Hello everyone! We hope you're having a wonderful weekend so far. For this week's Spotlight Saturday, we're diving into the development of a great new musical game, Everhood. If you haven't heard about it, feel free to check out their game below on Steam.
The game follows Red, a puppet wandering through the game's mysterious world. He's journeying to find his lost arm, which was stolen from him early in the game by an evil Gold Pig. Throughout his journey he'll battle multiple enemies in musical battles where he must dodge his opponents attacks, all of which are in time to music. It's a rather unique, psychedelic bullet RPG that many users have described as having similarities to the ever-popular Undertale.
Enjoy today's Drop and interview with Everhood developer, Chris Nordgren.
Today's Daily Drop is a ~6 min read!
Chris has worked in tandem with Jordi Roca and the rest of the development team to bring us an enthralling game with adventure and musical battles. He is also a 3d visual effects artist at Mojang, where he works on Minecraft Dungeons.
How are you enjoying working on Minecraft so far?
Mojang is a great company to be at. I am very happy that I have been able to work on Minecraft Dungeons, and work on Everhood during my spare time.
Which battle in Everhood is your favorite?
I think the battle against the sun is really cool.
Who's your favorite character in Everhood and why?
Stoneguards, mainly because their dialogue was so easy to write, and it didn’t require any proofreading! For the rest of the cast, I have mainly been colored by peoples reactions. I do like Brown Mage, but I wish there was more time to expand ideas between them and the crocodile.
What's your favorite indie game (aside from Everhood)?
Hard to say, but Undertale has been one of my favorites for a long time. It just had such a new take on how to create an interesting journey. I also enjoyed Slay the Spire a lot, and slowly understanding the mechanics was a real treat. I would probably consider it one of my favorites. Noita was also a delight to play, but that game is really hard.
Everhood was released on March 4th this year. Since then, it has received much praise from the music gaming community, and helped people explore the concept of musical gaming. We had Chris answer a couple of questions to learn more about the game.
Is Everhood a rhythm game?
I wouldn’t necessarily call Everhood a rhythm game but rather a musical game as you aren’t playing in rhythm. In a way it is more like a music video.
What was the hardest part about developing the game?
Testing the game all the time to make sure everything is working exactly as intended. Adding a feature has always a chance of breaking something somewhere, and it is very important to be thorough during the testing period. It takes a lot of our time, and is essential to create a good game. I hope it is something I can make easier in the future.
When you first started working on Everhood, did you ever think it would get as big as it has?
We just wanted to create a good game and not take 5 years, as we would go insane taking such a long time. Two years felt like a reasonable amount of time. We're happy that it turned out like a big success, but I am mainly just happy we got back our investments we put into the game.
Everhood has been beloved by its fanbase for many reasons, including its challenging yet fun gameplay, its use of multiple endings, and of course its art style. The pixelated art style has been making a major comeback in the game development world, and for good reason. Everhood's art is mysterious and detailed, and the choice of pixel art really fits in well with the game's story and overall aesthetic. The use of white space rather than dark space was also an intriguing design choice that melded well with the darker scenes.
Where did the idea for multiple endings come from?
Playtesters were asking for it, and so we tried to see how we could make meaningful content that both made sense and had impact in an interesting way. I liked the pacifist ending contribution the most, but it is a bit tricky to unlock.
Fans mod the game with custom battles all the time. Which custom battle has stood out to you the most as your favorite?
I haven’t had time to test it all out, but it has been really fun to see people creating their own battles. I wouldn’t like to call out one as a favorite but I do like seeing experiments like the Chocobo battle (shown below) made by Hoopy Frood that has different endings in the battle. Also, the desert bus battle that lasts for 8 hours made by Marcos the Fox, or Centrifuge’s Touhou battle, which is a well-made long battle! I'm sure there are a lot of gems that have been made lately that I just haven’t had chance to see.
Do you have any early concept art for the game you could share?
We have a lots of visual concepts for Everhood. Once we finished the first demo, we created several Story Progression charts. As I started to be more realistic of what tools I had available, this flowchart was created around when we started to work on the post-arm act:
This was one piece of concept art I made for the desert (shown below.) I was starting to get really sick during this period in the development, so I didn’t feel like looking into researching how to make this image work. It was more of a 'get-this-done-as-soon-as-possible.'
Some of the dancers in the concept image are not in the game. Why were they cut?
They weren’t good enough, the visuals weren't evoking enough of an interesting character.
What advice would you give to up-and-coming game developers looking to create a new type of game mechanic?
Essentially, it is to get comfortable coding as adding more coders will dramatically increase production value and speed. Also, let other people play it as early as possible to see if the intended design is working. Try to focus on the areas you wouldn’t think about, and really notice how players are behaving, asking them, 'What are you looking for / trying to do?' The testers might not be correct in their answers, but it might give you a hint of what is causing issues. If you decide to spend a year of your spare time on something, it better be something worthwhile!
We'd like to thank Chris for taking the time to answer our questions for today's Spotlight Saturday. The team did a fantastic job on this game. We hope you enjoyed our interview with Chris Nordgren, and we're excited to bring you more content like this in future Drops!