Gaming editor Roshni Patel delves into the realm of forgotten objects in ThroughLine Games’ Forgotton Anne, catching up with Associate Producer Ingvi Snædel about its upcoming release
As a student journalist, it’s not often that you get to see a game from its physical announcement to its release, through to the snapshots of various exhibitions. However, for Forgotton Anne, this has certainly been the case, as I met the game and its creators at their first show with the Square Enix Collective back in September 2015 at EGX. And while I ponder where the time went, the little demo I first met at my first EGX evolved and transformed, becoming a far more polished piece, and is now nearly ready for release.
Forgotton Anne features a girl named, you guessed it, Anne, an enforcer of the Forgotton Lands. Cast into this realm of forgotten objects, where everything you’ve ever discarded or forgotten about lives, Anne and her master, Bonku, must find their way out, home to the human world. Both aided and hindered by an array of Forgotlings, which come in all shapes and sizes, from forgotten scarves to mislaid socks, Anne must find her way through the forgotton realm to crush the rebellion that threatens her return to the human world.
Beautifully rendered to look like an anime or Studio Ghibli film, Forgotton Anne is a adventure game that flows well, with no load screens and few black screens between scene transitions. A game that is truly unique among the sea of games on offer at exhibitions, where the decisions you make and interactions you have affect the outcome and story that is told. To find out more about the development story behind the game, I sat down with associate producer of ThroughLine Games, Ingvi snædel at EGX Rezzed.
How long have you been with ThroughLine Games?
A little over year, I started in January 2017.
How long have ThroughLine Games been working on Forgotton Anne?
It’s been in development since 2014, starting with just Alfred Nguyen our CEO and Creative director, and Michael Godlowski-Maryniak our Technical Director. They started the studio in 2014 working on their vision, and it was a 2 man studio for half a year or so, as they worked on prototyping [Forgotton Anne] and finding investment. Hard core development on Forgotton Anne in its current form didn’t start until roughly mid-2015 when the team quite rapidly expanded. We joined an accelerator program in Canada, Execution Labs, which helped the team expand from 5 to a core team of 12, with some freelancers coming in now and then.
Where did the idea originally come from and how would you describe Forgotton Anne?
Where the idea came from you’ll have to ask Alfred. He tends to say that it appeared to him in a dream.
However, I would describe Forgotton Anne as a seamless cinematic adventure platformer. You control it as a platformer, but it is an adventure game at heart. It’s a single experience from when you start the game to finish, as there’s no loading screens at any point, rendering a seamless cinematic experience.
What have been some of the challenges through the development process of this seamless cinematic experience?
Well, of course, with a normal design of a game you can load and unload everything in the level during the loading screen, as this is the traditional way of stopping the game, while you’re emptying the memory and loading in new assets. The challenge here, is that we have to do that while the player is running around and doing things. So, memory allocation was one of our challenges, when to load and when to unload assets in order to keep the experience smooth for the player.
How has play-testing changed the game? I.e. through exhibitions
As well as exhibitions, we’ve also had people come into the studio and made use of Square Enix’s QA department, getting them to run the game and fix the bugs. But play-testing early on is really important, especially for us, as the game is technically a 3D environment that looks super 2D, kind of like a 2.5D world. So we just want to make sure that the player can intuitively read where they’re supposed to go, which platforms they can grab, where they can climb up on things and where they can and should go. We want this to be as smooth and as easily readable as possible, and getting play-testers on the game as soon as possible, to test that what we’ve already done works, is really important.
What has been your highlight of the development process?
My favourite part of development has been editing the script, because I did my bachelors in English and I taught English at the university, so I’m quite a Grammar Nazi. Our writer is Danish and he’s a brilliant and imaginative writing, and as a result the back and forth with him, polishing some of the wording and spelling, has been one of my highlights with ThroughLine Games.
And finally, when should we clear our calendars for Forgotton Anne?
15th of May, on PC, PS4 and XBOX One. We’re already certified for release on console and we’re currently still working on optimising the low end technical specifications for PC, so more people can play Forgotton Anne, without needing a hard-core gaming PC. We are also looking into the Switch, though nothing that can be confirmed as of yet, however, we are actively engaged in seeing what needs to be done to achieve that.