Journey to the Savage Planet was one of the surprises of E3 2019, where its self-described “earnest comedy” charmed nearly everyone who got to lay their hands on it at 505 Games’s meeting rooms. After spending an hour exploring the world of Journey to the Savage Planet, I sat down for a short chat with Erick Bilodeau, Head of Art for Typhoon Studios and former artist for Batman: Arkham Origins, Far Cry 2, and more. I asked him about their vision for the game, starting a new studio, and the visual design of their debut game in this exclusive interview.
Spiel Times: I think a lot of people will be hearing about Journey to the Savage Planet for the first time and Typhoon is a new studio. Can you tell us more about your vision for the game?
Erick Bilodeau: The vision was to have a joyful, colorful game that everybody can enjoy. Not overcomplicated, but to make ourself laugh at it. It’s the kind of game you want to play when you get back from a tough day at work, just plug it in, enjoy the moment.
ST: The visual of the world is remarkable, with all these colorful flora and fauna, it’s so bright and explosive. There are bits that are reminiscent of other games, it’s a bit Ratchet and Clank, a bit No Man’s Sky at times. I was wondering how your team approached the visual design of the game?
EB: Since we’re an indie company, we knew we needed a strong visual. The bar we set ourself was that we needed to recognize the game by seeing a screenshot. And we knew right from the beginning since we wanted to be uplifting, yeah, we need bright colors, something that would stand out from the lot.
ST: You obviously have a hugely experienced team working on this game. A lot of big developers from other AAA studios. What were the biggest challenges you had trying to bring this project together?
EB: Together… it was already a challenge. I think the biggest challenge was to tune down all those thought processes that we take for granted for the big AAA products. That we don’t need that much of a complicated process to do a genuine game. So that was a big challenge, to unlearn all of that and relearn how to work together.
ST: I wanted to ask about the movement in the game because that’s one mechanic I thought that was super interesting. The sliding, jumping, grappling. Has that been a big focus for the time, having really fluid movement? Could you talk more about movement options and that level of control you’re trying to reach?
EB: Yeah, the motion, since it was an exploration game, at first it was not as much action, but it came off as a happy surprise. We were like, “oh, we’ve got something there,” so we chose to put more emphasis on it and I think it pays off in the end.
ST: It seems like there are so many different options for the player. Is it going to be more of a guided experience or are you pretty much just set free in this world and allowed to do whatever you want to do. Or is there a main storyline you’re following for the whole thing?
EB: There’s a backbone to it, there’s a structure to it, but it’s pretty loose. We never force the player to go in a certain direction, we kind of guide them to go somewhere, but we let players make their own decision. And choose where, what you do and when.
ST: Any word on a release date?
EB: Yeah, it’s early 2020.
ST: Well, sounds good!
EB: Thanks, man.