Throughout the years, many game studios are formed by a group of like minded people that come together and think “Hey we should make a video game!”. Sounds like pretty simple stuff right? Different people work on different roles and suddenly the game happens and you get it in the hands of your consumers. But it’s not always that straightforward, and there are many indie teams that you may not have heard of but work tirelessly to bring new ideas and play styles to gaming. I recently discovered one such team, Reptoid Games. They are currently at work creating their upcoming multi platform release called Fossil Hunters. From the words of the creators themselves:
Fossil Hunters is a co-operative Action/Adventure game for up to 4 players where you build your own dinosaurs using a modular system of interlocking Fossil Blocks.
You are an adventuring Fossil Hunter who has traveled to a remote, mysterious dig site to discover the most incredible fossils the world has ever seen! Discover and name your own fossil creations and avoid cave-ins, monsters, and traps while you explore exciting underground environments. Find secrets, treasure and more as you uncover clues to the whereabouts of the missing expedition team.
Their game idea looks really interesting and something you don’t see in many other games, so I leapt at the opportunity to interview them about their work. So, lets have a look at what these folks are up to.
1) Firstly can you introduce yourself and tell us about what you do?
We’re Reptoid Games, based out of Toronto, Canada, made up of Ryan Miller, co-founder and Technical Director, Simon Paquette, co-founder and Creative Director, Jayme Last, producer, Emma Burkeitt, artist, and Andy Peverley, programmer. And of course, Oatmeal the Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Chief Morale Officer.
2) What got you into game development and how did your company come about?
Simon, Ryan, and Jayme all met working in television animation a little over a decade ago. Each of their careers went in different directions in the meantime, and a few years ago Ryan and Simon met back up again in Toronto and started hanging out and playing a lot of video games together. Ryan had been working in games as well as teaching game design at a nearby college, and they decided they wanted to start a game company together to make the kinds of games they really wanted to see more of. They brought on Jayme a little while later to help with business administration and project management, and then Emma and Andy to work on Fossil Hunters.
3) How many people are on your team and how long has your game been in development.
Simon and Ryan first developed the Fossil Hunters prototype over three months in spring 2016, and then work began on this version of the game in November of 2016, after we secured some funding from the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC) here in Ontario, Canada where we’re based. OMDC really helped us get off the ground and enabled us to bring on some more people to work on the game.
We currently have the 5 core team members plus an external music composer, Toronto’s Robby Duguay of Graceful Explosion Machine and Fate Tectonics, and his sound design team of himself and Matt Miller.
4) What inspires you in life to work on your game?
We love playing games with our friends, spending time together, and working together. We wanted to make a game where you could play by yourself or with friends, and just have fun exploring and playing around together. We love seeing families play the game together, and even seeing people who don’t normally play games be inspired to pick up a controller and have fun.
5) Further to that, how did your game end up in the style and genre that it has?
We’ve always been interested in games for people of all ages to play together, so we wanted the game to have a little something for everyone – excitement and danger, but also exploration, puzzle solving, and collecting. Although there are monsters who’ll get in your way, you can’t attack and kill them – you’ll have to be creative in solving the problems they pose. So we wanted to try something a little different than the standard dungeon-crawler or action game.
The current art style is thanks to our Creative Director Simon, and our artist Emma, whose personal style really shines through in the game, especially in the textures and colours.
6) Your Kickstarter says that you want to release your game for numerous consoles, including Nintendo’s newest addition the Nintendo Switch. What about your game would make it a great fit for the hybrid console?
We’re excited about the Switch not only because it’s new, but because of the built-in multiplayer options with the dual Joy-con controllers. Fossil Hunters is even more fun with friends and having those two controllers built in will make it super easy for anyone to pick up and play together. We also can’t wait to try out that HD Rumble with our cave-ins and explosions!
7) Would you say games such as Animal Crossing or Harvest Moon bear some inspiration for this game? After all fossils and mining feature in these games.
Definitely – especially in the collecting and home-base angle. In Fossil Hunters your home base is the paleo lab, where you can talk to NPCs, buy items, play with the fossils in Creative Mode, and bring back your treasures from the levels. We love the home customization and collecting in games like Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon and want players to be able to bring things back to their lab and make it really feel like theirs.
Fossil Hunters is also full of different little paths to take – are you focused on progression, trying to dig deeper into the earth and find out what’s down there? Or are you more interested in building cool creatures in Creative Mode and sharing your creations with your friends? Maybe you’re on a quest for secrets and want to find each and every collectible item and secret passage in the levels. So having those different things to focus on, and being able to choose the kind of game experience you’d like to have, that’s in a similar vein to the types of choices you can make in games like Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon, Stardew Valley, or even Minecraft.
8) Where can people find you online currently, for the people who we are curious?
We’re on Twitter at @ReptoidGames, where we’re most active, but we can also be found on Facebook (Facebook.com/reptoidgames) and Instagram (@ReptoidGames). Kickstarter Page
9) How will you celebrate should the Kickstarter go well and be successful?
The SNES classic comes out on Friday, and we’re going to fire ours up on Friday afternoon and play some classic games with some of Reptoid’s closest friends. When you’re working hard on video games, sometimes it can be hard to make time to actually play them – so we’re dedicated to sitting down and making some time to play together as a celebration of our hard work up until now.
9b) Should the worst happen, worst being worst because we want this game to be made, what is your backup plan?
Don’t worry, Fossil Hunters is going to be made regardless! As of this writing the Kickstarter is at 98% so we’re very confident we’ll pull through on that front. We have some months’ of hard work ahead of us but we’re committed and excited to finish the game and bring it to everyone.
10) Finally, is there anything you can reveal to us about your game that you may not have yet talked about, or might not be as well known?
We’ve shown the crawler and lavamander creatures on Kickstarter, but more creatures lurk in the depths than we’ve revealed so far! The caves are dangerous and full of surprises, so players will have to be on the look-out for hazards and other types of monsters. They’ll have to learn how to protect themselves and their fossils from whatever lurks in the depths, without being able to directly attack or kill it. Good luck, fossil hunters…
So there we have it, these guys are dedicated to their work and we are looking forward to the release of Fossil Hunters when it comes along. Will you be picking it up and giving it a try?
Huge thanks for this interview to all the team at Reptoid, Especially Jayme for getting it set up for us and of course a special shout-out to Oatmeal, because all dogs deserve special shout-outs.