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SteamWorld Dig 2: Interview with the CEO of Image & Form

Interview

Today we got the opportunity to interview Brjánn Sigurgeirsson about SteamWorld Dig 2 which will be released on Nintendo Switch. Could you introduce yourself a little bit Brjánn?

Hi everybody! I‘m Brjánn Sigurgeirsson and I run Image & Form in Gothenburg Sweden. Image & Form is a studio of 22 people right now and we‘ve made games like SteamWorld Dig and SteamWorld Heist before. Even before we made a game called SteamWorld Tower Defense, that nobody has played on the entire planet. Well, except for a few people which are brilliant and we love you very much. And now we are making SteamWorld Dig 2 which is coming out very very very very soon on Nintendo Switch.

Our first question is a little bit more about Nintendo Switch itself. Before the official announcement of the Nintendo Switch you guys have been teasing the upcoming Nintendo-console all the time in your reddit-AMAs and people went crazy and interpreted everything. So, when was the first time you came in touch with the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo in general?

Well, we are Image & Form and we suggested the Nintendo Switch to Nintendo back in 2012. And so we showed their engineers how to build it, and then they made sure to make it [grinning]. That‘s not actually true, what happened is that in 2016 at the GDC in San Francisco I had a meeting with a few key people from Nintendo. It was a very formal meeting. It was in a ward room and there was a big table. I was on the one side and there were five very important looking Nintendo-people on the other side of the table. And they didn‘t discuss the Nintendo Switch at that time, but there were rumors and people were talking about the NX back then. They asked me some specific questions what the new project was and also what the timeline was for SteamWorld Dig 2. I think we fit the bill very well, because we had a game coming out after march 2017 and also a game that would fit the Nintendo Switch very well.

So, when I got back, I did what I do every week, I sent them an eMail begging to send us a Devkit for the Nintendo NX, as it was called back then. And apparently the timing was perfect. Pretty much immediately we went down to Frankfurt to be disclosed, as it was called, and found out about this new thing. They showed us a presentation of the Nintendo NX, the specifications and so on. We didn‘t get to know what it looked like. So a little bit later, when people were leaking to the press what the Nintendo NX was, I was terrified. But at the same time I was feeling safe because we didn‘t really know how it looked like. I was just as suprised as you in october 2016 when we saw what it looked like. I was thrilled and we were being very secretive the whole time. I mean, me and Julius [the Community Manager of Image & Form] we always make stupid videos and it looks like we are talking out loud but we make sure that we don‘t say anything we can‘t talk about.

So you really were surprised as well?

Yeah, we were suprised how sleek it looked. I was worried that Nintendo was going to make something that looked very much like a toy. Like the Wii U which looked like a kids toy. But the Nintendo Switch was just the sleek perfect solution. My inital concern was the Joy-Con. Are they going to break if you take them in and put them back on? How long are you going to be able to do that? We are doing it the whole time with the devkit in the office. So, it‘s a wonder of engineering I think.

So let‘s come to SteamWorld Dig 2. Can you tell our readers if it is somehow linked to it‘s predecessor.

Well, SteamWorld Dig 2 is obviously linked to SteamWorld Dig, otherwise it would be strange to call it SteamWorld Dig 2. It would be kind of cool if it wasn‘t linked at all but it actually is quite linked to SteamWorld Dig. At the same time it‘s a stand-alone sequel and you don‘t have to have played SteamWorld Dig to enjoy SteamWorld Dig 2. And I think you will enjoy SteamWorld Dig 2 because it is the best game ever made for the Nintendo Switch. There is some stupid game from Nintendo called Breath of the Wild which is getting a lot of good ratings. But yeah, it‘s close to SteamWorld Dig 2 in terms of quality [grinning]. So I think you can expect a piece of gaming brilliance. It‘s the best game that Image & Form has ever made and we‘ve made some pretty good games.

In development, what was your biggest challenge to overcome with the Nintendo Switch and the game in general?

We were suprised how easy the Nintendo Switch was to work with. When we get new platforms to work with, we are used to get problems. So it always takes time to get your first game onto a new platform. So we had set aside 14 days, or almost three working weeks, to get a decent build-up running on the Nintendo Switch. But instead it took two days to get it up and running and we were sure we made something wrong [laughs]. So we were talking to the engineers at Nintendo just to make sure if this was right. And they said: „Yeah, that seems to be in order“. It‘s been uniquely easy to work with the Nintendo Switch.

The other challenge in development was „How are we going to make this game very much better than SteamWorld Dig?“. If you look at reviews you see that people loved SteamWorld Dig. So how are we going to make a game that is so many times better? One thing was that people think SteamWorld Dig was short. And so we decided it‘s not going to be too short and we are not going to prolong the gaming time by adding a lot of grinding, we are going to add a lot more intresting content into the game. Another thing was that people thought there is only like one real boss in SteamWorld Dig. So we had to address that too. With SteamWorld Dig 2 we can finally make a game that is worthy of Nintendo because this time we could add a few really skilled level-designers. That means we have an action-platformer that has all those wonderful things, you want to see in a platformer. You have so many hours of gameplay ahead of you if you are going to complete SteamWorld Dig 2. There is just a shockful of things.

It was a super-big challenge to accomplish all that. I mean, we are a team of 22 people. Last time I checked Nintendo got two Million employees and everybody is a level-designer [grinning]. No, I‘m exaggerating but I think we are making an amazing game and there are still very few people working on it, so we have to be really clever. It‘s a big challenge to be a small team and make a game, which Nintendo itself would be proud to make.

Upon developing SteamWorld Dig 2, was there a character you came to like the most?

