What is the Indie journey like? What does it take to come up with exciting ideas, create your own company and develop a winning game? Recently Gamesauce was fascinated to learn from writer/animator Ozan Drøsdal about the process that began with a group of friends making a game and led to a company called Perfectly Paranormal developing the winning game, Helheim Hassle, at Konsoll Connect. As winners, the indie team has won the opportunity to compete at Indie Prize London which will take place at Casual Connect Europe on 29-31st of May 2018.
Gamesause: Tell us about Perfectly Paranormal. What led you to found this game studio?
Ozan Drøsdal: It all started during a boring semester in school back in 2011, where we decided to make an adventure game instead of doing homework. It was called Dudefish, it was made in Flash, the dialogue was recorded in our dorm rooms and it took us two years. We entered a competition or something with it back then and needed a company name (we weren’t a company yet at all) and we came up with Perfectly Paranormal. It’s inspired by the perfectly normal beasts from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. We didn’t form the actual company in a legal way before around 2015 when we were in the middle of working on Manual Samuel. A game everyone reading this should totally buy. It came out last year.
GS: How would you describe your company mission?
OD: We have two missions. The first one is to make adventure games with a twist. Dudefish was an adventure game that was supposed to have groundbreaking platform elements (we never got that far), Manual Samuel is an adventure game where you have to perform all your bodily functions manually, and Helheim Hassle is an adventure game where none of your body parts are stuck to your body. Yes we are fascinated by the human body. Our second mission is to build a franchise. All our games will be in the same universe and thereby connected. Right now we are working on the Tuesday Trilogy where Helheim Hassle is the second instalment.
GS: Who are your team members? What does each contribute to the company?
OD: We got Gisle, he is the brain of the company. He deals with everything technical and lets us know if things are doable. They usually are because he has a big brain. Ozan is the heart of the company. He writes and designs the game and makes sure the continuity and fun in the games are there. We got Øystein, which is the hands of the company ’cause he designs all our ridiculous characters. Then there is Christopher. I suppose he is the hands of the company too because he is our concept artist/background artist. Sondre is the ears of the company. He has made every musical track to every PP project ever created, big or small. Then we got Stine. I guess she is the uh…liver of the company. She does most of the legal stuff and whatnot. I don’t know how that makes her a liver but I was running out of body parts to compare us to.
GS: What is it like to work together at your company? What do you enjoy about working together?
OD: We are all a ragtag team of misfits and that makes it somehow easier to work together. We don’t really have many creative differences. If we give feedback about something that needs to be done differently, whoever is receiving the feedback will often agree or come with an even better solution. We usually love whatever one of us has made for the game.
GS: What was the inspiration for Helheim Hassle?
OD: The writing is inspired by the usual suspects. Neil Gaiman, Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchet. The cool guys. It is harder to pinpoint what the game itself is inspired by. We are making an open world adventure game in 2D about throwing around body parts. Brutal Legend maybe? Even through Helheim Hassle is nothing like that game. The setting is inspired by Vikings as well as modern Norway. Which makes sense ’cause we are Norwegians.
GS: Tell us about the creative process for this game.
OD: Once the main story is in place we make an area that is fun to play and then populate that area with fun characters and environments. There are certain points in the game that are main plot points so we know those will be there from the start, so we work on building up to them in a satisfying way. We will often revisit older areas and tweak them so they fit with all the recent ideas we’ve been getting. It seems to work so far. But going crazy is inevitable.
GS: What makes the game stand out from others? What makes it fun?
OD: That would be the universe in which it takes place, the characters and of course the gameplay. If the gameplay of our games don’t stand out then we are doing something wrong. I mean, you can detach and combine your body parts in ridiculous combinations. You can be two arms stitched together and throw your head around while your legs are somewhere else doing their own thing.
GS: Did you encounter any creative blocks while making the game? How did you overcome them? What excited you about the creative process?
OD: It was hard to develop a new mascot for the game. In Manual Samuel, we had Death. He just sort of came to be. In this one, we knew we needed a new one and it was hard to pinpoint what kind of a guy he should be. Ozan solved this by taping a Darth Vadar mask to a pillow and talking to it in character for a week. And then somehow our new mascot, Pesto, was born. Pesto is a good character but Ozan has changed. He carries that weird pillow everywhere. Send help.
GS: What was your experience like at Konsoll?
OD: Konsoll was super fun! We met a lot of cool new people and some of them were even personal heroes of us! Priceless experience!
GS: What feedback did you get from Konsoll Connect?
OD: Konsoll Connect was surely an experience! Our pitch was about yachts and how we should afford them. We had musical numbers and Gisle even did a TED talk spoof. Long story short, they told us to get to the point faster in the future.
GS: What advice and suggestions can you give others who would like to emulate what you do?
OD: Make games you like with people you like and don’t take yourself too seriously. I don’t know man, we’re not successful enough to be giving out advice yet. I’ll let you know when we figure it out ourselves.
GS: What are your plans for the future?
OD: Finish Helheim Hassle and start on the third installment of Tuesday Trilogy. There’s also a lot going on with Manual Samuel these days so definitely stay tuned for that!
GS: What trends do you see coming in the game industry? How are these trends influencing your planning?
OD: A trend we’ve noticed is that there is about 12,000 new games that come out every day. So we have to make our games unique and market them well or else they will be forgotten faster than that one movie with the guy that saves the world. What was it called again?
GS: Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.