Interview with: Behind the Stone Studio – maker of Sir Eatsalot
Hello everyone and welcome to our first ever interview here at LimitedGameNews. 😎
Today we have the honor of interviewing Slawa, one of the 2 co-founders of Behind the Stone – a small indie video game development studio based in Hamburg, Germany.
They have just released their very first game, which is a 2D action platformer with a very unique and beautiful art-style: Sir Eatsalot for the PlayStation Vita.
Usually, indie game dev studios release their games download-only, but Behind the Stone went all-in and teamed up with big player eastasiasoft to release a gorgeous physical Limited Edition (limited to only 2.000 worldwide), due for release next week – April 27th, 2018.
Now, without further ado, let’s start.
1. Please tell us who you are, about Behind the Stone and how it all started.
I’m Slawa Deisling, Co-Founder, and Programmer at the studio. I met Monika Rider, the other co-founder and our art-director, at the university. Back then we just were students who wanted to make a small game together. So along with the university studies, we started to develop a little project for mobile devices called “Sir Eatsalot”. Yeah, that’s right, the game started out as a game for smartphones until we weren’t satisfied with the look of the game and the general game-design. At that point, we decided to found our studio and change “Sir Eatsalot” into a Vita game. Time went by and together with a bunch of freelancers we released the game.
2. When did you start working on Sir Eatsalot and how many hours in total did you work on it?
The “real” development started about 2-3 years ago. The idea for the character existed longer as mentioned before. Can’t give exact numbers, since we started tracking the hours after 1 1/2 years if I remember right, but I think we worked something around 15k-20k hours on this projects altogether.
3. Why did you choose to make Sir Eatsalot for the PS Vita and why not for any other system?
As mentioned before the initial concept was an iOS game. When we changed it to the Vita the decision was based on our mantra. As developers, we believe that, if you have cool hardware – use it. Of course, love for the device played a huge role. And we thought about the potential features of the game and what the Vita offered us it was really soon really clear that no other console at that time could offer the same features. If we’d cut almost all the features and release the game for all the other platforms, it would just not be the same game anymore. Of course, if there comes along a system which offers the same or at least some of the amount of the features we probably will port it.
4. The game makes full use of all different hardware features of the PS Vita, eg. gyroscope, touchscreen and rear touchpad.
Which feature was the most fun to implement and why?
Definitively the touch-system. Thinking about what should happen when the player touches different objects and making it as organic in the game’s world was really fun.
Like, what should happen if you swipe vines or touch a bush? What does the player expect to happen? Thinking about these expectations and testing them was extremely exciting.
5. Which other system specific challenges did you encounter while coding for the PS Vita and how did you manage them?
What gave us the most headaches was the framerate. We tried, we really tried to get those smooth 60 FPS but we just couldn’t make it. We tried to optimize where we could with the resources available. In order to get there, we would have to have fewer sprites on the screen (background and foreground) and we just didn’t want to compromise on scenery, so we tried to optimize everything else. Physics, AI, other CPU instructions, but the bottleneck was still the overdraw. Then we compromised for steady 30 FPS as long as we could maintain the number of sprites we wanted in our scenery.
6. How did it come your collaboration with eastasiasoft come about and what was the most fun about it?
We contacted them very early because we wanted a partner who had experience in publishing in Japan/Asia. Back then eastasiasoft only released their very own games and didn’t publish other indies. They liked the game, though. Almost a year passed and out of nowhere they approached us again and told us they would like to be our publisher since they were now also in the publishing business, so we got ourselves a deal.
7. Was it important to you to have a physical release of Sir Eatsalot and why?
It was not important in the way that we demanded it or something like that. We just wanted a physical release of the game and if eastasiasoft wouldn’t want to we’d try other publishers like Limited Run Games, but eastasiasoft was very keen about a physical version, too.
8. What are the chances of seeing Sir Eatsalot being ported to other systems?
If any: Which systems?
The next best system to port to would be the Nintendo Switch and we might look into that.
9. Will you continue making games for PS Vita?
We won’t make a dedicated PS Vita game again, but we’ll try to make the next upcoming game also work on the Vita.
10. What other consoles would you like to release games for in the future?
All the major ones, meaning: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch.
11. Are you interested in releasing your next projects in physical format too?
If it’s possible, absolutely!
12. Are you already working on a new game?
If yes: Please tell us about it.
We can’t tell you much since we’re fooling around with prototypes. We also can’t pinpoint the genre yet. RPG? Action-Adventure? Strategy? Everything is possible, but it will be a 2D game again, that’s for sure.
13. Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
We hope you folks will enjoy playing our Sir Eatsalot. Long live VitaIsland!
Thank you very much, Slawa, for this great interview! 😀