Interview | GalaxyTrail on Freedom Planet

By Jorge Ba-oh 11.03.2015 1

Earlier this week popular retro-inspired indie platformer Freedom Planet was confirmed to be getting a release on Nintendo Wii U.

We caught up with creator and main developer Stephen "Strife" DiDuro on how the project began, plans for the Wii U version and just what makes the game stand out.

Image for Interview | GalaxyTrail on Freedom Planet


Cubed3: Hi Stephen, please introduce yourself and the team working on Freedom Planet.
 
Stephen "Strife" DiDuro: Hello! I'm Stephen, an indie developer and the main developer behind Freedom Planet. My team is about 15 strong, most of which are voice actors and artists from around the US, Canada and Australia.
 
Cubed3: What previous projects had the team worked on before Freedom Planet?
 
Stephen: Personally I had been making small freeware games as a hobby before I started this project. Some of our team have done voice work for games and animation in the past, while for others Freedom Planet is their real voicing gig. Our artists have been doing commission work online for some time, which is how I was able to find them in the first place.
 

Image for Interview | GalaxyTrail on Freedom Planet


Cubed3: Freedom Planet seems to bring back the much loved 2D-platformer approach; please explain the core gameplay ideas
 
Stephen: Basically, the game is like a tribute to the Sega Genesis era of colourful 16-bit platformers. I've seen a couple of reviewers sum it up nicely: It's like what would happen if Treasure made a Sonic the Hedgehog game instead of Sega. It's got those momentum-base physics but it's much more combat focused, and because of this the controls are tighter - each character has a variety of attacks they can use.
 
Cubed3: What's the story in Freedom Planet? The opening cutscene sure has us gripped from the start!
 
Stephen: Freedom Planet's story boils down to fighting robots and stopping an alien warlord. The main characters are three animal girls who end up caught in the middle of the conflict and decide to help stop him after a good alien crashes near their home. The game is pretty light-hearted about its story, except for a few surprises. There's full voice acting and the player can choose to play with the story or just play through all the stages in order without dialog.
 

Image for Interview | GalaxyTrail on Freedom Planet


Cubed3: What elements of classic platformers have helped shape Freedom Planet?
 
Stephen: I feel like this is best seen in how each of the three main characters play - Lilac the Dragon Girl is a mix between Sonic and Rocket Knight with high speed and a dash attack, Carol the Wildcat is almost like a Capcom character who wall jumps and attacks with quick punches and kicks, and Milla the Hound Dog is more like a Nintendo character with a Yoshi-like flutter and the ability to throw blocks and items. I also admit to being a big fan of Treasure's games like Guntar Heroes, and it shows with Freedom Planet's massive bosses.
 
Cubed3: Having sampled the demo, there are some comparisons to Capcom's Mega Man and SEGA's Sonic the Hedgehog franchises - how are you making Freedom Planet stand out?
 
Stephen: A lot of people see influences from Sonic the Hedgehog right away, and it has the same basic idea of using momentum-based physics, but it draws inspiration from a bunch of other platformers. I feel like by focusing on the combat and intermingling as many good design aspects as possible from different games in the 16-bit console era, it helps the game feel like a totally different experience.


 
 
Cubed3: The art direction is bright and bold - how do the character designs and environments come together?
 
Stephen: I do the base graphics and animations for everything in the game, but most of the time I'll just fill in the shapes and leave the shading and coloring up to one of our pixel artists. Then when they're finished, I adjust the color palette they use to have a subtle amount of hue shifting, which is what gives the game its vibrant look. I feel like this is the reason it still looks like a 16-bit platformer without sticking to a strict colour palette.
 
Image for Interview | GalaxyTrail on Freedom Planet


Cubed3: Are you using any modern graphical techniques/effects with the retro direction?
 
Stephen: I think the only modern effects I use are semitransparency and additive blending for certain particle effects like lasers, for example. Other than that, it's just a clever use of rotating and resizing (like with the carousels in the "Fortune Night" stage).
 
Cubed3: From what we've heard of the soundtrack, the music design really fits the look, how has that side of the game come together? 
 
