We have had the pleasure of talking to Brandon Hicks, the producer and story director for Skully - a fantastically cute platformer that's well worth checking out.
If only Rare knew that its seminal platformer Kameo would eventually be loosely alluded to all these years later with Skully, a charming spiritual nod to the platformers of yester-year.
Here is a game that knows exactly what it does best, with charming character design and sizeable worlds to explore. We wanted to find out exactly how developer Finish Line Games has rolled (sorry) its way to victory.
Your abilities appear to be shaped by interaction with elements of the environment. Does Skully have unique secret abilities of his own, that go beyond the transformations?
BH: Short answer: yes! While I don’t want to spoil discovering what you can do with Skully in their Head Form, you definitely need to use that form’s abilities to progress, sometimes in very surprising ways!
How important was developing the narrative and characters in the game, versus focusing on exploring the world and puzzle solving?
BH: It was extremely important to the development of the title, so much so that the design and narrative influenced each other throughout. The narrative provided the backbone for our level outline, and in turn the level design influenced story pacing along with how the characters would react in any given situation. Our Lead Designer, Jason Canam, and myself worked closely together throughout development to make sure that everything was integrated nicely, and I think you can see that in the finished product.
Does a football esque mini game appear at any point during the game? Where you literally are the ball?
BH: Sadly no, but I am convinced that players will use the mechanics to improvise, using trees or rocks as the goalposts, just like how we all did back in school!
What kind of enemies do you face throughout the game? Can certain adversaries only be defeated by specific forms?
BH: You face a number of enemies during your adventure, some that you have to avoid using your abilities, such as a swiping tentacle of water that will knock you into the water, and others who can be defeated by specific forms, like a hopping blob of water (called a “Water Punk”) that you have to use the Strong Form to defeat. Some of the ways you have to defeat foes will be a surprise for players, for sure.
Can you speak to your porting process for bringing the game to Switch? Did you handle it all in house, or bring in additional support?
BH: The Switch port was always on our minds while we were making Skully. We ran tests on the hardware throughout development, as we really wanted to create a solid experience for Skully on the Switch. As such we ended up taking care of the Switch port fully in-house. It was definitely challenging, but we’re all really happy with the results, and we think Switch players will be too.
Would Captain Picard authorise first contact with Skully? If so, would he send Commander Will Riker to charm him into joining the Federation?
BH: Yes, and I’m convinced Riker would be confused by how to approach the mission at first. But then he’d remember his experience as a transfer officer with the Klingons, and to better ingratiate himself to Skully, he would curl himself into a ball and perform a series of perfect somersaults. Skully would be so excited by the gesture that they’d join the Federation on the spot.
A massive thank you to Brandon Hicks for taking the time for this interview.
A huge thank you to Jay Tee from thatHITBOX as well for making this interview possible.