Cubed3: Please tell us about SnowCastle Games and your team.
Bendik: We love RPGs and story driven games! It's a really fun place to work and I'm incredibly proud of my team. They are a super talented and passionate bunch of professionals.
Cubed3: What titles have SnowCastle Games worked on previously?
Bendik: We did a series of smaller web games for others during the first years of Snowcastle's existence. As we grew more self-confident we started our own project, a children's story told with adventure game mechanics called Hogworld. It took us almost 8 months to complete and we got raving reviews but did not really make all that much money from it.
Cubed3: Festival of Magic looks gorgeous! Please tell us a little bit more about how the game came to be.
Bendik: January 2nd 2012 we sat down in the morning starting a new year and a new project. Each person on the team got to talk about the ideal project they would like to work on. It was then unanimously decided that we would make a RPG. From there on it has been a team effort.
Cubed3: Please tell us a bit more about the characters and storyline in Festival of Magic.
Frits: Along time ago the planet stopped revolving, leaving one side in constant sun and the other in eternal darkness. In the apocalypse that followed, the advanced civilization got wiped out with only a few survivors remaining. Those few survivors have, over the centuries, managed to rebuild some kind of civilization with most magic and technology lost at that time. The world is now polarised into two factions those that inhabit the light side and those who have adapted to live in the ice and darkness.
Festival of Magic has two main protagonists. The young desert scavenger Amon and the aristocratic airship pilot Ive. You start of playing as Amon, but once Ive joins the party, you can choose her to lead the group.
As Ive comes into the picture, things start to happen, and Amon gets pulled into a global conflict that threatens to destroy the planet again...
We will get to know Amon as he searches the desert for remnants from before the Apocalypse. What he scavenges he normally sells or uses to modify his ship...
That's all I can share for now.
Cubed3: The artwork in Festival of Magic looks unique and interesting, how has it all come together?
Frits: Hogworld already had quite a distinct style - a blend of classic Disney and Studio Ghibli. We wanted to advance that same palette and mood into an entire universe and that's how it all started. Since then the characters have "aged" quite a bit and we've introduced some darker more mature themes to make the world more interesting to wider audience, including ourselves.
Because of the explosion of indie developers the industry is getting more diverse and sophisticated in terms of design and aesthetics - we hope to be part of that wave and bring bold colorful RPGs to a western audience.
Cubed3: Travelling the world by boat is hardly used in games these days and seems like a great mechanic. Can you share more details on the different islands to explore?
Frits: One of our favourite elements found in adventure games is the sense of pure exploration and epic story progression. We wanted to bring back that experience and we're already working on an over world of Umbra (the Festival of Magic world). Inspired by Beyond Good and Evil, the player will be able upgrade the protagonist's ship throughout the story which will grant access to new areas of the overworld and progress the story.
Cubed3: Please tell us about the harvesting and combat mechanics and how it comes together.
Bendik: You will be able to grow and harvest various magical plants, spuds and fruits. Later on you can build your own livestock of barnacles. The barnacles eat fish and produce magic pearls. All the resources farmed will serve as ammunition or magic spells for combat, be used to feed the pet monsters you might capture during quests, or they can simply be sold to buy upgrades and other things you might need.
Another way to get resources can be to take your team to the combat arena and fight other players' monster teams. If you win, you will get some of the opponent's resources (food), but if you lose they will get some of your spells and ammo.
Cubed3: The use of pairs in battle is a really intriguing idea, how does it work?
Bendik: Since we're still prototyping the combat system we can't go too much into detail, but I can say that it involves two character types that can be combined into different pairs and open up new party strategies. Each character has very unique abilities so it will be pivotal for the player to figure out advantages of the different pairing combinations.
Cubed3: We would love to own some of the Festival of Magic weapons in reality; they seem a perfect blend of East meets West. How did the designs come about?
Frits: Thanks! Like most great JRPG each hero needs a signature weapon. I wanted the designs to be minimal and iconic, follow their function and tell something about their origin and owner. Amon has a chunky cannon for firing grenade-like spuds, while Ive's Brave Slinger is like a hi-tech slingshot shooting pearls. Our yet-to-be announced third fighter character will introduce the melee weapon class - which will look pretty bad-ass!
We also want the player to get attached to their weapon, not replace it all the time like used socks. You will be able to upgrade your weapon as you go along and if you should happen to find another weapon rest assured it will have quite different properties and its own history.
Cubed3: There seems to be a Final Fantasy / Legend of Zelda vibe about the project. What RPG or adventuring influences have gone into Festival of Magic?
Bendik: We drew a lot of inspiration from Final Fantasy 9 and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker in particular. These games have perfectly crafted unique and enjoyable worlds of their own that still hold up after all these years. In terms of gameplay we're trying to make the perfect blend of puzzle driven adventure and turn-based combat. We love the complex dungeons of The Legend of Zelda, but we want the gameplay to be strictly "brainy", tactics based and not spontaneous or time based. That's one thing we miss from the hay-days of JRPGs; you could play those games at your pace and not worry about sweaty palms (looking at you, FFXIII).
Cubed3: With Festival of Magic heading to Nintendo Wii U, how do you wish to use the GamePad controller?
Bendik: The GamePad will be used for the party menu, stores, maps, inventory, but you will also use the touch screen for controlling combat and harvesting. So in other words it will be an integral part of the gameplay experience and make big menu quicker and more fun to use.
Since we have not yet started experimenting with it, we might find some other uses for it. I have some ideas I would like to try out, but it's too early to mention any details.
Cubed3: Will there be support for multiplayer or possibly any online functionality?
Bendik: Yes, we see the game as having two gameplay modes. The farming, crafting and monster care does not require you to play continuously for long sessions. For this gameplay we wanted a co-op feature so you could get help from friends and share some resources.
Initially I did not see a way to mix turn based combat with PVP, but then we played Clash of Clans and studied the asynchronous PVP used in that game it became obvious that async was the way to go about it. By allowing the players to catch and train monsters and set up a monster team to participate in a combat arena we had all the needed elements for PVP.
As for the other gameplay mode, the narrative driven quests, we want the player to feel unique and special. So here there will be no other players to take your glory. You and you alone will save the day at the end of each episode.
Cubed3: What would be your ideal role model/inspiration in the development world?
Bendik: I think Magnus Person (Notch) is a pretty outstanding Indie. Not counting just that he has been so successful but the fact that he is so generously giving back to the indie industry.
Cubed3: What has it been like working with Nintendo so far?
Bendik: In the short time since I met with Dan Adelman and Tim Symons at GDC I have been very positively surprised. I heard a few years ago that it was really difficult to work with Nintendo, but they are really friendly and helpful so I feel well taken care of.
Cubed3: Are there any plans to bring Festival of Magic to other platforms like Nintendo 3DS?
Bendik: No, not at the moment.
Cubed3: If you could work on any Nintendo game like The Legend of Zelda or Super Mario Bros, which would it be?
Bendik: The Legend of Zelda.
Frits: I would love to get my hands on The Legend of Zelda universe and maybe Zelda RPG?
Bendik: Yes, a The Legend of Zelda RPG sounds like a fun project!