The thing is, with SteamWorld Heist you had this team-experience. You had the lead-character Piper, who was the captain, but she is not any more important than the other characters. You can find your favourite character easily with SteamWorld Heist. In SteamWorld Dig 2 we had to make sure that you like Dorothy, the main protagonist. Also you have this companion and that is something that we haven‘t had in our games before. And it‘s great because you can sort of add alot quirkyness and humor to a character like that. It‘s not the main character though, that character only appears every now and then in the game but has a key-role in the game anyway.

And it‘s great because you can add so much to a character like that. You can make him a real bastard, someone that you don‘t really like. And that adds a lot of humor and personality to the game. But the most important character and the one I sympathise with is obviously Dorothy because in the game she is playing out like we are experiencing life. We set out to do something in life and that‘s the goal, that‘s the target. And after a while you get off target, like you wanted to do something but you are not succeeding. And suddenly you realize that you are doing other things instead. It is a really fascinating thing in the game when you realize that you're just exploring this world and forget what your mother and father told you to do. You are on your own in life. I enjoy that moment when you realize „what am I doing? I‘m just enjoying myself. Where is my mission?“.

Concerning humor and funny stuff, was there anything you wanted to add but could not?

Well I mean, it‘s a game that comes out on a Nintendo-platform so there is a lot of dirty humor we can‘t have in the game but that‘s okay because we didn‘t want it in there in the first place. But there is a lot of quirky humor that we picked up with SteamWorld Heist. There are so many cultural references in SteamWorld Dig 2 and of course in SteamWorld Heist. I think in SteamWorld Heist there were 300+ references to movies, to comics, to cultural phenomena, to pop-culture and so on. We really enjoyed it. It sort of becomes like an inside joke to have all this references there. So we said let‘s continue to do that in SteamWorld Dig 2. So it is just shockful of references. Everything that you don‘t understand immediately is a reference to something. So, it will be one of those games where you sit down and google while you are playing the game [laughs].

It also becomes like an added dimension to the exploration in the game. SteamWorld Dig 2 is all about exploration. To explore the world but also this references and all the nuances in the game.

Regarding the soundtrack of the game: Will there be some special appearances like Steam Powered Giraffe was implemented in SteamWorld Heist?

Well, I think we will get to that very soon, but we have something very nice lined up there as well. At this point I will say that the soundtrack for SteamWorld Dig 2 is remarkable. I think it is truly awesome. It is a really great soundtrack.

In SteamWorld Heist there was this running-gag with the hats one could collect. Is there anything similar in SteamWorld Dig 2?

Most definitely yes! There is a big element of collecting in SteamWorld Dig 2, and I don‘t mean just going down and collecting resources, take them up and sell them. There is a big element of collection. So, you want to collect certain items in SteamWorld Dig 2 and they have a profound impact on what happens in the game.

What do you think about the future of the Nintendo Switch and do you consider developing more titles for the new Nintendo-console?

I think the future of the Nintendo Switch is just super bright. I think everyone here agrees that the Nintendo Switch is the most interesting platform in the world right now. That‘s a no-brainer. And it‘s also a no-brainer that we are hopefully bringing many more games to the Nintendo Switch. It‘s like before you had a smartphone you had a mobile phone and a PDA, right? And when I was walking around with this two things, I was always thinking: „Why can‘t I have both in one?“. And then Apple comes with the iPhone. And now the Nintendo Switch comes and it is a stationary console and it‘s a handheld, so I sit there and thought: „ This is what I wanted a long time ago!“. I think it‘s going to continue to be a massive consumer-hit and so we would be really stupid if we didn‘t develop more games for it. So, yes, that‘s definitely the plan!

Click here for the german version of the interview

Relevante Spiele

  • Cover von SteamWorld Dig 2

    SteamWorld Dig 2

    System: Nintendo Switch

    Vertrieb: Rising Star Games, Image & Form

    Genre: Adventure, Action, 2D

    9 9 22

Kommentare 4

  • blither aToMiisiert - 31.08.2017 - 13:02

    Ich hatte auf eine Info zu einer Retailversion gehofft. Am liebsten eine Collection mit SteamWorld Dig, SteamWorld Heist und SteamWorld Dig 2 :)

    Mal abwarten, vielleicht kommt da noch was. Eine Portierung der beiden anderen SteamWorld Spiele für Switch wäre cool!
  • USER0815 Loading... - 31.08.2017 - 14:18

    Einfach nur genial!
    Brian ist echt zu sympathisch!
    Musste oft lachen! :thumbup:
    Super gemacht das Interview!
    (Klingt gar nicht so peinlich wie manch andere Deutsche die Englisch reden!) ;)
    Freue mich auf Dig 2! Und hoffe es kommt auch noch n Nachfolger zu Heist!
    Btw ich hab Steamworld Tower Defense auf 3ds gespielt! :P :D :)
  • Nirbion 축복 피자 - 31.08.2017 - 22:03

    Sehr schönes Interview. Ich mochte vorallem wie sehr ihr mit Steamworld Heist ins Detail gehen konntet. Das war bei meinem Interview nicht möglich gewesen da ich sehr begrenzt Steamworld Heist gespielt habe, daher gab es für mich sehr viele interessante News :D

    Und Brjann ist einfach fantastisch. Er ist superlocker drauf und auch ich hab meine Zeit mit ihm sehr genossen. Und auf Steamworld Dig 2 freue mich mich besonders, der Vorgänger ist fantastisch. Und wenn es einfach ein "größeres und besseres "Steamworld Dig" sein soll, dann steht uns ein richtig RICHTIG gutes Spiel bevor!
  • TrippleF Turmbaron - 01.09.2017 - 16:14

    Zu einer Retail Version gibt es keine Infos, oder?