Owyn’s Adventure has brilliant design, nostalgic feelings, and proof of a bright future for indie games
Seeing game developers do a lot with a little is my jam, and developer Gaz Thomas (@gazoid on Twitter and itch.io) has this going on in spades with their new GameBoy-styled retro side scroller “Owyn’s Adventure”. This small game, running roughly 30 minutes for the whole adventure — albeit with some replay value — makes really great use of mechanics to keep the game interesting throughout.
Despite the simplistic graphics (which are still beautiful!), there are so many little details in the game. The plot is simple: you are a young boy named Owyn, and your mother asks you to go get your grandfather for dinner. What starts as a simple fetch quest gets very epic as the gameplay goes on, forming into a grand fantasy adventure within its own right. The music is especially fantastic, and the price is just right (or even, a bit low!) at $2 a download!
I got to sit down with Gaz (over Twitter messenger, the coffee shop of the internet) and ask a few questions:
First off: this game was so much fun to play. You made this for your son, right? Which is so heartwarming. Was this game the result of a game jam or a project that you did independently of that? (it looks much more impressive than most game jam games!)
Wow thank you so much! I was convinced by my friend @uk_resistant to take part in the Unofficial Gameboy Jam he hosted in Sept 2017, it was two weeks of lunch breaks work as well as a little time in the evenings on my laptop to share what I had online. I spent most of my time on the art, animation and code that I only spent maybe 20 minutes in a mad rush at the end of the Jam time period on the level design. So after I thought I’ve all these gameplay parts I should spend another couple of weeks on some actual levels. As I went I just wanted to add “a few more bits” and kept going with it until it was the small game it is now.
This game is simple and fun, but it is also pretty engrossing and when it comes down to it, could be somewhat of a game design-bible. The puzzles are really well put together. You really created a language out of the game mechanics, and introduced your players to new ways to speak it as the game continues in a really smooth way. This kind of thought behind game design isn’t exactly new, but I do not often see it done quite as well in smaller, shorter (cuter) indie games. It is really organic and natural. Could you speak to how you accomplished this?
Thank you again! Level design is my favourite part of gamedev, I greybox at the start, make sure the player can see what they need to (which was hard with such a small resolution) and then see if I can break it. I find it really important to get people to playtest, I got most of my family to play the game over the summer and took lots of notes! I think it’s important not to be too precious about level design, if someone struggles on something it’s important you address it as they won’t be the only one.
I try and introduce things simply, then build on them, teaching the player through experimentation and then occasionally throwing a curveball at them.
I saw in the credits some folks took care of the music. It is fantastic! What did they use to compose it? It sounds very LSDJ-chiptunes ish but more updated.
Yes! I was SUPER lucky with the music, AGSMA worked with me on the game PVKII and after the game jam revealed that he was making chiptune music in his spare time and if I wanted to use what he had made in the game, it fit perfectly! He used FamiTracker initially but then remade the tracks in OpenMPT.
With Ruclefia I had posted some gifs on Instagram and he contacted me saying he’d made me a track for one of the gifs, and it was amazing! I cheekily asked if he could do a chiptune version and asked if he would be interested in doing more, I was so lucky he said yes!
I saw some screenshots of a possible sequel….?
Yes! After a year and a bit of working in just 4 shades of green I thought I’d give myself a few more colours, build on what I have from the game and see where it takes me! I’m very excited to see where it takes me.
In the meantime, now that you have heard wisdom straight from the developer, head on over to the Owyn’s Adventure itch.io page, and get a copy for yourself!