Drake Hollow – an interview with Forrest Dowling

Today here on the Lookout Post, we’re having an interview with The Molasses Flood’s Studio Director, Forrest Dowling, who was so kind to give me some answers to a bunch of questions!


  • Well, first up, please introduce yourself to my readers. Who are you? What do you do? What’s your job on your current project? What other titles have you worked on in the past? Oh, and maybe you can talk about what games you currently play!

Hi, my name is Forrest Dowling and I’m the Studio Director at The Molasses Flood, and currently the Creative Director on Drake Hollow. Our previous title was The Flame in the Flood. Prior to that, I worked in AAA as a level designer, where I ran the level design team on BioShock Infinite at Irrational Games. I also worked on Frontlines: Fuel of War and Homefront as my first experiences in the industry. I play a lot of everything. Right now it’s a lot of Drake Hollow as we get close to launch, and I’m binging The Last of Us 2.

  • Oh, so you also worked on The Flame In The Flood! I love that game. What were your experiences with that game? What part did you enjoy working on the most? What did you do specifically?

On The Flame in the Flood, I was the lead designer. I most enjoyed working on a very small team of extremely talented developers who were able to make something complete and memorable in a really short period of time. I also really liked getting deep into systems design. In my career up to that point I mostly worked on levels, which meant a lot of geometry but less straight up designing the core systems that a player interacts with. It was a lot of fun to shift into that way of thinking.

  • That is really interesting! Right now you’re working on Drake Hollow, right? What’s Drake Hollow about?

Drake Hollow is an action village building game that you can play with your friends. You find yourself pulled into a world that’s been invaded by an ancient evil that has blighted and driven the local inhabitants into hiding. Your job is to rescue and care for these creatures known as Drakes by building structures to provide for their needs and defend them from attack.

  • So, Drake Hollow is an action village building game with survival aspects, right? What makes it different from other base-building survival games? Why would people want to get this title? 

The main difference between Drake Hollow and other survival games is the Drakes. This isn’t a game about dying a lot and losing progress like most survival games are. It’s got a lot of similar mechanics, but without the same punishing results if you make a mistake. It’s also a game with a lot of character that we think feels really different and is a fun world to spend time in.

  • Did The Flame In The Flood have any influence on the development of this game? If so, in what way exactly?

As I mentioned above, Drake Hollow started off as a follow up to The Flame in the Flood, but it changed a lot along the way. The idea of survival mechanics and moving from island to island are really the main things that remained between the two.

  • What can the player expect from the combat system?

The combat in Drake Hollow is pretty straightforward:
You’ve got a one or two handed melee weapon, and a handful of different ranged weapons, and the abilities to block and dodge. The player will find better versions of weapons over time as they level up their camp, that do more damage and allow them to take on higher level enemies. The player can also supplement their weapons with various buffs granted by Drakes, which also level up as you level up your Drakes.

  • How do different Drakes influence combat? Will the Drakes fight by your side as well?

Drakes can use defensive structures to help defend the camp, but they are not fighters, and stick around the home base while you explore. They can buff you with abilities that help you offensively or defensively, for example you can get a buff that adds fire to your weapons that applies damage over time to enemies on hit, or life steal that transfers enemy health to you.

  • What can you tell us about the overall story? 

I don’t want to say too much about the story, so I’ll just say that it’s based on some New England history and we did a lot of research into witchcraft as part of the process of coming up with the lore and backstory.

  • Is there going to be an end to the game or is it an endless experience?

There is an end to the game. It’s important to me that players who want to have a fun story experience and move on are able to. We are adding on an endless sandbox shortly after launch as well for players who just want to go and go.

  • On your website and the Steam store page, it says that you’ll move around different areas instead of settling for one place and one place only. How do you end up packing up your whole base or do you have to decide on what to leave and what to take with you, just like in The Flame In The Flood? What has lead to the decision to go for a more nomadic approach to base-building?

When it’s time to move, your whole base is packed up and reassembled in a new location. We came to this decision because there’s only so far you can get from your base before it becomes too much of a chore to travel back and forth, and we needed some way to replenish depleted resources. We liked the idea of simply generating a new biome around your base as a way to solve these issues.

  • Multiplayer is going to be a thing in this game. How can you interact with other players? 

You play together and share all your building resources. You can protect one another when running around the poisonous aether that surrounds everything. We don’t have many specific player to player interactions, just a shared space to play in.

  • How far is the game right now? Is it going to be completed by July 17th or will it start out in Early Access? How often do you think will you update the game? Will there be DLCs and expansions? 

The game is very close to being complete. We’re launching 1.0 on July 17th. That being said, we want to keep supporting and adding on to it post launch. There’s a ton of things we’d like to do, but it’ll depend on the audience and what resonates with them. We don’t have concrete plans beyond the endless sandbox mode.

  • Is there a roadmap of sorts with what you’ve got planned for the future? What features are you the most excited about?

I’m excited about a lot of things, but I’m not going to say any of them yet because I don’t know if we’ll be able to do them. It all depends on our players. Like, do we have any, and if so what do they want to see more of.

  • What is your favourite Drake? I personally am in love with the Dufflur that we’re able to see in one of the screenshots on Steam! It’s insanely adorable!

Personally, I like the woodcutter. I think of them in terms of their buff. Woodcutter helps you clear corruption faster, and there’s a lot of corruption clearing to be done.

  • Do you have a favourite area?

I think my favorite places are the factories. I love climbing around the structures, and there’s often an ambush waiting inside so you’ll have a good fight on your hands, and some good loot when it’s over.

  • How do the different seasons impact the game?

There are seasons. They can effect gameplay as well. In summer for example, Drakes need a lot more water to stay hydrated. In winter, anything that relies on water to operate will need a heater near by to keep it thawed and functioning.

