If you regularly follow PS Vita news, you must know Sir Eatsalot ! a 2D platform and adventure game released exclusively on the Sony handheld console. Available since April 2018, Sir Eatsalot even got the luxury of going out in limited physical edition through Eastasiasoft!
We propose you to know more about the small German team of Behind The Stone who is hiding behind Sir Eatsalot with this interview. Good reading !
Hello from France ! thank you for giving me your time!
Could you introduce yourself? Are you a large team? What country are you from?
Hi folks ! I’m Slawa Deisling, Co-Founder and Programmer at Behind The Stone. At our core we’re only two people : me and Monika, the other founder and art-director. For Sir Eatsalot we worked with a bunch of other folks. We are from Hamburg in Germany.
Could you introduce us to the game that you published exclusively on PSVita: "Sir Eatsalot"?
Sir Eatsalot is a slow-paced 2D Adventure-Platformer. You are the righteous knight Sir Eatsalot who has to stop the evil witch Hysterica, who tries to poison Kingdom Gluttington with soure lemonade. On this quest you’ll meet quirky characters, explore unique areas and interact with the world through the PS Vita and its hardware-features.
The character in your game is a big glutton. Why the choice of a fat and slow character? It’s the opposite of what are usual heroes: strong, fast, sturdy…
We wanted to have a different type of hero, something unusual.You mentioned it yourself : the typical hero or at least what we understand as a hero does not look like Sir Eatsalot. That was the point. We wanted to give the whole thing a twist. Also we never wanted to make it like ‘’it’s funny because he’s fat’’. Sir Eatsalot is an honorable knight and everyone in the kingdom respects him (except the bad guys of course) – he just happens to be chubby.
Was he inspired by another character? (real or not)
No he wasn’t.
About the story, were there particular influences?
Not really, we came up with that silly story on our own.
The graphics are beautiful! it tickles the retina! Can you tell us more about the graphic and artistic part? Isn’t it a hard task to prepare hundreds of assets?
Thank you so much! So far everyone really loves the artstyle which makes us happy, especially our art director, Monika. It was extremely hard and time-consuming. When we decided to go for frame-by-frame animations we really underestimated the workload. We were really glad that we had some additional artist who helped us tackling this beast.
We would do it again, but next time we’d optimize our workflow.
About musical creations, who does it?
We worked with Michael Firmont and Steven Settinger, two freelance composers who made a really great job to create the tunes.
Why a Vita game in 2018? What was the trigger that made you want to release a game on PSVita?
Well, when we started we didn’t think it would take so long, we planned a 2016 release, then we planned for 2017…and yeah, out of a sudden it was 2018 !
At first Sir Eatsalot started out as an iOS game when we were students years ago. A simple platformer with a chubby knight, basically a Mario-Clone, nothing outstanding. At some point we realised that we didn't like what we made so far. It was dull and boring. So we sat down and redesigned everything from the ground up. We thought about how to design the game and what we could achieve. We love hardware and love games which utilize hardware. We wanted to do that. That's why we decided to go with the PS Vita, because of the many hardware-features it has to offer. At that moment it was clear that we wanted to make a fun adventure which is tied to the Vita.
How long have you been developing games? By which platform did you start?
We participated in some game jams and did some very small projects back in university, but Sir Eatsalot is our very first commercial game. So if we take the development time and general time in the games-industry I’d say five years.
What development tools do you use?
We used Unity as our engine.
You seem very involved with the other indie studios that develop on vita (Rainbite for example), do you collaborate between studios?
We’re all partners in crime !
If there’s an opportunity, we’ll seize it. With Rainbite we did something fun – we put a reference of Reverie into our Sir Eatsalot and they did the same.
You have often put on Twitter : screenshots, gif and videos of the progress of the game, a lot of details about graphics, artworks, assets, etc. It's a great idea but weren’t you afraid to spoil the game's story?
Of course, that’s always a problem. But we carefully choose what to show and what not to.
What are technical constraints when developing on PSVita?
What challenges have put your patience to the test?
There weren’t too much constraints, since we designed the game from the ground up for the Vita. It’s not like we tried to port a fully fledged AAA PS4 game to the Vita. That being said, we still wished for some more power here and there. A bit more RAM would be great. The biggest compromise was the Frames Per Ssecond (FPS). We really wanted that sweet 60FPS, but in order to get there we would have to compromise with the leveldesign and scenery; we are rendering to many sprites on top of each other. I don't want to go too much into technical details, but we tried to optimise were we could, but it wasn't enough. So we settled with 30FPS, but at least we could keep our scenery the way we intended.
Is it complicated for a team of independent developers to release a game on PSVita?
Due to NDAs I can’t go into to much detail, but generally speaking it’s not that hard to release a game for PSVita or any console for that matter. A bit more complicated than for smartphones or PC, though.
The question arises also for the cartridge release (I see you made a beautiful collector edition).
Do you have partnerships at this level?
Thanks ! Glad you like the Limited Edition. Yes we partnered with eastasiasoft and play-asia for this one and we are really happy with the results.
How about translations? Why no french language? ^^
We would have loved to include way more languages like spanish or french, but we hadn’t the budget. If we earn enough in the next months, we might add those languages to the game!
During development time, how is the overall planning broken down from the initial idea to the exit? How long have you started creating and developing the game?
The real work started around 3 years. Before that we fooled around with prototypes until we decided to change the design as mentioned above.
Due to the lack of experience we didn’t know exactly how to plan all of this and did the best we could. We worked on a level to level approach which was a good decision and worked out. While the artist produced level assets and animations, the programmers implemented feature after feature.
Is there a lot of "round-trip" to the final version delivered in the PS Store? Are validations and certifications long to pass?
Can’t go into too much details here again, but it all depends. The less problems, the faster you can release ;)
Are you in the mood to release other games on PSVita in the future?
Sure ! We won’t make a dedicated PS Vita game again, though. The next one will be a multiplatform game and we sure like to also port it to the Vita.
What is your personal experience with psvita? Have you been among the first to possess it?
I’d like to think that, yeah :)
I bought my Vita within the first week of the European release.
What games are you playing right now? (if you have time of course)
Right now I’m working through my backlog. Alien Isolation, Deus Ex – Mankind Divided, Ni-Oh, bunch of indie games.
Vita 1000 or 2000 ?:D
Praise the OLED !
A word to conclude?
Vita means Life ! Thanks to everyone who support it !
Thank you for this interview !