This interview was published at nindie.ch on May 18, 2016:
I often have ideas when I go jogging. Is the great idea of Shadow Puppeteer, with its 2D-3D-combination, a product of a creative process or a random idea during another activity?
The concept for Shadow Puppeteer was originally developed as an entry to the “Dare to be Digital” competition. It was the result of a creative process, where we as a team generated ideas and chose one to develop into a concept. Shadow Puppeteer started with the initial thought: What if your shadow was alive? From that flowed a series of possibilities that were eventually shaped into the final concept.
After playing 5 minutes of Shadow Puppeteer I was thinking “Tim Burton”. Did his movies have some influence?
When the original concept was established, the team was naturally drawn to darker styles. This was most likely due to the game’s premise and its focus on shadows, as well as the rather creepy image of shadows coming to life. We also established a goal of creating a game that was “gloomy, cartoony, with a twist of weird.”
As for Shadow Puppeteer’s environment and world, these were influenced by several sources of inspiration, including actual Norwegian Fishing towns.
We’ve had people point out similarities between the characters in Shadow Puppeteer and the work of Tim Burton. The idea of having simplified facial features and big, expressive eyes, while conveying life and personality through body language, is something that can be seen a lot in puppets used for puppet theatre. There was a particular children’s show in Norway back in the day called “Pompel & Pilt.” The creepy mood and look of the puppets made the show infamous and some still claim that they carry emotional scars from the series. But of course, we do admire Tim Burton’s movies, and we may have also been unconsciously inspired by his work.
You ported Shadow Puppeteer from PC to Wii U. If you compare the feedback from those 2 gamer bases: Is there a difference?
We are very happy to have Shadow Puppeteer available on both PC and Wii U, as each platform has its unique strengths and possibilities. Steam is a very large, vocal community with over 125 million users. We’ve received amazing feedback from these players, which has helped us make Shadow Puppeteer even better. Wii U’s player base is smaller by comparison. Because of this, it feels more intimate. Via the Miiverse, it’s possible to engage with players directly in a fun and friendly way. The Wii U, like other consoles, belongs in the living room. And as such, it lends itself perfectly to couch co-op games like Shadow Puppeteer!
You live in Norway and worked together with contractors from California. So you had to handle a time difference of 9 hours! How did you handle this?
Sarepta studio’s core team is based in Norway. However, we collaborated virtually with several specialists who live elsewhere. For example, we were fortunate enough to work with the legendary Peter McConnell as our music advisor. We met with Peter weekly over Skype. Our sound guy, Jory Prum (who sadly passed away a few weeks ago), was based in California. But, he frequently traveled to Norway and would purposefully plan his work to take place then at our offices.
A nine-hour time difference can be a tricky thing, but as long as you understand and factor in that email communication will be slower, and are flexible when setting the time of meetings, it can turn out wonderfully.
You got lot of publicity and awards for Shadow Puppeteer. Is this a burden for your next project or wings for new creative ideas?
We are humbled and grateful for the recognition and awards that Shadow Puppeteer has received. However, it doesn’t change the way we work on our projects. We’re focused on creating engaging experiences and games with heart. That said, the pride we take in our work, as well as our players’ experience with our games, are what drive us.
Thanks all members of Sarepta Studio for this interview and the great time we had with Shadow Puppeteer.