  • How did the Covid-19 outbreak affect work on the game? Are you all safe over there?

We are really fortunate to have been pretty well positioned to handle the Covid-19 outbreak. We already had a very flexible work from home policy, in which people only had to be in the office Tuesdays and Thursdays, so going full work from home hasn’t been too bad. The main impact on us has been in marketing and promoting the game. We had specific plans to show the game at GDC and EGX which obviously fell through, and some hands on media events scheduled. We were also hoping to show at E3. It’s impossible to gauge the impact, but it’s definitely hurt awareness and exposure.

  • Do you guys play the game as well in your free time or do you plan to? 

I’ve played it a lot. Steam has me at 160 hours, and that’s only playing the packaged version, not the time I’ve spend launching from the editor. As far as my free time… for sure, some, although at the end of the day I need to play something else a lot to keep my mind fresh and keep new ideas flowing.

  • Do you and the other people from The Molasses Flood play games together as well? If so, what do you go for? 

We certainly have game nights now and then. A group of us was playing Overwatch quite a bit, and more recently have moved onto Deep Rock Galactic.

  • When you get rid of one bug, 99 more pop up, is what I’ve been told by other devs. What’s the most hilarious or peculiar bug that you’ve found in the game so far?
    (Forrest linked me this tweet over here.)
  • Are you fans of speedruns and do you think that the speedrunning community will like Drake Hollow?

I enjoy watching speedruns, but I expect that Drake Hollow won’t be of particular interest to speed runners. There’s too much randomization and reliance on random drops to allow for effective min maxing in a repeatable way.

  • What other games are you looking forward to in 2020/2021? Any recommendations for unknown games that I or my readers might find interesting?

Let’s see… from the Steam festival I really liked The Wild at Heart. I’m looking forward to Dreamscaper, which looks like an interesting take on an ARPG. Obviously I’m excited for Cyberpunk 2077. Röki looks really cool as well, I love the art. I’m excited to play Among Trees, although I’ve not yet had a chance to. Windbound also looks really cool. I don’t tend to keep very close track of upcoming releases these days, and just consume them as they come.

  • Are there any interesting stories about the game’s development that you’re willing to share?

I’ll share a bit of a personal story about the development. We wanted to make something that fit in a time and place, to help ground it. As we’re based in New England, we thought this would be a good base layer to build off of. In conceiving the story, I started researching Salem and the history of witchcraft there and the trials. I was talking with my folks about it and my dad told me that I had an ancestor who was hanged as a witch in the Salem Witch trials, which I never knew. I visited Salem and was able to find her grave. It was pretty cool to discover this weird little bit about my personal history while doing research on the game we were making.

  • Do you have some words that you’d like to share at last? Something you wanna say to my readers? Some puns to add to the mix or even some inspirational/motivational speech on why everyone should go and follow & wishlist your game on Steam? 

Man, inspirational speeches are not my strong suit. I think if you want to play a game that offers a really different and joyful take on survival, you should wishlist us. Also if you made it all the way through this interview you’re a champ. I said a lot of stuff here!

  • Thanks a lot for your time! 

And well, that’s it for the interview. Last year, I’ve done interviews with devs at the GamesCom and I didn’t really plan them out too much so this one was an experience for me as well. I packed in way too many questions, I think, but Forrest was kind enough to answer them all and he’s right, you’re a champ if you made it through all of this. Be sure to follow and wishlist the game on Steam if you’re as hyped as me about it!

Cheers!

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.

The Stray Sheep #23 – GamesCom-Interviews #5 – Tunic & Overland

Look at this cute little Fox here! Awww!

Okay, so today’s Stray Sheep will cover the interview with Rebekah Saltsman, the Publisher of a small cute game called Tunic (which, btw, has incredible combat and features an insanely cute fox as the protagonist) and the Co-Founder and CEO of Finji Games and one of the Devs behind Overland, a turn-based survival game set in a post-apocalyptic world! 

You’re the CEO of Finji Games but you’re also a publisher, right?

“[Yes], […] Finji is the dev-studio that is making Overland but we’re also an independent publisher, so we’re also publishing Tunic […] and overall small teams that need the skills and expertise that my studio has.”

So, what makes Overland unique from other Survival-Games?

“Oh, there’s actually not much in that genre. Strategy-games are hard to make in the first place. Because we’re Indie, we’re actually allowed to break a lot of rules. So, what makes Overland a unique one is that we’ve been focusing on appealing to a hardcore strategy-player but also be legible enough, be clear enough in the UI and [other ways] to allow newer players to the genre that don’t play video games to be able to play the game and actually learn it as they go. That’s been a pillar for us.

And I joke about this: People like me, like a 30yo mom like me, to be interested in playing strategy games. But like outside of these moms, anyone who doesn’t play strategy games should be able to play the game and learn it while doing so. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t hard, it means that the game is approachable. 

So that’s the main piece. People always talk about the artwork, this like very isometric-diorama-kinda-look to the game. All the credit goes to our art-director. And also the thematics in our game are unique. Overland is a game where you run a post-apocalyptic road trip across America. So, you’re meeting people and you’re making friends, you’re collecting supplies and the most important thing fuel since that is what keeps you driving. You’re [trying to make] as little noise as possible since the monsters are drawn towards that. 

And the thematic is actually unusual to that genre. […] The people that are part of your crew are procedurally generated. […] Every time you play the game, the people are going to be different, the areas are going to be different, and the scenarios that you’re getting into are going to be different.”

How many different regions are you going to drive through on your road trip?

