Little Legend Title

In late January, newly minted French developer Nevermind concluded a successful Kickstarter aimed at funding its 2D open-world adventure game, Little Legend. Recently, OnlySP had the chance to sit down with Maxime Poutiline, co-founder and art director at Nevermind.

Over the course of the interview, Poutiline touches on everything from the young studio’s inception to the title’s very different origins, the game’s unique gameplay systems, and much more.

Please note that this interview has been edited lightly for clarity.

OnlySP: First, congratulations on the successful Kickstarter! Nevermind is a pretty new studio, having been founded in February of 2018. Could you tell us a little about the company’s formation and its aspirations as a developer?

Poutiline: Fawzi [Allouache, creative director and co-founder of Nevermind] and I met in Montréal in 2013, where we studied and worked in the economic video game design field, at a time where social and mobile games were starting to get huge.

On the side, Fawzi had this original idea of a hybrid shoot’em up/RPG game. He introduced me to the concept, and after long conversations about the current state of the video game industry (it was the PS3 era with most of the AAA titles looking the same: 3D shooters, explosions, war…) we agreed that it would be a breath of fresh air to make a light-hearted and colorful 2D game with an emphasis on the graphics and the story.

Most of the 2D games were pixel art roguelike/action/platformers, we, on the other hand, decided to go full HD. A few months later, Ori and the Blind Forest was released, strengthening our belief that there was a public for these kinds of games.

OnlySP: You mentioned the fact that money from the Kickstarter would be used to help expand the development team. Right now, Nevermind is comprised of just four people; how large are you hoping to get?

Poutiline: We plan to hire between six and eight people to join us four. As Little Legend is a very visual game, we will need mostly artists and animators.

We are a France-based studio, but we already worked with people from Europe and Asia, and as I’m writing these answers, we are looking for talented concept artists (environment and characters) to join our team (wink)

OnlySP: At the end of the Kickstarter campaign, you extended crowdfunding on your website. However, some folks would probably say that $40,000 isn’t enough to fund development of a game for a year, do you have other sources of funding?

Poutiline: Indeed, Kickstarter is a great platform that allows a company to collect start-up funds.
These funds and our successful campaign will allow us to easily get in touch with banks and different investment funds to get a bigger amount of money.

And yes, the budget to make Little Legend should be a six-digit number.

We think that the “kill” is only justified when there is a need for it in the story.

OnlySP: You have stated that one of your goals is to give players that same rush you get when you use a glitch in a video game to your advantage to reach the highest platform or pass through a closed door. How does that manifest in gameplay via the Magicraft system?

Poutiline: In Little Legend, you follow [the] main storyline, but the way you explore the world is non-linear, you can go in any direction from the beginning of the game. Hence, the items you will encounter to create and modify your spells using the Magicraft will be different from one player to another.

To progress, you will face obstacles (in the form of platforms or combat areas) which you will overcome using your spells.

For example, if you get the spell that allows you to summon the blue stone (seen in the trailer), you can jump on it and get to a higher platform unreachable without it. But if you happen to have the spell that allows you to swap places with an enemy or an object and you don’t have the previously mentioned summoning spell, you can still get to the same result.

You can see [this] in motion here:

OnlySP: Despite the extensive nature of the Magicraft system, you made the decision not to have Pimpim use Magicraft as a weapon. Could you talk about your reasons for this choice, and why you settled on a system of non-violent engagement?

Poutiline: We chose to do that mostly [to stay true to the nature of the story we are telling].

Most of the time in a video game, the important information is “to get rid” of an enemy. We think that the “kill” is only justified when there is a need for it in the story. Following this logic, our main character—who is a young girl—doesn’t need to kill things to get to her goals.

OnlySP: What does a 2D open world game look like structurally? You’ve stated the game isn’t a Metroidvania, but it sounds like gamers will have access to a pretty large world in a non-linear fashion? How do you handle progression and gating?

Poutiline: In a Metroidvania, all players will follow the same path to progress in the game.
In Metroid it is not possible to get the high jump boots before the bombs, in Little Legend, it is possible.

In Little Legend you follow [the] main storyline, but you have a freedom of navigation from the beginning of the game. The open world allows you to complete secondary quests and discover special items and abilities in the order you want. You are only limited by the spells you create with the Magicraft.

OnlySP: The game was initially conceived in 2008. How has the vision for the game changed over the past decade?

Poutiline: At first, we wanted to make a shoot’em up/Metroidvania with more verticality, the character flying from the beginning to the end of the game. The character was designed like the Bat from Castlevania, with a shoot ’em up type of gameplay.

As we were developing the art and the story at the same time, we started to get feedback from our friends and family, telling us that it was a shame to have such a nicely designed character but play as a “bat” most of the time.

After that, we started to develop the characters more and more, and with time, the shoot ’em up gameplay completely disappeared, allowing for more character and story development and a change in the flow of the gameplay.

OnlySP: The Kickstarter has only just concluded, but how has the game or scope of the game changed since its conclusion?

Poutiline: Thanks to the Kickstarter campaign, we got [some] nice press coverage. Backers and followers gave us a lot of feedback and they made us understand their expectations in terms of gameplay, story, art, and animation.

Speaking of animation, our main focus will be to improve [this area] in the next version of the game to offer the best possible visual experience.

OnlySP: Little Legend has been announced for Switch, PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. On the latter two consoles, you’re targeting a 2021 release—if Sony and Microsoft release new systems by that time, how do you plan to handle this?

Poutiline: For now, we are focusing on the Switch and PC versions. In 2020, after E3, we will get more visibility on the new systems.

OnlySP: Google just announced a new game streaming platform called Stadia. The company made it a point of its GDC presentation to promise that it would be reaching out to, and supporting developers of all sizes. As an indie developer, what are your thoughts on the promise and potential of Stadia, and do you have any plans to support the platform?

Poutiline: Google announcing Stadia brings some fresh air in the video game landscape. We at Nevermind are all curious to learn more about it.

OnlySP: Thank you, Maxime for your time, and best of luck to you and the team.

For even more news and updates on Little Legend and Nevermind, be sure to follow OnlySP on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. You can also join the discussion in our community Discord server.

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