Did your ordinary German soldier in 1943 who was fresh out of school at 18 know he was one of the bad guys in WW2? I’m a bit confused about The Happy Little Virus. Normally in games you play the hero, sometimes the bad guy, but when you do it’s clear. I think I’m the bad guy in this…
The game is played in imagined circuit boards, in a kind of Tron way, where you are in the grid, on the motherboard of a computer or in the servers. You play a virus…so a bad guy (right?) and there are companies to choose from to ‘attack’ on the menu screen.
One is for Guide Dogs and the other is a Cancer support charity… we’re hacking and stealing from these people? We’re definitely the bad guys! Right? Perhaps we are fighting corruption or abuse? No, there are suggestions that rich people want guide dogs because they are trained to poo on command. You are sent to hack and steal from various addiction, wildlife and support charities. We’re definitely the bad guys.
Happy Little Dalek-like Creature
In The Happy Little Virus you control a small Dalek like creature in a 2.5D shooter and you have to run through circuit boards, which are effectively corridors. You gradually collect weapon power-ups through the course of the game and your progress saves after each level.
The early levels are just corridor shooters and lack a zing about them to draw you in, but if you persist the game does develop a bit. You are presented with wider levels, giving you choice about how to tackle opponents. Enemies (the good guys) are similar Dalek shaped creatures but represent anti-virus software and sometimes can reproduce in hubs on some levels.
You (as the virus) can take over these hubs and replicate yourself a few times. This gives you a form of extra life in some of the more challenging levels. Levels also develop a variety of additional features. You can regain health from circuit board resistors and there are firewalls, which act as little laser gates that can be activated on and off sometimes. If you are smart you can use these to your advantage making some of the faster anti-virus Daleks career into them as you sidestep like a matador.
Sound & Visuals
The music and sound effects are not up to much, it’s there, but pretty rote and unobtrusive. The colours however are vibrant and look good, with bright greens making borders and circuit connections and some levels using luminescent lighting to provide a different type of challenge than just more enemies. The gameplay curves nicely in difficulty although the final level is something of a chaotic overwhelming challenge.
There are a variety of different weapons on offer through the game and they are quite inventive, you don’t just shoot things, although of course in a robot shooter, you do have a laser. You can blow a blast on a diffuser that shatters opponents – only at point blank range mind you, you can blow bubbles that capture enemies and bounce them off into space and off the board and you can gather up the shattered bodies of your enemies into a debris whirlwind and fire them at your enemies.
The more enemies you face, the more cluttered your narrow play area and corridors become with these shattered bits of anti-virus robot. This can be a help to you as it slows down the advance of your enemies allowing you to retreat a little and gather yourself; but it can also hinder you by rendering your long range laser redundant with too much debris in the way to hit the intended ‘good guy’.
The weapons then work best at a variety of distances and best against certain types of enemy. This all means you need to become pretty good at switching between weapon types and picking attack and retreat as weapons cool down. all-in-all it’s a pretty good fire system and definitely the strength of The Happy Little Virus.
If the combat is well constructed the level design and gameflow is less impressive. Although the difficulty is well planned and scaled, the essence of the game does not change very much and this makes play somewhat repetitive and slightly irritating. On top of this the constant messaging is just odd and awkward.
There are about 25 levels in all and they are grouped into rough themes, culminating in destroying and stealing from organised religion. It doesn’t feel like there is a narrative, rather that you are being subjected to the developers prejudices. If you can ignore this, it will take you about five hours to complete Dalek Training school.
The Happy Little Virus is a reasonable FPS puzzle game and is available on Steam. It has some good design in weapons and a reasonably well planned difficulty curve, but the messaging falls flat and the game is a bit repetitive and lacking fun after a short while; kind of in the way that Candy Crush is a challenge but isn’t actually fun.
The Happy Little Virus provides the sort of frustrating challenge that trying to bounce a tennis ball on the edge of the racket does, you want to go again because you know you can do better, but you also know the experience and result isn’t going to be much different and when you finish you probably won’t ever do it again, unless you’re a bad guy and then nothing you do makes sense.
