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Gamelion Studios Interview - Furry Legends

Posted by Corbie Dillard

With the recent release of new screenshots of Gamelion Studios' first WiiWare title Furry Legends, we felt like now might be a good time to get in touch with them in an effort to find out more information on their upcoming release.

Lukasz Szczepanski, producer of Furry Legends at Gamelion Studios in Poland, was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions for WiiWare World. You can find out what he had to say to us in the interview below.

WiiWare World: Can you tell us a little bit about Gamelion Studios?

Lukasz Szczepanski: Certainly. Gamelion was founded in 2002 and currently employs around 100 people in total, across all departments and two main production studios in Poland. Although most of our work in the past was done for mobile devices (including iPhone), we always were working with a multi-platform approach and entering the Wii-market was a natural move for us. Begining this year, we’ve been also approved by Sony for PlayStation development and you can also expect later this year games from us on those platforms.

WW: How long has Furry Legends been in development?

LS: The game has been in development since fall 2008. We’re building everything from scratch, without using any third-party middleware, so it’s a complicated process, as we’re learning new things all the time.

WW: How did you come up with the idea for Furry Legends?

LS: We were doing some brainstorming for our first WiiWare game. We wanted something simple, something we could learn on. We had a lot of ideas, some were more complicated, some less. We have a lot of experienced players, and the genres people came up with often exceeded our project scope. We went with “Furry Legends” as we had some of the technology for it ready, and it looked the most promising out of all our ideas.

WW: Can you give us a brief explanation of the game play in Furry Legends?

LS: Gameplay in Furry Legends is pretty simple. It’s a platformer, but instead of walking around, you’re rolling. This creates some new gameplay mechanics, as well as a new twist on the genre. In addition to regular platforming, you will find environmental puzzles, which will make use of the physics engine we have in the game.

WW: Can you tell us a little more about the physics engine used in the game?

LS: The physics engine takes care of everything that is happening in the world. Objects can bounce from one another, we can create seesaw weights, bump and kick things around, stuff like mass, friction and speed plays a role in the game when interacting with the environment. There’s a lot of potential here, and we hope to surprise the players with some our inventions.

WW: What about Furry Legends makes it stand out from other WiiWare puzzlers?

LS: It’s not a puzzler per se, really. It has puzzles in the sense that you will need to figure out how to use some mechanism in order to open the door, or generally progress further in a level. Sometimes you’ll need to push some key element from another place in the level, or you’d need to figure out the order in which to press buttons.

WW: You've mentioned that Furry Legends contains lots of humor. Can you tell us a little bit more about that aspect of the game?

LS: Humor is a hard thing to grasp, many people view it differently, some things are appealing for one audience, but not for another. In general – we’ll make sure that all the characters in the game, the main character(s) as well as the enemies are fun. You can’t see that from the screenshots yet, but they will have their unique mimics, they’ll make faces and noises to give players that funky-wacky cartoon feeling. In addition, as everyone on the team is an avid gamer, you can expect quite a few easter eggs hidden here and there, all weaved into the world, so they won’t be obvious from the fist glance.

WW: What controllers are supported in Furry Legends?

LS: Currently we support Nunchuk and Wii Remote Controller, and I think it will stay this way ;)

WW: What was it like developing a game that makes use of such a unique game controller as the Wii Remote?

LS: Interesting, very interesting. We spent like a month time trying to figure out the controls for the game. We were prototyping a lot of things to make the experience unique and fun. However, as much as Wii Remote Controller is unique, its uniqueness cannot be used everywhere. At some point you need to think about the user experience and ergonomics. For instance, one of our prototypes was to make circular movements in order to spin the ball in a chosen direction. However, after some tests we came to a conclusion that this is tiring for the player, and in the long run not very fun. In the end we went with the regular ‘arcade’ controls, where you control the character via Nunchuk, and perform special stuff with the Wii Remote Controller.

The other facet of this is the sensitivity of the controller. Sometimes the game would detect motions that weren’t intended, but were just parts of general human behavior. For instance, when you swing your hand it goes along with the inertia, which makes the controller detect a movement opposite to the one you have intended. Not to mention that people can attempt to do the same motion in many different ways, which doesn’t make it any easier. Generally, motion sensing is a very complex matter and requires effort and time we cannot afford at this time.