Stephen: Our music is mixed by Leila Wilson, who goes by "Woofle" online. We worked together on the base melody for most of the tracks and then she would remix what we came up with, although sometimes Woofle would go solo on tracks without my involvement. She's a big fan of the kinds of games we drew inspiration from, which really helped nail the feel we were looking for!
 

Image for Interview | GalaxyTrail on Freedom Planet


Cubed3: The voice work is a neat touch - how do you go about finding the right fit for original characters?
 
Stephen: For voice acting, I posted a call for auditions on a couple of voice acting forums online. I gave it about one to two months for a deadline and received a pretty hefty number of auditions for our cast. You'd be surprised how many bites you get when you're looking for voice work for a game like this.
 
Cubed3: It's great to hear that the game is in the works for Wii U - how do you intend on using the Wii U GamePad controller and hardware?
 
Stephen: I'd like the game to be compatible with a bunch of controller types - the GamePad Controller, the Wiimote, Wiimote+nunchuk and Pro Controller to be specific - so that players have more of a choice in what they can use. I'm not sure if I'll be able to pull off anything special with the GamePad screen itself, but at the very least it will duplicate the display from the TV.
 

Image for Interview | GalaxyTrail on Freedom Planet


Cubed3: Would you consider multiplayer features for Freedom Planet - for example, races?
 
Stephen: This is something I really wanted to do mid-development, but at that point we were too far along with development to go back and add support for a second player. It would be cool if we had some kind of leader-board system, though.
 
Cubed3: Would you consider Nintendo 3DS?
 
Stephen: For sure! There are some pretty big obstacles, though, considering how much less space there is on the 3DS for running games, so we'd have to compress some things in order to get it to work, and we'd have to think about how to utilize the touch screen and add 3D depth to the background and objects.

Image for Interview | GalaxyTrail on Freedom Planet


Cubed3: What hurdles have you had going at it as part of an independent team and crowdfunding?
 
Stephen: Thankfully we haven't had too many issues because of how passionate our team has been about the project, though I think there were a few people I commissioned who were unable to fulfill their duties. A lot of indie games have issues with vital members of the team dropping off which causes the project to stop in its tracks, but thankfully I was the one handling most of the super important stuff, so we could bounce back whenever someone had to drop out.
 
Cubed3: What advice would you give to other Indie developers who are trying the crowdfunding route?
 
Stephen: Share a playable demo. It makes it so much easier to find your audience and help convince them that your game is a thing that's being made right now. Also, if you're planning on getting on Steam (and it's a really, really good idea that you do), consider starting a Steam Greenlight campaign at the same time since it helps raise awareness on two fronts.
 
Only do a Kickstarter/Greenlight cross promotion if you're able to keep working on the game regardless of whether or not the Kickstarter is successful, though. Finally, if there are stretch goals, be sure that they're things you can add after the main project is finished and released, or else you'll delay your game's development unnecessarily.
 

Image for Interview | GalaxyTrail on Freedom Planet

 
Cubed3: If you could both work on any Nintendo franchise, what would it be any why?
 
Stephen: I feel like Nintendo franchises are at their best with Miyamoto at the helm as their original creator, but if I was bestowed with the honor of working on one of his games, I think Star Fox would be a lot of fun. Donkey Kong is another one I might be good at, since most of my experience is with platform games.
 
Cubed3: What are your plans for the future - do you see Freedom Planet becoming a series?
 
Stephen: I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to continuing the series someday. I still have a few things to do with this game, such as the expansion adding two new characters, but after that, who knows? This is definitely not going to be our last game though!
 
Cubed3: Any final words you'd like to give to fans?
 
Stephen: Our hearts go out to everyone who's supported us and helped spread word about the game. We couldn't have made it this far without you. You've helped shown that there is a real desire for the kinds of games we love making, and that's something we're really happy about. Thank you so much!

Image for Interview | GalaxyTrail on Freedom Planet


What are your thoughts on Freedom Planet? For more on the project, be sure to check out the official website and download a playable demo.

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Box art for Freedom Planet
Developer

Galaxy Trail

Publisher

Galaxy Trail

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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Comments

I love this title it looks amazing.......Sega needs to take head.....There still are lots of fans out there including myself that still love Sonic. Plus also would not mind another traditional Sonic game.  Radicle GO FREEDOM PLANET !!!!!! Smilie

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