This Prim review was based on the demo available from Common Colors’ website, Steam and Itch.io. Check out the links below for more information.
I’m a reaper. No I’m not a man from the village come about the hedge. You might have an image of the Grim Reaper, some hellish agent of Death and destruction in your head and that I’m pretty handy with a scythe, but to Jonas Fisch the German designer behind this game, it means I’m supporting him to make his vision of a point-and-click adventure game become reality.
Reapers are what Jonas calls his supporters in his updates on the development of his Kickstarter. Jonas Fisch is developing a game called Prim about the daughter of death and you can download the demo at these links for free now on Steam and Itch.io
Watch The Prim Game Review Here
Prim is the name of the main protagonist, a young girl who needs your help to escape the Underworld. You play with her, directing her actions and investigations. In turn, she will give up clues about objects she observes and describes. It’s standard point-and-click adventure game stuff. It’s done really well though, top drawer stuff; think Monkey Island set in the Nightmare before Christmas. And about a minute after I thought this Jonas himself described it as just that in one of his Kickstarter videos I was watching.
Jonas has clearly achieved what he intended. What do these comparisons actually mean though? Well the end result is something spooky, cute and comedic, backed by an ace story. Prim ticks all these boxes.
The story opens with an explanation that Prim is death’s daughter; well he’s called Thanatos, which is the name of the Ancient Greek Angel of Death, but he looks pretty much like the Grim Reaper styled skelly bones figure of death we are all familiar with. Prim dreams of a young boy in the real world, the land of the living and has an overwhelming urge to go and see him.
Thanatos, her father, naturally (should that be unnaturally?) won’t let her, warning of serious dangers if she does. This disagreement must be entrenched, because the game opens, after a little narrative explanation, with Prim locked in her bedroom by deathly daddy and she wants to get out. You are going to help her. It is this portion of the game you play in the free demo and I urge you to play it. Everything about it screams good.
Mechanics & Fluidity
The mechanics are fluid, there is none of the common frustrations with point-and-click adventures here. You have no trouble directing Prim to climb ladders, stand on chairs, combine tools, look at small things in the far corner of a wall; the hit detection is clearly very well made. There are also some nice developments that show Jonas knows what bothers people. He has made the game a single button interface…with everything. You want to combine items – Left mouse, want to use an item – left mouse, want to open things – left mouse; the only thing that isn’t is opening the inventory, for that you just flick the scroll when and then everything in it is….yep – left mouse. It is so simple and intuitive that you almost don’t notice it and it makes the whole experience so clean and fluid, an absolute necessity for a successful point-and-click adventure.
On top of that you have beautiful black and white hand painted images for the scenes that add to the setting of this cutesy house in hell. It’s very Adams family in vibe and Prim is a little like Wednesday…only less violently serious. Prim is a very likable character and is superbly voiced by Maria Pendolino. In fact everything about this game is slick, clean and works perfectly. There are no glitches in this demo, nothing is missing. There’s even a whopping spooky score laid over it all. On top of this clarity of form it is laced with nice touches and a tonne of humor, at one point a disco ball drops from the ceiling and death takes a cheesy dance, it’s delightful and unexpected.
Jonas Fisch clearly knows his stuff, he has made smaller adventure games in the past and obviously honed his craft. His pitch videos on Kickstarter are full of vim and charisma demonstrating a turn of phrase and explanation. This should not come as a surprise given his day job is as a secondary school English teacher in Germany. You can see his bright, playful intellect in the use of the word ‘reapers’ for his fans. It is playful and wields a duel meaning. Not only does it reflect the game subject, but it is also addressing those who have funded him and will in the near future, reap the rewards of backing him.
Hitting The Goal
The Kickstarter reached its base goal in just 22 hours and is well on the way to breaking all of its stretch goals. This is a good thing, because it means we can expect an eight hour game of many more levels and puzzles to follow this demo. Great, because I really want to know what is through those doors at the top of the stairs. To see what I mean you will have to go and play the demo.
