Interview #009: Wendy Fritscher - Muse Games
What do you get when you mix a hamster, kung-fu, humor, and customization?! Why, one of the best new games currently on Kickstarter and heading to the Nintendo Switch (plus other consoles)! Enter: Hamsterdam: Paws of Justice by Muse Games. With the campaign less than three weeks to go at the time of this interviews, I wanted to learn more about the studio behind this title and to offer insight to those still looking to back this project. Wendy from Muse Games was gracious enough to spend some time with me and to answer a few questions. So don't delay! Check out the interview and back this title today! This is one title you do not want to miss out on!
Support Hamsterdam on Kickstarter here.
Thank you Wendy for speaking with me today. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Hi. I'm Wendy from Muse Games. We're an indie development studio based in New York and most known for our games CreaVures, Guns of Icarus, and hopefully soon Hamsterdam!
We're a very small team so we wear a lot of hats. I primarily deal with Marketing, PR, Social Media, game testing, and managing our events across Europe (and sometimes U.S.).
What was the first game/console you remember playing?
Video games have been part of my life as long as I can remember. One of the earliest was playing Castlevania: The Adventures on the first Game Boy, which arguably is the best Castlevania. Don't @ me!
What is your favorite video game memory from your childhood?
One Christmas I got a Game Boy Advance. I had never seen such detail on such a small screen. I remember lying in bed playing and thinking of a future in which I could play even more detailed games on a device this size as well as what that future would look like. Today I get to work on a game that is going to be released on the Nintendo Switch! I still have trouble wrapping my head around that.
Muse Games is a NYC-based indie developer studio formed in 2010 to develop innovative games. Before we talk about your past and current projects, how did Muse Games form and who is part of the team?
We actually met online (shocking) and then expanded by bringing friends into the team as we slowly grew from 3D visualizations, into what we've always been passionate about: Games. Our interests and inspirations have been diverse and we’ve explored quite a few different genres, art styles, and mechanics from the Steampunk airships of Guns of Icarus, to the phosphorescence forest of CreaVures, and now Hamsterdam - a gestural based beat-em up featuring a kung-fu fighting hamster! With every project, we aim to craft something new that players haven’t experienced before.
The Guns of Icarus series was about bringing Steampunk, especially addressing multiculturalism in Steampunk, to the fore of gaming and pushing the boundaries of teamwork and cooperative play. Through our journey developing the game, we helped pave the way for teamwork based vehicular combat taking form as a game genre. I personally started playing Guns of Icarus back in 2013 and am now part of Muse Games. I am not the only converted player as our new Community Manager shares the same fate.
Muse Games can sometimes feel like a family, even when working remotely.
Prior to your current Kickstarter project, which we will get into shortly, let's talk about Guns of Icarus and CreaVures. These two games were released across Steam, the App store, and PS4. What was the experience in creating your own games, bringing them to market, the whole shebang?
It's been very rewarding, satisfying, and deeply challenging. Making games is something we've always dreamed about doing, so to actually bring a game to market is surreal. When we first came together, we didn't have experience making a game and we learned by doing and hopefully learning from our mistakes. This journey, while stressful, made our experiences that much more meaningful and rewarding.
With Guns of Icarus, it was our first online multiplayer project and we set out to integrate a disparate set of mechanics and create something truly unique. It was a struggle to keep the project in scope and to tackle the myriad of challenges that a multiplayer game presented. We faced novel problems that we had to find creative solutions for, in absence of any precedence to follow. We managed to release a multiplayer game during Hurricane Sandy (talk about luck!) and then managed to survive that ordeal.
Somehow, we were at the forefront of the rise of #YouTube and #Twitch, and we owed a lot of our successes to the YouTubers and streamers who took a chance on us. In a number of ways we consider ourselves lucky and hopefully we also did some things right along the way. Overall, creating our own games and bringing them to market have not been easy, but we love the challenges and the journey. At the end of the day, we get to create something from the figment of our imagination and that is pretty cool.
