Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Interview: Moo Yu (Knights and Bikes)

Recently, a Kickstarter for a game called Knights and Bikes released, and, at the time of writing, it's sitting on £32,483 of donations after just 2 days. Looking at the screenshots and videos on the page, I was enthralled by the beautiful, almost Tearaway-style visuals, and I immediately wanted to know more. Luckily, I was able to get an interview with Moo Yu, lead programmer on Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction and one half of the dynamic duo of developers Foam Sword Games. Here's what they had to say about the game:

Gadgets and Khajiits: So, to introduce Knights and Bikes to anyone who doesn't know it, describe the essence of the game in 30 words or less.

Moo: Knights and Bikes is a co-op adventure game set in a hand-painted world, inspired by stuff like The Goonies and Secret of Mana.

Knights and Bikes looks to have a sort of Earthbound style to it; what games would you say have influenced the idea and concept of Knights and Bikes?

So the two games that I think stand out most are Earthbound and Secret of Mana. Each of these games had a big impact on Rex and I respectively. But I think we've been influenced by countless games over the years and all the games we've worked on.

What mechanic in Knights and Bikes sets it in apart from action RPGs?

I don't really like to separate mechanics out from everything else because all the elements of the game should come together into something better than the sum of it's parts. But one mechanic that I really look forward to exploring is mirroring abilities to the relationship of the two girls. So as they get to know and trust each other, we give abilities that get easier and easier to combine, but when they have a big argument, we focus gameplay on abilities that clash.

But I don't think much about how to differentiate from other RPGs. I like to think more about what mechanics or concepts from games I've played that I can take, deconstruct, and rejig to convey a particular moment or experience that I want.

The art style for this game is absolutely beautiful, a sort of papercraft/cartoony look. Do you think that more games should go for interesting and innovative styles instead of aiming for hyper-realism?

Rex would probably give a better answer to this, but I think if you're making games, you should be free to pick the art style that you think matches whatever you're trying to achieve. For us, this art style let's us play with the world from a child's perspective and blur the lines between reality and imagination.

Lastly, what would you say is the best thing about leaving a company and going indie versus the worst?

Funny enough, I devoted an entire podcast to this topic. You can find it here:

This might be slightly different answer. The best part is that you learn your weaknesses and you grow. You really find out where your limits are and where you should be focusing your time. The worst part is missing out on experiencing the company, knowledge, wisdom, kindness of other people through work. I've learned so much by having someone there to help, teach, and guide me. But there are some things that I never would have learned unless I struggled through them myself.

If you're interested in Knights and Bikes, check out the Kickstarter page here. Follow Moo on Twitter here.

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