Is Prim Worth Playing?
I’d like to round this Prim game review off with a very strong word of advice. If you do one thing today, it should be to head on over and download this.
The demo gives you about 40 minutes of play and shows you exactly how the game is going to be. After that I predict you will immediately slap it on your wishlist and sign up for his newsletter to guarantee you Early Access two weeks ahead of anyone else.
How do I know you’ll do this? It’s because I’m not normally a fan of games like this and it was the first thing I did upon completing the demo. The game is scheduled for release in 2022; that is a highly ambitious timeline, but when you play the demo you can see all the mechanics are in place and Jonas seems so calm and organised that I believe him…maybe also his wry grin to you on his videos reveal he has done a deal with the devil to ensure he reaps the rewards that are surely heading the way of Prim.
Did you ever wonder how to approach a game publisher with your game idea? Do you like axes? Annoying monkeys? Dinosaurs? How about flannel shirts? Well, this interview is going to be the highlight of your week.
We spoke with the team at Another RoadPublishing, the publisher behind Lumberhill – a crowdfunded chaos-filled lumberjack game you can play with friends. Play in co-op, PvP or solo mode and swing your axe through insane levels that put your axe wielding skills to the test… all against the clock. Expect to see beautifully drawn pirates, raging wildfires, (annoying) monkeys & pandas among other unexpected things along the way, and get unlocking your way to new worlds and skins. Bags of fun, and already critically acclaimed, Lumberhill is well on its way to a raging success.
Sharpen your axe and iron your flannel – this wild co-op will throw you right into the middle of action! Try to get your job done in a crazy race against the clock: collect orders, fight wildfires, pirates and extremely annoying monkeys! Unlock tons of new skins and worlds playing in co-op, PvP or solo mode… and save the world – lumberjack style!
We have started as a video games accelerator, offering financial support and mentorship to students and young studios, aiding them in completing their first professional projects. It became apparent to us that these fledgling studios would also need help with promotion and marketing of their games. So, the Another Road Publishing was created to do just that.
Congratulations on the Kickstarter. At the time of writing, you are almost halfway to your goal! What was the reason you went with crowdfunding?
The team working on the game is young but very ambitious. At this moment, most of the workload is already completed, but we’ve decided that there are still some things that we would like to expand and polish in the game. It could use an additional round of testing, more levels, a few new mechanics and skins. The game will be released in the beginning of 2021 regardless of the result of the Kickstarter campaign, but at the end of the day we would love to include everything we have planned!
The campaign story, video, GIFs and images on the crowdfund page at Kickstarter are very slick and professional. Did you hire a third party or is it all done in-house?
All in-house! We have amazing artists on board who created all of the beautiful images and GIFs for the campaign!
All of the drawn elements were hand-painted and animated by us, and our video editor put together these amazing videos you see in the campaign. Also the live action scene in the promotional video where we are chased by a definitely real dinosaur was one of the most fun things we did this year.
You already have a great following thanks to previous releases. Do you get a lot of organic feedback on Discord, for example, which helps the developers polish a game before release?
Yes, all of the feedback is extremally valuable for us. We’ve got a lot of it on our Facebook page, Discord servers and from youtubers and streamers playing the game.
Sometimes it helps us in not so obvious ways. Let’s say, we have a specific feature in the game, and we feel like it should be visible and clear to the players that it is there, but we get a lot of feedback that says “it would be cool if I could do this that way”. We get a very clear message that there is something wrong with the way we’ve placed that feature in the game and it should be changed. We also listen very carefully to what people think of the game overall and make adjustments where we can. One great example is the tutorial area, which is now completely different from what we had in the previous demo version of the game.
I’d like to take my time here to thank all of our community for their feedback and support! You guys are the best!
Lumberhill looks and sounds like crazy, chaotic fun, enjoyed by many at the Steam Games Festival. What sort of feedback helped the development process?
