E3 2017 Interview: Thunder Lotus Games Talks about Sundered

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

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OR: You partnered with Sony for marketing [Sundered]. How did you develop a relationship with Sony for this?

RD: I believe it was at E3 last year. We had a demo, very similar to what you just played- and we were using that to try to drum up interest in first parties for some sort of partnership deal. And in the indie space, you kinda really want to do that if you’re going onto consoles because it’s really hard for indies to get the exposure that they need to really get noticed on consoles. So Sony was willing to partner with us, in exchange for a timed-exclusivity. They will be helping us to push the game, and they have been since we announced it last September. And it has been a really positive relationship.

“…[W]e knew how central our Kickstarter fans and backers were to the success of Jotun.

The people who opt in to what we’re offering, what we’re proposing, so early and try and champion it, and wanted it to succeed at the end of the day – that was a huge boost to us during Jotun development.”

OR: You said timed-exclusivity. Does this mean that it could potentially be coming to the Xbox One or the Nintendo Switch in the future?

RD: Well, that would be telling, wouldn’t it?

OR: That would be, yes.

RD: All I can say is, we will see what the future holds. For now, we are all concentrated on launching on PlayStation and PC/Mac/Linux. But there are other consoles out there – it’s the same thing we did with Jotun. With Jotun, we came out on PC first, but there was always a plan in the back of our minds that if it did well, we wanted to put in front of as many gamers as possible.

So assuming Sundered does as well as we hope, then we are going to be seeing what opportunities come out of that.

OR: Talking about Jotun for just a moment – what lessons did you learn out of Jotun that you applied to developing Sundered?

RD: In a sense, the main conception of the game was an immediate reaction to what we thought we did well and less-well in Jotun. We’re pretty proud of that game, especially for a game that was released on-time and on-budget and did fairly well. It was a good production, but it wasn’t perfect. We realized it was a fairly linear sort of game that- if you played it once, if you saw someone stream it- they basically were showing off the same experience you would have. And that told us that anyone who watched the game on the stream had limited reasons to want to buy it for themselves.

But first of all, we were all ‘Okay, what do we love?’. We love HP Lovecraft. We love Metroid. And at that time, until an announcement just today [OR Note: Mr. Dupperon is referring to the E3 2017 Nintendo Direct announcement of Metroid Prime 4.], Nintendo was continuously leaving Metroid out to dry. And we wanted to make a ‘love letter’ to Super Metroid and another game we love, Rogue Legacy. And so we designed [Sundered] to take what we did best and add to it more variety, more replayability, and make it more action-packed. Like, doing away with a little with more sort of meditative exploration parts that we did in Jotun.

Sundered | More Gameplay.

(Image courtesy of Thunder Lotus Games).

OR: So [Sundered] was originally a Kickstarter.

RD: It was brought to Kickstarter fairly late in the project. We were already almost in alpha when we brought it to Kickstarter. Compared to Jotun, which was at the very beginning of the project. This was [much] later in the project.

OR: Why did you decide to bring it in at a later point in the development process versus Jotun?

RD: A couple of reasons. The first one was that we knew how central our Kickstarter fans and backers were to the success of Jotun. The people who opt in to what we’re offering, what we’re proposing, so early and try and champion it, and wanted it to succeed at the end of the day – that was a huge boost to us during Jotun development.

And coming to Sundered, we knew very well that we were going to be fairly well-off, fairly well-advanced into production by the time we were ready to do a Kickstarter. But we knew we wanted to have our fans help us make it better. And that was what we proposed very transparently on our Kickstarter: ‘Our goal is very low financially, but everybody who backs us gets in on at least the beta of the game.’ And feedback from that data and the alpha before it is what has helped us polish the game into its almost-ready state.

Have you thought about your next project once this game ships next month?


OR: Will there be a Kickstarter in the future for other potential games?

RD: Very potentially. Everything that we’ve done since the start of Sundered has been very encouraging. We were able to triple the number of backers on Sundered that we did on Jotun, and the quality and the feedback is there. We always want to build on the successes of the past, and this has been [a] very, very positive experience. And that is no reason why we wouldn’t want to do it again.

OR: On your Kickstarter, you mention DLC is coming to this game. Is there anything you can tell us about it now?

RD: For the moment, no. For the moment, we are 100% concentrated on shipping the launch version of Sundered. So we have a few ideas, but some of them – like none of them are confirmed. From the very beginning when we began showcasing this game at TwitchCon, we realized that speed runners were taking an interest in it. And that’s one path we could take – making it more speed runner friendly. But honestly, there’s new game-plus material that we can and should do. But it could go all the way to having an extra region of the game and more playable content.

It depends, honestly, on how well [Sundered] is received by the market. But assuming it is successful, and assuming that we can find a market on other consoles, we are going to be wanting to see how we can expand upon the core experience.

Going forward, we’re probably going to want to build our projects accordingly to have this all sort of planned out in advance like [how a] triple-A [game] does it. But we have concentrated on the main experience the entire time. We’re a small twelve-person team, and we don’t have the resources to, say, splitting that team, and doing different timelines of the same project.

Sundered | More art.

(Image courtesy of Thunder Lotus Games).

OR: Have you thought about your next project once this game ships next month?

RD: Absolutely.

OR: Can you tell us anything about it?

RD: I cannot tell you anything about it, aside from the fact that it is what I personally think is a very interesting direction to take with what we do best. So it’s not a sequel to something we’ve done, it’s not even in the same genre as what we’ve done. But it is in the same way as we did with Sundered-building on our strengths of what we’ve done in the past.

OR: Alright, is there anything else you’d like to tell us or our readers?

RD: Just that Sundered is out in only a few weeks on PC/Mac/Linux and PS4, check it out. Resist or embrace!

OR: Thank you very much!

Do you like Metroidvania style video games? Will you be picking up Sundered when it is released?

Let us know in the comments below!

About Quentin H.

I have been a journalist for oprainfall since 2015, and I have loved every moment of it. Do you want to do an interview? You can reach me at interviews@oprainfall.com

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