We recently came across a unique game titled ‘Castle Pals’ that was launched on iOS platform and got in touch with the developers of this fun game. Here is our interview with Brad Erkkila where we get an in-depth glimpse at this game and some interesting aspects of game development:
Tell us a bit about your game and what was it that inspired you to make this game?
Castle Pals is a semi-sequel to my first game, Owen’s Odyssey. I based that game around my son Owen, and I’ve been telling him and his friend Kylee that I would put them both in a game for the last few years. It’s pretty fun and rewarding to see their reactions to being in their own game. Castle Pals is also a welcome departure from the quick play, arcade style games I’ve been making lately.
Naming a game is almost always one of the most difficult tasks since that’s what people identify it with. Was this name the first choice for the name? If not then what were some other options you were looking at?
I needed something other than Owen’s Odyssey 2 as he was no longer the only playable character. The game is also more playful visually, so I needed a cute and fun name and Castle Pals fits that pretty well.
The artwork of this game is simply gorgeous. What sort of thought process went behind that?
I’ve been slowly developing a simple and colourful style over the last few games I’ve worked on. I wanted the game to almost looks like a pixelated cartoon, where the enemies are a bit goofy and the playable characters had their own identities. A lot of time went into the actual look of the levels. I needed a bright style that was versatile enough where making multiple, unique levels was efficient.
What was the major challenge in developing this game?
Level design probably. I come from an art background, so the artistic aesthetic was the fun part. Even though I feel like I created a robust style that was easy to work with, the actual layout and design of the levels was a challenge. It’s very time consuming.
Any in-game secrets that could be easter eggs for players to discover?
There are three hidden gems in the game that unlock some fun, challenging ‘Lost Levels’. I’m working on an update that will add more of those levels right now
Will there be any addition or exciting new updates for the game in the near future?
In addition to the update mentioned above, I’m planning a task system. Completing a set number of tasks will open up a new set of levels that look different from anything seen in the game, likely a haunted theme. I’m looking forward to that!
How much time did it take to get this game developed and what can players expect in updates for this game?
Development was about 4 months. I always work on the art first, doing mock ups of levels and characters. I find that seeing those helps me stay inspired. Once that is settled I move on to mechanics and enemy/hazard design. For this, I actually made a good bunch of enemies and hazards before I started any level design. It was almost like a tool box to pull from when I actually began designing levels. I tried to have a level done at least every couple days until I had a decent amount for testers. The testing process actually yielded some excellent additions like speed run times, checkpoints and Kylee’s traveling, spinning attack. I’m very proud of how the game turned out!
What are your future plans as a game developer?
For my own work, I’m working on a sequel to It’s a Space Thing, which is an arcade action game. I also work with other developers. I worked with Colin Lane on Rowdy Wrestling, which comes out July 19th.
How long have you been developing games and what is the most enjoyable aspect of game development according to you?
I’ve been working on games since 2014, and full time for almost exactly a year. The most enjoyable thing is when people find enjoyment and entertainment in something you’ve made. They chose to spend their precious time engaged with your artistic expressions. There are few things more rewarding than that.
How many people worked on the development of this game and any interesting dev stories?
It’s all just me, except for music with I licensed from Playonloop.com. They’re great! I don’t think anything out of the ordinary happened during the development of this game, but their were some dark periods looking for crash bugs. It’s a very low feeling when you can’t figure out why your game is misbehaving, but the elation is enormous when you finally correct the problem.
What are your personal favourite games?
That’s very difficult to answer as it changes all the time. With having a child and making games full time, I don’t have as much time as I would like to sit down and play. I did play a lot of the puzzle game Frost on iOS. I’m also a baseball fan, so I’ve been playing Super Mega Baseball 2 from time to time. I’d love to make an arcade baseball game someday.
Any message for our readers?
Just to go out and try Castle Pals! It’s 40 (and counting) levels of challenging, platforming fun! From level to level, you play as either Owen or Kylee. Owen can fly around freely and Kylee settles things with her fists, giving each character focused level a distinct play style. Bosses, great music and a playful art style awaits!