All of the feedback helped us immensely in creating the experience the players will love to play. As we published the demo version of the game twice (once during the Summer Steam Game Festival and Autumn edition) we’ve received not only a lot of feedback on the game itself, but we could also see how the changes we’ve introduced for the second demo influenced the experience for the players.
We value any feedback, because even something seemingly irrelevant, like a question about the way that the quests work in the game, might push us in the direction of: “Oh, if they ask about it, maybe we didn’t explain it well enough in the game and we should fix it”.
Have there been any in-house full on, all out Publisher vs. Developer Lumberhill battles during playtesting?
Yes! And we had a lot of fun together! (Well I guess the developer had more fun since we have lost all of the matches, but we gave it our best!)
If we can talk about Weakless for a moment: – When publishing Weakless with Punk Notion, how did Another Road help bring the project to life?
As I mentioned before, Another Road Publishing stems from a video game accelerator that was providing support for young developers just starting out in the business.
Weakless came to be as a student project and when we accepted it into the acceleration programme, it was little more than a big pile of concept art and a bold dream of two girls. You could say Weakless was with us from the very beginning, from the conceptual phase, through first prototypes, to the mature, enchanting game we can play today – and we supported it as much as we could along the way.
Weakless is a very unique slant on a traditional puzzle-adventure. The deaf and blind characters are an incredible twist. Did this evolve or was it planned from the beginning?
Actually, it was one of the first thoughts that sparked the game into existence: to have two characters that complete themselves and find their strengths not, like it’s usually found in games, in their superpowers, but through something that is traditionally considered a disability.
The idea for Weakless came from two incredible young artists, Ania Kowalczyk – a graphic designer, and Agnieszka Wlazły – a composer, so somewhat naturally the concept drifted towards deafness and blindness, or rather – an extraordinary sense of hearing and sight. So, yes, it was planned from the beginning and served as a form of foundation for the rest of the game.
Have you ever been approached by a developer and absolutely knew the game would be a hit? …or even hated a concept and didn’t want to get involved with a game at all?
Yes, sometimes we happen to see a certain game and just know that it will be a great fit for players in terms of innovation, fun, polish and overall quality. But we are just people, and sure we have a lot of experience in the field, but we are still limited by our personal tastes and opinions that could not always be in line with specific player base. And that one amazing or not so great game might be great or not so great only for us. This is why we try to remove ourselves from the process a bit and let the player base speak.
We conduct marketing tests to see if gamers like or dislike certain idea and only then we decide if we want to continue to work with the developer. One thing that can cause the project to be rejected from the get-go is the quality of the presented alpha or tech demo; we feel that even the most incredible ideas won’t be successful when realised poorly.
What gives Another Road the edge when developers choose you?
We base a lot of our approach more on “what will the community think” rather than on “what we think”. We conduct a lot of early marketing tests to make sure that we are a good fit for each other. When they start to work with us, we help and fund \ creation of their Steam page (or work together on reworking it) and then conduct the marketing test. If it works out for everyone, we go ahead. If it doesn’t – we part ways leaving developers with all of the marketing assets and a polished Steam page. We also offer extensive marketing campaign plans reaching from community management to performance campaigns on various channels (FB, Twitter, Reddit etc.)
Reddit is known for its “unique” community. What has been your experience with Reddit marketing?
…”be active on different boards, be a part of the community – and genuinely love it”
Another Road Publishing
As for the performance marketing campaigns via Reddit Ads, I found it to be a straight forward experience – if you ran something on Facebook you will feel at home. But outside of paid marketing, Reddit is really specific as a platform. Overall we feel that there is a change coming (and a really overdue one, in my opinion) to the way marketing works on social media channels.
To this day, many games were promoted across multiple channels, creating a situation where we were active on all the channels, but not *really* present on any of them. This, of course, changes with the size of the team: in bigger companies each channel can have a specific person assigned to it, but in smaller teams usually there is one person operating all of them. And I feel that Reddit is the prime example of that need to be *really* present on it to work out well. You have to not just come around once in a while and post one or two updates, but be active on different boards, be a part of the community – and genuinely love it. To sum it up, during the Lumberhill campaign we decided to put more effort into our Discord community, but perhaps with our next projects we will find Reddit to be the best fit.
