Spiral House discuss their latest title - Troll And I.

Assistant Producer Amy Scott - from UK based game developer Spiral House - took some time out of her busy schedule to discuss the teams development history and their latest upcoming adventure title Troll And I scheduled for released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

Spiral House logo

Spiral House has quite the history within game development, even harkening back to the Dreamcast days. For those that may not know about the studio, could you tell us a little about it's history? How big the studio currently is and some of your stand-out moments in games?

Spiral House started out in 1999, with the first game we worked on, ‘Silver’. It was a multi-character based RPG where the player could swap characters at the click of a button. We also worked on games such as: Motorstorm, Alone in the Dark, Little Big Planet, Eyepet and most recently PlayStation Vita Pets. We started out with two founders Bobby Earl (Technical Director) and Kevin Oxland (Creative Director). We currently have 16 members of in-house staff and are based in Liverpool, UK. Our defining moment is yet to come!

What are some of the team's favourite games to play?

The team at Spiral House are certainly game heads, obviously, but they play various types of games from racing games to RPGs. The most recent and more popular games are Bloodborne, Witcher 3, Ori and the Blind Forest and past recent games are Dragon Age Inquisition, Last of Us, Tomb Raider etc.

Do these inspire the type of games Spiral House are looking to make?

In some respects, they do play the types of game we are developing. I think most of us here play RPG's, online MMO's and action adventures, so we are influenced by them to some degree

Vita Pets dog

The team's most recent title was PlayStation Pets for the PlayStation Vita. How was it working on the device and the game itself?

The [PlayStation] Vita is a great piece of kit, capable of great things for such a small device. We really enjoyed working with Sony on PlayStation Vita Pets and because Pets had a story and an adventure, it gave us a taste of what we love doing, and that's creating great stories and adventures.

Did modelling animals, creating fur etc in PlayStation Vita Pets help with the eventual process of the Troll And I?

We've had experience creating fur in EyePet, prior to Pets, so when we came to Troll, we had a good knowledge base to rewrite all of our fur tech especially for Troll. Aside from that, the team has had many, many years of experience making games, from the Commodore 64 up to present day consoles, and all of that experience has gone into making Troll And I what it is.

Your newly announced game - Troll And I - will be your first foray into crowdfunding, what brought on the decision to go that route?

We have a plan for crowdfunding all set out and ready to go. However, we have not decided yet if crowdfunding is the route that we are going to take. We should have more information [regarding that] soon.

The Troll And I is currently set to release episodically. Is a piecemeal launch the perfect way to not only tell a story, but prove the project to potential backers?

We wanted to create something of quality and something that stood out in its own right. However, we couldn’t do a tale such as Troll and I as an entire ‘normal sized’ game in the timeframe we have due to our team size. So to retain the quality, we decided upon an episodic approach with the design and story being designed with that in mind from the ground up, rather than breaking up a whole game into pieces. Each episode works on its own and as part of a greater whole. The development has been a refreshing change actually, because even though we have the entire story arc written, we can really focus on each episode in lots of detail before moving onto the next.

Troll And I screenshot The interaction between Otto and Troll.

What was the inspiration behind the Troll And I, and the dual-gameplay mechanics between both characters? Are you guys fans of the Norwegian 'TrollHunter' movie by any chance?

Trolls have always been a big presence (excuse the pun) in Scandinavian folklore, even before ‘Trollhunter’. We wanted to go back to the multi-character based RPG of Silver, due to its popularity, and create a dual protagonist game with two very strong characters in their own right. At the time of Troll And I’s conception our Creative Director - Kevin Oxland - had an idea for a story about a Troll community living in Scandinavia, and a billionaire man who has a bit too much time and money on his hands who wants to catch a troll for his collection of rare animals. It was both of these of these ideas came together to make the story of Troll And I.

You can currently switch control between the two characters separately, did you ever prototype during development the ability to control both - along the lines of Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons?

Yes, you can switch control at any time at the press of a button, but you can also give instructions to the other character too, like 'follow' and 'help' using a command wheel. We prototyped various control mechanisms and we briefly considered a simultaneous dual approach, but we felt it didn't work with the type of game we wanted to make. Our game has a combat element to it and using that control system in a combat scenario just wouldn't work at all.

Troll And I air siren screenshot Interactable objects for Otto.

Troll And I is set in the 1950's, is this a conscious decision to use post-WW2 elements within the environment and story?

Yes, it is very much a conscious decision to use post WWII props in our concepts. Here is a screenshot of a WWII siren in game, for example, that is a pivotal element to the game-play.

The game has quite a lot of elements aside from platforming and puzzles - one of those is the combat, are you keeping it melee based or eventually thinking of delving into firearms as the story evolves?

There are firearms in the game, but Otto is only a 15 year old boy, brought up in a small village. He had never held a firearm before, and at this point in the game, he has to do with what he can find and craft himself. A large part of the combat is melee based, but equally large is the stealth aspect of the combat. Many scenarios require a more sneaky take down of enemies, and for this there are long ranged spears as well as the cut-throat method. Enemies too will be equipped with crossbows etc and Otto’s crafting abilities will increase as the game progresses, meaning the weapon choices will greatly improve.

Otto stealth and combat screenshot Stealth combat is also an option.

Is something akin to a lock-on system during combat a mechanic you are looking at implementing?

There's a distinct 'combat mode' Otto or Troll enter when enemies are nearby. Otto will automatically face/lock on characters that are in front of him within a cone of influence (based on angle and distance), and Troll will automatically lock on in a similar fashion when an attack is performed. During combat you can easily switch to another target by pushing the controller stick in that direction whilst performing an attack. Otto or Troll will favour the target that is in the direction you are pushing the stick. Otto can easily break away from the lock influence by simply moving in the direction away from the enemies. For Troll he never faces an enemy the same as Otto, but prefers to waves his fists in the appropriate direction.

I'd first like to thank Amy for taking the time out to answer my questions. If you are interested in Troll And I - you can find more information on the official website TrollAndI.com or follow @SpiralHouse through Twitter.

Be sure to look out for more news regarding Troll And I on Crash Landed in the near future.

Are you interested in Troll And I or have questions for Spiral House? Let us know in the comments below.

NewsInfo

Spiral House is a small gaming development studio located in Liverpool, UK. Established in 1999 the developers first entry into gaming was the PC and Dreamcast title Silver.

The studio has since worked on a myriad of original titles for PlayStation including such titles as LittleBigPlanet and most recently PlayStation Vita Pets.

The newly announced Troll And I, was first announced through the Square Enix Collective initiative.

News by: David Robinson
Twitter: @5ypher

Posted on 7th June 2015