Nostalgia is an interesting power in relation to the gaming industry these days. So much has been created and done in our industry that people have grown a strong fondness for brands and worlds we haven’t seen in years. Nostalgia can be responsible for generating the re-ignition of a long lost franchise, but then again, so can passion and demand.
A little while back Playtonic Games fired up a Kickstarter to help garner further funding for their upcoming 3D platformer Yooka-Laylee. Set to be the spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie, Yooka-Laylee is looking to embrace many of the captivating elements the former delivered on the Nintendo 64 (N64), while continuing to push and evolve what a 3D platformer can be.
Yooka-Laylee has ushered in a significant amount of intrigue and anticipation from gamers both young and old, and the support is certainly there with the game’s Kickstarter now over $2.6 million. Playtonic Games surely knows the expectations are there for Yooka-Laylee and they want to live up them.
“There are certainly things the fan base expects when you start talking about doing a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie. You can see that in the Kickstarter where we put up gameplay to show the audience this is what we’re capable of after working for three months. They see what they’re funding, but [Banjo-Kazooie] was about surprises as well as surprising the player and I don’t think the team is satisfied with trading on nostalgia. People are going to see a lot of new stuff,” Playtonic Games’ Andy Robinson said.
The Banjo-Kazooie franchise is such a beloved world in the eyes of so many people. Many grew up playing the series and have some of their earliest gaming memories from it. There is little to wonder about why people are so excited about Yooka-Laylee, and the gameplay we’ve seen only encourages that excitement.
For an independent studio, creating a game and then taking it to a major publisher can cause trepidation. Seeking out support while making sure it comes in the fashion you want it is much easier said than done. Playtonic Games’ Gavin Price talked about what they would look for in a publisher if they were ever to go that route.
“Our approach has always been if we can find someone who helps us do what we want to do well – and that is make the game – and I wouldn’t say the boring jobs, but the jobs that get in the way of doing what we love then yeah, that’d be interesting. If we can stay in charge and in control, then that’s what we might look for in the future, but we’ll see,” Price said.
Ensuring a creative vision is maintained and isn’t sullied by outside hands seems to be the greatest concern for Playtonic Games. Yooka-Laylee has a unique, yet familiar tone and with the types of features and changes the studio has in mind for it, maintaining an open, free development environment will be key.
Much like what happened with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and how CD Projekt RED sought out publishers for distribution purposes only, it’s plausible that Playtonic Games could seek a publisher out for similar purposes. Robinson talked about how crucial it would be for the Yooka-Laylee team to maintain their creative integrity, if a situation like that ever came up.
“Any decision like that would be about protecting the creative autonomy of the team and that culture the team was formed to have. If all of a sudden you had these guys worrying about putting things in boxes and how you’re going to send codes out, those are the sorts of things you would look to get help with,” Robinson said.
Yooka-Laylee is still in its early development stages with a lot of work still to be done on the project. When the game does end up launching though, players know it will be hitting the PS4, Xbox One, Wii U and PC day one. We’ll have much more from our chat with Playtonic Games tomorrow.