Interview #008: Gabriel Sonderegger - Sunnyside Games
There's no greater feeling than seeing your work validated by the gaming community. At the time of this interview, less than two weeks remain for Sunnyside Games' #kickstarter campaign, Inglight. Have you checked out the trailer below? Does it give you a Samurai Jack vibe? Are you wondering if there's a physical release for the #Switch? Then check out my interview with co-founder Gabriel Sonderegger!
Support Inlight's Kickstarter campaign here.
Thank you, Gabriel, for this opportunity. Before we dive into your current project, can you please tell us a little bit about yourself? I sure can! I'm a 29-year-old animator and illustrator from Lausanne, Switzerland. I've always been fascinated by visual art and animation, but nothing compared to the day I received my Game Boy for Christmas. I always hoped I could bring my drawings to life via this medium and I couldn't dream of a better outcome now that I'm doing precisely what I wanted as a child.
What was the first game/console you ever played? I played on the SNES at a friend's house, but the first game I owned was Link's Awakening on my Game Boy. This game was a revelation to me; it had this aura of mystery I couldn't get enough of.
What is your fondest video game memory growing up? The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask! Spending hundreds of hours collecting masks, chasing secrets, wandering in the forests and in the game's universe gave me an absolute taste of adventure and happiness. Gazing at the moon always gave me a nostalgic feeling.
Besides that, the first time I logged into World of Warcraft, I had an emotional blast, stepping into an endless ocean of possibilities packed into one game.
Let's talk about Sunnyside Games, a Swiss-based studio formed in 2013. How did the company begin and who's on the team? After having worked in an animation company with a few classmates, three of us decided to pursue our dream of creating video games with 2D graphics. The founding team is composed of a programmer, a 2D animator and myself as an illustrator. The team expanded and shrank as time passed, but the founding members are the ones still on the team today.
Prior to your latest project, Inlight, your studio has produced two vastly different, yet addictive games on mobile devices: The Firm and Towaga. Could you share a few words on each title? The Firm was a real surprise! It all started during an internal game jam we did to see what our team was capable of. Three days and many cups of coffee later, we had our first prototype. We spent two more months to refine it and test it with the help of our friends. We launched the game, not knowing how things would play out. 1.5 million downloads later we still can't believe how positively the public reacted.
Towaga was our first game concept. It was a very interesting, but yet somehow frustrating experience because we had to learn so much while trying to create the game. It was an amazing journey and maybe the game was not perfect, but at the end we're happy we've launched Towaga because it opened the path to Inlight.
Moving onto Inlight, you've described it as a spiritual successor to Towaga. Could you elaborate? Inlight is essentially Towaga's wiser older brother. The game is set in the same universe and you still play a wizard defending himself against hordes of evil creatures. However, it's now packed with new content, items, play-styles, characters, and stories. And obviously, it is played on a different device. With this spiritual successor, we plan to surprise the players and look forward to having them discover what the game really is about.
What inspiration do you draw upon for Inlight? Our main inspiration for Inlight was the aesthetic behind Samurai Jack and intense game experiences like Savant: Ascent & Ziggurat on iOS or Downwell.
Was there a specific reason you went with Kickstarter to launch Inlight? Funding and visibility mostly. #Kickstarter is an indicator of whether the game would be perceived within the gaming community and so far the feedback we've gathered is very encouraging. We've just updated the campaign with new stretch goals, hoping to see how supporting our growing community will be with what we plan for the game.
At the time of this interview, your Kickstarter campaign has already exceeded its goal with a little under two weeks left. What's the feeling among the team, knowing that there is strong support for this title? It's a relief and a great satisfaction, but there's still so much to do and we want to make sure our followers will be happy once the game is released. The final weeks will be crucial, and we are still working hard to ensure our game will stand out.
Can you provide some updates on the stretch goals? Now that we know our core gameplay works, we want to give the players new skills and items to play with. That's exactly what the stretch goals are here for! Depending on the funding we get, the game will be much larger than it currently is. We have prototyped new spells and skills and reaching the various stretch goals will give us the time and financial peace of heart to implement and fine-tune our mechanics and to enrich our game's versatility.
As a Switch physical collector, you've already stated that Inlight is scheduled for release on the Steam and Switch, digitally. Any plans for a physical release on the Switch? If given the proper means to do so, we'd love to have a physical version of our game. It's part of our stretch goals and we'd be thrilled to see our baby in its own box! Although your team is hard at work on Inlight, what games are you currently playing and looking forward to? I have a deep love and admiration for games like Celeste and Hollow Knight; these are, to me, the pinnacle of what independent studios have to offer on the market today.
Finally, is there anything else you'd like to share? Thank for your interest, it means a lot!
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