Post Script

Gavin Price MD, Play­tonic Games


Play­tonic’s founder Gavin Price quickly con­vinced sev­eral for­mer col­leagues to join his new stu­dio, pitch­ing them an op­por­tu­nity to work on the kind of game they used to make dur­ing Rare’s hey­day. Here, he dis­cusses Yooka-Laylee’s de­lays and ar­eas to im­prove on, while ex­pand­ing on plans for con­tin­ued sup­port of the game – as well as what’s next for the stu­dio.

How did your plans change be­tween the end of the Kick­starter cam­paign and Yooka-Laylee’s launch? With the Kick­starter stretch goals that we put out, we weren’t hon­estly an­tic­i­pat­ing to tick them all off, and when we did, we had to put some thought into that, and cer­tain el­e­ments like the Tonic sys­tem and the co-op mode, for in­stance. We weren’t just think­ing about them in terms of [this game]. We had to think in terms of the whole Play­tonic uni­verse, and ask our­selves what we wanted to do with those fea­tures from game to game; th­ese are el­e­ments that are go­ing to ex­ist with us through­out a lot of our games. With the Ton­ics we have our own in­ter­nal perk and achieve­ment sys­tem. And with the co-op mode, we re­ally liked it when we fi­nally came up with The Bee Team, but it was a bit late in the day to max­imise the op­por­tu­nity with them. So we’ve kind of in­tro­duced them but we thought it would be even greater to give them more cool abil­i­ties in the fu­ture. Like when you see bee swarms in car­toons, and they make the shape of a ham­mer above a char­ac­ter’s head to hit them – I al­ways found that funny be­cause bees could sting you if they wanted to. With fea­tures like that, it’s ac­tu­ally set us up well to ex­pand on them in the fu­ture and do even more.

De­lay­ing the game past its ini­tial de­liv­ery date must have been a dif­fi­cult choice. Did you con­sider post­pon­ing it fur­ther? That first de­lay oc­curred be­cause we did our own in­ter­nal re­view on the game, and it took us ab­so­lutely ages to do the first level. We hadn’t quite re­alised how big the game was. And then we did the other [worlds], and the whole re­view process took ages. We had an in­ter­nal qual­ity bar we wanted to hit con­sis­tently through­out the game, and we knew we were go­ing to have to take longer pol­ish­ing it all. Hav­ing known what we’d promised with the Kick­starter, we had this huge com­mit­ment to de­liver on that vi­sion as well. We made a thor­ough as­sess­ment on how much longer it would take so we didn’t have to an­nounce a se­cond de­lay.

Did you feel any pres­sure from your back­ers at that stage to de­ter­mine a fixed re­lease date? I know what you’re say­ing, and you’d think that’d be the case, but it was ac­tu­ally the op­po­site. All the time our back­ers were say­ing, ‘Take as long as you want’ – which ev­ery de­vel­oper would al­ways love to do, I as­sure you. But we had this com­mit­ment to only spend the Kick­starter money. We wanted to re­main in full con­trol of the bud­get and other than what we had to put aside for things like code ful­fil­ment and phys­i­cal goods and ship­ping we worked out that the money would run out. We said, ‘If we want to stay com­pletely in­de­pen­dent and fully in con­trol of our des­tiny, that’s the point in time we have to get this game done by.’

With hind­sight, is there any­thing in par­tic­u­lar you would have done dif­fer­ently? Yeah, I’m a real harsh critic of us. I’ve only ever seen the bad stuff in the games I’ve re­leased. Al­ready we’re dis­cussing how we [should] do in­ter­nal re­views sooner and more fre­quently, how we nail down ex­actly what we’re try­ing to achieve with ev­ery­thing we’re do­ing, so we can have every­one pulling in the same di­rec­tion with re­gards to what’s go­ing on in the level spa­tially and how much de­tail there is in cer­tain places. You can put so much more de­tail into a level, but some­times it goes against the leg­i­bil­ity. It’s been an op­por­tu­nity for us where we’ve all been cre­atively free and left to our own de­vices, and synced up when we needed to on this project. But we’ll prob­a­bly have to put a bit more struc­ture in if we’re to re­ally im­prove our craft, which we all want to do – we all want to get bet­ter at mak­ing games. We won’t have over­bear­ing man­age­ment pro­cesses and struc­tures, it’s just about mak­ing sure we’re all play­ing the game ear­lier dur­ing de­vel­op­ment and have time to jump on stuff that we spot.

You’ve clearly got one eye on the fu­ture, so what’s next for Yooka-Laylee and Play­tonic? We’ve thought about a se­quel, and we’ve thought about other stuff as well. We’ve got our eyes on so many gen­res, and we’re ac­tu­ally try­ing to fig­ure out how to do ev­ery­thing we want to do in a timely man­ner. It’s too early to specif­i­cally say any­thing about what ex­actly we’re go­ing to do next, but we’ve got some op­tions open to us, which means hope­fully – even though our eyes are big­ger than our bel­lies – we can be­come this multi-game com­pany that we want to be. And I think it’s im­por­tant to show that you love your game even though it’s out. So we’ll have some in­ter­nal dis­cus­sions over what we want to put in. We’re big fans of speedruns in the of­fice, so there’s been some talk of hav­ing an of­fi­cial speedrun mode, as well as think­ing about ex­tra game con­tent which de­liv­ers more unique things and fix­ing per­for­mance is­sues if and when they arise. We still want to show a lot of love for this game. We’re not just go­ing to for­get about it.

“But we’ll prob­a­bly have to put a bit more struc­ture in if we’re to re­ally im­prove our craft, which we all want to do”

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