooks. As a result of a love for Japanese culture and history, this also links to his favourite games- Persona 5, No More Heroes and Lollipop Chainsaw. Games that are noted for their heavy and wacky Japanese style and gameplay, created by the video game designer/director Suda 51. While AA, cult titles like WET complete the mix.
The art style and visuals of Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield are heavily drawn from anime, while again taking elements from No More Heroes and secondly, Sonic The Hedgehog.
Furthermore, Neil looks up to Suda 51’s gaming studio, Grasshopper Manufacture, while stating Playdead from Denmark, famous for Limbo as a ‘really amazing studio’. While also heaping praise on the American video game producer/designer Robin Hunicke, and lastly, everyone who worked on Persona 5. 😛
Primarily a console gamer, Neil is naturally looking forward to the next generation of gaming with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. As a one man developer/team on Never Yield he is constantly learning and experiencing many challenges along the way.
From originally working with friends on the Kickstarter for Clique he learnt how to market and reach out to people as well as time management. Every month he sets out a Google calendar schedule with what he states as ‘crazy tasks’, in which he challenges himself and gets them done within the short time-frame.
A typical day deals with him waking up early at 5am (with a workout, if he feels like it or watches something for an hour). Then art for the game from 6am – 8am, showers and eats something within an hour, with general work on the game taking place from 9am -11am. Meetings and calls are between 11am – 1pm, while the majority of the afternoons activities involve contract work/side-jobs from 1pm – 5pm. To save his sanity, an hour nap occurs at 5pm, with dinner/TV from 6pm -7:30pm taking him into the evening. To conclude the day he finishes up anything not wrapped up until midnight. A busy day indeed.
This occurs everyday other then Fridays, when he visits his grandmother to help with whatever she needs to do that week. Always remember to make time for your family. 🙂
Learning along the way
During the whole process for Never Yield, he feels that building support for it has been the hardest and most stressful part. Due to working 2-3 jobs constantly for the past 2 years, while working on his main passion at the same time.
Most importantly, he maintains to truly enjoy watching the game grow from just an idea in his notebook, to landing a publisher deal and ultimately all that’s coming next.
His simple, yet very valuable advice is, ‘I would tell anyone just starting to aim really, really small and build up. Don’t start with your dream game.’
Hopes and dreams
We are excited to eventually play Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield, plus keen to witness the development and growth. IndieBloom are interested in what else Neil Jones works on in the future, along with being very appreciative for him to answer the questions we asked. 😀
After it’s out, he’ll take feedback and start working on his next game.
All of us at IndieBloom being major video game fans, along with appreciating Japanese culture, seeing the development of this is special and exciting to us, notably as it takes us to the next generation of gaming.
Support the game when it’s released by purchasing it on PC via Steam on February 3rd 2021. He regularly posts what he’s up to and his thoughts on Twitter and Instagram, so stay tuned for his unannounced projects.