One of the lesser-known indie projects coming to the Wii U eShop in the future is Excamedia’s A Clumsy Adventure, which stars a Marine named Zack. In order to find out more, Nintendo Enthusiast’s indie-interviewing nut, Andy, reached out to Maarten Van Zanten, Founder and Game Designer. In the following interview, we find out which games inspired the game, plans to leverage the Wii U’s unique abilities, as well as a look into the future at Excamedia’s next projects.
Who are Excamedia and what’s the story behind the team’s name?
Excamedia is a indie game developer based in the Netherlands. It holds an office in Utrecht within the building of Dutch Game Garden. It’s my childhood dream to make games after 31 years of playing them. It’s time to put my ideas into a game with an awesome dedicated international team. I am Maarten, 37 years old and a passionate gamer for 31 years now. The company’s name is a reference to a old company me and my friend wanted to start in high school, although that wasn’t to make games. Excamedia is a ode to a period in my life and the great friendship I had. A Clumsy Adventure is my first game.
Which games and consoles steered you towards development?
My first games console was the Phillips Videopac. I didn’t know about games or how they were created, but the first moment my parents turned it on and let me play a game, the passion was born and still here after 31 years. Favorite games are Toobin (c64), Android (ZX Spectrum), Castlevania (NES), Metal Gear Solid (PSX), River Raid (ATARI 2600), L.A. Noire (X360) — well, the list is long. For consoles, it’s Dreamcast, SNES, NES, Megadrive, Xbox 360, and recently, PS4. I have them all, so all consoles and game computers are my favorite, but these I just mentioned are really special to me.
What is A Clumsy Adventure and why did you choose Zack the Marine as your protagonist?
A Clumsy Adventure is a action/platform game in which the player controls Zack, a clumsy guy who thinks he is cool and wants to prove that by joining the Marines. In these events, he himself triggers an adventure, which lets him learn a lot of thing in his own clumsy way.
A Clumsy Adventure will combine modern graphics with retro elements. Zack needs to face a lot of enemies while he travels to different countries and encounters epic end bosses, which will give Zack quite a challenge to beat. The story will be told in a cool way and is very colorful, as the game is. Zack is a clumsy guy who thinks he is cool, so in order for people to like him better, he joins the Marines to prove himself. Normally, the character is always the hero, but we wanted something different.
What kind of experiences and variety should players expect in the game?
The players will get an experience that mixes modern graphics with retro style elements. Think about those hidden secrets in Zelda 2, that Nintendo-hard feeling you had with the old platform games. The player will be challenged with a difficult game the old school way. ACA is not a Super Meat Boy wannabe nor does it try to be original, as platform games have been here for so long. The end bosses in ACA will be hard as nails and it seems unbeatable. Don’t expect an easy ride. The player will be challenged to explore the world Zack is in, to guide Zack in his adventure, and teach him a valuable lesson in life along the way. We want to return the value for money with every episode we put out for ACA. In a nutshell: difficult, fun, rage-quitting, retro, stunning visuals, long hours of gameplay.
Straightforward, four directional platform action, mini-games which are of different genres, puzzle elements, and interaction of the player with the touchscreens of Vita allow us to have cool gameplay elements as well. There will be a co-op mode and multiplayer and a time-trail mode. So plenty will be in store for more than one player offline and online.
Have you considered making use of any of the Wii U’s unique features? Have you looked into using the second screen in unique ways?
Yes, for every platform we launch, we want to utilize the unique features it offers to enrich the gamer’s experience. Yes, we have looked into it and we will for sure use the second screen on the Wii U GamePad for co-op and single-player mode. We are thinking about online and want to do this after talking to Nintendo to make it the best experience for whomever uses Miiverse.
What release date and pricing structure are you aiming for?
We are aiming for a release in May 2015. We have our thoughts about it, but the price is not set yet. As the four episodes in total tells the story, we want to cut a full-priced game into four, but again, we are looking in to this matter. For now, we concentrate on making a great game.
Considering the negativity surrounding the Wii U, why did you choose to bring your game to the platform?
Because we feel that the Wii U is a perfect place for platform games and my heart lies at Nintendo’s consoles, with all those great franchises Nintendo brought for your gaming pleasure.
How did you find the path to becoming an approved Nintendo developer and how helpful has the communcation been?
I applied at Nintendo’s website and had contact after that with the Nintendo office in Frankfurt, which was very helpful and paid attention to what you need as an indie. You really need to have a good pitch document to describe what you want. Nowadays, it seems everyone can build a game in Unity, but it doesn’t mean the rest is just that easy. For example, you need to have a registered company to apply.
Yes, I have a lot of contact with Nintendo and we are happy that Nintendo welcomed us to build a Wii U game. They are very helpful and considerate of you as developer. On request, they can look into the game, as in how to make it more Nintendo-ish. But after the advice, it’s still up to you to utilize it or not. It’s freedom to create the game you want. For this way of working, Nintendo is really on the same level as Sony.
What is next for Excamedia, any other projects gestating?
For now, A Clumsy Adventure until episode four and creating a solid community around our games to get us much feedback from the fans/gamers.
We still have some concepts we want to work out besides A Clumsy Adventure; one is based on a children’s book by a well-known Dutch writer, Tamara Geraeds-Grootveld. Also, the UK-based rock artist Katsuo wants Excamedia to make a game. We have game requests from companies. It is a lot to keep us going and which we hope to utilize our creativity. Our team is expanding right now so it can be that some games can be developed with a team within our team alongside A Clumsy Adventure. We are still looking into this. We want to choose our path wisely so creativity can be used instead of having to rush a project.