National Video Games Examiner Patrick Hickey Jr. chats with Catharina Bøhler, CEO of Sarepta Studio and Marianne Lerdahl, project manager at Sarepta Studio, two of the minds behind the new Nintendo Wii U Indie platformer “Shadow Puppeteer.” Discussing the origin of the game and what makes it special, Examiner finds out why it’s one of the most intriguing new games on the Wii U.
ABOUT SHADOW PUPPETEER:
Invite a friend to explore the strange, yet beautiful world of darkness and light in Shadow Puppeteer, an award-winning, local co-op adventure.
Assume the roles of a boy and his shadow, separated from one another by the evil shadow puppeteer. Work together to manipulate light, solving puzzles that bring you closer to finding this villain and freeing other shadows he has stolen.
Winner of the 2015 Indie Prize Director’s Choice Award and applauded for its stunning art, enchanting music and clever puzzles, Shadow Puppeteer will captivate from beginning to end.
Hickey Jr.: What was the development cycle like?
Catharina Bøhler: We have been through many iterations in the development of the game, including creating and throwing away numerous variations of levels. This, of course, was done to achieve our final goal: creating an intuitive, yet unique experience that is balanced between two players.
We believe that it is incredibly important to be able to throw away some of your ideas to give room to better ideas. After we had finally found the perfect format for the game, we moved to our next challenge: Creating balance between two players and designing engaging levels. This processed included sketching basic concepts on paper, mocking them up in Unity, then testing and iterating until it flowed well.
Finally, we focused quite a bit on creating atmosphere. To accomplish the look and feel we were striving for, we worked closely with designers, musicians and audio. This process required just as much testing and iterating as the actual design of the game :)
Hickey Jr.: Overall, how was your experience porting the game over to the Wii U?
Marianne Lerdahl: Most platforms have their own unique setups, strengths and challenges so there are always new things to learn and to take into consideration. But, working with Nintendo has been a wonderful experience. The company has been nothing but incredibly professional, helpful and supportive, which greatly helped us move through the porting process smoothly. In addition, Nintendo has expressed enthusiasm over our release throughout, which of course was very motivating.
Hickey Jr.: What inspired the visual look of this game?
Bøhler: While the team has changed slightly over the years, and with it, our style, we have always followed one guiding principle for the feel of Shadow Puppeteer: Gloomy, cartoony, with a twist of weird.
Throughout the development, our artists have looked to different sources for inspiration, including books on art, culture and architecture. However, we would say that Shadow Puppeteer’s style draws a lot from Norwegian nature and culture, which we believe is very natural considering we live in Norway.
We wanted the levels in Shadow Puppeteer to unfold in a way that mirrored the players’ story. The beginning of the game is heavily inspired by the north of Norway. As you move further away from home, we have taken inspiration from more exotic areas like the Mammoth Cave in Kentucky and England during the industrial revolution.
Hickey Jr.: What games did you play as a kid? How did they influence this one?
Lerdahl: The development of Shadow Puppeteer was influenced by everyone on the team and our individual gaming experiences. We all played a lot of games as children, but what we have in common is that we played mostly console games and were heavily influenced by the games of the 90s. Especially action/adventure and puzzle games. It’s difficult to say how that has influenced Shadow Puppeteer, but we definitely have a more console-oriented way of thinking. This probably drove our focus to local co-op as well.
Hickey Jr.: How do you want this game to be remembered?
Bøhler: With so many titles being released every week, it’s an accomplishment in itself to be remembered at all! For players, our hope is that they remember the fun and engaging experience Shadow Puppeteer gave them with the person they were playing with. For our fellow developers, whether it’s looking at what we did right, or learning from what we could have done better, we hope to inspire them to make unique co-op games.
Hickey Jr.: Who do you think will enjoy this game the most?
Lerdahl: When we have showed Shadow Puppeteer at various events, we have seen all kinds of people enjoy the game. But, we believe the people who enjoy it most are those who want to engage in a fun, co-op experience with someone they care about, like a child, sibling, friend, or significant other. In fact, we have observed that couples really have a blast with the game.
Hickey Jr.: What’s next?
Bøhler: Shadow Puppeteer is very close to our hearts. We might not be done with it just yet, but there are other experiences we want to build. We’ve started some new and exciting projects, which we hope to share soon.