Sumo Digital: A Miketendo64 Interview (Talking Snake Pass with Seb Liese)


As beautiful as Yooka-Laylee is, it isn’t the only game releasing this year that sees two animals paired together, as Sumo Digital’s original IP, Snake Pass is also set to release “Early 2017” and then last week, it was announced that the “unique take on the platforming genre,” will be coming to the Nintendo Switch as well.

Snake Pass video game bilaketarekin bat datozen irudiak

So because of the impending Nintendo release, we took it upon ourselves to learn more about this game, so the day we received the Snake Pass on Switch press release, we immediately replied asking to arrange an interview, and now that interview has happened, the time to share the answers has arrived.

 

Get ready for another A Miketendo64 Interview,” as this time we’re talking Snake Pass with Seb Liese:

seb-liese

Sumo Digital, a Company that Loves what it Does!:

Miketendo64:Before we even get to Snake Pass, can you tell us a bit about the company behind the game?

Seb Liese:We are Sumo Digital, an award winning independent game development studio based in Sheffield, Nottingham and Pune, India. In our 13+ years we’ve made games such as LittleBigPlanet 3, Sonic & AllStars Racing: Transformed and we’re currently working hard on Crackdown 3 and Dead Island 2.

We’re best known for working with well-known brands and treating them with the care and attention they deserve. We’ve built our entire reputation on those principles and we absolutely love what we do!

 

Excitement is in the Air!:

Miketendo64:Thank you Seb, and now onto the game. You have just confirmed Snake Pass will be slithering its way to the Nintendo Switch? How does it feel to add yourselves to the list of devs who have the honour of having a game out on the console during its launch year?”

Seb Liese:Everyone on the team is really excited to be working on the Nintendo Switch version of this game. Very early on it became apparent to us that Snake Pass would be a great fit for a Nintendo platform so the timing of the Switch is perfect for us. Being able to take Snake Pass on the go with you is just too good an opportunity to pass up.

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No Spoilers on Snake Pass’ Story

Miketendo64:What is the story behind Snake Pass? What drives the protagonists towards their goal and how did they “meet in the first place?” and what is the relationship like between the two of them?”

Seb Liese:That’s probably best for people to discover when they play the game.

 

Snake Pass’ Progression:

Miketendo64:In its current state, how does the game compare to the original idea when development first began?”

Seb Liese:The progression is amazing. It started out as a rope and from then metamorphosed into the slick snake that Noodle is today. Looking back at the demo we showcased at EGX Rezzed last year to the latest PlayStation Experience demo in December it’s amazing, even to us, how far the game has come in such a short time. Not just in graphical style but also in design – Doodle appeared, the style of puzzles and levels. Although the game is our first self-published title, it has our trademark AAA production values.”

Snake_Pass_Level_Concept.jpg

 Snake Pass’ Origins:

Miketendo64:Someone needs to ask it. Why make a game around a snake and who is responsible for naming it Noodle? They are either a madman or a genius!”

Seb Liese:I was looking at Unreal for a different project and was playing with ropes. He forgot to attach one end to the ceiling and it fell and coiled very naturally on the ground. He then wanted to know if you could control that rope… which led to a very early prototype, ‘Snake Simulator.’ I entered this into Sumo’s very first internal game jam. Everyone loved it and the demo won.

After winning it went into early development and somewhere along the way our Creative Director, Sean Millard, came up with the name ‘Noodle’. It stuck from that moment onward. As for whether Sean is a madman or a genius… that’s probably best left unanswered.

Miketendo64:Fair enough.”

 

Switch Version of Snake Pass does Support TV, Tabletop & Handheld mode:

Miketendo64:Since knowledge of HD Rumble is publicly known now, will the Switch version of Snake Pass take advantage of such feature, as well as the Switch’s other capabilities?”

Seb Liese:At the moment, we are focusing on getting the game polished on Switch – we’ve only been working on it for just over a month and want to make sure it comes out on Switch at the same time as the other formats.  So our focus has been on performance and we haven’t been able to take advantage of the full set of Switch only features, however, the game does support gaming on the go with TV, Tabletop and Handheld mode. It’s pretty cool.

