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Woolfe - The Red Hood Diaries Developer Q&A

The DRM Gamecast had the opportunity to pick the brains of Wim Wouters and Yasmin Van De Werf, two of the leading minds behind the upcoming PC, ID@Xbox, and PS4 title, Woolfe - The Red Hood Diaries!



Q: What was the inspiration behind the games fairy tale setting?

A: Actually, Woolfe was born out of a demo we spotted in the portfolio of a guy who applied for a job at our studio two years ago. It was a 10 second animation of a cutesy Red Riding Hood character who was being attacked by an evil forest. Davy, the creator, had been working on this little side project after hours as a distraction from his daytime job. We instantly fell in love with the dark fairytale atmosphere and its narrative and visual opportunities.


Q: The origin stories of fairy tales are pretty dark huh?

A: Yes, indeed! Our writer Yasmin went digging up old versions of fairytales and their interpretations. The older the tales, the more obscure. Some versions were literally jaw-dropping: if you look up the origins of Sleeping Beauty for example (The Italian source story), it featured touchy themes such as adultery and rape. And Little Red Riding Hood also faced her share of not so child-friendly encounters throughout history. It was these dark and twisted tales that inspired us for the Red Hood Diaries. We didn’t want to cross the line, but we did choose to step away from the traditional “happily ever after”.


Q: Did the game turn out how you originally planned or did it evolve during development?

A: Oh, it certainly did evolve. We never intended it to become such a huge project. We’re just a handful of team members and we only had a tiny budget to begin with, so initially we planned on releasing the game in short episodes. Once we had a proof of concept and a first trailer, we hit Steam Greenlight. To our surprise, we were Greenlit in just 5 days and the community begged us to find resources to make the game bigger and better. Shortly after, we were nominated for an award at GameConnection and our trailer was featured in the ID@XBOX showcase on E3. With each of these ‘achievements’, the bar was raised, as were the audience’s expectations. So, we took to an investor for a loan and to Kickstarter for some extra resources to make the game the community believed and hoped it could be. Still, when we look back at our earliest concept files, we’re proud to stay that we stayed true to our creative beliefs and targets. It just got a little bigger and bumpier than we initially intended it to be.


Q: How does it feel to have a successful Kickstarter campaign?

A: We are truly grateful for every penny every backer spent on our project during the Kickstarter campaign. Seriously, when you think of it, it’s amazing that people support you at a point in the process when they’re basically still purchasing air and a developer’s good intentions. It was an exhausting month of campaigning, but the support –both financial and in terms of community feedback and engagement- was highly motivational and rewarding. Without these early adopters putting their faith in us, we simply couldn't have made it to where we are now.


Q: Did you receive a lot of exposure after being featured during Microsoft's E3 2014 ID@XBOX showcase?

A: Our game being featured on the ID@XBOX showcase probably was the biggest game changer in the whole process. Suddenly, we were in the international spotlight, at a time when we had little more to show than a small trailer. Even now, people still remember us from these 15 seconds of fame. It definitely got us a lot of exposure and opportunities. The fact that Microsoft’s XBOX-team believed in Woolfe’s potential opened quite a few doors later on.


Q: How has it been working with the ID@XBOX team?

A: So far, we've had really good contact with the team behind ID@XBOX. We were a little surprised at how open and easy communication was, considering we were dealing with such a big and established company. And we hope this will continue once we actually reshift our focus to the console version of Woolfe, which will be later this year.


Q: What about Steam Early Access?

A: Our weeks on Early Access so far have been very interesting. In terms of exchanging ideas with and receiving feedback from the community, this platform is probably the most efficient way we could have worked on Woolfe in the final sprint towards release. Besides the standard bug reporting, player reviews have proven to be very insightful and we have a weekly Twitch moment with the community to brainstorm on specific design or development decisions. It’s pretty intense to be basically developing with your doors wide open, but also very constructive.


Q: What replay value does Woolfe offer? Are there multiple difficulties? Leaderboards?

A: Since the game is strongly story-driven, replayability never was our main focus. The concept simply didn't allow for that. That’s a choice we made early on, and marketing-wise that’s definitely not the easiest road to choose –we’re well aware of that. There is however a decent amount of unlockable content (character files, back story, concept art, fun facts) hidden throughout the game, which we hope will stimulate players to go and look out for those secrets and complete Red Hood’s Diaries doing so.


Q: Can you discuss the idea behind the "2.5D Angle"

A: We wanted to work with classic 2D platform mechanics, something that would feel as familiar as the fairy tales we grew up with as a child. This also ensured a low threshold for the non-hardcore gamers to be able to enjoy what we created. Adding the .5 or depth dimension allowed us to get more out of the beautiful 3D environments without having to create a full 360° world. This choice, though in our opinion the best compromise for what we envisioned in terms of gameplay versus visual experience, did obviously come with its own set of challenges (such as depth perception).


Q: Grin isn't your typical video game company...

A: True. For over a decade we have been working on very diverse types of projects, ranging from very small browser based 3D games (which we released for free on our own platform), interactive installations for events, serious games for educational and awareness purposes to games for brands (within the advertising field), even forklift simulators :). Mainly work for hire and –though we had the chance to work on some really cool and innovative projects- it always was Wim’s dream to one day put an indie game out there. When Davy walked into our office with his demo, we knew that was our chance to do so.


Q: What are your thoughts on achievements for Xbox One?

A: We’ve actually just launched a call on this subject on Early Access, asking the community for their ideas. We have received some really cool ones so far, and obviously we have prepared a bunch of our own. Keep you posted!


Q: Do you have any creative achievement ideas in mind? Care to share one?

A: Finishing the Forest Adrift level (featuring floating islands and rocks and challenging time-based platforming) without getting killed once. Believe us, that’s a challenge! But... lots more to come!


Woolfe Red Hood Diaries is available now on Steam Early Access with a full release planned for March 17th and Xbox One/PS4 to follow thereafter.

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