In recent years, I have become a big proponent of the independently produced video game community. With games like Braid, Limbo, Super Meat Boy, Shank, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, Fez, and To The Moon, indie games have been taking the industry and turning it on its ear, giving gamers something that resonates with us on a personal level, makes us think, or is just plain fun!
And thanks to platforms like Steam, Xbox LIVE Arcade, and PlayStation Network, indie games have been reaching a much wider audience than ever before. Is it the lack of a large corporation's hand in their dough or the notion that one's game can reach anyone with an Internet connection thanks to digital distribution? Well, I spoke with Andreas Wangler, the Level Designer at independent game studio Might and Delight, about their new game – Pid – and working in the industry without a AAA publisher looking over their shoulder.
Nick Boisson for Comics Bulletin: Let's start at the beginning. What is Might & Delight? Who are you guys? How many of you are there? When did you get started in the industry?
Andreas Wangler for Might and Delight: Might and Delight formed in early 2010, and our little office is situated in central Stockholm, Sweden. We are a mixed bunch of seven with different backgrounds and with different lengths of careers but with a common open-minded approach to making games. As a small company, it's easier to get the balance of expertise and personality right and, at the moment, we are really a perfect mix.
CB: Many of you on the team have worked on other games in big studios. What made you want to start something new?
M&D: I believe it started with the people that worked together on Bionic Commando Rearmed. They found that they really enjoyed working together on that project and when Grin suddenly wasn't anymore, one thing led to another. I also think everyone found something they liked in the type of game that BCR was and believed it could be built upon further.
CB: What are some key differences between developing a game for yourselves versus developing for a big publisher like Capcom or Sony?
M&D: The first key difference is the obvious one: we could choose exactly what game we wanted to create. The second one, which we learned the hard way, is that it takes a lot of time to do everything yourself.
CB: You have just finished up your first game, Pid. Can you tell us a bit about the game for those who have not heard about it yet?
M&D: In Pid you control a little boy, Kurt, who suddenly finds himself on a strange planet inhabited by robots. While looking for a way back home, he quickly learns that strange things are happening on the planet that might put the inhabitants in danger.
Pid is a puzzle-platformer in an adventurous setting which will challenge the player to cleverly use the forces of gravity in smart ways to overcome the obstacles and puzzles encountered.
CB: Where did the concept for Pid come from?
M&D: The concept sprung from the mechanics, I believe. The beam came first and the world developed around it and the main idea of the story, a boy lost trying to find his way back home. Little Nemo in Slumberland by Winsor McCay inspired that idea among others.
CB: One thing that was very noticeable about Pid was its unapologetic difficulty at times. To the point where you ended up adding an "Easy" mode to the game. I know that you all are fans of retro games at M&D. Was Pid's difficulty a call back to the days when games made you work for your ending?
M&D: I don't think it would have changed things that much had we released the game with the Easy Mode from the beginning. Pid simply isn't a game for the crowd that is used to being led by the hand. And we probably should have made that clear in the way we marketed the game. It's not the next Limbo, it's more of a Mega Man type game. So in that regard, yes, we wanted people to work hard and not just have an experience. It's very much a game.
CB: Do you think that games have gotten too easy nowadays and do you think it is harder to make a truly difficult game in the current big game studio system?
M&D: Yes, games are generally easier nowadays and yes, attention spans are shorter, so yes it's harder to make difficult games and get wide recognition. But difficulty can mean so many different things, is it difficult through trial and error or difficult through puzzles, or through fine motor skills? I think as long as you balance the game and keep the fun in it you will still find your audience with a challenging game.
CB: Something that I quite enjoyed about the game is that the player feels a sense of accomplishment after solving a puzzle (even if it takes quite a few tries). The levels are designed in a way that is reminiscent of old-school platformers, where one has to time out their actions perfectly to solve each puzzle. Can you speak a bit about how you worked to make the levels challenging while still remaining a game where players don't feel frustrated?
M&D: I believe our game is catered for people that like to find that they actually get better for each time they sit down with the game. They find, just as someone who sits down in front of the piano each day, that for each new attempt they get better. They develop. And the levels are built that way, when you finally do complete them the feeling is great. The important thing we had to keep in mind though, was to always ask ourselves, how much has the player developed at this point in the game? Has he or she learned this specific skill? I think we really succeeded with that, we never underestimated the player and his creative ways of solving the challenges thrown at him.
CB: Were there any games you were playing that had inspired you to make Pid?
M&D: I believe that the NES game Little Nemo: The Dream Master was a big influence from the start. Graphically, I believe that Little Big Adventure 2 was an inspiration, but I believe our art director mostly looked to other media for ideas.
CB: Is there anything you can tell us about what Might & Delight's next project is going to be following Pid?
M&D: Not much yet but I can tell you that there are going to be animals. Cute animals.
CB: Well, I can't wait to see whatever it is. Thank you very much for speaking with me, Andreas!
Pid is available now on Steam (PC and Mac), Xbox LIVE Arcad
e and PlayStation Network for $10. Be sure to check out Might and Delight for news and more information about the studio and our review for Pid.