Once again looking for more indie video game prospects over the last few weeks, I came across a new game in development somewhat reminiscent of my recent interview with Chris Seavor. Beacon Pines is a hand-drawn, open-ended 2D adventure game combining cuteness with horror. Developed by Dutch indie outfit Hiding Spot Games, the player takes control of both the characters in the story as well as the story’s narration itself in order to determine the outcome for themselves by filling in the gaps with words. The game also gives the player the option to reverse decisions made in order to reshape events as they see fit. The game has since been successfully funded on Kickstarter where it continues to gather momentum with several stretch goals having since been funded in addition.
Wanting to know more about this game, I contacted its soundtrack composer Matt Meyer and put forward to him and the team a few questions I had, and how the game will completely take shape by the time of its full release. Here’s what Matt Meyer and Hiding Spot Games had to say about Beacon Pines:
What were the influences behind your game?
There have been lots of influences on the game. Some that come to mind are shows like Dark, Twin Peaks, and Stranger Things, sci-fi books and old pulp novels, other games like Undertale, Night in the Woods, and Life is Strange.
What has the developmental process been like?
It’s been long and wandering. I’d reference this reddit post as a good summary of the development journey over the past few years: https://www.reddit.com/r/Unity3D/comments/lb1wzw/the_absurd_journey_designing_beacon_pines/
How close are we to seeing the finished product?
We’re shooting for a September release date.
What has been the most exciting aspect of development?
By far the most exciting part has been finally seeing people play the game on twitch and youtube after releasing the demo. Seeing people’s faces light up when they reach important or surprising moments or laugh at funny dialog or comment on how they love the art and music. It has been an absolute joy.
What has been the most challenging aspect of development?
Getting all the parts of the game mechanics to just click was the most difficult. I could go through the details, but again the reddit article probably does a better job of describing the challenges.
On the Kickstarter page, it says in Ilse Harting’s description that “There must be something in the water in the Netherlands that produced great artists!” Did any aspect of Dutch culture or Dutch artists in particular influence the design of the game?
Absolutely. Ilse takes a lot of influence from her surroundings: the people and places in the Netherlands have been a big influence on the art she created for Beacon Pines. Even many of the names of characters and places in Beacon Pines were her suggestions based on Dutch names.
How well has the game been received so far?
It has been lovely. We really weren’t sure if people would get absorbed into the story or understand how the mechanics work (with words, story branching, etc.) but most people seem to jump right in and enjoy it.
What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?
Steam, itch, Switch, and hopefully Xbox and Playstation
Is Beacon Pines a deliberate attempt at subverting the traditional cutesy adventure game to any kind of extent, similar to what Chris Seavor did with Conker’s Bad Fur Day?
No, we aren’t deliberately trying to subvert expectations with the art vs the story. We just want to make a game that both looks mysterious/fantastical but also has a mature story that we as adults would want to play.
Have there been any ideas at this stage of development that has since been scrapped or reworked?
Lots (again the Reddit article has some great examples)
What lessons have been brought into the development of Beacon Pines from past developmental experiences?
Not all that many, to be honest. I often work with different people and it depends on how they prefer to work. Beacon Pines is also a very different kind of game than what I’ve made in the past.
If you had the opportunity to develop for a game with any company or any franchise, which would it be, and why?
That Game Company has probably been the most influential on me as a game developer. I’d love to work with them and experience their process up close.
Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?
Making things, in my experience, is the best and most rewarding way to learn things. It also is massively beneficial to getting work in the field if you already have examples of completed projects. And when you make something of your own, try to pick a project that you will actually want to play yourself. That’ll help keep you motivated and focused.
Where on the Internet can people find you?
We’re pretty active with our discord community. That’s a great place to find us and chat: https://discord.gg/K4tbFWf
Do you have anything else to add?
Thank you to everyone who has supported us on Kickstarter and those who have checked out the Beacon Pines demo.
I’d also like to take the opportunity to thank Matt for his unique insight into this very unique-looking title. It certainly affords a deep look into a game that I’d made some incorrect assumptions about previously, and how the final product will pan out. I’m sure it will turn out to be a very enjoyable and addicting experience and I’m very much looking forward to it’s release. In the meantime, if you like the game, and think You’d like to contribute to it’s stretch goals, you can visit the Kickstarter page via the link below:
There is also a playable demo to download online via the game’s Steam page:
But in the meantime, I hope you guys had fun learning about this upcoming game as much as I did.
Scouse Gamer 88