It's time for some hamster-fu! Hamsterdam: Paws of Justice is your studios latest project and is currently live on Kickstarter. While I cannot recommend enough that everyone needs to watch the video below and support this game, can you share a few words about how Hamsterdam came to be and what gamers can expect to see in the final version?
Hamsterdam is being taken over by an evil Chinchilla and mean gangs of rodents are terrifying the street! You're Pimm, a young hamster growing up in Hamsterdam, when suddenly these mean rodent gangs are terrifying the streets, your grandpa goes missing, and an evil chinchilla is taking over your home town!
But don't worry, you still got your scooter, and those sweet moves your grandpa taught you! If only you could remember them all.
Hamsterdam started out as a game jam that we kept returning to during out development on the Guns of Icarus series.
Working on something so different fueled our creativity and helped us keep supporting Guns of Icarus for over 6 years now. However, during us pushing our technological breakthrough of cross-voice and text chat between PS4 and Steam, the Nintendo Switch was announced and we knew that we wanted Hamsterdam to be a Nintendo Switch title.
Hamsterdam was conceptually a gestural based brawler on mobile, that would translate the action of console to the comfort of mobile, pushing the controls to be as innovative, yet as intuitive as possible. That proved to be the perfect formula, and now we're releasing it as a Nintendo Switch title, a PS Vita title, on Mobile for iOS and Android, and for PC (Windows & Mac) via Steam in Spring 2019.
Hamsterdam launched on Kickstarter on August 15, 2018 and had already reached and exceeded your initial goal by the sixth day! How exciting is that?
We're over the moon. Our first concern was our Guns of Icarus community and letting them know we're not going to move on from Guns of Icarus, but rather expand towards Hamsterdam.
A lot of thought has gone into creating Hamsterdam costumes, decals, and titles for Guns of Icarus and vice versa. We hope to make the Guns of Icarus community love this game as much as we do. Watching the Kickstarter donations, we recognize so many names of our long time supporters and that is such a humbling feeling as a developer. We truly feel like we have a sort of big family supporting us and believing in us.
We actually just reached our First Stretch Goal: 'Hamme Fatale' and are moving into our next one: 'Raining Bombs'.
With the campaign in full swing, it's time to focus on those stretch goals. You've revealed them on the Kickstarter page and these include new costumes, new modes, and more. However, as a Switch physical collector, one question that always gets asked of a new title is, "will there be a physical version"? Are you able to comment on the possibility of seeing Pimm and Marlo in cartridge form?
Physical copies are immensely cool! Currently we do not have a way to offer physical copies, but we are trying our best to explore it. It'll likely depend on the support of bigger publishers of physical copy games and we are doing our best to reach out. If this becomes a possibility, we'll definitely update everyone via Newsletter, Kickstarter, and Social Media
While you're not working on Hamsterdam, are there any games you are currently playing or looking forward to releasing?
Right now we're focusing on making Hamsterdam the best game it can be, while still adding new exciting content to Guns of Icarus. Other upcoming projects explore a desolate but spiritual planet, the impact of technology on human consciousness, and playing with fire, irreverently, and more about that after Hamsterdam’s release.
Finally, is there anything else you'd like to share today?
YES! If you haven't supported the Hamsterdam Kickstarter yet, but like the game, please consider donating!
For just $10 we are granting you all Hamsterdam releases on each Platform: Nintendo Switch, PSVita, iOS, Android and PC - An average of $2 per game!
And for $18 you are getting all Hamsterdam releases on each Platform + Exclusive Guns of Icarus Hamsterdam Hoodies & Decals!
Once we're off Kickstarter we won't be able to make multi-platform bundle prices like this anymore, especially not nearly for that price. This is an incredible deal and you are directly supporting us as developers: kickstarter.com/projects/musegames/hamsterdam
And to all of you who have supported the Hamsterdam Kickstarter - Thank you so much! It truly means the world to us. We love your feedback and we got some amazing community projects lined up for all of you!
And for adorable hamster themed newsletters, sign up on the hamsterdamgame.com website down the bottom :D
Again, thanks so much and I'll see you all soon!
Follow Muse Games and Support Hamsterdam on Kickstarter