“There’s going to be about seven, I believe. The region you’re seeing here is the city-scape, the eastern edge of the game. After it you’re going to drive into the woodlands, and the mountains, and the desert, and each one of those regions is, one, at the size of this whole demo and, two, all have different environments and assets and some of the items that you’re going to access are going to change as you move into these different areas.”

“Although Overland is a rogue-like, we’re not cruel”, she explains. The game is huge, so you’re going to be able to continue from different parts onwards, as long as you’ve survived the road-block, which is the boss-level of each region. 

What was the most fun part of the work process for you personally?

“On the screen, […] every person has a past and a present. These are parts of the game that we call our story-hopes. What was really important to me, and Adam actually, from the beginning was having a strategy-game that encourages players to tell their own story. Throughout this entire design, with all these different criteria, we were intrigued by the idea of the players getting more and more information about the characters. The player is going to be able to talk about their own personal road trip as they play this strategy-game. These are all randomly generated, so Diana for example [in this demo] wanted to open a bar with her friend and has troubles waking up. What you think about Diana and what I think about Diana is completely different based on the people that we know and our life-experiences. And we now have put all these different people with random pasts and presents into a car with you but we also highlight other things and actions that happen to you. 

So, for example, if one of your characters murders another character, then you have a murderer in your car. If your character was revived because of someone knowing CPR, then your character is labelled as “has come back to life”. Now other players might think that your character is more vulnerable but that’s not the case because you’re reminded of all the past and present events that build their own little story-line. And that is what I’ve been working on with Adam for years now […]. 

So, let’s talk about Tunic, next. What is Tunic about?

“In Tunic, you play as a tiny fox who’s on an adventure in a big world and who’s fighting bad guys, obviously since you’ve seen that sword, and discovering secrets. And that’s kind of our one-line-pitch.

A lot of people will think, ‘Oh, it’s a Zelda-like’, but we don’t actually have the puzzle-dungeons or anything like that. Tunic is very combat-heavy so it has a lot of player-choice in the way you go in and engage in combat-scenarios. There’s a lot of different weapons and items that you get access and get a hold of as you play the game, and as you approach these combat-scenarios you can kind of engage with them however you want and it’s a lot done in Andrew’s beautiful style! It’s very whimsical, cause Andrew is really whimsical. 

So, the way the Fox moves and the way the world looks is 100% because of Andrew’s personality. He’s a very joyful human to be around, but also he’s an incredible combat- and level-designer. He’s approaching those points on how to make the combat and the exploration so much fun. That’s part of why he and Adam get on so well because they have these design-discussions about what is best for their particular games and how to take the game’s direction forward.[…]”

So, onwards to some “quirky” questions because “I’m no professional”. So, if you were a superhero what would your quirk and name be?

“Oh, if I were a superhero… I would want to re-do time.” (we both laugh)

“I mean, this literally because I’m in the middle of making this game right now. […] [Accessing] more time just by pausing it so that I’m the only one moving, I would want that. I don’t know what I would call myself as I’m bad with puns. I’d either would want that [super power] or I would want to clone myself into multiple versions of me.”

So, your name was…. *checks her sign* 

“Bekah”

Well, if you’d want to re-do time, you’d be Re-Bekah!

“That’s my name. Oh my god! Oh, that’s so bad! I love it! So cool! But also so horrible!”

*laughs* If you want to clone yourself it would also be Re-Bekah, I guess, and if you don’t want it to sound like your name and turn back time…well…Reboot-Kah?

“I could also mess around with RNA and DNA, and if you give me enough nerd-time, I could come up with some stupid genetic version of my name.”

Okay, next (and the most important) question: Dr Pepper is the best soft-drink ever, right?

“Uhm, my mom says so.”

Awesome!

So, if you could meet one character from any game in our world. Who would it be and what would you do with them? 🙂

“Uhm, I’d probably take Princess Peach shopping. That poor little girl’s stuck in that little dress forever. She needs, like, some jammies or something. That’s gotta be a heavy dress. So, Princess Peach! And I’d only do that because I play her in Smash, badly, but yeah.”

Oh, when’s Tunic and Overland coming out btw?

Overland is coming out this fall, so it’ll be out before Christmas, so stay tuned on all of them, including consoles. For Tunic, we don’t have one. Sorry. But when I do, y’all be the first to know. Don’t worry.”

Thank you!

So, yeah, that’s it for today’s post. I hope you enjoyed this little insight into Tunic and Overland. Both looked like great games that I’d have fun playing with! Especially since Overland‘s going to scratch my need for strategy-games and since Tunic‘s going to scratch my need for cute exploration-games with great combat! ❤ 

It’s been a lot of fun talking to Rebekah! 

Anyways,

Cheerio! 

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.

The Stray Sheep #22 – GamesCom-Interviews #4 – Answer Knot, Nanotale & Necrobarista

So, today’s Stray Sheep is going to cover the next three interviews. This one features Naraven Games’ Answer Knot, Fishing Cactus’ Nanotale – Typing Chronicles and Route 59’s Necrobarista. After this, there’s going to be two more posts with interviews, featuring the dev/publisher of Tunic and Overland in one postand the devs of Kingdom, Flotsam, and Foundation in another post, so stay tuned for those!

Before we’re going into the actual interviews, I’d like to update you on what’s going to happen after all these interviews are posted: 

In two days, Blaugust is coming to an end which is why I’m going to feature three games in two interview posts from now on. On September 1st, I’ll publish a post about what I’ve learned from all this and that kinda stuff. 

Anyways, let’s get to those interviews. Answer Knot is a “short narration and exploration game about Zach, June, and a strange phenomenon”. You’re playing as Zach and you’re hearing June’s messages on your answering machine. To hear the next message and find out what’s happening outside of the house, you need to complete tasks in your apartment like checking if there’s beer in the fridge or turn on the radio. 

