The Stray Sheep #24 – GamesCom-Interviews #6 – Kingdom, Flotsam and Foundation

So, today’s the last day of Blaugust and also the last post about interviews I did at the GamesCom! Today’s Stray Sheep features the devs behind Kingdom, Flotsam and Foundation. Three strategy games that I’m quite excited about! 

While Kingdom has been out for quite some time and while I’m a fan of it ever since the first game, which is now called Kingdom Classic, I really looked forward to talking to the devs at the GamesCom since I wanted to do that ever since the first game came out. The Kingdom games are beautifully crafted strategy-games with tons of tactics and mechanics while only having two resources: Money and Population, though more money means more population! On top of that, the devs developed the second game “Kingdom: New Lands” where you travel to other islands, basically creating a new challenge every time, and “Kingdom: Two Crowns” with multiplayer, new mounts, tons of new content, as well as new buildings, jobs, more islands, and the feature to travel back to old islands and actually building a kingdom instead of a few cities across all the islands. There’s also new content for Two Crowns which I’ve had a chance to play, which is quite nice. 

But let’s get to the questions, shall we? I’ve interviewed Gordon Van Dyke who’s “building” the studio Raw Fury.

What was your biggest inspiration for the game?

“To be honest, Thomas van den Berg from the noio-studio, [who] is the original creator of Kingdom, brought me on to the project to help with the design of the original game and basically his inspiration was […] just making a game. So, he started experimenting and it started off with a horse. He wanted to animate the horse in pixel-art, so he studied the running and walking of a horse and started to learn about how low he could go resolution-wise to create a believable horse with pixel-art. 

And then it just started to kind of unfold: He was like, ‘Maybe someone should be riding on it’, so he put someone on it, like a Prince or King. And then he was like, ‘Oh, now he needs something to do. And the horse needs to eat. And now there needs to be grass.’ 

[That led to] it [starting] to grow based on experimentation!”

“It just came out of a creative place and it was more about imagination than anything else. So, I think that that’s one of the reasons why it’s so easy to fall in love with Kingdom because it came from a place of passion and unfiltered creativity!”

Gordon Van Dyke

What’s your favourite part of the whole franchise?

“Well, probably Kingdom: Two Crowns because that’s the one I did all the design myself. So, it was the first game where Thomas took a step back and let me do all the design and changing the different elements, from changing it from rogue-like- to campaign-style, managing multiple Kingdoms, having Co-Op […], challenge islands and doing these things to build a bigger game than we had before. You know, we took the original foundation of Kingdom and build on top of it to expand to more content. We kind of painted us into a wall with New Lands and [Kingdom Classic].”

So, now I’m going for those weird questions because I don’t want to sound like a professional.

(He laughs out loud)

So, if you were a superhero what would your hero name and superpower be?

“[…] I would probably end up with a very useless superpower like… the power to remember the past. And they would call me, ‘Yo, Reflection Man!'”

That’d be quite useful! I always forget if I’ve got my keys on me and have to check three times before leaving the flat if I’ve got them in my bag, and five times after I’ve locked the door. If I were like Reflection Man, I wouldn’t have to worry so much about it!

(he laughs)

So, if you could meet one character from a game in real life and plan out a whole day with them, who would it be and what would you do together?

“[…] I would probably meet Samus and go out to fight those aliens. Going on an adventure together and go somewhere really abstract where I couldn’t go before.”

So, that’s the interview with Gordon Van Dyke. It’s been a lot of fun and I really enjoyed the Plague Island that I got to test out at their GamesCom-booth with the raised difficulty and all that! 🙂

Flotsam is another title I’m excited about as it reminds me of Water World, a cool movie, and Raft, a cool game. On top of that, it has that nice Cell-Shading-style going which I adore! And it also is about recycling, which is great, because of… well, environment. I actually have a bag full of Dr Pepper cans that I wanted to recycle into a nightstand. Right now they just chill here on my flat but… maybe in the future, right? So, recycling is cool and all that, but I also love city-builders.

I really enjoy playing BanishedCities: SkylinesGoblins of Elderstone and Universim. Which is why I’m so excited about Flotsam because it’s unconventional and interesting!

For this interview, I talked to Stan Loiseaux, Co-Founder and Artist of Pajama Llama Games, who describes the game as a resource-managing- and building-simulator where you need to collect garbage in a completely flat world and to make your town. You can recycle all kinds of staff and make different buildings, boats and machines. You need to keep your villagers alive by collecting food and drinkable water. […]

What was your biggest inspiration for this game? 