 

Change in Art Design (From Green to Colourful):

Miketendo64:Was there any plans to see Noodle dressed in say a pair of trousers? Or was he always meant to slither his way across the grassy plains of the world he calls him, in all his naked scaly glory?”

Seb Liese:Haha, yeah no trousers. Originally Noodle was a plain green Snake but the art team gave him some colourful stripes.

 Snake_Pass_Noodle_Concepts.jpg

Noodle & Doodle:

Miketendo64:Since Snake Pass sees Noodle the Serpent join forces with Doodle the Hummingbird, how did such a paring come about and what inspired it? (Banjo & Kazooie perhaps?)

Seb Liese:Pretty early on we’d committed to a couple of things with Noodle. Firstly that he’s a vegetarian – it was super important to make sure Noodle was the friendliest and most lovable snake anyone could hope to meet. And we think that’s worked – we’ve had people genuinely scared of snakes see and play Snake Pass and come away smiling. Secondly that he would be silent. That second point makes a partner kind of a necessity.

Doodle came about when I was having a look at some ‘living’ obstacles. I made a bird that picked up Noodle’s tail and pulled him in the opposite direction he was slithering in. If you wanted him to leave you alone you had to nudge him with your nose. It was really great but didn’t quite fit in with the direction we wanted to take the game. I kept poking at it though, and found that if the bird helped you, it made some climbing puzzles or precarious situations easier to recover from.

From that point on it was simply something we HAD to have in the game and the longer he was in there the more natural it all felt. A little helper friend that would point out things, help you here and there and… talk! Like snakes, I loved hummingbirds so it all just kind of coalesced in very natural and creative way.

Of course, the entire team love games like Banjo Kazooie, Ratchet and Clank, Jak and Daxter etc. and a big part of the thought behind the game is kind of a love letter to those colourful, collectable-laden romps that kept us busy until the small hours when we were kids (or, in my case, adult) so these connections and influences, while there, weren’t really in the forefront of our minds when Doodle came to be.

Snake-Pass---Fire-Screenshot-4.jpg

Incorporating some Snake Related Realism:

Miketendo64:Since Noodle is a snake (at least he was last time I checked,) how much time did you spend researching snakes before deciding on what type you wanted him to be and on a scale of 1 to 10, just how much of a realistic snake is Noodle?”

Seb Liese:When I was a student, I had had two pet snakes. I spent many happy hours watching and having them move through my hands – I was also a biology teacher, so the movement of Noodle is as realistic as we can make it. For instance, snakes don’t move in straight lines – they push forward while making curves – that’s what gives them that serpentine movement. And they contract their muscles to hold onto branches etc. We’ve replicated all of that as closely as we can, it’s a neat set of gameplay mechanics – and it’s why we say you have to ‘think like a snake.’

And as I previously said, Noodle is a vegetarian so he’s not your typical snake. He’s a friendly, lovable kind of guy so any similarity to real snakes is purely coincidental; we wanted him to be colourful, friendly and a fun character to be in control of.”

 

Switch Version of Snake Pass does Support TV, Tabletop & Handheld mode:

Miketendo64:Since knowledge of HD Rumble is publicly known now, will the Switch version of Snake Pass take advantage of such feature, as well as the Switch’s other capabilities?”

Seb Liese:At the moment, we are focusing on getting the game polished on Switch – we’ve only been working on it for just over a month and want to make sure it comes out on Switch at the same time as the other formats.  So our focus has been on performance and we haven’t been able to take advantage of the full set of Switch only features, however, the game does support gaming on the go with TV, Tabletop and Handheld mode. It’s pretty cool.

Snake-Pass-Water-Screenshot.jpg

Snake Pass’ Development has Been nothing But a High:

Miketendo64:Shedding your skin and developing games is never easy, no matter how much experience you have in the industry, so how has your experience been with developing Snake Pass?”

Seb Liese:At the moment, we are focusing on getting the game polished on Switch – we’ve only been working on it for just over a month and want to make sure it comes out on Switch at the same time as the other formats.  So our focus has been on performance and we haven’t been able to take advantage of the full set of Switch only features, however, the game does support gaming on the go with TV, Tabletop and Handheld mode. It’s pretty cool.

