Stonefly Dev’s Brand Is “Peculiarity,” Says Creative Director

    After I ask him what Flight School Studio is all about, artistic director Adam Volker laughs and says that the studio’s model is that of “peculiarity.” Which, given the studio’s monitor report, makes good sense. “We like to make interesting things, and we find interest in oddity, interest in weirdness, and interest in differentness,” he stated. “I think we love art, and we love storytelling, and we think there are all sorts of ways to do that that haven’t been done. And so we’re just trying stuff, seeing if it sticks.”Ahead of the discharge of a brand new trailer for Stonefly, Flight School’s newest challenge, I sat down with Volker to speak in regards to the recreation, in addition to Flight School’s historical past and id as a developer. Stonefly is simply the newest recreation in Flight School’s makes an attempt to make one thing that is a bit out there–it’s an intriguingly tough recreation to outline.Stonefly can also be the second time that Flight School has gone for a extra conventional console and PC recreation than the digital actuality video games that outlined the studio’s origins. When I requested why Flight School determined to maneuver away from VR video games, Volker stated, “Well, there’s a boring answer and then an interesting answer. The boring answer is that money dried up in VR.”Beyond the boring monetary causes, the workforce additionally simply actually wished to take a stab at a recreation that might be obtainable on extra mainstream platforms. That recreation turned out to be 2019’s Creature within the Well, a recreation that the workforce affectionately refers to as a “pinbrawler.””Pinbrawler was a word that somebody at PAX said to us after playing [Creature in the Well], a term we had not ever heard of,” Volker stated. “And we’re like, ‘That’s perfect,’ and started marketing it as a pinbrawler.” Flight School counts the expertise as a blessing. The workforce’s video games have all the time been a bit tough to outline in that they take inspiration from many sources however do not simply evaluate to different video games on the market. But describing Creature within the Well as a pinbrawler–shorthand for a recreation that provides pinball and brawler mechanics to a Legend of Zelda-inspired dungeon crawler–is catchy and straightforward to market.It’s magic that Flight School has sadly not been capable of seize a second time for Stonefly. With the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling all the main gaming occasions within the latter half of 2020 and the previous half of 2021, there hasn’t been an opportunity for big teams of individuals to strive Stonefly and let Flight School know what particularly in regards to the recreation is probably the most fulfilling. “We get a ton of how we market our games from people playing,” Volker stated.On prime of that, COVID-19 has modified how Flight School works on video games. Flight School has a centralized workplace location in Dallas with just a few of us going to an workplace house in Montreal. So in contrast to many indie studios that have been already distant working from residence operations, Flight School did need to undergo the transition of fixing the place and the way folks work. Volker stated that the workforce had skilled optimistic and adverse adjustments because the begin of the pandemic–the most noticeable distinction is the unlucky lack of the choice for teammates to simply name one another over to their desks for fast and straightforward suggestions.”We started the production [on Stonefly] before [COVID-19], but only by maybe six months or so,” Volker stated. “I feel so horrible for [game designer Mel Ramsden] because she came to interview at the studio and we were like, ‘Check out our space, we’ve got this cool coffee machine and lounge area on the sixth floor of this beautiful building in Montreal,’ and then she’s never worked in the studio. We hired her, and then I think it was either the week or like the week after that we went into quarantine in Canada. I feel like she hasn’t even gotten the full experience.”Part of that full expertise is how Flight School pulls from so many sources for its video games. Volker stated that fairly than attempt to craft distinctive recreation mechanics, he and Flight School Studio’s Bohdon Sayre discuss facets of play. “Play is a much larger space than video games,” Volker stated. “And so we’ll look at things like tag or board games–that’s why we talked about sumo wrestling for Stonefly.” During our dialog, Volker threw numerous different brainstorms at me that he and the workforce have had for his or her video games, together with sports activities like soccer and baseball and actions like archery, axe throwing, and beer pong.”Why do people keep doing this–what is beer pong?” he requested me. “Why do people keep playing it all the time? Is it just the social aspect–pretending you’re cooler than everyone in the room–is that the only reason people play? Do people play because they get to drink?” Flight School believes that if you may get on the coronary heart of why somebody finds a form of “play” enjoyable, then you’ll be able to try to seize that form of expertise in a video game–like making pinball right into a fight mechanic.Gallery

    In phrases of extra conventional inspirations, Volker talked about that Stonefly pulls from Super Smash Bros., Dynasty Warriors, and anime, amongst different sources. For anime, he particularly talked about Studio Ghibli–which makes numerous sense, on condition that after I first laid eyes on the sport and noticed it in motion, I felt like I used to be seeing Studio Ghibli’s The Secret World of Arrietty going down in the identical universe as Neon Genesis Evangelion or Gundam. “It’s funny that you mentioned mecha, because I’ve got a Gundam right above my desk,” Volker stated.That sci-fi-inspired setting and story is the one simply obvious connection that Stonefly has to Creature within the Well (after I requested if the workforce had any sci-fi followers, Volker stated, “Oh yeah, totally,” with none hesitation). In virtually each different method, Stonefly is a totally totally different recreation, which inserts Flight School’s sample of making video games which are very totally different from what the workforce has performed earlier than.”It’s kind of our self-preservation,” Volker stated. “We would never feel confident going toe-to-toe with BioWare or Bethesda or whatever, and make a giant, traditional third-person action RPG. Because there’s only a few of us, and those other studios employ like hundreds of super talented, brilliant artists. I feel like Bo and I–I don’t know that we’ve ever said this out loud–we have to make something different out there, because otherwise it would just get buried.”Here’s hoping that Stonefly will not get buried. I loved the hell out of Creature within the Well and it is distinctive implementation of pinball mechanics, so I’m wanting ahead to seeing how Flight School Studio manages to seize its model of peculiarity this time round. Stonefly is scheduled to launch for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, PC, and Switch in 2021.

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