Alex Phillimore: (alex.phillimore-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2013-06-04 05:37:44
An Interview with Gears for Breakfast (A Hat in Time)
Gears for Breakfast's retro-flavoured platforming collect-a-thon, A Hat in Time, is currently kicking ass on Kickstarter, having raised at the time of writing almost three times its initial funding goal. A Hat in Time will be given a Windows and Mac release and the team are aiming to get the game onto the Wii U and Steam. I spoke to Jonas Kaerlev, Director of A Hat in Time, about the team's aspirations, their influences and their gratitude to their fans for funding their first major video game:
Alex Phillimore: Hi Jonas! How would you describe A Hat in Time to an audience unfamiliar with the game?
Jonas Kaerlev: A Hat in Time is a platforming collect-a-thon game where you play as Hat Kid and travel through 6 (as of today!) chapters while collecting goodies!
AP: Could you tell us a bit about the development team behind A Hat in Time and if there are any projects you have worked on in the past that you would like to mention?
JK: We're just a bunch of people from all over the globe. We all met through our common interest in making something grand and making something fun!
AP: Could you tell us about the inspiration for A Hat in Time and what you set out to achieve?
JK: For A Hat in Time we wanted to revive the collect-a-thon genre! It's a genre that's been dead ever since the N64 and it's quite a shame.
AP: On your Kickstarter page you listed games such as Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie as influences. Could you tell us in what ways you have emulated the gameplay of these classic Nintendo/Rareware games?
JK: Hat Kid controls a bit like Mario in that her movement is very precise, but unlike Mario we were inspired by Banjo and Kazooie's double jump ability for some of Hat Kid's moves. In addition, we're also providing Hat Kid with new abilities throughout the game, much like Banjo-Kazooie!
AP: Could you tell us some of the ways in which you have made A Hat in Time different/unique to these influences?
JK: Unlike Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie, which have level layouts almost identical every time you visit, we drastically change levels as time goes on. The chapter 1 Mafia City is a good example of this, as the entire island gets engulfed in lava! Unlike her counterparts, Hat Kid is also combat-focused and [combat] plays a larger role in the game.
AP: The game gives off a Wind Waker vibe in terms of its graphics while remaining wholly unique. Did A Hat in Time go through multiple design choices before you settled on the final art style, or did you always want to make a game with these graphics?
JK: Even to this date the game is still undergoing graphical enhancements! It's an iterative process. I think it's just the style of the character anatomy combined with the fact that the first chapter is on an island in the ocean. Chapter 2, The Subcon Forest, is very different and probably wouldn't remind you of Wind Waker as much!
AP: Could you tell us about how time travel plays a role in the game?
JK: The environments and characters change as you travel through time! Help a poor guy out at one point, in the future he'll be a millionaire happy to help you out!
AP: Could you tell us a bit about the creative process behind making the two main characters, Hat Kid and Mustache Girl, and what their personalities are like?
JK: Hat Kid went through several iterations! She used to be yellow and even had face paint (similar to how her co-op partner has now)! Mustache Girl has pretty much always been the way she is now. Hat Kid is calm and understanding! She doesn't pass on a challenge but understands when she's in a rut! Mustache Girl is fierce; she's been sabotaging the Mafia of Cooks for years! But she is very invested emotionally in her cause, and that'll lead her to trouble!
AP: You list additional unlockable moves in the game such as a hookshot. Would you be able to tell us about some of the ideas for moves Hat Kid will be using in the game?
JK: I'd hate to ruin the surprise! But I can tell you about the ones we have announced so far: Hat Kid can extend her umbrella with the hookshot upgrade to swing across gaps and do a swing attack move. She can also unlock the pogo stick upgrade, which allows her to ride her umbrella as a boat on fluids that would otherwise hurt her!
AP: Some platformers on the N64 are quite challenging. How would you describe the difficulty level of A Hat in Time?
JK: That's hard to say at this point, as we've only made part of the first chapter of the game! But even at this point there are some optional difficult challenges, so I reckon there'll be a bit for everyone!
AP: Having hit the $50,000 stretch goal to include co-op mode, will players be able to work together on single-player missions, or will co-op mode feature different things to do?
JK: Co-op will make the single player experience a bit more challenging, and require both partners to cooperate to make it through! There'll even be some co-op specific moves!
AP: At the time of writing you have almost [tripled] your initial goal of raising $30,000 and you still have almost a month to go with the Kickstarter. How does it feel to know that so many people are excited for A Hat in Time?
JK: It's crazy! And also kinda scary, but this is an amazing opportunity we've been given! We are incredibly excited to begin working on the game on an actual budget!
AP: If the project raises over $110,000, would you be prepared to add further DLC chapters to the game after the 7th chapter?
JK: We're not sure prolonging the game will necessarily make it better. We think 7 chapters would be a perfect amount! We are currently looking into other ways to significantly improve the game, but we can't really mention anything until we know for certain we can make it happen!
AP: Do you plan to include boss battles in the game at this stage in development?
JK: Hehe! We already have one boss battle in the game so far!
AP: What do you think are the benefits to using Kickstarter as a platform for independent game development?
JK: Before we went on Kickstarter we applied for funding through a publisher, but got denied big time. Kickstarter allows people to stray from the norm and try out new ideas (or revive old ones!)
AP: Thanks for your time, Jonas. Are there any final comments you would like to make?
JK: Please consider pledging for A Hat in Time on Kickstarter and voting for A Hat in Time on Steam Greenlight.
Keep up to date with all things A Hat in Time by liking the game's Facebook page.