I talked to Julia Jeanneret, the narrative designer of Answer Knot, who, at first, didn’t want to do an interview in person in fear of me putting her on the spot – but I’d never do anything like that, right? 

What was the most exciting or even fun part about working on this project?

“The most fun part? […] I guess the photo-shooting was the most fun. That really was only fun. [When] you play the game, you see all those photos of these two actors, they don’t know each other in real life, […]. There’re the snow and the lake and everything was taken on the same day in Geneva! That was probably the most fun about it all.”

What’s your biggest inspiration for this game, the story and everything?

“The story-line was very heavily inspired by an audio-youtube video called ‘Colds‘” [remind me to link that one] 

“And game-wise it’s more inspired by Gone Home and all those walking-simulators.” 

[Due to it being quite late that day, I didn’t ask that many questions as I also limited myself to about 5-minute-interviews! And a few questions just kind of weren’t audible at all, so…]

Now, we’ll talk about a few fun questions. So, if you were a superhero, what would your superpower and hero name be?

“[…] I gotta think about my name… but I guess my superpower would be being able to make an entire game by my self because I don’t like relying that much on people. I love people, but seriously I’d like to be able to do everything by myself.”

Yeah, I hate people, too. 

“And for my name… I don’t know, I guess I’ll have to think about it a bit longer. […]”

Uhm, since you’re Julia… how about… Solo-ia. Okay, that’s quite bad, let’s proceed. 

If you could meet one video game character from any game in real life, who would it be and what would you do with them? 

“[…] Aw, I feel like I’m going to say something super lame and think later that I should’ve said something better.”

Don’t worry. If it’s super lame, I’ll cut it out later.

“Thank you!” (laughs)

 Just kidding.

“I think I would like to meet Nathan Drake.”

Who?

“Nathan Drake from the Uncharted Series and I would just hang out with him.”

Oh, okay. I haven’t played those.

“You haven’t played the Uncharted Series?”

Well, tbh, I think I own it on Steam but my laptop’s too bad to run it… so… yeah. Will try it out later. [Possible LttP-post here!]

“Yeah, you should. Then you’ll also see what a fun person Nathan is.”

What’s your favourite antagonist?

“I think, it’s GlaDos from Portal.”

Oh, she’s great! And what’s your favourite game right now?

“That’s something you shouldn’t ask.”

How about your ALL-TIME-favourite game then? 😛

“[…] I have several games that are linked to different parts of my life. There’s Skyrim, Life is Strange, God of War, Pokémon, Kingdom Hearts, and I guess it’s a mix of all these different games! But I can’t pick a favourite, that’s too difficult for me. 

It’s like what’s your favourite child?”

(Some other dev in the back): “Not that one.”

“Everyone but this one!”

So, yeah, that’s the interview basically. I had a lot of fun talking to Julia and I really enjoyed Answer Knot, especially since I’m one of those not-answering-people myself and I felt bad for June and stuff… The story took an interesting turn and I didn’t really expect it all that much. The puzzling was great and, well, I guess I can’t really say much about it because of spoilers and all that! It’s actually available on Steam for free right now, so you should definitely check it out, as it doesn’t even take that much time to play! Lovely! 🙂

For the next interview, I’ve talked to the artist of Nanotale – Typing Chronicles, Amandine Flahaut. Nanotale‘s a typing game and there’s lots of exploring and fighting/typing going on there.

What was the most exciting part of working on this game? 

“Uhm… Everything. […] I’m the artist, so I work at the art directions of the game and I created everything, so I created the world and I tried to keep the same art style as in [Epistory] our first game while still changing the world. […] Even coming here [to the GamesCom] and speaking to people about the game, is really exciting for me.”

How satisfied are you with the game at its current stage? Are there any plans for future updates?

“Oh, what you see is a demo. […] We’re improving a lot of things right now and we’re going to add a few more things and big areas like this one since this is only the first area. I want to make things a lot more beautiful but I [also] think that we’re doing great for now. […] The more you want to do now, the less good the result becomes.”

If you were a superhero, what would your power and hero name be?

“Oh, I already am a superhero. I am CUTTER GIRL! I am clumsy and imagine the world being in danger and you telling me to do anything but press that one dangerous button. Well, I’d manage to do just do that. I’ll [trip], something behind me falls and presses the button.”

And that’s your superpower?

“Eh, Yes! Because I can just leave the villains alone and when they escape something bad happens to them, so they’ll just wait there for the police to come.”

If you could meet one character from Nanotale in real life who would it be?

“[…] The green jasper! It’s some kind of a mix between an axolotl, a rabbit and a cat. It’s very cute. It has some kind of kink ears. And I think it would be great to have it in real life as well! Oh, and it smells of MINTS!”

So, Nanotale is coming out soon. Check it out! It’s looking great and for a typing game, some fights felt quite intense, to say the least! I really appreciated the prototype for a holographic monitor that they had set up near the booth. Looking forward to how that one’s going to get developed in the future! 🙂 

Onto the last interview for today! Necrobarista is about a back-alley café in Melbourne where “the dead are granted one last night to mingle with the living”. It’s a visual novel with 3D-animation by Route 59. I’ve interviewed Ngoc Vu, the lead artist for this game.

So, what inspired you to make Necrobarista?

“The director, the 3D-artists and I sat together while we all studied together at Uni. We were all discussing how much we were loving Anime [and] how much we were loving visual novels and [since] we studied Unity during our university years we thought ‘why not just make a 3D-style visual novel?’. And that was the main pillar of the development of Necrobarista.”

So, Necrobarista is about a coffee shop were spirits and humans go to. Is it a rather peaceful game or does it get intense later on, too?

