Game creator Brian Allanson from AckkStudios was kind enough to let us interview him about his upcoming game called, “Two Brothers”. On his development log, he sums up the game as an Action/Adventure/Role playing/Nostalgia game. See what he had to say about the game below.
How many years has your studio been working on “Two Brothers”? Also, how big of a team and budget is involved on this game?
The idea for Two Brothers came to exist about three years ago. At the time I had just started my first year of college, and I wasn’t entirely serious about working on the project, but I began to prototype ideas for characters and sprites, as well as programming some basic gameplay elements. The game started to fade away, and it remained on my computer slightly forgotten until I picked it up again spring 2010 as a way of procrastinating on my college thesis for my computer art and animation degree. As my thesis consisted of lots of 3D modeling and 3D animation, I returned to Two Brothers in my down time to get away from working with 3D software.
Once I had finished my thesis, I realized that the game was very far along, very complete, and actually very much playable. So I contacted a few people who I had gone to college with, Tyler Steele, who is a programmer, and Ian Bailey who is a level designer, and we began to start to make sense out of all of the work I had done.
In terms of numbers, the team now consists of seven people.
Art and Design: Brian Allanson(Me), Tyler Steele, Brigid Allanson, and Ian Baley
Sound: Andrew Allanson, Jose Alfaro, Anthony Manfradonia.
As for the budget of the game, it has been entirely self funded… so exactly how much we’ve spent… I’ll have to answer that after tax season.
“Two Brothers” has been compared to the gameplay of “Secret of Mana” and “Legend of Zelda”. Are these fair comparisons? Did any specific games inspire the development of “Two Brothers”?
These are very fair comparisons, as they were a huge part of the inspiration for the game. I think I would add Chrono Trigger, Wild Arms, Mass Effect, and above all else Lufia 2 to that list.
The graphical style of “Two Brothers” looks monochrome like a Game Boy game, yet it’s as detailed as an SNES game. Can you explain how the lack of color relates to the plot/story of the game?
The game is meant to remind people of the Game Boy era of games without religiously adhering to the limitations of the system, as this game is developed for modern technology. As for the actual appearance of the game in relation to the plot, the lack of color is a core element of what the game is about.
Roy Guarder, who is the hero of this game, is an inventor who has a near death experience that leaves him with memories of an after life that contained colors never before seen by human eyes. Now, as actually creating a new color on screen is far beyond us we use the green aesthetic to represent colors in the real world- for example, there is a point in the game where you get a “Red Sword” that is no more red than any of the other green on screen, but this is used to show people that when the game does start to contain elements of color, you are not supposed to read red on screen as red, but rather a color that is foreign to the games land all together.
How many hours of gameplay will this game offer?
As the game isn’t complete, I can’t say for sure. But I promise the game will feel complete, and you won’t feel as if it ended too quickly. That’s all I’ll say for now.
Who is writing/composing the music for your game? Did you listen to the music of other 2D adventure/roleplaying games for inspiration when creating the music for “Two Brothers”?
Andrew Allanson, who is my brother, is composing the games score. He went to college for music composition and has worked on various projects outside of working with me. When I began the project he was the obvious choice as we both grew up playing the same games, so I knew he would understand the sound I had in mind for the game. Also, before anyone wonders, that is not why the game is called “Two Brothers.” It is in no way auto biographical.
The music is another example of the game not following the limitations of the gameboy, but rather emulating the core elements of the systems visual and aural aesthetics. Each track in the game does contain instruments that could have been played on the gameboys sound chip, however Andrew does a very clever thing by mixing them with more modern synth sounds, and at times, even real instruments.
On your developer blog, you said you wanted to create a game that you would’ve loved to have played as a kid. Do you think the gaming tastes of today’s kids have changed much since the 8-bit and 16-bit generations?
I think to a certain extent, yes. But at the same time there are always kids out there who are discovering great old games through older siblings or even their parents who are still young. This game is not intentionally designed for children, but I imagine I would have loved it as a child.
What platforms can we expect this game on? Would you like to see it submitted to services such as Steam, Xbox Live Indie Games, or PlayStation Network?
I can say PC for sure, however XBOX 360, Macs, and Linux are also being explored as possibilities for the games release.
The graphics and gameplay of “Two Brothers” harkens back to the 2D days of Nintendo’s older handhelds and games. Lately, Nintendo has been more willing to bring small indie titles to their digital distribution services. Do you believe that Nintendo fans would be a strong market for your game since they grew up with games like that? Would you like to see “Two Brothers” ported to the eShop for 3DS or Wii U after the game is completed and released for PC?
I would never rule out the possibilities of porting the game to a Nintendo console, but I think I would rather create another game designed for those systems strengths.
Do you believe console makers (Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo) have made it easier or more difficult for indie studios to get their games on the digital distribution services of those consoles? Also, how do you feel about this new console called Ouya that claims to be “the most indie-friendly console on the market with an unregulated marketplace”?
It’s definitely easier now than it was ten years ago, but it still can be very difficult. Things are looking positive however.
As for the Ouya, it’s a platform that we’ve already discussed as a team that we could easily bring the game to. We’ll have to wait and see on that one though.
Do you plan to release a demo of “Two Brothers”? Also, how far along is the game in completion and when can we expect it to release?
There will be a demo. Definitely before the winter. The game is about 60% complete so it is likely that the demo will be released when we hit about 70%. The real issue for us with a demo is picking the best spot that doesn’t spoil too many of the games clever ideas.
What have been the biggest challenges for your studio while developing “Two Brothers”? Do you have any advice for indie developers working on their first game?
Thankfully the development of Two Brothers has been very smooth, as we accidentally did a lot of the hard work without realizing it. When making something you really love it’s easy to break down barriers , and forget that they’re even there.
As for advice… I’d say always make something you want to play yourself, don’t worry too much about what other people expect you to make as an indie developer, and most importantly, back up your files every night. Seriously. Every night.
AckkStudios announced an upcoming 2013 project called “Globes and Giants”. Is there anything we should know about this game, and when is the earliest we can expect more information on it?
Yes. It’s now called “Atlas.” It’s beautiful. It’s 3D. And it’s going to stay quiet until Two Brothers is complete.
We would like to thank Brian Allanson from AckkStudios for taking the time to discuss their new game, “Two Brothers” with us. The game looks like it is shaping up to be great, and we look forward to the finished product. Also keep an eye out for a demo of the game sometime before the winter.
Few more screenshots: