First off, I'd love to get the chance to say just how amazing Flyhunter Origins *looks* -- you can really tell your guys pedigree here, and I can't wait to get my hands on the game just to see it in action.
Q1: One of the first things I noticed looking at your screens and the E3 footage is just the unique scale the game takes place in. I'm someone who loves macro photography, so seeing all of these tiny everyday things like mushrooms and flowerpots as your platforms is amazing. What sort of research did you guys do to get this scale right?
Nothing we do is created in a vacuum. Our artists and art director had tons of reference photos and videos to leverage when it came to design. We wanted to make the world feel, albeit cartoony, believable.
Q2: I notice a number of the guys on your team actually have a background in tabletop design. Usually when you hear about that sort of thing applying to video games, it's in the context of RPGs or maybe adventure games. Do you find that background has had a big impact on the design of Flyhunter? Made the game more story-driven, changed how you approached the 'rules' of the game?
Josh, a fellow Co-Founder, has had Zombiesmith which is a table top company, for quite some time now and has successfully created two award winning game systems, This Quar's War and War of Ashes along with several hundred different figures for gaming. Jason, with Ameritrash, just finished kickstarting his first game, Camp Grizzly.
Their history with gaming of the tabletop variety absolutely reinforced the need for story, compelling characters and fully realized worlds in our digital games. You wouldn't think the 'rules' aspect wouldn't apply as one is real time and the other is not. The fundamentals, the approach and how you play test all turn out to be very similar though.
Our future efforts will be even more influenced by this as we adapt some of our tabletop worlds to the small screen
Q3: So Zak is a space janitor. Not to say all similarities are references, but did you have Space Quest in mind when you came up with that? Or is it just a fun coincidence?
Ha! I think Jonathan's original idea of Zak is coincidental. He may not be old enough to remember those awesome Sierra games. I'll ask him. Jason and I, however, are HUGE fans of King's Quest and Space Quest!
Q4: Your platforms are currently shaping up to be iOS, Android, the Vita (yaay), and both Mac and PC via Steam. First off, thanks for including the Vita on your list-- it's a system I know I feel doesn't get the love it deserves. Also happy to see you're doing a Mac version; I don't use one myself, but they get left out way too often. Still, the Steam version seems sort of like the odd one out there; every other platform has a touchscreen, just to look at the superficial. Are you doing anything special with the Steam versions to make sure they feel like a good fit for the platform? Or if I have it backwards, are you doing anything in particular to make sure the game feels smooth when played on a device with only a touchscreen?
For the controls, we had both in mind at the start. We worked on the design for the touch first because that's the hardest to get right. The best way to play Flyhunter Origins will always be with a controller but we are very happy with how the touch feels. As for why to go on Steam, well we all love PC games. It's a game we want hard core gamers to play and have fun with and laugh; and also have kids be able to play and be challenged.
Q5: Looking at your trailer and teasers, I notice there's no dialogue coming from Zak in them. He's certainly expressive enough to make it work, but did you have any particular difficulty communicating the story without dialogue? Or is that just something that comes from having such a strong animation background?
Zak is our Charlie Chaplin. Our animation director Sequoia Blankenship and our super talented animators really did an amazing job bringing Zak to life whilst being constrained by not having dialog and using pantomime. It's challenging but at the same time it gives Zak an innocent, loveable quality.
Hunting with depth perception is for noobs!
Q7: I love seeing a game that has kids in mind. Was it always the plan to make the game for kids too, or did you have to change plans any to make sure it'd appeal?
We don't like to think we focus on any particular demographic over another. We try and make games that can be enjoyed by as many people as possible. I think that comes partly from our background in animated feature films but also our own personal sensibilities. We lean towards a style we call "Grimiscal", part whimsical and part gritty. We want to offer something to everyone who plays. Flyhunter's gameplay is meant to be more casual for hardcore gamers but fun and hopefully funny to keep their attention. We also want it accessible to younger audience who may not get some of the jokes but feel challenged by the gameplay. It's a balancing act, not easy by any stretch but a space we feel comfortable in.
Q8: Is Zak the only playable character, or are we going to get to switch to Ara at some point? She looks like she could kick a lot of butt. If you can change characters, are they going to have different abilities, or is it just going to be a visual difference?
You do get to play as Ara too. The game mechanics are the same, except based on the story Ara is more in stealth mode as opposed to Zak.
Q9: Is Flyhunter Origins going to be generally linear, have different stages attached to a hub, or is it going to be some big sprawling Metroidvania-esque tangle of diverse locations connected individually to each other?
The progression is linear and you advance through the different environments based on the story. You do have a few "flash back" moments and levels that are actually happening concurrently. You will play as Zak in his perspective and then as Ara during the same time frame in her perspective.
Q10: The 'Origins' part of the game's title is a bit telling. I know it's kind of early to say, but if Flyhunter does well, are we looking at a sequel or a franchise here?
Only time will tell ^^