There has been an outpouring of praise on YouTube for Lumberhill. Do you feel YouTube is a good platform for an indie developer to find “Let’s Play” creators etc. to get it into the wild?
Yes, working with YouTube creators was a pleasant experience and we didn’t stumble on any serious hurdles along the way. Additionally, we were really happy to see that many of the creators just picked the Lumberhill demo straight from the Steam Game Festival without any prior contact with us, and loved it! For us it was more than just marketing, we watched every gameplay video closely and noted all the comments people had while playing, which resulted in a few changes to the game. So it is not only a great way to get more eyeballs on the project, but also receive extensive and very organic feedback on the gameplay.
How would you suggest indie devs approach creators on YouTube?
I would recommend to approach the creators just like you yourself would like to be approached – we all have limited time in our busy days, and presenting your pitch in an organised manner usually works the best. If you contact them via their business e-mail, first tell them what your game is about in quick points and then present the rest of the materials.
If you pick their interest in your “elevator pitch”, there is a bigger chance they will like to learn more about your game. If you try to include all of the info in one huge paragraph, the essence and the novelty of the game might get lost in the details.
As a publisher you must be approached by people all the time who just have an idea to pitch. What is the most common & overused game pitch you hear?
I don’t feel that there are any “overused” game ideas, as with Indie developers due to the smaller production scale they have a lot more freedom to experiment and take creative risks. So even if we receive a lot of game ideas within the action-RPG genre, every one of them will have a different hook or interesting twist to stick up from the crowd.
Have there been any issues with Coronavirus lockdowns impeding progress on Lumberhill?
When the government rung the first alarm bells about the pandemic outbreak in our country we quickly transformed our physical office in to a virtual one and worked from homes ever since. And as easy it was to move computers and other essential hardware in to our homes, the switch to this new way of working took significantly more time. Also the worry about our loved ones – our parents and grandparents didn’t help. In the end we had to push Lumberhill’s release a few months forward, but thankfully we are now at full speed ahead and focused on our goals.
Are you working with any other developers right now on upcoming games?
It is too early to share ?
The industry as a whole has seen an increase in interest for indie games, throughout Coronavirus lockdowns. Have you noticed an uptick in developers coming to you with games?
Most of the game pitches come to us through gaming events that we participate in, such as Gamescom, and usually the devs include some kind of demo or tech demo in their pitch, which naturally requires some time to produce. Since the pandemic started around March I feel that if we might see the increase in the amount of the pitches presented, it will happen in 2021 once the devs will have sufficient time to gather their teams and produce first alphas.
What are the steps Another Road takes to ensure the development runs smooth?
Firstly, we conduct a marketing test; we fund, help to rework or create the Steam Page for the game and present it to the community. If it works out we push forward and fund the development of the game. From that point forward we start to work on the marketing and increase the awareness about the game (so this is not something that happens just one month before release of the game). We also provide QA to the developer if necessary, so they can focus on making the game and we can focus on making sure everything runs alright.
One of the burning questions for every indie developer is: how do I approach a games publisher? What advice can you give an indie developer who wants to get their game published with you?
It is the best when we have a pitch document and some kind of demo/alpha/technical demo to work with. Some important things we are looking for are: what is the overall quality of the presented gameplay, what genre it is, what are your past experiences as a studio, what is the USP of the game and what are the estimated development costs. It is much easier if the pitch document is structured in a way that we can easily deduce what is the essence of the project.
The first thing you notice about Siebenstreich’s Nerdventure is the quality of the hand drawn characters. It is because Katie and Sonja have handcrafted this funny little nerdy adventure that you cannot help but fall in love with the characters and the narrative. Playing the demo will have players’ nostalgia senses tingling, harking back to the days when they lost full days to point & click games like The Secret of Monkey Island. What’s impressive is that Nintendo Switch players will get to play the game too – not just PC owners. This is somewhat of a rarity in the indie sphere, but a fantastic string to Siebensstreich’s bow.
