Daisy Ein is one half of the development duo Super Retro Duck, whose indie game Tiny Bird Garden launches for Android and iOS later this month. Ein is an artist behind the illustration, music, and sound design for the game. The other half of Super Retro Duck, Zap Layden, is behind Tiny Bird Garden‘s programming, design, and animation.

I caught up with Ein via email to talk about the game, her art, and spreading positivity on Twitter.

Rogues Portal: First, the obligatory history question: how did you get into art?

Daisy Ein: Honestly, I’ve always been into art and creative things, in general. I feel like that’s kind of a boring answer, but that’s really how it was, haha. Some of my earliest memories are of drawing Super Mario fan art; I was so in love with my NES, and I spent a lot of my free time drawing fan comics, starring Nintendo characters. Music’s always been a part of my life, too, and all of these creative things always seemed to revolve around my love for Nintendo games.

Screenshot from Tiny Bird Garden

RP: What brought you into working on indie games, like Tiny Bird Garden?

DE: It’s kind of hard to say, honestly. I was so madly in love with video games from a really young age, it feels weird that I didn’t pursue making games sooner, haha.

I will say though, I spent a lot of my young adult life fighting what I actually wanted to do. I chose a different career path, because I thought financial stability and the approval of others was more important than following my dreams. I was very, very wrong. Even though I did experience some career successes, I was really miserable, because I just didn’t enjoy what I was doing. I went into that career for reasons that weren’t really about me or my happiness, and it caught up with me. I really didn’t like who I was turning into. I was just so unhappy all the time.

I know this is going to sound super cheesy, but it was like a voice in my head that wouldn’t shut up. I just wanted to draw and create, so badly.

So, Tiny Bird Garden is my first step in following those dreams! I really want game development to be my life, and I know it might be a tough journey, but I’ve been loving it, so far.

RP: You stand out as an artist because of your unique style and your overwhelming positivity. What inspires you to create?

DE: That is so super sweet of you to say, thank you!! I’m really flattered that you think that of me and my work!

Again, I feel like I’m saying such cheesy things, but I just love to create. Feels like I should have some kind of deep, meaningful artist’s statement, but the truth is, I just feel really, really wonderful when I’m making content, haha.  I want to make good content, tell great stories, and make things that make other people smile too!

Visually, I was really inspired by the Disney renaissance. The works of Kyoko Tsuchiya and Miwa Ueda also really inspired me, growing up.

RP: Your weekly threads encouraging Twitter users to share their projects are absolutely delightful. What’s the importance of building this kind of community with other creators? Why take it upon yourself to create that kind of space? 

DE: Thank you again for your kind words!!

I guess, walking into this, I didn’t mean to do any community building or anything like that. There’s a lot of wonderful people who take the time to support me and my work – and I’m so thankful for that. They don’t HAVE to comment or retweet, but they take the time out of their day to share that kind of positivity with me.

I just wanted to do something to  share some of that positive energy with others. If it ends up turning into something bigger —awesome! I love the idea of other creators learning from each other, lifting each other up, and cheering each other on. It’s definitely the kind of environment I’d want to be a part of.

I guess, in regards to “why take it upon yourself” — why not?  🙂  I’m a big fan of paying kindness forward, and I feel like I’ve been shown a lot of kindness! If I can help start something positive, even if it’s small, then I’m really honored and happy to be a part of it.

Screenshot from Tiny Bird Garden

RP: Can you tell me about the inspiration behind Tiny Bird Garden?

DE: Tiny Bird Garden is inspired by games like Neko Atsume, Notice Me Senpai, Animal Crossing, and Harvest Moon (with some games having more influence here than others). I guess you could officially call it a “bird collecting game”, but it also has human characters, light visual novel elements, camera features, and… hats! I’ll be honest, I love games with tons of cute items and hats.

I guess for me, personally, I just wanted to create a game I’d like to play!

RP: Simulator games, especially ones that collect animals, seem to be especially popular lately. What do you think is the appeal of these apps?

DE: Personally, I like laid back, relaxing experiences where I can progress a little every day. An example might be a game where the store inventory changes every day. That would make me excited to come back and check. Likewise, seeing new characters show up and say hello feels nice to me. I like interacting with characters and feeling like there’s some progression there. 

I’m sure this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I really enjoy these kinds of game play elements. I’m no marketing expert, but this is why I like these kinds of games, haha.

RP: Do you have a favorite bird in the game?

DE: That’s a tough question! I think I’ll have to say no. I designed every bird myself, and so many of them are secret references to special people or memories in my life, so I don’t think I could choose just one, haha.

RP: What has been your greatest success in working on Tiny Bird Garden? What has been your greatest disappointment or frustration?

DE: I think one of the most frustrating things about working on Tiny Bird Garden is all the roadblocks we didn’t anticipate. There’s been so many hiccups, bugs, and delays along the way. I do, however, think it’s taught me to roll with the punches. Just accept that things aren’t going to go perfectly and have confidence that you’ll be able to handle whatever comes your way, you know? That mindset has helped me a lot.

I’d say the greatest success on the horizon is releasing the game this month! I’m so nervous and excited, haha. It also feels amazing every time we hear someone say they’re excited to play. That’s such a crazy feeling.

RP: When does Tiny Bird Garden officially launch?

DE: September 2017!

RP: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

DE: I would definitely like to thank my wonderful partner in crime, Zap Layden, for all of his hard work and dedication to making Tiny Bird Garden happen. He’s a wonderful guy, and my best friend. He’s programmed the entire game by himself, and I think that’s pretty fantastic. I’m so proud of him and so thankful for his time, efforts, and friendship!

And hey, thank you for interviewing me!

You can keep up with Daisy Ein by following her on Twitter. You can also see her work on her website.

Tiny Bird Garden launches for Android and iOS later this month. For updates, sign up for the game’s mailing list. You can also follow Super Retro Duck on Twitter.

Samantha Puc
Samantha Puc is a freelance writer, editor, and social media manager residing in southern New England with her partner and three cats. She likes Shakespeare, space babes, bikes, and dismantling the patriarchy. She also loves vegan food. Her work has appeared on Rogues Portal, SheKnows, Femsplain, The Tempest, and elsewhere. For more, follow her on Twitter!

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