Pure Nintendo interviews Still Games about Animal Gods
Today Pure Nintendo sits down with the developers at Still Games to hear all about their current crowdfunding campaign for action/adventure title, Animal Gods. We chat about the game, the team, their inspiration and developing for the Wii U.
PN: Firstly, can you tell us a little about how the four of you come together to form Still Games?
It starts with Peter, the game designer, and Kara, the programmer. Peter has always been passionate about video games, and Kara had a bit of an awakening to gaming when she grew older. We’ve talked about making games in passing, and we jumped in. While searching through music soundbanks online we found Michael Rasbury’s work, and Austin’s art style reminded us of old Zelda concept art. Both of these guys are uniquely talented and were willing to hop on board.
PN: Animal Gods is a unique concept. Can you elaborate on where the idea for Animal Gods came from?
Monsters are in lots of video games but they’re usually not explained that well. We wanted to tell a story that focused on the beasts themselves.
PN: The setting of Bronze Age Europe is particularly interesting. Is that era something that you’ve always been interested in? How does Stonehenge fit into the picture?
Stonehenge was constructed during this time period. We knew that we wanted to go to an ancient time with the game. We get to explore mysteries in the distant past–there exists some physical relics of the time but not much information because it’s a time before writing systems. We asked composer Michael Rasbury to write a piece based off an image of early, early concept art and the piece he wrote reminded us of Europe. It had the tones of a deep, epic tale–like classic heroic journeys, but older than that too.
PN: The game draws comparisons with The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, and Final Fantasy 6. Are there any other notable influences going into this game? What are some other favorite games of yours that inspired you to become developers yourselves?
I think Thatgamecompany’s Journey was a bit of a landmark title in that it managed to captivate and hold player’s attention just by sending you along your way to a very big mountain. Just moving towards an important destination can be mind blowing and engaging experience to itself. There will be moments like these in Animal Gods.
PN: The art style is very unique, and beautiful. How long did it take from the original idea to what we see in the trailer today, and how do you find your inspiration?
About a year and a half. Nintendo tends to work with color and depth in their own games (Zelda and Mario both come to mind). It’s an an extremely efficient process. When you create art focused on color, you can get more done, and quickly. There will be stark, silhouette sections of the game
that help break up the color as well. These monochromatic sections will add notes of mystery.
PN: The hero of Animal Gods is known as Thistle. Can you elaborate on this character? What is she like and what motivates her to bring balance back into the world?
Thistle is small but she never lets that define her. She’s living in a world that’s fractured between the old ways of nature and peace and new ways of metal refinement and growth. These two things are at odds—then the gods fall from curse. Thistle is a hero who is strong enough to fight
it and stubborn enough to right it.
PN: Can you tell us a little more about the Gold Weave Cloak, which is an in-game bonus and one of the incentives for backers. Where did this concept originate and how does it work?
The goldweave cloak is Kickstarter-exclusive gear for all backers. It adds a play style to the game–you do more damage and you take more damage. This new way to play the game is limited to Kickstarter backers, as it is a perk for those who donate now rather than wait for it on consoles. We want Animal Gods to be a game that people can enjoy via multiple playthroughs, and the goldweave cloak is part of how we give extra thanks to backers.
PN: It’s fantastic to see more and more indie developers designing games with the Wii U specifically in mind. Can you tell us a little about how you plan to use the GamePad for Animal Gods?
The Wii U version will definitely support off-screen play — which puts it a bit ahead of the PC, Mac, and Linux versions in our books. (the input lag is CRAZY low on that little Wii U game pad, so the controls feel really responsive, if you’ve ever noticed a slightly better “feel” when playing in off-screen play mode on the Wii U). Right now we’re still testing ideas with touch-input, and will have more to discuss after the campaign is funded and we can start to experiment with
PN: Have you developed for or worked with any Nintendo systems in the past? What is your relationship with Nintendo like?
Nope, but Nintendo has been really great to work with so far. They were really excited when we talked to them about the idea!
PN: At this stage you’re building for the PC, Mac, Linux and Wii U. Can you give us an idea of the differences between developing on various platform? In particular, how easy or difficult is working with the Wii U development kit?
We’re developing the game through Unity 3D. Nintendo provides us with a free copy of Unity Pro, which also exports to PC, Mac, Linux. Each platform requires its own bit of tweaking in order to optimize the build, but compared to other options this is a rather seamless process. The core of the game is built the same, so we, as developers, don’t need to face the platforms differences until later in development.
PN: With your Kickstarter campaign, is this something you’ve been considering for a while? What’s your experience with Kickstarter been like so far?
We planned for months to go on Kickstarter, but nothing prepares you for the real thing. Because we’re never quite sure how it’s going to go. Kickstarter is a fun platform because the backers become involved and we hear feedback from what people like and dislike. It lets us mold and fine tune the project to their tastes, so it’s a platform that you get to respond to. We can’t write everything ahead of time. A Kickstarter campaign is a busy endeavor, sometimes exhausting, but it’s great because people know about our project. Each backer means the world to us. Getting the project funded is the goal–but the journey has been really rewarding so far, linking us to so many awesome gamers who care about Animal Gods like we do.
PN: Do you have any other advice for other budding developers out there?
Keep fighting the good fight!
PN: Thanks so much for your time, we’re really excited about this game and encourage interested readers to check out your Kickstarter campaign for all the details on how to support Animal Gods for the Wii U.
October 22, 2014
Fantastic interview James!
October 22, 2014
Thanks Trev! Was a nice change and lots of fun to do :)
October 22, 2014
Wow, great interview, after reading it I am even more excited about this game.
December 5, 2014
Mario Games – Kizi – K7x