A hand-drawn, nerd-friendly indie adventure about sustainability in times of magic.
Our nerdventure starts, as so many good stories do, in a basement. After a bold descent along the infamous Stairs of a Thousand Creaks you have finally arrived at the meeting point: The gloomy tavern “Ye Laundromat-3000”, where your friends await you. Eager to set out on an adventure, they invite you to an epic round of “Dice & Doom” – an offer you simply can’t resist.
– Golden Orb
Golden Orb’s Kickstarter is well under way, with less than two weeks (at the time of writing) to go.
Thank you for doing the interview! Firstly, tell us who Golden Orb is, and how you came together…
Sonja: Golden Orb is an award-winning indie games studio located in the beautiful Ruhr area of Germany. We, Katie and I, founded it in spring 2018. The two of us met about ten years earlier, in 2008, working as employees for a game development company in Cologne. So by the time we started our own studio we’ve had plenty of training in working well as a team.
With Golden Orb our focus is in creating narrative games. Our first game won the “Ubisoft Blue Byte Newcomer Award” in 2018. Currently, we’re working on our 2nd game, the 21st century pop culture fairy tale “Siebenstreich”. It’s an adventure game about sustainability in times of magic, featuring an awesomely hip tailor and Trudie, a vegan carnivorous plant.
What made you get into programming (Sonja) and digital art (Katie) in the beginning?
Sonja: Technology has fascinated me from a very early age, especially if it was entertainment or art related like cameras, VCRs, computers etc. And I’d always had a passion for movies and games. So I used my university years and internships to get hands-on experience in as many media related fields as I could manage to find out what niche would best suit me. Eventually I got drawn into the mystic field of programming. By chance, an opportunity arose for me to enter into professional game development. I tried it, fell in love with and stayed. It’s just wonderful to see your code come to life by enabling people to experience and interact with virtual worlds.
Katie: I’ve always been the one who during math lessons happily filled her notebook with decorative sketches rather than following the subject matter. Graphical representations of my logarithmic functions were also rather vague, obviously experimental and often sporting some floral patterns. It therefore occurred to me early on that I would generously leave the natural sciences to other people and let myself be drawn into the colorful maelstrom of artistic activities.
Somehow, I accidentally ended up in the gaming industry and have kept myself busy there since then, creating and designing characters, environments and such, animating them and bringing them into the final game. I love it when an idea becomes something tangible and brings joy to other people.
You have poured your heart, soul and savings into Siebenstreich; is this a daunting prospect (or were you always confident the game would have an audience)?
Sonja: If you put a lot of yourself and your resources into one thing, it’s always risky. So, yes, at times sleep doesn’t come easy, as you never know if you’ll earn enough compensate what you put into development and to keep your studio alive long enough to make the next game.
From an early project stage, we’ve showcased first the prototype, later the game at conventions, trade fairs and local game dev meet-ups to get feedback from potential players, which has really helped us shape the project. Based on the response we received, we are confident that there are people who’ll enjoy playing “Siebentreich”, it certainly has an audience. What’s daunting is that we don’t know if we can reach enough people after release before the game gets drowned in the flood of the e-stores.
How has the time balance been between contract work and Siebenstreich? Has there been any frustrations at critical points in the game’s development, when you wished you’d had more time on a problem, for example?
Sonja: Developing “Siebenstreich” has always been our main focus. Even during months of contract work we tried to squeeze in some development time so it wouldn’t rest completely for such a long period. Of course, it’s nicer if you can just dive into a project and put all your thoughts and energy into it the whole way through but then a game in development only costs money, it doesn’t make any, so we had to compensate that otherwise. I don’t think that contract work has harmed our development in any way. At times, it might have even been beneficial that we had to look at our game from a distance and then get back into the project with fresh ideas.
Winning the Ubisoft newcomer award must have been incredible?