WW: Did you find the 40MB limit of the WiiWare service limiting as far as what you want to do with Furry Legends?

LS: Yes, it is limiting. At every point of the development we need to remember about the size limit. Whether it’s the levels, models, textures, sounds, anything, really. We create our technology and assets around these limitations, so we’re not caught in the cold while assembling everything together. Currently with the scope of the game and our internal deadlines, the size is not limiting us that much. However, in the original design it was a major concern for us.

WW: Will any downloadable content be made available for Furry Legends at some point?

LS: We do not plan any downloadable content for this iteration of the series.

WW: Will Furry Legends feature any type of online gameplay or leaderboards?

LS: Unfortunately, not. Online is something we didn’t look into yet.

WW: What are some advantages/disadvantages to developing for the WiiWare service as opposed to a retail release?

LS: The biggest advantage is that we’re our own publisher. This means that we can make exactly the game we want to, and we do not need to give in to publisher’s pressure for a feature or setting, or deadline for that matter. The second thing is the lack of physical media, which makes the development cycle a bit easier, and we don’t need to code around DVD seek speeds and other things like that. Removing those limitations is very liberating for us as developers.

WW: How many Wii Points will Furry Legends retail for when it's released?

LS: That’s not something we’re at liberty to discuss. The final price is set by Nintendo, after the game passes all the necessary procedures.

WW: When we can expect a Furry Legends release in the US and Europe?

LS: It’s good to underline that we’re releasing in both US and EU markets. Additionally we are in talks with publishers to bring the game also to Japan. We’re aiming for second quarter of 2009 with the release.

WW: What do you think of the WiiWare service and the releases we've seen so far and do you have a personal favorite?

LS: I think WiiWare is great. There are however things that are limiting its expansion. The most known is the storage space of Wii, of course. The other thing is the percentage of consoles actually using WiiWare, which is sometimes discouraging for bigger players. I think WiiWare at its current state has something to offer for all players. There’s a lot puzzle games and action games. They come in all kinds of quality and prices. That’s a good thing in general, some people do not care for quality, but they like to have a new experience every so often, so low priced titles fill this area nicely. On the other hand, more ‘hardcore’ players love quality and immersion, this is where titles such as Final Fantasy come in. As for my favourite, well, I’m pretty afraid to say it, but I guess that would be Lost Winds :D

WW: Do you guys have any other WiiWare projects on the horizon?

LS: Yes, we have a couple ideas, a lot depends on the initial reception of Furry Legends, which is our pilot project. From there we’ll be thinking forward.

WW: Do you have anything you'd like to tell our readers in closing?

LS: I’d like to thank all and every single one of you for your feedback. It has been a hard, and eye opening dose of reality. We certainly hear your concerns, and we’re already hard at work to address these issues. The most common thing here is similarity to Lost Winds. While we were certainly inspired by Frontier’s work, it is not our intention to copy it in any way. A few things overlap here, we have pretty much the same graphical effects, which makes the two games very similar at a first glance, compared to other (more or less competitive) products, which are either 2D or do not use shading and lightning very well, if at all. The second thing is the environment; you can create a forest and caves only in so many ways. However, we do admit its scarily close to Lost Winds, because of the vibrant colors, setting, oversaturated lighting and so on.

Your comments were certainly an eye opener for us. We have stepped back and saw that while we’re doing a totally different game, the striking similarities took us by surprise. I hope to show you a totally different setting in our GDC trailer. Some common denominator elements will still be there, but you cannot make a 3D platformer, without it looking like a 3D platformer. :)

Keep the feedback coming, and visit our blog and twitter for weekly updates on the game. Hopefully I won’t be doing these interviews very often, as there won’t be any material left for the blog, judging by the size of this interview. ;)

Take care!

We'd like to take a moment to thank Sebastian and Lukasz from Gamelion Studios for taking the time to do the interview with us. We look forward to seeing more of Furry Legends, as well as their other projects, in the future.

Be sure and keep an eye on the Gamelion Studios Blog for current updates on Furry Legends game development!

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User Comments (28)

CorbsAdmin

#2

Corbs said:

Hopefully I won’t be doing these interviews very often, as there won’t be any material left for the blog, judging by the size of this interview

I think that was a shot at my interviewing prowess. :P

Wiiloveit

#3

Wiiloveit said:

As for my favourite, well, I’m pretty afraid to say it, but I guess that would be Lost Winds
That explains a lot about the design, then.

