Indie game studio Bishop Games are eagerly awaiting the results of the Kickstarter campaign for their first major project, Light Fall. The three man group based in Quebec City, Canada started development of the game back in February of 2014. Members of the Steam Greenlight community have already voted the game through, and the Kickstarter campaign currently promises a release for PC and Mac if their basic goal is met. Additional console platforms will be available upon the campaign hitting key stretch goals.
Light Fall is a 2D platformer that seeks to add additional depth to the standard gameplay with the inclusion of something they call the Shadow Core. The Shadow Core is a floating block that players can manipulate in a number of ways to complete levels and avoid lethal obstacles. Players explore the dark and dangerous world of Numbra in an effort to save the citizens of the lost land, and uncover the main character’s shadowed past. Gamers will learn more about the history of the setting through the narration of the protagonist’s owl companion, Stryx.
Voiced by Tim Simmons (Torchlight, PAYDAY 2), Stryx takes on the role of a tough-love teacher, easily angered but full of wisdom. Light Fall’s Lead Writer Benoît Archer made himself available to discuss a bit more about the game in general, as well as lead some insight into how the studio arrived at their current budget.
JT: A big part of your selling point with Light Fall is the versatility that the Shadow Core mechanic offers. In your experience watching players approach the various challenges of the game, have you seen a lot of variation in how people solve the puzzles, or do they seem to naturally gravitate to certain solutions?
Benoît Archer: Well, from what we have shown to the public (first two levels of the game), the puzzles and difficulty are not too extreme. We didn’t want to overwhelm the player because in expos such as PAX, the player doesn’t have the time to learn everything about your game. There are so many things to try… so with that in mind we kept the two levels simple, but in essence yes, they had different approaches. There were some people who would rush head first and rely on their skills and reflexes with the Shadow Core to get out of harm’s way, others would take their time, even scout ahead with the Shadow Core, things like that.
JT: As the lead writer how much focus has been put on the story or narrative of Light Fall? You list Limbo and Bastion as some of your major inspirations, both of which had a great amount of symbolism and philosophical story structures. Should players be on the look-out for similar aspects in Light Fall, or is the experience going to be more focused on engaging game-play?
BA: We want both. I think with the Shadow Core and the level design of our game, the game-play is both engaging and challenging, but we also want to tell a story. That’s why we have an in-game narrator, Stryx the Night Owl, who will be your side-kick throughout this adventure. As the writer, I also do the level design with Math, the artist, and together we set the pace of the levels so the story doesn’t come up at a wrong time. If you are trying to survive in an extreme situation, it is obviously not the best time to have the narrator talk about this ancient village and such.
JT: Game development budgets continue to be areas that people in general seem to have little knowledge in. The general acceptance seems to be that games cost roughly $10,000 a month per developer. Is this about accurate in your experience?
BA: It is accurate for some studios we know, but in our case, we operate on a much cheaper cost. There are several reasons for that. First, we are very lucky to be hosted for free at our office. So just with that, we save A LOT monthly. We are also three modest guys, we don’t go out of our way to buy things we don’t need. There’s also the type of game you are creating that comes into play. Let’s say that a platformer is much cheaper than a MMO. We still have numerous expenses, be it for the music, the in-game narration, tools in Unity, software, etc., but it isn’t so bad. It also helps that we don’t give ourselves a salary.
JT: How will your studio be able to successfully fund this game with your $16,500 Kickstarter goal? Some have argued that many campaign goals set for game development projects aren’t realistic, but are more reflective of backer misunderstandings or misconceptions when it comes to the realities of game budgets. Do you feel something like this has happened with Light Fall’s campaign goal?
BA: Well, in Canadian dollars that is $20,000. So the difference is quite big. We have already invested $15,000 into the development in the past year, and after establishing our budget, we found out that $20,000 is what we need to finish the development. Obviously, that’s the minimum. When it comes to game development, you could go on and on (marketing, conventions, etc.). But still, with $20,000, we will be able to provide our backers with Light Fall in the way we envisioned it at the start. The key point here is we’re not going to put money in our pockets with the Kickstarter, the entire sum will be dedicated towards development. Two of us have part-time jobs on top of working on Light Fall full-time, so as long as we don’t bleed money, we are fine, even if we make none.
Those interested in experiencing the game first-hand can find a playable demo available on the official Kickstarter campaign page.