Earlier this month we came across Whispering Willows, a supernatural indie puzzler that's gearing up for a launch on Ouya and, later, Android mobile devices.
Details on the game were in short supply, past that it involved a young woman named Elena who had to use astral projection in order to explore a haunted mansion.
To get a bit more information on Whispering Willows, we spoke with the game's creator David Logan to ask him a few questions about the Ouya Create Contest finalist and its recently launched Kickstarter campaign.
Pocket Gamer: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today, David. Whispering Willows is coming to the Ouya before PC, Mac, and mobile devices. Why did you choose to launch on the Ouya first?
David Logan: I was originally inspired by the reveal of the Ouya console. I felt very passionate about the potential the console had, and quickly started going through game design concepts to find something that fit. I knew that developing for the Ouya would allow me to more easily port to Android later and - since we are working in Unity - it also allows easy port to PC, Mac, and Linux.
I still want to launch on Ouya first because the console is what initially brought this game idea and Night Light Interactive together. I feel Whispering Willows is a perfect fit for consoles since it has such an engaging atmosphere, it is the perfect game to sit down on a couch and play.PG: Will we ever see Whispering Willows on iOS?
Logan: Yes, but iOS will be further down the line. If we get enough funding from Kickstarter, that would guarantee us to make an iOS port. Logically, we would develop for Android first since the apk for Ouya and Android are so similar. After we gave finesse to mobile controls and interface, we would then work on an iOS port.
PG: Looking at the alpha gameplay video, Whispering Willows looks like an intriguing game. How did you come up with the idea for it?
Logan: I always thought it would be interesting to be a ghost. I felt there were lots of games that featured ghosts as enemies, but not many successful games where the player was one. I originally wanted the player to play as a ghost that discovered his/her body, so you'd have to figure out how you died and that's where the game would start.
I kept running into problems though, because playing as a ghost seemed so empowering and I needed ways to restrict the player. I changed the plot so that you could play as both a human and her "ghost" so that I could emulate the strengths and weaknesses of both forms. It made for much more exciting gameplay.PG: Your background is in animation production and you've worked on Swampy's Underground Adventures and other projects. How important is the art style of Whispering Willows to its overall theme, and what can players expect from it?
Logan: Coming from an animation background I have a lot of fantastic connections on the visual side of things. From the start I assembled a team, led by art director Mike Shanks who's focus was to create a visual style that stood out. In the final version our art will be aged, deteriorated, and broken.
On the animation side I was able to get Annie Award Nominated animation director Rob Fendler. The tech demo has a lot of placeholder animations right now but I am thrilled to show the community what our animation team has been up to as well.
So in short- art and animation have been a huge focus to create the beautiful and haunting world I wanted to create in Whispering Willows.
PG: What should we expect from the finished Whispering Willows? Will it be more platformer or puzzle game? And should we expect a good scare or just a good mystery?
Logan: We weren't able to capture as much mood as we wanted to in the demo because the main idea was to show off some of the basic gameplay mechanics. Ultimately I intend the game to be a mix of exploration and puzzle elements. I like the backtracking and discovery in games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill, but their puzzles are usually pretty bland and they are ultimately more combat focused.
I wanted to remove combat completely, integrate more interesting puzzles, and still keep the captivating storyline and exploration elements.