The Norwegian games industry seems to be on a roll lately. It’s only days ago, that two Norwegian games grabbed an Indie Prize award each at the Casual Connect conference in Amsterdam. And now, two other Norwegian games have been named ‘Best in Play‘ for the upcoming GDC Play, a subsection of the Games Developers Conference specifically for emerging developers.
Being named Best in Play means that the two Norwegian games have been singled out among more than 50 entrants, as two of the eight most promising titles being shown at GDC Play. While not making the list, another two games, Shiftlings by Rock Pocket Games and Shadow Puppeteer by Sarepta Studio managed to pick up honorable mentions.
The first of the two games selected as Best in Play is the Kickstarter founded Earthlock: Festival of Magic from developer Snowcastle. After a successful Kickstarter campaign in April last year, the game is now in full production at the Oslo-based developer.
Earthlock: Festival of Magic is a colorful turn-based RPG taking place on the magic planet Umbra that mysteriously stopped spinning some time in the past. The game has been announced for an ambitious six different platforms: Wii U, Xbox One, PS4, Linux, Mac, and PC (both Windows 7 and 8).
The other Best in Play game is pixeltastic 16-bit flying platformer Owlboy from D-Pad Studio, who are based in the city of Bergen in Western Norway. More than four years in the making, it seems like this game and it’s fantastic pixel art has been on it’s way forever, but D-Pad’s Simon Stafsnes Andersen tells Nordic Game Bits that at the same time as the game is heading to GDC Play, they are also beginning to see a glimmer of light at the end of the development tunnel.
I think for the first time I can say there’s some light at the end of the tunnel and we can see the finish line.
Having a game that is nearing completion is not without it’s own problems though, Simon explains. “We’ve actually had our perspectives changed quite a bit in the past months. Our main concern has been to make the game feel right to play in its entirety. It’s one thing to design specific areas and making them feel right, but we’re finally at the point where you get the entire thing in context, and it’s a very different experience.”
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Simon also tells Nordic Game Bits that the studio sees it as a great compliment to have their game picked as a Best in Play-title. “It definitely feels like a big compliment being selected for the way our game plays. We’ve put in a lot of effort in how the game feels when you move around, so it’s nice knowing that work paid off.”
However, the team is also looking forward to just being able to show off their game. “Having so much to do, we’ve been locked down at our desks for months getting everything polished and ready, so this is a great opportunity to lift the curtain a little and get people excited. And on our end, there’s nothing more motivating than seeing people play your game,” Simon says.
Despite them being able to glimpse the finish line, D-Pad Studio is not yet ready to announce a release date, even if they came really close to doing so.
We were actually considering making the official announcement at GDC, but having discussed it for a while, we want to make absolutely sure we’re done by that date, so in the end we decided it was wiser to keep it a secret for now.
“Things never take the time you expect them to,” Simon explains. “Considering how early we started showing footage, our fans have been amazingly supportive, but most of all patient, so we’re not going to jerk them around with dates before it’s time.”
But the long development time has also meant that the game has improved immensely since the first demo of the game. “We were recently asked to play the old demo we released in 2011 again for the first time since we released it. It’s bizarre to see how much we’ve improved since then,” Simon says.
Even though D-Pad still needs to work on presentations, side quests, tweaks and cutscenes, the Owlboy game is getting within sight of the final release of the game.
We’re finally getting a glimmer of what the finished product will look like, and after working on it for this long, that’s an amazing feeling.