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Interview with Alex Hutchinson - Creative Director, Journey to the Savage Planet

Published: 19:57, 09 March 2020
A Pufferbird pooping on the player character in Journey to the Savage Planet.
Pufferbird excrement is green. This is the kind of nuanced analysis you can expect from AltChar.

Journey to the Savage Planet is a wonderful sci-fi romp, with a sharp, acerbic sense of humour and exquisitely well realised creature design. We caught up with Alex Hutchinson, Creative Director on the game, to discuss Typhoon Studios' iterative process to development.

As stated in both our hands on preview and review coverage, Typhoon Studios have done a great job embracing both a tongue in cheek tone, and an "explore at your leisure" approach, that meshes together to form a rousing, enjoyable adventure. There's secrets to unearth and creatures to scan, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time with the finished product. It's a testament to the team that they've so clearly executed on their vision. 

Moreover, Typhoon Studios have since been snapped up by Google Stadia to produce content exclusive to their streaming service. While that future remains shrouded in mystery, there's still a lot of work being done to support Journey to the Savage Planet and its depiction of the 4th best interstellar space exploration company.

Typhoon Studios Zapping a Pufferbird in Journey to the Savage Planet. Electrified Pufferbird is a delicacy on the Klingon homeworld.

When designing the various alien creatures, was it a totally collaborative effort? Or were individual members of the art and design teams able to pitch their own ideas?

Each creature started with a role, either prey, predator or ambient, and then a central idea that we thought would be funny or fun - like screaming and fleeing you, or attacking you with a certain pattern. Then we built a grey box version of the creature, and roughed out the gameplay so we could try it in the game. Then we iterated on both visuals and gameplay until we ran out of time! So someone had the initial idea, usually a designer (but not always), and then it was very collaborative.

The live action advertisments and briefing videos were an ingenious way of really grounding the experience, despite taking place within such a fatastical setting. Did any concepts get left on the cutting room floor? Any bloopers / outtakes from the filming process?

Haha, yeah we ended up with a lot of weird footage that we should really try to figure out what to do with. Adrian was a lot of fun as Martin Tweed and Davy Force is a genius helping us with the fake ads. Adrian was no fan of animals so the completion video for scanning all the flora and fauna was particularly special. 

Typhoon Studios The player character overlooking the game world in Journey to the Savage Planet. A distant mountain awaits. Untold horrors lie within. Insert sci-fi / fantasy cliche here.

What has been the most interesting / surprising piece of feedback from players since launch?

We're glad people enjoy the humour! We set out to make a funny game and it's serious work to keep it light and breezy and to not grind the jokes down too hard. That, plus the speedrunners embracing it has been fun. So we added the new mode to support them! 

Are there any plans for future DLC expansions? Perhaps a Switch port? *crosses fingers*

Everything is being worked on! We have some new DLC coming you can buy with a whole new biome, plus the free 'Old Game Minus' mode just came out for all you speed runners. Switch is in discussion! I have a good feeling.

Theoretically, how would Captain Kirk from Star Trek react if he met a Pufferbird?

He'd make sweet love to it of course.

A huge thank you to Alex Hutchinson, Reid Schneider, and the team at Typhoon Studios for giving up their time to help put this interview together.

Journey to the Savage Planet is available now, for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

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