“It does get a little intense later on but I’d say that, for the most part, it’s quite a cosy game. […]”

What was the most exciting part about working on this project?

“The most exciting part was deciding how we are going to produce the facial features for all the characters. That was the part that has undergone the most iterations. I would say especially how we’re creating the eyes […] with all its features like pupils, eyelashes, etc. And pretty much every facial feature has its own engine.”

Are you satisfied with the game at its current stage and are there any plans for future updates, chapters, and that kind of stuff?

“We are very happy with the game. So, the story is finished. The artwork is all locked in. Currently, we’re polishing menus and UI and player experience. As for updates, we are planning to release a DLC which will feature four new side characters and hopefully it will come out a little bit after the release date.”

So, now I’m going to ask those aforementioned “quirky questions” because I’m no professional. (She laughs) If you were a superhero what would your hero name and quirk be? 

“I’m a bit of a sticky bee” (I think that’s what she said but I’m not too sure… hit me up with corrections if it was something else!)

“I’d like to read people’s minds. […] As for a name… Oh, I’m really terrible with coming up with names. Maybe, the Needle.” (Again, not sure if that’s what she said. It was quite loud at the place and… yeah.)

She hates Dr Pepper, so I’ll just leave it at that. Next year I’ll come up with better questions for sure. :[ 

What’s your favourite video-game antagonist? or if that’s too hard, your favourite Anime-antagonist

“[…] There’s so many. I’d say Vegeta [as my favourite anime-antagonist] from Dragon Ball. But he turns into a pretty good guy.”

Spoilers.

“Well, too bad for you, if you haven’t seen Dragon Ball after twenty years. 

Well, yeah, he’s my favourite antagonist.”

Okay, so if you could meet a video-game character. Who would it be and what would you do together?

“[…] I was about to say Tingle from the Zelda-series but maybe not now… with him. […] Maybe rather Dr. [Hershel] Layton?”

That’d be so awesome! I love the Prof. Layton games!

“We’d probably go find coins […] and go fishing for fountain coins. Or he’d give me math-problems and put me back into eight-grade high school.”

So, Necrobarista‘s coming out soon, too, and as I may or may not do a review on that, I didn’t really want to spoil myself too much by already playtesting it there! So, I can’t really say much about it apart from the fact that it looked really cool and that the team behind it seemed really cool 😀 

Anyways, that’s it for today’s post. A bit late again, I know, but I’ve got no schedule, so nobody cares, I guess.

Tomorrow’s post will be about Tunic and Overland. Stay tuned for that one!

Anyways, have a good morning/day/evening/night/whatever and don’t forget:

Sometimes coffee makes you sleepier after drinking it, resulting in you falling alseep even though you wanted to stay up.

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.

The Stray Sheep #21 – GamesCom-Interviews #3 – Sea Salt and Elden: Path of the Forgotten

Today I started my job at a nearby school which is why today’s Stray Sheep may be a bit later than usual – but then again, I don’t have fixed times for my post anyways, apart from daily during Blaugust, so it shouldn’t matter.

In today’s post, I’ll share the next two interviews with you. This time we’re featuring Y/CJ/Y’s Sea Salt, an action-strategy-hybrid based on Lovecraftian horror stories, and Onerat Pty Ltd’s Elden: Path of the Forgotten, which is Hyper Light Drifter but in a lot more brutal and featuring eldritch creatures! I enjoy both games and, well, I’m also a Lovecraft-fanboy, so let’s see what the devs had to say!

In Sea Salt, you’re playing as Dagon, one of the eldritch gods of the sea, and you are in control of a horde of minions and monsters. You kill humans, get upgrades, increase your swarm, get better units with different benefits and so on. It reminded me a lot of Right click to Necromance, which is also quite a lot of fun! 🙂 For this interview, I talked to Christopher Andreasson, the programmer of the Swedish duo behind Sea Salt. The C in “WhyCJWhy” consists of Christopher, who describes himself as “little below average” on their homepage, and Joseph Martinovsky, the “kinda tall” Graphics-guy.

What was your biggest inspiration for the game?

“Well, we started making this game on a game-jam in Sweden and by then we loved Bloodbourne. I mean, we still really love Bloodbourne. So, for the art-style that was our heaviest inspiration – and Bloodbourne is in parts inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s work as well, so… it’s a huge inspiration by Lovecraft in the game. And at the game-jam, I wanted to do something with path-finding and A.I., so the idea of controlling a group of minions was something that we wanted to do there. Then I looked at games like Pikmin […] and Overlord but we didn’t want [the player] to control a hero character who’s using the minions as tools but instead, we wanted the player to control a group of minions, creating a path of death, fear and destruction.”

What was the most fun in the development?

“I think since it’s quite a unique way to control the game, I had the most fun at making the controls as intuitive as possible. At the start, we had a bunch of different buttons and the idea to activate different minions in a lot of different ways. I like how we then kept it simple, with the controls on one stick and a button to attack basically.

That made it easy for people to just pick it up and play. Like, we showed it to a bunch of friends and other developers and stuff. […] Making the tutorial for the game was also quite enjoyable, as we had a tutorial at the beginning that was very poorly made. As we showed the game to other people we always had to explain the same things, so now we just put those things into the tutorial. We also made a boss for the tutorial which is a lot cooler now.

When we were done with the tutorial, I was quite proud of it and overall I think this game was the most fun [whilst] developing it.”

Since you’re a smaller studio with only a few games developed so far, do you have any role-models that you aspire to be like?

“[…] My favourite would probably be Miyazaki […]. I also aspire a few other Indie devs whose names I can’t recall right now. […]”

In Sea Salt, you control a bunch of different creatures. What’s your favourite to control?