Can't wait to give it a go though, although the controls will be interesting to see with the gameplay style.

Chunky_Droid

#5

Chunky_Droid said:

Thanks for the interview guys, it was nice of them to address everyone (but me)'s Lostwinds concern :)

Ian_Daemon

#6

Ian_Daemon said:

"We wanted something simple, something we could learn on."

Now I'm hesitant. Hopefully the controls and physics will be better than "Niki Rock'n'Ball".

CorbsAdmin

#7

Corbs said:

Anytime someone says platformer I take notice. I just hope they don't make so much of an effort to avoid making it look like Lost Winds that they change it too radically. I'm going to be watching this title with anticipation.

Popyman

#8

Popyman said:

I can't wait to see how this turns out, and I'm glad they see the Lost Wind-ness of everything...

But...that lion, I swear I've seen it before...

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#11

Philip_J_Reed said:

I wish this game (and its developer) a lot of luck, but this still doesn't seem like something I'd enjoy much.

I can't put my finger on it, but this seems like one of those thousands of games I see on shelves that I'll pick up and read about, but never actually feel compelled to try.

Obviously, though, I'm hoping for the best, and would love to be pleasantly surprised.

Ren

#12

Ren said:

I agree most with this part: you cannot make a 3D platformer, without it looking like a 3D platformer.
I don't think it looks THAT much like lost Winds. I think it looks like a nice Platformer, which is what we want. We should be greatful to have the coverage and early looks at games like this rather than tearing them down well before release or even seeing footage in motion. That just my 2 cents, though.

NintendoNaut

#13

NintendoNaut said:

I'm still not totally convinced, but gotta love that quote. "However, as much as Wii Remote Controller is unique, its uniqueness cannot be used everywhere." Amen.

Objection

#14

Objection said:

I'm very skeptical still but I would be pleased if I was proven wrong because I usually like the genre.

Digiki

#15

Digiki said:

It's brutal how Nintendo gets the final say on the price point.

Other then that I don't really care about this at all.

Neomega

#18

Neomega said:

@Bahamut Neo: YEA YEA YEA YEA! Interview! I want update!
I'd also like to hear more on Eduardo the samurai toaster!

CorbsAdmin

#19

Corbs said:

We are trying to get more information on Garden of Zen as we speak. I'm sure we'll put in our usual pitch for an interview if the developers have the time. :)

themortalangel

#20

themortalangel said:

Thanks for taking the time to do an interview guys it seems to have helped out with a lot of us. If your trailer really shows us what your hoping for then I think a lot of people here will be sold on this.

Wishing Gamelion the best of luck!!

Angel

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#21

Philip_J_Reed said:

Oh, and because it's becoming my catch-phrase of sorts to bitch about this in every thread:

"When the EFF is Bit Trip coming out??"

Virus

#23

Virus said:

That was a fantastic interview, and I have gained a great deal more respect for Gamelion. It's not often that you actually hear a company explicitly acknowledging both our comments on this very site and that motion controls aren't for every game. I'm looking forward to this game since it is a platformer, and I wish Gamelion good luck finishing it up. If they can deliver a good product, I will support it.

Sean_Aaron

#24

Sean_Aaron said:

I'm impressed he stepped up to the plat on the Lost Winds similarity. I think he could have stuck by his guns on the look, but the game would have likely been overlooked as "trying to imitate Lost Winds." Clearly in a market as crowded as WiiWare you need to stand out.

I'm a bit confused about the 3D reference though. Despite the 3D look this and Lost Winds have, they're both still 2D games as far as I can tell -- unless there's something that hasn't been revealed about Furry Legends from the screens?

Neomega

#25

Neomega said:

@Sean: A market crowded with puzzlers, platformers, and sims.

Why not try shoo...
What about raci....
What about hor...wait Lit didn't scare me.
What about fighting?

Bahamut_ZERO

#26

Bahamut_ZERO said:

@Neomega: Crowded with platformers? Name 10 good platformers this gen. Its a lot harder than you think. And the markets crowded with shooters.

CorbsAdmin

#27

Corbs said:

And the markets crowded with shooters.

And not the right kind of shooters at that. :D

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