We’re looking at another indie game that caught our eye during Gamescom, with a look at Leif’s Adventure: Netherworld Hero by OneManOnMars. We talked to Hamburg-based Roman Fuhrer, who after a career in AAA game development is now producing his Leif’s Adventure, an action adventure game that supports cooperative play in addition to its single player mode. Scheduled for 2021, you can already check out the Steam page and the demo that’s on there.
What led to the development of Leif’s Adventure: Netherworld Hero?
This is an interesting question. I am at a better place now then I was four years ago, when I started working on the game. I wanted to create a game that I would like to play myself. At the beginning of the development process my focus was on what I could achieve since I had never created a game entirely on my own. Although I had been working in the games industry since late 2000. So, I had to find a balance between what I envisioned and the type of game I would like to play myself and what I could technically achieve with the limited resources at hand. I grew up with Nintendo and this has been a great influence. I think all the games that I have played in the past, such as Mario and Zelda, have influenced the game. You will notice when you play Leif’s Adventure!
Storywise I wanted to tackle a topic most of us will have to deal with in our lives. I wanted to play with the question: “Am I good enough?” I feel everyone will go through the feeling of insecurity once in a while. Is it in school, or at work or in a relationship? It is a topic everyone has to somehow make up with himself and it is a question that people don’t talk about too often. So I wanted to tap into this territory and make people think about what is important to be happy with yourself and your place in life without being too dramatic of course.
What sets the game apart from similar games in the genre?
The concept of having two characters to play is not completely new but the way it is executed is unique. The idea of bringing together two players with a different gaming background seems exciting to me. Leif’s Adventure gives players with different gaming “skills” the possibility to experience a full action-adventure together. My hopes are that friends of all constellations will meet up and have a good time while playing my game!
How did the creative process behind the visual/art style develop over time?
I worked as an artist in the gaming industry for several years and have developed a great understanding of the creative process and what it takes to create the visuals for a game. I always knew that I wanted to create a visually stunning game that does not take up the entire development time. So I chose a style that is visually appealing but can be produced rather quickly. This was a good approach, but nonetheless I ended up iterating over art over and over again since I figured that more could be done here and there. So the strategy did pay off at some point but especially the levels consumed a lot of the dev time because I kept adding more and more stuff.
Is this a solo project?
I started the game all on my own. And when I had a clear direction and a playable prototype Jan Schaumlöffel joined the team as a Sound Designer. He does all the music and sound including the integration into the development environment. Thereafter Patrick joined. He is a freelance programmer and he has supported me for almost two years with all the very complicated stuff that would be too much for an artist and self-taught coder like myself. Recently Denise joined the team and takes care of all our marketing and community efforts. This is something that is often overlooked by a lot of indies. I made it all these years and try to make up for it now! There have been a lot more friends that have helped me here and there. But I guess I should keep it short here. But thanks a lot to everyone that has and will support me in the future!
What have been some of the more interesting challenges during the development process?
There have been many! I think what’s interesting to note is that if you start a project like this you will be faced with a lot of tasks that you are completely unprepared for. There is legal stuff, there are technical challenges, there is a lot of bureaucracy that needs to be taken care of. As mentioned in the previous question you have to go out and find your potential customers. It is so much more than just developing a game. And on top of that, you have to constantly check your expectations and keep yourself and everyone else motivated and focused. This can be hard at times, especially when the development time keeps growing and growing. But I can say that I have never, ever learned as much as during the development of Leif’s Adventure.
2020 has been a bizarre year. Did this affect your timeline?
Yes, indeed a very unusual year. But regarding the development, it didn’t impact us as much as you might think. Since our team is so small and we work from different places most of the time it did not affect us drastically. The question about the progress of the game development is one that I get asked about very often by friends or relatives. I always have a hard time answering it, just because it is difficult to put a number on it. But let me say it this way. We plan to release Leif’s Adventure next year Q2-Q3.
When the game releases, what do you hope people will take away from the experience?
I hope gamers will have a good time playing it. Maybe in coop with a friend, or with their loved ones. Maybe in singleplayer mode. I hope they will love the story and enjoy the challenge the gameplay will throw at them. Which does not mean that it is a very hard game. I am really looking forward to the day Leif’s Adventure will be available to everyone.