Exclusive interview with Paula Garces – talking all things Aluna!

Xbox One

Paula Garces is the star of the Harold & Kumar series, has played leading parts in both The Shield and Clockstoppers, and is currently found working as Geny on Netflix’s hit On My Block. But she’s also the main brain behind the huge Aluna comic book empire. With the move into the video games scene fast approaching with the upcoming launch of Aluna: Sentinel of the Shards on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and PC, we just had to find a way of discovering more about the game. Thankfully Paula was up for a chat, letting us in on the inner secrets of Aluna, and why gamers should be excited to spend time with Sentinel of the Shards.

Hi, please could you introduce yourself? What has been your role in the development of Aluna: Sentinel of the Shards?

Hi everyone, For those who don’t know me, My name is Paula Garces, Actress/Producer and co creator of Aluna. Many of you may know me as Maria from the Harold and Kumar Movies or Officer Tina Hanlon from the award winning TV show The Shield, or currently as Geny on Netflix’s number one hit show On My Block. My role in this game is not only to be the voice and inspirational model for Aluna’s look but I also help direct and produce the story in this game.  

So, sell it to us, why should gamers be looking to spend time with Aluna: Sentinel of the Shards?

Aluna: Sentinel of the Shards is an fun action RPG that mixes a bit of History and Fantasy into a fast paced Hack and Slash adventure. You will be introduced to unfamiliar gods of South America as well as the dark folktale forces they believed in. So what sets us apart from everyone else out there, is her story. The story is a continuation from the comic book series “The World of Aluna” which was co written by the award winning writing team behind Assassins Creed and Batman: Arkham Origins games (Ryan Galletta, Corey May and Dooma Wendschuh). Not to worry if you haven’t read these popular comic books yet. We give you a quick run down in the beginning of the game to get you all up to speed on her story. But I would still suggest you read the books as they are amazing and help support the indie comic books industry! 

Who is Aluna and how did the initial idea come to you?

I went to San Diego Comic Con back in 2008 for the first time and loved it. I very quickly realized that there were a lot of minorities, moms, dads, kids, entire families spending a lot of money on comic books, toys and merchandise and at the time I didn’t notice one Latino superhero that represented them in a positive way. So I got pissed!!! I went home and co-created Aluna with Antonio Hernandez. While we were doing some research we realized that the only way to represent all Laintos (South America, Central America and the Carribean) was to go back to the beginning of our history. It led me to research ancient civilizations and I came across the Kogi people of the Andes. They believe in something called “State of Aluna”. When the Kogi consult a bowl of water, they meditate and when they are in the state of Aluna, they believe that they can see the present, the past and the future at the same time. I thought wow! This is it! This sounds like real life superpowers! We obviously take a lot of liberties with history but one of our biggest questions in the Aluna comic books and game is, what if there was a superhero of indigenous Goddess/ Spanish descent that would have defended her people from the conquistadors. 

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And further to that, where did the idea to expand into games come about?

When we originally wrote Aluna, we always had multimedia in our minds. So it didn’t take long for our game opportunity to come along. I was fresh off the heels off the first Harold and Kumar movie and it really didn’t dawn on me that the fan base from Comic Con was also the same fanbase that went to see the movie. So while we were there to promote our first book, to my surprise, the turn out was huge! That night at our hotel, as we were in the elevator, a worker from the online MOBA game Heroes of Newerth geeked out about being in an elevator with me (AKA Maria). Just before he exited, he turned to me and said, “Hey how about your character becoming a hero in our game?”. The rest was history, Aluna became one of their most chosen heroes around the world.  

What is the game about and where does it draw its inspirations?

Aluna: Sentinel of the Shards is an action RPG inspired by our heroine Aluna from the comic book series “The World of Aluna” and the combat and loot-grabbing action of the Diablo game series. When Aluna, daughter of a Spanish Conquistador and the goddess Pachamam, gem is stolen from her (the source of her demigod powers) she goes on a journey all over the New World to try to retrieve it. She will discover that there are more shards like hers that she must protect while exploring the many aspects of this mythological world. She will have to defeat enemies and beasts from Incan/Myan lore, interact with the pantheons and mythos, and take on quests inspired by the culture’s history. 

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How deep can we expect Incan lore to go in Sentinel of the Shards?

Oh we go deep into the Incan era with this game. Most of all the scenery and art was derived from actual historical fact. All of the Deities come from their beliefs. Of course we added a little game magic to jazz it up, but if you really go deep into their history, you don’t need much of an imagination as there are, to this day, so many mysteries with the indiginous tribes of South America that still can’t be answered. 

How was it to then play your own character in Heroes of Newerth?

It was amazing!!! Seeing yourself acting on screen is one thing, but seeing yourself being controlled in battle by so many different people from around the world, takes it to another level.

Are there any more adventures planned for Aluna now the comic series has finished?

Oh definitely, we hope to make Aluna as popular as Lara Croft. We have so many plans set for her in the future, especially in the gaming world.  

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Where else would you like to see Aluna being used?

We hope to convince some TV network to take a chance and develop Aluna as a TV show. You would think they would be knocking on my door already, as she is original and has a great story, but just like everything else when it comes to Aluna, she has to keep proving herself over and over again. And I have to admit, I’m fine with having to do that. It just makes her journey even more powerful.

How has the reception been for the superhero in Colombia? Were you a fan of them growing up yourself?

LOL as funny as it may sound, it appears like Aluna is more popular in Asia than Colombia. We are planning a mass distribution to introduce Aluna deep into Central and South America this year. Hopefully she will catch on like wildfire.  

Paula Garces Times Square Aluna Billboard 1

Finally, my friends and I are huge fans of the Harold and Kumar films, what are your fondest memories of shooting those films?

Oh there are so many. The behind the scenes for these movies are just as funny as the movie itself. Everyone on set was respectful and nice. Even during rehearsals we couldn’t stop laughing and when we had to act them out in front of the cameras, boy you can only imagine, we had to bite our lips and try not to crack up. These movies are so politically incorrect-ly funny that I’m scared to mention my fondest moment. I’ll end it on that note!!! Please feel free to follow me on instagram @therealpaulagarces and on twitter @paulagarces1 to find out more about the release of the game.   

Huge thanks go out to Paula for allowing us the chance to fire over some questions regarding Aluna and Sentinel of Shards. We highly advise you start following her over on Instagram and Twitter in order to discover more about the game, and keep your eyes peeled on these pages as we’ll be sure to bring you updates in regards to the game development as and when they happen.

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