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Interview: Forrest Dowling - Creative Director, Drake Hollow

Published: 18:47, 25 June 2020
Updated: 18:52, 25 June 2020
The Molasses Flood
Key art for Drake Hollow
I will defend these 2020 era Pikmin with my life, I tell you!

Drake Hollow is an ambitious Xbox console exclusive follow up to The Flame in the Flood, providing players a whimsical world of procedurally generated third person exploration, base construction, and creatures that look like next gen Pikmin.

Evoking a visual style similar to Obsidian's upcoming Grounded, The Molasses Flood have been beavering away on Drake Hollow for a while now, and with a recent Insider exclusive Beta wrapping up last weekend, it's won't be long until the final launch on 17th July 2020. 

We caught up with Forrest Dowling, Creative Director (and Studio Director) on this charming opus, to discuss the prevalence of opportunity their partnership with Xbox Game Pass has afforded, potential post launch plans, and whether or not the Drake's themselves have any tangential relation to a certain scourge of the U.S.S. Enterprise.

The Molasses Flood Interacting with the Drakes in Drake Hollow. Mr. GrumpyFace on the right isn't sure about the player character's offering of literally nothing...

Looking at both The Flame in the Flood and Drake Hollow, exploring nature seems to be a pervasive theme across both titles. Is that a conscious design choice, or a happy accident?

Drake Hollow actually started out as a follow up to The Flame in the Flood, but we changed a lot along the way, to the point where they bear little resemblance to one another, but the natural setting has remained throughout. I don’t think it’s a conscious choice to set our games in nature, but rather the result of other choices. 

We want to create places to explore but that can be made by a very small team, and natural environments are a good fit for that. In the case of both these titles, the camera also works better in outdoor and larger scale environments.

What opportunities has partnering with Microsoft and Xbox Game Pass created for your titles? 

The main benefit for a small team in partnering with a company like Microsoft and using Xbox Game Pass is that it gets our game in front of many more people than we would be able to on our own. Large titles have marketing budgets in the many tens of millions. 

Since we don’t have that sort of money to spend we need to be scrappier about how we get our game in front of folks who we think will enjoy it. Having it show up in the libraries of 10 million players the day we launch seems like a pretty good way to get the word out.

Are you looking at Drake Hollow as telling a complete story, or will there be future additions that expand the lore and narrative?

It’s important for us to ship a complete experience. We want players to have a full story that they can enjoy from version 1.0. That being said, we’d love to continue supporting the game in the future, although I expect most of those efforts will be focused more on the game play systems than the narrative. 

We don’t have concrete plans post launch aside from a sandbox mode, just a lot of ideas. We’re looking forward to seeing how the community enjoys the game, so we can focus our efforts on the things that resonate with our players. 

The Molasses Flood Escaping the enemy in Drake Hollow. Run from The Stranger Things!

Does Drake Hollow support cross play between the Xbox and Steam versions of the game?

We support crossplay between the Windows 10 Store version and Xbox One, but not Steam. We use the friends lists from each of those platforms for matchmaking, so we’re limited by that in terms of what we can support.

Are the Drakes themselves distant cousins of the Tribbles from Star Trek: The Original Series?

So Tribbles originated from the planet Iota Geminorum IV, which seems pretty far from the Hollow, but as you play you’ll discover that perhaps the Hollow is a unique place, where distances don’t work exactly like they do in our world. 

Is it possible that some magical portal opened between Iota Geminorum IV and the Hollow many eons ago, and is it possible that a Tribble and a Drake share an ancient ancestor? Who’s to say, but I won’t rule it out.

A huge thank you to Forrest Dowling for taking the time to answer our questions, and to Chris Cook at The Amplifier Group for helping to set this up.

Drake Hollow launches on July 17th, for Xbox One, and PC.

The game will also be available via Xbox Game Pass on launch day. 

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