An Interview With the Developers of Pode
One of the new games shown off during the recent Nindies presentation was an exploration game called Pode. Afterwards, we got in touch with the developers, Henchman & Goon, to learn more about it. Take a look at the announcement trailer and then read on to see what we learned.
Q: Pode looks like a beautiful game. According to the announcement, it was inspired by Norwegian culture. Could you go into more detail about how Norwegian culture influenced it?
The Norwegian influence is mainly on the visual side where we have taken inspiration from the national romantic era. This was a very brief, but significant part of Norwegian cultural history, and a period that in many ways still define us as a people today. One art form that is connected to this era is traditional rose painting, and this has become one of the more prominent aspects of the visual design. The swirling, colorful flora in Pode as well as the hand painted textures are very directly influenced by this in addition to detailing from the Norwegian national dress, the bunad, which has very elaborate embroideries and jewelry.
Nature is also a very important part of Norwegian culture, and every main area in the mountain Bulder and Glo are exploring are influenced by different areas of Norwegian nature. Pine woods, glaciers and fells to mention a few.
There is also something to be said about two non-verbal characters befriending one another, helping each other, and learning to care for each other. The Norwegian people is often said to be cold and of few words. I guess it’s got something to do with having to communicate through layers of padded clothes, scarfs, blizzards and darkness, as well as an immense reverence for personal space. But underneath it all we truly are a warm and friendly bunch who like to make new friends 🙂
What inspired you to make the story about a rock and a fallen star? Is the story an important part of the game, or is gameplay the primary focus?
The story is definitely an important part of the game. It didn’t start out that way though. The original idea was just “a light dude and a magnet dude solving puzzles by combining abilities in a room based environment,” but as the idea developed, the story of these two characters kind of emerged through the mechanics, and the process became about telling a story through gameplay. However, we never wanted to push the story on the player, so people can ignore it completely if they wish, and just focus on solving the puzzles, but every part of the game, the mechanics and gameplay included, do complement and help carry the story of Bulder and Glo and how their friendship evolves through the game.
What would you compare its gameplay to? Do any games stand out as notable inspirations?
We have taken inspiration from several different games as well as stories and art in other media. Journey, Brothers and Lost Vikings are among the most prominent, but we have been very careful not to let that inspiration define the direction we’ve taken with Pode and I think we’ve managed to make a game that stands on it’s own without necessarily being immediately associated with other games.
In the single player mode, how will controlling the two characters work?
In single player you will simply switch between the two characters. All puzzles are designed not to be punishing towards either game mode, and it’s all much more about figuring out what you need to do than performing difficult moves involving both characters. This also allows you to enjoy playing co-op with a very inexperienced gamer as you can still switch characters to perform any difficult task and the inexperienced gamer can enjoy exploring and twirling in the grass… (which is actually, unexpectedly, a very fun thing to do).
While this may be an unusual question, could you clarify the pronunciation of Pode for us?
Believe me, it’s not the first time we’ve been asked that 😀
In Norwegian it is pronounced Poo-duh, but we’ve gotten used to saying it as rhyming with toad when speaking English, so we’re fine with either.
Finally, is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about Pode?
One thing that becomes more and more evident as we demo the game is that no matter what genre people favor, they will find Pode to be a game they’d want to play with their kid/parent/SO. We have really tried to make a game that’s accessible to anyone, and it seems we’ve managed that, at least to a degree. So for anyone who wants to kick back and share a relaxing experience with a loved one, Pode might just be the game to go for 🙂
We’re happy we had this opportunity to learn more about Pode. What do you think of it? Share your thoughts on Pode in the comments below.