“Usually it’s the latest one we made, but now that we haven’t made one for a while I think the runner-up for the favourites is the Worm which is like one of the most basic minions in the game and it feels like a sleeper-hit because it’s super-strong but it looks so weak. It’s the first minion you unlock in the game.

But I think that my absolute favourite is one of the creatures that you unlock later into the game, the Toad. It’s just a massive toad that will jump to nearby enemies and they die in a huge explosion. It’s so satisfying when the toad jumps into a huge crowd of enemies and they all just die. Yeah, I think that’s my favourite!”

Okay, now we’ll continue with the previously mentioned “weird questions”.

“Yeah, sure!”

Dr Pepper is the best soft-drink, right? (I just had to)

“No. (laughs) No no, not at all.”

I just won’t mention that, jk. So, since One Punch Man has a game now, also with a booth at the GamesCom, I’d like to ask this: If you were a superhero, what would your superhero name and superpower be?

“I think I would like to stop time – and I know that wouldn’t work because of time-travelling and space-time and stuff. But like, just stopping it, pausing time. I would use it to sleep more, get more rest.

Oh! Maybe I’d chose teleportation instead. That’s so much better. Yeah, I’d chose to teleport!”

I mean, it’s quite similar, isn’t it? If you stopped time, walked somewhere and then unpaused it, it would be like teleportation, right?

“Nah, I would choose teleportation. Like, instead of standing in line here, I would just teleport home, to my apartment, go to the toilet there, and teleport back. Yeah, I’d be toilet-man!”

So, that’s the interview with Christopher! Quite a nice lad, apart from the Dr Pepper thing… oh well. Sea Salt will be coming out this year! Look out for that or maybe even wishlist it on steam!

But let’s talk about Elden now! Elden: Path of the Forgotten is quite a nice game, too. It’s a medieval, eldritch fantasy game that is relying on non-traditional methods to tell its story, which is also known as Environmental Storytelling! You are thrown into this world and can learn more about the story by reading books in foreign languages with pictures and the like in them. There’re also cut-scenes without voice that tell it, so a lot of the story is left to you, the player. I really enjoyed its combat and the art-style. So, for Elden, I’ve interviewed Dylan J. Walker from Onerat Games.

What was the muse for this game?

“Oh, well, obviously a lot of Lovecraft and things like Dark Souls… Or rather Bloodbourne, since, as well, more Lovecraft! And it’s the fear of the unknown, which is one of the best elements of Lovecraft.”

While we’re at it, what’s your favourite Lovecraft-story?

“Uhm, probably, just the Dunwich Horror. It probably has the most parallels to the story in the game.”

My favourite is actually The Colour Out of Space.

“I haven’t read it yet! I really need to. I have it on my phone, with me, and I wanna read it on my flight back.”

[At this point, I wonder if he has and how he enjoyed it. If you’re reading this, tell me! I’d love to hear! :D]

What was the most fun part of the work on this game?

“Probably working out how to tell the story with only visuals because I’m not a big fan of menus and that sort of thing, so there’s not a lot of menus in the game. There’s no text. So we need to bring it across without any of that. It’s been a really big challenge to solve the story with just that. But this bit of a challenge definitely was the most fun part!”

In your opinion, what’s the most fun part of this game’s combat?

“I tried to make it really reactive [so that] you can’t just stand there and click and expect things to die. You constantly need to be active and moving around. That for sure was the most part of it, for me personally.”

Okay, so now I’m getting to a few weird questions because I don’t want to sound like a professional. I’m only an Indie Blogger, hehe. So, if you were a superhero, what would your name and power be?

“Oh, you’re trying to put me on the spot! […] Well, super power.. it would probably be something like telekinesis. That’d be pretty nice, just controlling everything using my brain.

As for the name… I’m the worst in finding names. It took me two years to get my gamer-name.”

How about the name-finder then? After you capture the villains, you give them new names, so that they can start a new life after being punished and having been in jail and stuff.

“That works. I like that.”

If you could meet one video-game-character from any game and spend a day with them, who would you like to meet and what would you do with them?

“Oh, these are really hard questions. You really like putting me on the spot! […] Well, usually I like playing RPGs where it’s more about creating your own character. […] I’m thinking… I can’t think of the name. It’s from Metro 2033. Khan is also quite good but it’s not the one I’m thinking of right now… but yeah, I’d like to take control and [tell] people [to] do the tunnel-stuff!”

Okay, for the last and most important question: Dr Pepper is the superior soft-drink, right? (I know, I’m a fanatic, don’t mind me, I thought it’d be fun.)

“Yes! I actually completely agree with that! In Australia, where I’m from, you can’t get it anywhere but in America, when I go there, it’s like everywhere! And it’s very good! It’s bliss!”

Okay, so that was the Interview with Dylan from Onerat Games. It’s been a lot of fun and, well, Elden: Path of the Forgotten is coming out soon, too! Release in 2019! 🙂

While my job was quite exhausting and while I’ve got to head out soon as well, I found it quite relaxing to finish this post first before real life is trying to mess with me again. This could count as my contribution to Blaugust’s “Staying-Motivated-Week”: Don’t let your Offline-stuff mess with you. Fight it head on and write about it or escape from it and write something! Writing is great to escape but even better to treat wounds.

Anyways,

Peace out!

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.

The Stray Sheep #20 – GamesCom-Interviews #2 – Through The Darkest of Times & Resort

Okay in today’s Stray Sheep, we’re traveling in time as we’re not only visiting the darkest of times (in Through the Darkest of Times) and the 60s/70s (in Resort) but also going back into the future (in a short bit about GravityLane). These are the second and the third GamesCom-Interview! Sadly, I couldn’t interview GravityLane 981’s devs, but I will for sure, next time!