Katie: Yes, indeed. We were quite surprised and overwhelmed. Since our first game “Cinderella – An Interactive Fairytale” was a mobile game for children, we would have never thought that it was outstanding enough to win such a prize. We know now that it wasn’t just the game but also all of our achievements during our first year after founding Golden Orb that made the jury choose our project for the award.
What made you choose Nintendo Switch, Android and iOS for your first game, Cinderella – An interactive fairytale?
Katie: At first “Cinderella – An Interactive Fairytale” was mobile only. We wanted to create a safe game for children without in-game purchases or ads. Sadly, we realized quickly, that the market for premium children games on mobile platforms is rather thin. We thought about shifting our focus to the Nintendo Switch with our next project, so we ported Cinderella mainly as a test case. Surprisingly, the game sells way better than on mobile.
On what platforms do you plan to release Siebenstreich?
Katie: Right now, we are planning to release Siebenstreich on Switch and PC (Steam). We developed a game pad interaction design so the controls fit the Nintendo Switch naturally. We both love this platform and believe there is still a small chance to be seen there – even as a small indie project. The PC, of course, is still the classic platform for point & click (alike) games. We additionally provide an original point & click control via mouse on PC for those players, who love it the conventional way. We do not see a wide audience on other consoles for this kind of game or even genre. But you never know, maybe there will be more platforms in the future. But for release in spring 2021 it will only be Switch and PC.
Had Siebenstreich required you to learn any new skills?
Katie: Besides some usual program or platform relevant updates it was mainly the Kickstarter campaign which led us out of our comfort and knowledge zone.
What was the inspiration for the game itself?
Sonja: Our basic approach with Golden Orb games is to tell a traditional story from a modern outlook. At its core, “Siebenstreich” is the story of “The Valiant Little Tailor”. Layered on top – in addition to shifting the narrative perspective from a few centuries ago to our current day – are classic adventure games like Monkey Island, humorous fantasy literature like Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series and many other aspects of (nerdy) pop culture that inspired us to tell the game’s story the way we do.
In terms of dedicating so passionately to supporting gamepad controls in a traditionally point-and-click-driven genre, the inspiration simply was that we like playing with gamepads and we like playing adventures so we’d really like to see both combined. As we do value the genre’s tradition and roots, in the PC version the game also supports the classic point-and-click style. So it’s up to the players to decide, they don’t have to agree with our gamepad preference.
Are any of the characters based on real people?
Katie Well, we have “Sylvester Stallione” which might lead to a conclusion, but he is rather inspired by a role of the famous actor, who accidently sounds almost like him. All our characters may provide some similarities to famous people, yet they are not fully based on them nor are they meant to be.
Most developers say Kickstarter takes a lot of courage to launch; not least because you are market testing your game -but also seeking funding from a future fan base. What has your experience with Kickstarter been so far?
Katie: Like I mentioned before, Kickstarter is a new experience for us. Yes, it took a lot of courage to launch, but releasing a game does, too. It’s just the thing we do: Try, learn, improve. We did it with Cinderella on mobile, with the porting on Switch and not to forget with founding Golden Orb in the first place. It is an experience and we are glad we can make it. No matter if it works out or not. Since we knew that we will publish on our own, we had the choice to do more contract work and had to push the release further back, or we would try a campaign and maybe could finance the rest of the development without contract work. Either way, Siebenstreich will be released sooner or later.
Now Siebenstreich is in the wild, what sort of feedback has helped you develop the game?
Sonja: Well, we started showing the game to people early on, having them play development versions and taking their feedback for the next development cycle. This player feedback really helped us in finding our narrative style and finetuning features. It was also great to hear that many people liked our art style so we continued in that direction with more confidence.
If you could give one valuable piece of advice to new indie developers, what would it be?
Katie: Be strong. Don’t let yourself down.
It’s the apocalypse, and you are running for your bunker; you can only grab ONE game (not your own!) to play as the world crumbles around you, for a long, long time… what’s the game?
Katie: Factorio…. It just never gets boring – ever.
Sonja: Might be the nostalgia speaking, but I’d go for “Commander Keen – Marooned on Mars”.