BagoGames at EGX Rezzed 2016: Furi Interview

Did you think that was all for EGX Rezzed news?

During EGX Rezzed I managed to get an interview with Emeric Thoa, creative designer at The Game Bakers, makers (or bakers) of a top-down, boss-fight simulator called Furi.

Kailan May: Furi seems unique in that the entire game is comprised of boss fights, broken up by moments designed to tease you “the same way you would be pumped up and stressed before a boxing match,” according to your website. How did you manage to capture this sensation?

Emeric Thoa: Well, the fights themselves are so intense that the player needs a little breather in between. During these sequences that we call “paths”, the player will walk in the upcoming jailer environment, discovering his personality throughout the scenery. The character with the rabbit mask, his mysterious ally, will warn him of the dangers ahead, and tell more of the backstory. While walking on that path, the music will slowly ramp up. It’s building the tension and prepping you for the intense fast-paced battle ahead.

(Furi, The Game Bakers)

KM: Will the game include a narrative? If so, how will it unfold?

ET: There is a story, a very important one. It’s not a game about beating bosses, actually. It’s a game about fighting someone in a duel for a reason. Each character has a reason to fight and the story is figuring out what these reasons are. It’s delivered by the paths sequences that I was mentioning, by cutscenes, and be various sentences the characters say during the fight.

KM: Getting more into the game’s mechanics, I notice you’re able to use a sword and gun. Will Furi force players to adapt and use both, and how?

ET: Players can use the gun more or less, but both weapons really are very useful and will be used, depending the situations. When an enemy is far away, shoots tons of bullet at you, you’d better clean that using your gun, weaken him and then get close to use your sword. Once weakened, you can enter a close combat “sword only” fighting mode where you need to knock down the enemy for good. Overall, the game is designed to alternate both weapons, but it also depends on the boss. Some are more vulnerable to the gun, some to the sword. It’s up to the player to figure it out.

(Furi, The Game Bakers)

KM: Will Furi allow players to customize the hero between fights, perhaps with load-out changes or RPG-style progression?

ET: There is no customization or upgrades or XP in Furi. That’s on purpose. We spent all our efforts on the bosses themselves, making them unique and varied. We also wanted the player to feel good about his skills, to have “few things to learn and a lot to master”. It’s like we gave the player a guitar with six strings (and he’s not going to add new strings along the game), and each boss is a partition he must learn to play. At first, it’ll feel hard, but eventually he’ll be able to beat it and that will be because of his skills, of his mastery of the game.

KM: Is there a predicted average game playtime length?

ET: It really depends on the player’s skill, but for an average player it’ll take 6 to 10 hours to finish the story. These players will then unlock the hard difficulty mode in which all the boss fights have been redesigned. It’s not only the damages that are boosted up: the patterns are different, they have new attacks and defenses, tighter timings. It’s a real challenge. Another unlock is the speed run mode, in which players can try to beat all bosses in one go and get a timer and a ranking the leaderboards. There’s a lot of replay value for skilled players who want more.

(Furi, The Game Bakers)

KM: A concern I have about boss battles is variation. Dark Souls 2, part of a series associated with grandiose bosses, was particularly harmed by the accusation that most bosses appeared and behaved very similar (i.e. as a gigantic humanoid form). Considering you’ve confirmed the bosses would be “similar to you, not gigantic creatures or demons”, could you describe the process of designing boss battles as to make sure each one is distinct and memorable and maybe share some examples of variation?

ET: That’s actually a concern we had at the very start of designing the game. A boss battle is first and foremost a battle against a unique character. We put a lot of thought into making each boss unique: his character design, his patterns, his pace, his evolution throughout the fight. Some bosses will mostly fight long range and use lasers or bullets with various effects, some bosses will rush at you and try to grab you with their bare hands. They all feel very different and have a new set of abilities that make the game feel deep and varied all along.

KM: I read that your development team of 15 is based globally, as well as having an office based in Montpellier in France. Could you elaborate on the development process within a team based around the world, since the traditional form is with everyone within one office? Are there any unusual difficulties or advantages of such an approach?

ET: Well we are about 15 to 20 depending on the time in the project, and it’s true that most of the team is spread around the world. We have someone in Canada, in the US, in Sweden, in Poland, in Japan… Overall, 13 cities are involved! The studio itself is located in south of France, where I live. We use a lot of the modern communication tools like skype, dropbox, google drive and so on. It requires a lot of communication to make sure everyone has a clear vision of the game, but it also has lots of advantages. Because of this flexible setup we can work with great talents all over the world. People who might not have been ready to quit their location to come on the project can still work with us thanks to that “studio in the clouds”.

(Furi, The Game Bakers)

KM: Do you have a release date for Furi for PS4 and PC, as well as a price? Will PC include Mac and Linux? Are there any plans to port it to any other devices after the initial release?

ET: The game will release this summer (no precise date or price yet, but soon!) on PC and PS4. There is no mac or linux version planned yet although I’d love to see that happen :-).

Thank you to Emeric Thoa for taking part in the interview.

In addition, I managed to try Furi while at EGX Rezzed, taking down a boss (which took 10 to 15 minutes) and experiencing the walk-in, walk-out scenes book-ending the boss.

If there are three phrases that really struck me as deeply important as I dug into it, it would be “bullet-hell”, “segmented” and “timing”. The fight I experienced was somewhat broken into two parts. The first part required dodging or shooting down bullets, trying to chip-down their health with my pistol bullets. Once weakened, it zoomed into one-on-one sword combat where I had to time parrying blows and dodging area attacks (fortunately, lit up) until I could strike him down.

(Furi, The Game Bakers)

Each time a portion of the foe’s health was knocked down due to fortunate timing (which my various instrument teachers can attest to how bizarre it is I actually managed to find a rhythm), the enemy would progress in terms of their move list. This not only mixed things up (allowing the attempt to bludgeon the boss always feel fresh through-out), but made the fight increasingly harder as it went on. Although that isn’t to say it is punishingly hard, it is quite the inverse actually, as I found you could regain your health back chip-by-chip to the point where it seemed very forgiving of my errors.

Generally, my only concerns were things I was unable to see. One apprehension was the length of the game (as I took out a boss in 10 to 15 minutes) and a second was if the bosses would be able to vary enough in fighting styles to avoid becoming stale. Fortunately, these were areas Thoa was able to address in the interview above.

You can find more information about Furi, including an unedited boss fight against someone who I didn’t face, on their website here.

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