So, for Through the Darkest of Times, I’ve asked the questions in German! This was, of course, because of the fact that the game is about Nazi-Germany and all that – not because of me and the dev being German. No, that’d be too much of a coincidence, wouldn’t it?

Anyways, I haven’t thought it through all that much since I, now, have to translate the dev’s answers into English again, although he could’ve answered in English all along. Yep. I’m stupid. But I didn’t have my morning coffee on that day, so I guess I can be forgiven.

Okay, so, Through the Darkest of Times is basically a strategic simulation based on the horrible events of the years of 1933 to 1945 where you lead an underground resistance group to fight the NS-regime.

After having played the game for a bit (and it was great gameplay at that btw), I had the chance to talk to one of the devs of Paintbucket Games, Jan-Dirk Verbeek, and ask a few questions about him and the game.

Since I’ve been too busy worrying about halls filled with people and my anxieties and all that stuff, I ended up not thinking up all that many different questions, leading to me asking every dev the same questions (apart from the weird ones). GG, I’d say.

That way we get the most interesting answers and can compare them! Yep. All planned. For sure.

What was your biggest inspiration for the game?

“The biggest inspiration for the game? Well, I’d like to point at Paintbucket Games’ founders as I joined a bit later. I myself was really intrigued by the topic. I found it really interesting to work on a game with a topic this dark that isn’t ‘funny’ but still ‘entertaining’.”

What was the most exciting part of developing this project?

“Oh, well, I’d have to think about that for a bit. I myself am only a programmer. I’d say, 80% programmer, 20% game designer. Most of the time [the most exciting part] is planning a feature or a game mechanic together with my other game designer co-workers and then to actually turn that plan into reality, as a programmer. It’s a lot of fun to find cool solutions to make it as efficient as possible.”

How satisfied are you with the game at its current state?

“Well, we fundamentally have built everything now and are now in the process of actually polishing everything. Now it all becomes really pretty, I’m satisfied, and of course, there are a few features that we’d like to implement before the release but other than that I’m quite satisfied.”

Gestapo knocking

Okay, so now we’ll get to a few “different” questions, cause there’s probably a ton of other, actual journalists that only ask the boring ones.

“Oh, so, now’s the point where I should flee, right?” (laughs)

What’s your favourite game?

“I’m developing games, I’m not playing them anymore. (laughs) Jokes aside, that sounds stupid but it’s really often the case that you don’t get the chance to play videogames as a game dev.”

Oh, well, then let me rephrase the question: Of all time?

“I really enjoyed playing strategy and roleplaying games, but also games like Desperados and [inaudible]. I’ve also played Gothic for quite some time. And, well, more strategy, I guess.”

If you could meet one videogame-character IRL, who would it be and what would you do together?

“That’s quite a difficult question! (thinks) Maybe going into some sort of Video Game Hell with Kate O’Hara from Desperados… I know, quite a droll answer.”

What’s your favourite videogame-antagonist?

“A really great antagonist? Oooh, I’ll have to think of something… I can’t name one right now but I really like it when you’re able to understand an antagonist’s motives even when you’re disliking his or her methods.”

Okay, so last question: If you were a superhero, what would your hero name and quirk be?

“Oh, man, if I were a superhero, I wouldn’t be here. No, (laughs) I’d probably just wait somewhere for something to happen and then jump into the action heroicly to save the day. Just kidding. (thinks)

Well, as for a quirk, I couldn’t give a real answer right now…maybe something with math and system engineering! I know, it’s really concrete for a theoretical answer…”

Reshaping the world…

“Exactly, just having intuitive knowledge about different systems and maybe the ability to manipulate them…”

Using an Apple Macbook (laughs)

“Nope, not that. I’m not an Apple user!”

Well, this hero remains unknown to the world since he always vanishes and clears the data cache and browser history of your minds! Nobody knows who he is! I guess that’s why I don’t have an answer to the hero-name-part of this question… That must be it!

Well, Through the Darkest of Times was really fun to play as I love managing resources, planning out missions and all that stuff. I kind of felt reminded of games like Beholder and Do Not Feed The Monkeys as there’re multiple ways of doing things here and as you’re able to play the game differently, every time you start it.

There’s also a rogue-like-aspects to it, as your character and crew always get randomly generated and as there always are different events mixed into the actual historical events that make the experience unique every time you start a campagne. Lovely!

Another German Dev I found was Matthias Nikutta from Backwoods Entertainment, the studio behind Resort, an atmospheric mystery-thriller-game where you’re interviewing people refusing to leave the former health resort, Larburnum Creek, as the writer Laura Tanner before a comet is threatening to destroy the whole area! “But there’s something rotten at the heart of this picturesque town. A story exploration game between dreams and reality.”

Of course, there’s a reason why I asked him the questions in german: I was lazy and stupid, which is why I now, again, have to translate the answers into English without losing the meaning (I’ll try my best!). I hope you don’t mind. The other interviews all are in English, though!

What was the most exciting part about developing this game?

“We’re still in development, at an early stage as well. It’s the first time that we’re showing the game anywhere in public. We’ve been working on this project for about a year now. We’ve developed a prototype before that but weren’t satisfied with that one, so we just threw it all away and started working on this prototype here. What you’re able to see is only about two to three months old, though.”

What was your biggest inspiration for this title?

“Story-wise, we’ve been inspired by a lot of tv-shows like Twin Peaks, X-Files, Fargo, and mystery-stories like that, and style-wise, we were inspired by games like Firewatch, Dead Static Drive, a bit of Kentucky Road Zero, and a lot of those 60s/70s nature park/resort posters. We used the latter for fictive world-building of some places and the setting in the game, which you can see here on these postcards and posters.”

