We sat down with Leo Toivio - Programmer and Eric Valentine - Narrative director and level designer for Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island.
There’s a clear influence from the buddy platformers of yesteryear. Do you have any favourites that you’ve drawn inspiration from?
Every person in the team has their own favourite game. I actually don’t think anyone of us have the same since we have so different gaming backgrounds. Eric always brings up Jak and Daxter, Kevin (audio design & music composer) takes inspiration from Banjo Kazooie, Jakob (3D artist / environment artist) usually mentions the amount of polish in Ratchet and Clank, I am a huge fan of the snappy controls in Super Mario Galaxy and Johan is just an all around guy that loves a good challenge independent of what game it’s in.
What is Skylar? We can’t work out if she’s a cat, a fox or a whole new creature in herself.
She is a member of a feline species that roams the galaxy. Visually she’s inspired by a mix between a snow leopard and a lynx, but her species is just space-cats in any combination basically.
And thinking of Skylar, you’ve gone with a strong female protagonist, something not seen all too often in games - what made you choose this direction?
We recognized that most of 3D platforming heroes are dudes, as if this genre was some kind of boys club. We wanted to change it up a little. Skylar is just herself, not too concerned by her gender. I believe we’re all a mix of masculine and feminine and so many other things that define us. As a boy I looked up to Link, Jak, Ratchet and other heroes, and these days I wish I had a “digital big sister” to look up to. I want Skylar to be that role model.
Platformers are a much less common genre than a few years ago - what do you think has caused this? Do you think you could be the ones to bring the genre back to glory?
Eric: I think it became too much of a formula, and it got exceedingly difficult to keep it fresh. Maybe the genre needed to die, so we could appreciate it in retrospect? We tried to distill what we loved the most about those games, and make Skylar & Plux all about that. Platforming, puzzles and some combat. And that’s what we’re trying to achieve, a pretty focused experience. With the Ratchet and Clank remake, as well as Yooka Laylee, it seems like the genre is resurging and we’d love to play a part in that.
You recently showed the game at Rezzed - how did it go down?
Grip Digital, the distributor for Skylar and Plux, had the opportunity to show the game at the event. The feedback was very positive! Kids, girls, hardcore players and even elders loved the game which is great sign for us because we can see that the game is popular for representatives of all generations. It was great experience for us!
When you’re not playing Skylar and Plux, what are your favourite games in the Right Nice Offices?
Currently we are way into The Witcher 3, Dark Souls 3, the new Ratchet and Clank, Path of Exile and a couple of us love to play Super Smash Bros. Melee with great fervor! Leo: After I’ve played through the latest Nintendo title or hot indie game, the latest being The Witness, I always fall back to Esports. League of Legends, CS:GO and Super Smash Bros. Melee all the way!
Speaking of Ratchet and Clank, who do you think would win in a fight between Skylar and Ratchet?
First of all, I don’t think they would ever need to fight each other. At least I hope not, they’d make a great team since they are both on the good side. But playing with the thought, we’d have to consider Ratchet’s ginormous arsenal of weapons and gadgets, extra years of experience, and different sets of armour. Skylar has just set out on her adventure, but she’s already accrued a couple of nifty tools. Her entire right arm is a kinetic weapon, and an upgrade of which let’s her manipulate magnetic objects such as robots and ammunition. All that in combination with slowing down the flow of time around her, and blasting through the air with her jetpack, Skylar makes a pretty tough opponent. It could be a pretty close fight, well, in my dreams at least.
Given an unlimited budget, unlimited time, and infinite developers, what one feature would you add to the game?
Infinite resources is quite the dream scenario, so adding only one feature would be hard. Maybe more cowbell?
That’s a tough question, I wouldn’t know. I would make a poll and see what our players want to add to the game. Ultimately we’re not only making the games for ourselves but for the players.