I noticed in the last few years that Belgium was becoming more and more active as a Game-development country so I contacted a few Belgian developers and checked if they wanted to talk about their upcoming game. One of these was Glowfish Interactive with their twin-stick action game: Trifox.
A small taste of the game:
We had an interview with Brecht Lecluyse, co-founder of Glowfish about their upcoming game and what it’s like being an up and coming Game Studio.
I noticed on your presskit only two names in the credits*, are there only two people working on the game?
This is indeed correct. The core team exists of only 2 people. However we do get the occasional help from some interns and things like music and sound are also outsourced.
* Brecht Lecluyse & Emiel De Paepe
Is it a fulltime project for you or do you have other jobs and develop the game as a side-project?
In an ideal world we would be working on the game fulltime but being a startup studio we don’t always have the luxury to do that. So we try to balance development with the occasional contract work and teaching job so we can keep the lights on.
What kind of educational background do you have? Did you study something with the intent of making videogames?
We both went to Digital Arts and Entertainment in Kortrijk. This is a strong school that is fully focussed on game development and digital entertainment. Today the school is considered among one of the better game development schools so if you want to learn how to make games, it’s a great place to start.*
Personally, before I went to that school, I first obtained an engineering degree and had been mainly self-taught game developer that played around with Half-life modding, level design and so forth for a number of years. So for me game development is a hobby that got slightly out of hand and is now my full time occupation.
Are you currently using software and tools you’ve been introduced to at school?
At school you learn the fundamentals using the current industry standard software. But this is a fast and ever evolving industry so research and learning new software/tools is something that is always a thing. Having a solid and well-rounded foundation makes it so you can easily adjust and tackle any type of problem, piece of new tech and so forth.
How difficult is it to finance such a project yourself? Belgium is mainly missing a publisher that can help fund new games, so it all has to come out of your own pockets (or the bank’s).
As mentioned before we try to balance development on the game with the occasional contract work. We also obtained a government grant that really helps out a lot.* This is however not enough to fully finance the project so we are still looking for additional funding.
*Belgium’s Audio-visual fund VAF has just increased its budget though, so that could help future games take off: Read more
Have you considered crowd-funding (Kickstarter/Patreon/other)?
This is something that is still on the table but we don’t have a timeframe on this just yet.
What plans are there to put Trifox in some sort of a spotlight? The number of games released annually is at an all-time high and it can be hard to stand out.*
*Aaero developer Mad Fellows actually had a very interesting opinion on this: Read more
Going out of pre-production and into full production we will ramp up the amount of content that we will share on social media and increase our presence at events. We also strongly believe that our unique combination of visual style and gameplay will be useful element to help people notice our game (hopefully )
On a sidenote, one of the reasons why we are looking for a publishing partner is to be able to get some support on this side of things. They usually have a whole lot more experience and resources to successfully reach your target audience. It would be nice if there were a legit Belgian Publisher.
Does Trifox have a deadline you’re working towards? Or is it more of a “it’s done when it’s done” approach?
We have a specific workflow and milestones that we work towards. Because we are a small team we can easily adjust these milestones and pivot based on what currently needs to happen. But in general we have a clearly defined roadmap for the project. That being said we greatly value quality and will always do as much as we can to make sure we deliver a polished experience. So to answer your question: Working towards a flexible deadline
You’re planning to bring Trifox to PC, PS4 and Xbox one. Any consideration for the Switch? From what I understand, using Unity as your engine should make this a possibility.
We would love to bring Trifox to the Switch but can’t confirm this just yet.
I’ve heard that developing for Windows 10 or Xbox One isn’t all that different, but how hard is it to also bring a game to PS4?
We are currently testing and developing on Xbox One & PC. We have a PS4 devkit but haven’t had the time yet to test the ported version. Hopefully soon, it’s just a matter of time.
Would Trifox support Xbox Play anywhere?*
We haven’t yet implemented the platform specific features just yet but love the idea of cross platform play and save files.
Any plans to support 4K/HDR for the Xbox One X?
We currently only have access to the standard Xbox One Devkit so for now we can’t really say. (Personally I do value a higher framerate and smoother gameplay experience over 4K support but we will evaluate and cross that bridge once we get there.)
Will the game have a physical release as well?
Current plans are to release the game digitally.
What do you think of Belgium as a game-development country? We mostly have small individual projects and seem to have a lack of publishers to help fund games.
It is starting to grow and we actually have a small but great development community going on. We have a very big talent pool in Belgium but historically that talent pool always flows to other countries. It’s nice to see more and more people trying to make quality games over here and perhaps motivate some of that talent to stay here.
I want to see more Belgian games out there !
Did you knew from the start that you’d be setting up your own company or did you first consider joining an established studio (perhaps even outside of Belgium)?
We actually had the opportunity to go and work at more established companies. However being game developers we like to suffer and do things the hard way so we decided to start our own company instead. This is a common joke that often is made by developers and there is a certain amount of truth in that.
Joking aside we always had the idea of starting our own little company in the back in our minds, trying to make a quality product with a small team without having to move half way around the world to be able to do so.
When we started you could practically count the number of Belgian gamedev studios on your hand. So we wanted to help change that. Time will tell if this was the right decision but so far we have no regrets.
So if an established Studio or bigname company were to make an offer? You wouldn’t consider jumping ship?
If it was to work as part of a gigantic AAA team where you are just a number, probably not. We strongly believe that, given the resources, a small team can create very high quality gaming experiences. This is especially true nowadays with the quality of the tools available.
It’s not that we are absolutely tied to Belgium either, but it is not a bad place to live and work.
What games have been an influence on Trifox?
Trifox has been influenced by a whole bunch of games. Some of the obvious ones are platformers such as Crash Bandicoot and Ratchet & Clank. But it is honestly a bit of a combination of all types of games and mechanics that we are fond of or always wanted to play around with.
Bonus round. What are your favorite games? Do you have a top 3?
A top 3 is a hard question to ask me as this often changes and swaps around. But in terms of my all-time favourite games I would say that Oddworld : Abe’s Exoddus*, Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath, Metal Gear Solid, Battlefield 2, RTCW: Enemy Territory and Super Mario World most definitely make the list. More recently I’ve been really enjoying Rainbow Six Siege and Zelda: BOTW.
*shameless insertion: There is a charity fundraiser at the moment (proceeds going to Make A wish) and this is one of the games being auctioned: https://www.dewarmstegamer.be/oddworld-new-n-tasty
That is a very hard question to answer, I have played so many games throughout the years. But if sheer number of hours I played a game is an indicator, I would have to say World of Warcraft, the Total War series and Awesomenauts. Recently I’ve been playing a lot of card games like Hearthstone and Magic the Gathering.*
*Personal note: Hopefully the new MTG Arena is going to be fun
Interviewers notes: I’m really looking forward to playing their game and it’s one of the elements that makes me think the Belgian Games industry has a bright future ahead. Keep on eye on this one ^^