March 15, 2017

Troll And I - An Interview With Kevin Oxland

Spiral House is hard at work on completing their next title, Troll and I, which is coming to Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC, with a version for Nintendo Switch also happening. The games Creative Director, Designer and Writer (that is a long title) Kevin Oxland took sometime to answer the questions I had about the game.

Maxi-Geek: What inspired the development of a game with co-op at its core?
Kevin Oxland: The idea for the game just came to me one day. I write children’s stories and I had this idea buzzing around inside my head for a while and though it would make a great game. The idea of two characters that have very different characteristics both in story and in the game mechanics fascinated me and we had to try it. We already designed the fact that the player could control either of the two central protagonists at the press of a button, so it seemed a logical step to incorporate couch co-op, and it works well.

MG: How did you decide to have a Troll as a playable character?
KO: The two characters had to be unique both in terms of gameplay and story development, so it was a fairly easy decision to make. All decisions were based around the fact that both characters could be controlled by the player, so it was central to the development of the game.

MG: Given how each character has their own abilities, do you find yourselves drawn to one over the other, or are they both worth playing as?
KO: Both characters are worth playing… in fact you HAVE to play both characters in order to progress in the single player campaign. I’m sure players will have their favourites, but they are both fun in their own right because they have their own unique traits.

The game is out soon on most platforms, but was recently announced for Nintendo Switch, can you talk a little about how the decision to bring it to Switch happened?
Well, first and foremost we are all big Nintendo fans here at Spiral House, so we were excited when Switch was announced. Also, the Switch is perfect for Troll. Nintendo are traditionally all about co-op play and with Troll being couch co-op it seemed like a natural fit. So the decision was pretty easy actually.

The game is set in the Scandinavian wilds, did the decision to set the game there, impact the gameplay or vice versa?
The game is clearly fiction and it isn’t set in a specific location in Scandinavia, but we used that backdrop and theme for the game. We all know that Trolls live in Scandinavia, right? And yes, it did impact the gameplay. The Scandinavian terrain is very rugged, with lots of hills and mountains so we used that in the gameplay, and in the story. Troll and Otto do a lot of climbing and traverse a lot of rock. One of Troll’s unique abilities is to lift and help Otto get to places he wouldn’t otherwise be able to. It is also used for stealth tactics by Otto, and the Troll hunters use it for shelter and create interesting basecamps using the terrain.

A lot of people tend to play solo in their house, or online with friends these days, how do you hope to entrance the players back to couch co-op
Playing co-op is not a prerequisite to playing or completing the game. However, we made the co-op as easy to access as it could be. For example, if you have a friend watching you play, all they have to do is pick up the controller and press a button at any time during single play, and they will join the adventure. It’s that simple. It’s also free, so you can just play co-op… or not. The second player can also vacate the game at any time, leaving the other player to continue solo. We all have couch friends that watch you play games… well now they can join in, and it’s great for couples to just go on an adventure together, follow the story, solve puzzles and have some monster bashing fun along the way.

How long would it take a pair of players to finish the game, if they wanted to 100% it?
Hmmm... tough question. It really depends on the player, but on average we believe there is roughly twelve to fourteen hours in there if you are coming at it fresh.

Final question, have you put any thoughts into a sequel?
Yes, we have put thought into a sequel, but at this stage, who knows what will happen. We will wait and see how it is received and if our fans like it, then perhaps we’ll do another. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I left it in such a way that a sequel is certainly do-able.

The game is out next week for PlayStation 4, PC and Xbox One, no release date has been announced for the Switch version at this time and of course, many thanks to Kevin for taking the time to answer my questions.

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