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Wow, the YouTube video was released in November. How have I never seen it before? I've probably watched it three times in the past hour. It's an absolutely amazing production. What was the budget for this?
We’ve had a pleasure of speking with Fat Panda Games about their upcoming project Flat Kingdom. It’s a very cool project, which has an interesting papercraft visual style. We’ve talked about the production of the game, the search for the perfect mechanic and the way the company is building great combat.
Fat Panda Games is an indie game studio based in Yucatan Mexico, focused on creating games with charismatic and fun concepts that also present a balanced gameplay. We started making games for clients like the iOS game Ghost Apocalypse while we started our first authoral games. At the moment we count with a 6 people team that have been working on Flat Kingdom and Lobo with Shotguns, both of them to be released in 2016 on Steam for PC / Mac and later on for PS4. For the release of these titles, we teamed up with the mexican indie publisher Games Starter.
Flat Kingdom is a 2.5d puzzle/platformer with very strong papercraft aesthetics. The game is about Flat, a simple geometrical hero that can change between three shapes, circle, triangle or square, and each one of them allows him to beat different enemies and get enough skills to solve the different puzzles that the game presents. The mission of Flat is to catch Hex, the shadow born, an evil thief that kidnapped the princess Tri and stole some magical jewels, if he doesn’t stop him, the 3D land will destroy the bi-dimensional Flat Kingdom!
The main inspiration for this title was to create an adventure around mechanics that played with the own constraints of the gameplay. We looked for a main character that needs to change shapes dynamically, but at the same time gets stronger and vulnerable every time, also making a game and story driven by the geometrical shapes. We wanted the fun and pacing of a Donkey Kong or Sonic game, but with some puzzles and collecting of usable items and keys like Zelda.
Rock Paper Scissors Battle System
Yes, the game is basically about balance, every shape has its strengths and weaknesses. Not only Flat is geometrical, the enemies are too, so circle beats square, square beats triangle and triangle beats circle. We wanted to avoid the classical jump on enemies, jump and shoot or jump and slash battle system of the platformers, so we thought about a system that makes you think before attack, like if the battles where some kind of puzzles. We cannot forget that from a higher, conceptual level, one of the most notorious influences was the book Flat Land of Edwin Abbot Abbot.
We avoided the low poly trend, that style is only in the 3D objects, and is used to make a huge contrast, we approached the game so it made the people feel that the 2D art looks like a kids pop-up book, like if everything is part of a story narrated by someone. Our intention was not to create only a “pop-up book” look and feel, it was to have a big mix of different things. We wanted to deliver a very colourful and unique look, so instead of looking at trendy games we looked back to old Hanna Barbera toons and also the Pink Panther, full of those weird, funny and expressive white characters that were also very geometrical, surrounded by simple and beautiful scenarios. I love that, in the Jetson´s, for example, you can find the backgrounds have a little bit of this influence of the guguie arquitecture from Las Vegas over the top cartoonish structures.
We focused on hardcore and average gamers on Steam and consoles. We have other games for mobile devices but I think is the game experience. Flat Kingdom would´t work on mobile, the the fast-paced gameplay and the whole control system would need several changes and adjustments. We’d end up releasing a different game that fits the gameplay style and the whole mobile audience. Like what Sony did on the original Kingdom Hearts on Playstation 2 (and action 3 game), when they made a Game Boy version they came out with Chain of Memories, a kind of turn-based, adventure RPG with card battle system. We think it would work better that way than just make an infinite runner or something like that.
The Production of Small Indie Projects
We have been working on this project for 2 years and 3 months. It helped out get a publisher and the right time. Don´t get a team that can´t be feeded with more than 2 pizzas or without compromise. We had to prototype fast and focus on the dynamics and gameplay since the very beginning. As an advice to other developers, think the best way is to keep track of a project and be realistic, ship on time and develop minimum viable products of not more than 3 months to know if the idea of the project has future. Also test a lot, not only internally but with people that can be your potential target.
We are launching on April 7 of 2016 on Steam for PC and Mac, our publisher is Games Starter, who are doing all the PR and social media work for us. As indie developers we don’t have much experience at self publishing titles, so we work in collaboration with the publisher, also is key to listen to your fans and make all kind of fun and meaningful content to get global and positive visibility for the project.