 

“Think Like a Snake:”

Miketendo64:In the description on the website, it says “15 levels full of snake bending obstacles” and “Four world themes each with unique features and hazards.” Can you tell us a bit about these snake bending obstacles, four world themes and the hazards we can expect to face. Also is one of them a mongoose and just what is the scale of these levels?”

Seb Liese:Think like a snake’ is our mantra… the levels are places where someone like Mario or any other character that could jump could breeze through really fast. Without those standard methods of locomotion players must think completely differently about simply moving let alone how to scale any kind of vertical obstacle… even simple steps become an obstacle! It’s a complete departure from your normal platform adventure game.

We’ve shown glimpses of the fire, earth and water themes – we’ll be revealing the other one soon. Each has its own challenges

No mongoose and we don’t want to tip our hand completely, but you should know that gravity is your biggest enemy in Snake Pass.

Snake_Pass_Water_Totem_Concept.jpg

Snake Pass Roleplay:

Miketendo64:Time for a little bit of roleplay. Pretend I am someone who has never heard of Snake Pass (a shame I know, but just go with it). How would you describe the game to me to try to get me interested in it?”

Seb Liese:Snake Pass is a 3D physics platformer where players are challenged to ‘think like a snake’.  Unlike traditional platformers where you would run and jump, players must slither, curl, twist and stretch Noodle the Snake using the game’s ‘snake-physics’ to hunt down keystones, open mystical gates and solve puzzles!

 

Snake Facts:

Miketendo64:Since this is a game bound to leave an impression on those who play it, like a bitter aftertaste, but without the poison and a game about a snake. What is your favourite serpent related fact?”

Seb Liese:Some snakes can breathe partially through their skin, allowing them to stay underwater for quite some time OR that snakes smell with their tongues. There are loads of interesting things about snakes that make them incredible creatures.

Snake_Pass_Humminbird_Concept.jpg

No Plans for a Retail Release:

Miketendo64:Providing Snake Pass’ Switch release goes well, (and release on other platforms), are there any plans for a retail release further on down the line?”

Seb Liese:Currently we’re looking to release digitally on all platforms, however who knows what the future holds?”

 

More announcements are to Follow:

Miketendo64:Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about your upcoming game, or aren’t you allowed to rattle on about that just yet?”

Seb Liese:Snake Pass will be out early this year and we’ve got some more exciting news coming up in the next couple of weeks – so stay tuned to our social channels:

 

Facebook: SnakePassGame

Twitter: @Snake-Pass

Website: http://www.snake-pass.com

 

“We also have a Snake Pass Live Stream every Thursday 5pm GMT on Twitch twitch.tv/snakepass.”

 Snake-Pass---Fire-Screenshot-2.jpg

Other Projects:

Miketendo64:When all is said, done and wrapped up with Snake Pass what comes next for Sumo Digital?”

Seb Liese:We’re working hard to get Snake Pass finished and into players hands. Ask us again once it’s out in the wild. We’ve got a lot going on across the studios – including Crackdown 3 and Dead Island 2. Plus we’ve got another internal Game Jam coming up so who knows, maybe we’ll discover the next ‘Snake Pass.”

 

Switch Talk:

Miketendo64:Final question, with March drawing nearer every day and this being 2017, the year the Nintendo Switch releases, will you be purchasing the console and what Switch titles are you most looking forwards to playing?”

Seb Liese:The Switch has so many great games coming out for it. If you asked the team I don’t think you’d get the same answer twice!

Nintendo Switch bilaketarekin bat datozen irudiak

To Seb thank you for taking the time to answer our questions and to Alison, thank you for arranging the interview in the first place. I enjoyed learning about this game and eagerly await the day I can play it on my Switch. Snake Pass certainly comes across as being a title that will live up to gamers expectations! And since I’ve said enough, it’s back to Seb for the final word, a message for the fans and our readers:

Follow our channels, chat to us in our weekly Twitch show, check out our website, and make sure you pick up the game when it’s out! And don’t forget to tell us what you think, we’d love to hear from you!

 

*As far as Switch related interviews go this month, this is by no means the last one we have as we also have a Has-Benn Heroes interview lined up, and Part 2 of our Raw Fury interview still to come so be sure to be on the look-out for both.

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