The developers who brought us Earthworm Jim and The Neverhood are back with a new title, Armikrog, which is currently on Kickstarter. We had the pleasure of speaking with founders of Pencil Test Studios, Mike Dietz and Ed Schofield about the upcoming game.
TechZwn: You mention that Armikrog is a game you’ve been wanting to make for years. Also, I think most of us can see the relation to The Neverhood, but you mention it’s in a whole other universe. Why did you choose this route over a sequel? Do you think the world of Armikrog has more possibilities?
Schofield: We’ve thought about doing a Neverhood sequel for years. We love the story, characters and universe of the original game, but back when we created the game for Dreamworks we had to give up the rights in order to get the game funded. Now, E.A. owns those rights and they’ve decided not to do anything with The Neverhood for now.
So while Armikrog is not a sequel, we have much of the same team creating the game so it will have the same style and feel, but it won’t have the same characters or take place in the same universe as The Neverhood. With Armikrog, since we will be able to keep the rights, this leaves the door wide open for a sequel or spin-off types of games.
TechZwn: I love the clay style. It’s something we don’t see very often. I’m curious how the experience of working with clay animation has been compared to some of the more conventional graphic styles, such as what we saw in Earthworm Jim.
Dietz: We’re creating assets like we would for any other game, but the biggest difference is that instead of using computers, we’re using power tools, clay and foam-latex. You have to build everything in the real world which is a much larger and more expensive task—and unlike CG development, we’re bound to the laws of physics.
For example, if the character has an enormous upper body and tiny legs, you have to figure out a way for him to support his own weight. One aspect of that is very similar to what we did on Earthworm Jim is that we pencil-test all of the game animation before we shoot the stop-motion: we make rough animation drawings and digitize them, then we test them in the engine to see if the motion works before we shoot the final stop-motion. So by the time we start shooting for the game we know exactly what we need and how it will work.
TechZwn: It’s interesting to see adventure games making a comeback. I think most of the gamers who remember the Lucasarts golden age feel the same way. I’m curious, though, why you decided to make an adventure game?
Schofield: The LucasArts adventure games (Day of the Tentacle, Full Thottle, etc.) were so much fun and very influential on our early years as developers. Those games inspired us to make The Neverhood. So when we started to kick around ideas for a new project to work on, we decided that we wanted to work on a project that was going to allow us to have a lot of creative freedom, would be FUN to develop, and would help to satisfy those who have been asking us to do another clay and puppet adventure game. Armikrog is that game for us.
TechZwn: Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Schofield: We’re very excited about Armikrog and the support that we’ve received so far on our Kickstarter campaign. We’re still working toward our funding goal, so if you’re is interested to see what happens when you clash new technology with 100 year old stop-motion animation techniques, mixed with mind-bending puzzles and humor, check out Armikrog on Kickstarter!