“Well, at first I made an animation movie that I never finished in this setting. That was the starting point of it. We wanted to make a building simulator. Some inspirations were definitely Water Worlds, for the style we looked at Belgium Comics – we’re from Belgium btw – so that we can have a colourful building-style but in 3D. For games, we looked at games like Don’t Starve, Rim World and Frost Punk.”

I see! So, what was the most fun part about working on this project?

“Well, I’m the artist so mostly art. I’m actually a 2D-artist, so in 3D we tried to make it feel like a handpainted or 2D-game although it’s not, which was quite exciting.”

What’s your favourite game of all times?

“That’s a good question! I don’t have one favourite but I really like Don’t Starve, I also really like older games like Dungeon Keeper and Warcraft 3.”

Dungeon Keeper is a great one!

“Yeah! Stuff like that and other building-games but also Nintendo-games like Zelda and I don’t really have one favourite. 

If you could visit one videogame world for a day, which one would you chose?

“Oh my, that’s another hard question. […] I’d like to catch Pokémon, so that’d be cool. Or rather walk around all kinds of fantastical worlds, like Zelda and that kind of stuff. But I guess most worlds have a lot of Monsters, so I guess that might not be the best idea. But I guess stuff like that.”

So, that’s basically that. I really liked the style and the concept and will look forward to playing it eventually. 

And last but not least, Foundation! It’s another medieval city-builder but it’s got this organic-city-building going on which is quite neat: You basically build the most important buildings and roads to shape your city but the citizens build their houses on their own near the important places, meaning that it’s a lot more realistic, in my opinion. The idea sounded quite nice but I sadly didn’t get to play it.

Anyways, for the last interview, I talked to Philippe Dion, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Polymorph Games, the studio behind Foundation!

What was the most fun part about developing Foundation?

“That’s a great question! For ourselves, the two Co-Founders, this is our dream project! We always liked city builders and games like Anno and the Settlers. And we really wanted to do something different with the organic world. The most fun we had was when that organic-feature actually worked. So, when people walk around, roads and paths will form there, too, and when you build the different buildings, they will build their houses around them where the area is desirable. All these mechanics are the result of us working together and when you realise that it’s all working now, that’s an awesome feeling to have!”

So, by “organic” you mean that one only builds a few buildings and the people build their houses around it?

“Maybe it’s easier to understand by saying that you build everything except for housing? The villagers will decide where to build their houses depending on the desirability of the area, the roads and that kind of stuff. The player will use the zoning-tool to ‘paint’ a residential area into the city so that houses will only be built there.”

In what stage is the game currently in?

“The game is already in Early Access on Steam, so we’re updating it constantly. It’s far from finished at this point, but it’s probably around 50 to 60% of the content. We don’t have an estimated date of release, yet, though.”

So, what’s your favourite game of all time?

“[…] For me it’s not a city-building game but actually a different genre. My favourite game is Resident Evil 4. The most perfect game I’ve ever played. I really enjoy Dawn of Discovery, aka Anno 1404, [too].”

And yeah, that wraps the interview up. I’m quite intrigued by all these games and while I’m not sure if I’ve understood the part about organic-city-building, I kind of imagine it to be similar to Cities: Skylines where you build everything apart from Industrial, Commercial and Residential areas (and the later stuff that I never get to because of my cities being a mess!). Maybe I’ll be able to check it out quite soon but we’ll see about that.

Anyways, this post ended up kind of long but I wanted to wrap the interviews up by Saturday (today) and in hindsight, I probably could have put the “Kingdom”-interview into the same post as the “Ring of Pain“-one since Kingdom used to be a rogue-like-game, too, but then again I never thought that it’d be so much work to transcribe these interviews into a written format, then do the layout-ing and all that. In the future, I’ll be planning better questions, work on my recording methods, and prepare the posts in advance so that I’ll be able to just get those posts out in little to no time at all. 

Okay, so that’s it for the interview posts and that’s also it for Blaugust! It’s been really challenging but I made it to 31 posts on 31 days even though I had a few small issues with WordPress on two days. Feel free to leave feedback on these interviews and comment on what games you’re excited for! 🙂 

Cheers!

This post is part of a contest/challenge called Blaugust! The goal is to post as much as possible and participants are awarded with different prizes depending on the goal they achieved. My aim is to post on all 31 days of August and if you’d like to know more about this “event”, you should check this post out.