Okay, so, Uhm, now I’m asking a few weird questions since I am no professional… If you were a super-hero, what would your hero name and your quirk be?

“My her name would be….. Matmoiselle and.. my quirk would be teleportation! That’d be practical.”

And Matmaiselle..?

“That’s my stage name.” (laughs)

Dr Pepper is the best soft-drink, right?

“Nope, not at all. I don’t like Dr Pepper at all, the name is cool but the taste is not. Sorry.”

Awww… 😦

If you could meet one videogame-character from any game in our world here to do something together for one day, who would it be and what would you do together?

“I really like Guybrush Threepwood from Monkey Island and […] just relax outside a bit. I like being outside.”

[We laugh about a joke I made that I can’t talk about on here.]

Okay, so what’s your favourite videogame-antagonist?

“My favourite antagonist? Let me think a bit..” (thinks for about 28 seconds) “Maybe Gravelord Nito from Dark Souls. He’s got a very epic character design, and…yeah.”

To round it all up, I really enjoyed talking to these devs. I should’ve known but I didn’t, at all, know that there’d be this many german devs. There were also ByteRockers’ Games who presented their homage to Portal, Gravity Lane 981, a game where you solve puzzles with a hamster-powered portal-gun that also is able to control gravity and do other things. Really interesting, but only in development for about four months now. Still looked really cool.

Since the devs looked quite busy, I ended up not interviewing them. But I’d be glad to check out their game once it’s out, since I’m a huge Portal-fan!

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed these two interviews! Feel free to leave some feedback and always remember:

If you’re 50 Gold short, destroy the enemy nexus! – LoL

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.

The Stray Sheep #19 – GamesCom-Interviews #1 – Ring of Pain!

So, for today’s Stray Sheep I’m publishing the first interview I ever did. As for context: I’ve visited the GamesCom last thursday, for the first time, and not only did I check out a ton of cool new games there, but I also talked to a lot of cool devs and even interviewed some of them, including Simon Boxer from Melbourne, Australia. He’s an artist and indie game dev.

His studio, Twice Different, is currently working on Ring of Pain, a new rogue-like-dungeon-crawler based on cards which I reckon to be the new Slay the Spire! I really enjoyed myself playing RoP and had a lot of fun talking to Simon. For my interview with him I thought of a few questions about the game and its development, as well as some “weird and quirky” questions about him, so I hope you enjoy these!

What was your biggest inspiration for the game?

“The game has a lot of inspirations and it’s also kind of a reaction of the previous game I made which was called Bounce House and it’s a game about bouncing children off a bouncing castle and it was really super colourful and cartoony. After making that I wanted to make something really dark.

And so I was thinking about what could I make using my skill-set, ’cause I was originally an artist before I was beginning to program and so I thought a turn-based card-game could be something, something that I could probably do. And so, within that small scope I [wanted to] mashup things I love: Card-games, Rogue-likes and Dungeon-Crawlers. I tried to make something that was fresh and innovated in some ways to make something new and interesting.”

What’s planned for Ring of Pain’s future, update-wise?

“We’re aiming to do an Early Access early next year, and when we’re in the Early Access we wanna be doing consistent updates with community feedback […] about new features and continue to build it out from there. There’s a lot of stuff that I want to add that is yet to get into the game and obviously, we haven’t released it yet […].”

What was the most exciting/fun part about working on this project?

“I think just having creative freedom […]. I have full creative control to decide on what direction this is project is going to take with a very dark and cryptic narrative that is laid on this world that is presented as a distorted place of fear and delusions.

So, it’s been really enjoyable to just try and decide on this work and the creative direction and just keep on improving and improving it until it becomes something interesting.”

And now some personal questions I guess. What’s your favourite game? Of all time!

“OF ALL TIME! Oh wow! I have so many favourite games, I mean, I started playing games, like, in the 90s. Some things that are very close to my heart are the Ultima series even though that’s very different, like I learned a lot playing the Ultima games especially Ultima 7 which I’ve played a lot, so I really love those and that might be something to call out.

And as for newer things, obviously Slay the Spire, as that had a big influence on my game, The Binding of Isaac […]. Yeah, I love so many different games. Like, I play Rocket League, I play FPS like Apex […], strategy and puzzle games like The Witness […], and a lot of genres, so it’s hard to find a favourite.”

Dr Pepper is the superior soft-drink, right?

“Yes, definitely! Dr Pepper is great!”

(Thank you)

Okay, so for the final question I’d like to ask: If you were a super-hero what would your hero-name and your superpower be?

“My Superhero-Name would probably be just Simon but with a P in front of it, so it’s like Psimon. And I definitely wanna be teleporting around, like I just don’t wanna use my legs anymore.

I wanna teleport around, especially between countries cause being from Australia it takes actually over a day to get to this side of the world.”

So, well, this was the first interview. I’m really excited for Ring of Pain and can’t wait for the release! As a side-note, I should mention that, since the GamesCom is such a huge convention and since I wasn’t recording with an external microphone, some parts of the audio weren’t audible.

After a while, I resolved this issue by adding “[…]” to the answers to indicate (no pun here, move on) that there’s been two or three more words that are missing. I’ve only exluded them because of the fact that I couldn’t understand them. Next time I do something like this, I’ll probably use an external microphone or even something else instead of my phone.

But that’s where this post ends. I hope you enjoyed this post! Leave some feedback if you want to and stay tuned for some more interviews that I’ll release in the following days.

Anyways,

Stay cool! And hydrated!

Note: I’ve added the pictures after I’ve published the post. I only just found the press-kit, meaning that I now have more than just one screenshot available.

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.