Developer Interview: Island Officials on Kickstarting "Orion's Odyssey"
Posted by Lee Meyer
"Nintendo has been nothing but supportive"
You may not have heard of Island Officials, but this New Jersey-based development studio has been supporting Nintendo handhelds for years, and is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to fund its DSiWare puzzler, Orion's Odyssey: A Pattern Blocks Adventure. We chatted with Island Officials' Ryan Morrison about the upcoming title and the Kickstarter campaign; check out the video and see what Orion's Odyssey is all about:
Nintendo Life: Tell us a little about Island Officials and the games you develop.
Ryan Morrison: Island Officials is comprised of many developers who come from all different backgrounds and experiences. We have about 30-35 people who are comprised of smaller teams working on different types of apps and games that appeal to different sets of audiences, which is ultimately our goal. Aside from Orion's Odyssey, we're also working on Frantic Frog, a quick pick up and play arcade-action title for mobile devices, and Pixel Lincoln, a hardcore 2D side scrolling action game which is an adaptation of Pixel Lincoln: The Deckbuilding Game.
NL: What are your inspirations for Orion's Odyssey: A Pattern Blocks Adventure?
RM: Orion's Odyssey has several major inspirations. First, the inspiration for how the story plays out on the top screen came from Tetris DS, which has a mode where a classic Nintendo game would play itself as you cleared lines. Second, the style of the cutscenes was inspired by many 16-bit games, particularly RPGs of the time. Finally, the story, artwork and irreverent humor had many different inspirations from all different mediums, to video games like EarthBound to animation classics like Looney Tunes.
NL: How has it been working with Nintendo during the development of Orion's Odyssey and the Kickstarter campaign?
RM: Nintendo has been nothing but supportive every step of the way, providing all the tools we needed and swift in their response to any support or materials we needed.
NL: One of the defining features of Orion's Odyssey is the story and characters. How do you connect the gameplay to the narrative you're telling?
RM: The main character of the game, Orion, is a robot with the amazing ability to create anything he can imagine. For the player, this translates to actually constructing the item he's building utilizing the pattern blocks on the bottom screen. We do touch on how his ability works and how it relates to the item construction on the bottom screen, but it's mostly meant to be silly to avoid needless exposition. That said, the items created on the bottom screen appear on the top screen, continuing the narrative along.
NL: You've developed some other DS games, but Orion's Odyssey is the first to hit DSiWare. What are some of your other titles our readers should check out?
RM: For Nintendo DS, definitely check out Orion's Odyssey's predecessor, Hands On! Tangrams. Although the game does not have many of the same features as Orion, including the story mode, it still has plenty of puzzle gameplay and many of the characters and elements of Orion appear for the first time in Tangrams. We're also hoping they'll check out the aforementioned Frantic Frog and Pixel Lincoln in the coming months.
NL: Should Orion's Odyssey prove to be a hit, does Island Officials have any plans for 3DS games?
RM: Our goal will always be to reach out many different audiences, so that means we're considering all kinds of devices and platforms to try and find what makes sense for our future. At present, we don't have anything new to confirm just yet.
We'd like to thank Ryan for his time.