For the second piece in Gamespresso’s new Indie Watch series, I was excited to get to talk with Moo Yu, the lead programmer at Foam Sword, about the developer’s new game, Knights and Bikes. Foam Sword was founded by Moo and his partner and creative lead, Rex Crowle. Both industry veterans, they worked together on LittleBigPlanet at Media Molecule and eventually came back together with the idea of a game that would remind them of life growing up in the 80’s and doing what kids do.
An adventure RPG with hand-dawn styled graphics, fun eccentric characters, and what looks to be great action co-op gameplay, Knights and Bikes is currently in the last two weeks of its Kickstarter campaign. Even without hitting its goal yet, Knights and Bikes was announced for PS4 last week. With any luck, soon gamers will be able to experience the grand journey of Nessa and Demelza, Foam Sword’s heroines, as they gain the aid of an undead head from the past, fight to save their island town from dark spirits, and of course, do it all while riding upgradable bikes.
Thank you so much Moo for taking time to talk to me about Knights and Bikes
It’s a pleasure.
So how did you and Rex come together to make Foam Sword and begin development on Knights and Bikes?
Rex and I have known each other since working together on LittleBigPlanet and we’ve collaborated in big and small projects over the years. Over a year ago, we were out for a drink at the pub and he pitched the idea of a Goonies style video game to me. It was an idea that stuck with both of us. We’d chat about it whenever we saw each other and bounce ideas back and forth as time went on. It went from that little idea and changed and evolved to something much more personal to us, which is what you see now in Knights and Bikes.
Well, over 2000 backers and I are happy that this connection was made. In Knights and Bikes we see the fate of an island town put in the hands of two befriended kids. What separates Nessa and Demelza from the other inhabitants of Penfurzy?
So Nessa is actually an outsider to the island and doesn’t really understand the island culture at all. She is learning everything at the same time as the player. Demelza on the other hand does live on the island, but being the younger generation, she’s really interested in all that is new and cool like technology and video games. While there are some of the island’s inhabitants who have kept up with the times, many of them are stuck in their old ways and don’t appreciate Demelza’s excitement for such things. The other thing is obviously that they’re both children. We’re telling the story from their perspective which is full of imagination and embellishments, but also has a naiveté about it.
The mind of a child is a powerful thing indeed. As you mentioned, there is an aspect of the game surrounded by Demelza’s love of video games. This concept is really interesting and meta. How did it come about?
When we started with the idea of a gang of kids going on an adventure, we started thinking about our own childhoods and what it was like, and inevitably we thought about how big video games were as a part of our lives growing up. We thought about how video games could take us to far away places and transform us into incredible heroes, and we wanted to capture that level of imagination into our game and channeled those memories into Demelza.
Just one of the many things that make Delelza such an interesting character. Another aspect is her pet goose, Captain Honkers. Can you tell us a little more about this playful creature?
Captain Honkers has a taste for adventure and a great sense of smell. He follows Demelza around everywhere and is the closest thing she had to a best friend before meeting Nessa. He also has an incredible sense of smell and will help you track down missing islanders with it.
Sounds like a great companion for any adventure. Knights and Bikes has many quests for our heroes, taken from islander requests. Are all of these linear and essential to the game, or is there a sense of side exploration as well?
There will definitely be many side quests. The relationship between the girls and the islanders might start out a bit tense, but as the girls help them, the bonds grow stronger and stronger and accordingly, the islanders will offer more help in a wider array of ways. If the girls just do the minimum to get what they want, the relationship won’t be great and the girls will struggle on their adventures. However, if they really take the time to get to know each islander and win them over, they will be rewarded in kind and everyone will be happier.
Wow. That brings a whole new incentive to the side quest, rather than just the traditional, get more stuff. Of course players would want the islanders on their side. Even though the majority of the art makes Knights and Bikes look happy and fun, there are some images, like the eviction notice from the trailer, that go a bit deeper. Can we expect some heartfelt moments as the plot progresses?
Absolutely. While things can be fun and games for a kid in even the worse situation, there are times where reality catches up even to the creative mind. So there are real problems at hand that the girls are going to have to deal with, whether it’s Demelza losing her home or Nessa struggling to find her identity or even the girls hitting difficult moments in their relationship with each other.
While gameplay is always key to a great game, it is wonderful to play through a real story with meaningful ups and downs. I can’t wait for this experience. Is there anything else about Knights and Bikes that you would like to share with the world?
I just wanted to chime in a little bit about gameplay because it’s so important to us. We want to make sure that the game plays great, that each aspect of the gameplay feels different but comes together into something special. We need to balance the exploration, interacting with the islanders, and combat to create something that’s greater than the sum of it’s parts. But also, we want to use the world and narrative to give meaning to those mechanics.
So you’re not just finishing a quest because you have to, you’re building a relationship with an islander, or you’re not just upgrading all your gear, you’re helping the islanders rediscover their lost abilities and confidence. We want this game to not just deliver in all the categories, but we want them integrated and balanced harmoniously. These are the kinds of things that make Knights and Bikes such a dream project for me. And of course, I can’t think about this dream without thanking the incredible backers and supporters who have shown their love of Knights and Bikes. We’d be no where without them. And of course, thank you for being interested in Knights and Bikes.
Well said. Every backer and I will feel even better once we get our hands on this great title. As a small tradition of mine, I always like to end the interview by asking, what is your favorite game of all time?
It’s a tough one. I think the SNES era was definitely my favorite gaming period and historically I’ve always thought it was Super Metroid. But thinking about Knights and Bikes recently, it has really made me reminisce about all my great memories playing Secret of Mana and what an important part of growing up and making friends it was for me. So I’m going to move Secret of Mana up one slot, above even Super Metroid, as my favorite game of all time.
Bold move. As someone who confidently says that Super Metroid is my favorite video game of all time, I respect your decision. Secret of Mana is an incredible game. Thank you so much for talking with me about Knights and Bikes. I wish you and your team all the luck on your journey forward.
Knights and Bikes not only looks like it will be beautiful homage to gamers’ childhoods, but will also send those gamers on a new adventure with marvelous gameplay and characters. Once again, the campaign is in its last two weeks and is just about at 70% complete. If you’re interested, visit their Kickstarter page, and don’t let this one be forgotten.