Interview with William Dubé, The Creator of Jotun

 photo jotun02.jpg One of the most popular Kickstarter projects going on right now is William Dubé’s action adventure game, Jotun. If you have not seen my Kickstarter Shout-out for it, I would recommend checking it out (here is the link!), along with the Jotun Kickstarter page. Recently, I had the pleasure of talking with William Dubé about the project.

Me: What was the inspiration for Jotun? Why set the game around Vikings and Norse Mythology?

William: Jotun was inspired by my love for mythology and ancient literature. I’ve always been fascinated by centuries-old stories like Beowulf and The Divine Comedy. The more you dive into Norse mythology, the crazier and more epic it gets. It is the perfect backstory for a video game.

Me: I love that the game has a female protagonist! So, I was curious, what was the decision around making the main character female?

William: It’s impossible to ignore all the talk in the industry about gender equality going on right now. I think that definitely influenced our decision, but, at the same time, it just kind of came naturally to the team. Thora’s really badass!

Me: The hand-drawn 2D art style is beautiful, and it reminds me of something Genndy Tartakovsky would do if he was directing a Disney-animated film. What were the inspirations for Jotun’s art style?

William: Thanks! Disney was obviously a huge influence, so was Japanese anime and any hand-drawn animation. The style kind of came from the kind of artists I knew. Alex, Jo-Annie, Annejulie and Darnell are all friends of mine and I’ve been so lucky to have them on the project!

Me: Out of all the monsters and gods from Norse mythology, what made the Jotun the major focus for Thora’s quest? How did they become the goal of the game?

William: In Norse mythology, the Gods are constantly battling the Jotun. It’s similar to Greek mythology where the pantheon fights the titans. For our story, having the Jotun as the antagonists makes perfect sense, but you’ll have to wait for the game to be released before you can find out why.

Me: The Kickstarter says that the player will be fighting the giant elementals known as Jotun, but will Thora, the game’s main character, have to fight off other kinds of enemies while searching for the runes to summon the giant elementals?

William: The game’s focus is really on the Jotun boss fights and atmospheric exploration the rest of the time. At this time, the only fighting you’ll do is against the Jotun.

Me: Games like Shadow of the Colossus and Dragon’s Dogma let players interact with the larger enemies by being able to climb them. Due to the Jotuns’ massive size, will the player be able to do the same?

William: The combat gameplay is similar to a boss fight in The Legend of Zelda. Since we are in top-down 2D it would quite difficult to introduce a platforming aspect to the gameplay. There will be an update on combat in a future Kickstarter update.

Me: Will Thora be getting any upgrades to her two-handed axe? Will there be side weapons or will the axe be her only weapon?

William: Shrines to the Norse Gods are scattered throughout the world. Each God will give Thora a specific gameplay buff or upgrade. We are actually having a great discussion on these in our Kickstarter comments. As for the axe, we are not looking to add any other weapons at this time, but we’ll see!

Me: A lot of games these days are adding in randomly generated levels with some of them getting praise for them, like Rogue Legacy, while some games like Daylight are being criticized for it. Since Jotun has randomized areas where you must search for the runes to complete your task, how are you guys designing it so it won’t turn into a chore to find the runes?

William: Good question. We are looking to procedurally create all of our content. One of the focuses of Jotun is on atmospheric exploration with carefully scripted audio-visual experiences. We will be releasing an update on how the world is generated in a future Kickstarter update.

Me: Usually with action adventure games or grand RPGs, developers put more emphasis on enveloping the player in the world around them than focusing on an actually interesting story. So I am curious, how much emphasis will be put into enveloping the player into the game’s atmospheric world, and how much emphasis will be put into telling the story of Thora’s quest to get into Valhalla?

William: There are really two stories for the player to discover in Jotun. One is Thora’s story and the other is purgatory’s itself. We’ll be releasing more details about how the story is told in the following weeks.

Me: Without giving too much away, besides the gods, will Thora be meeting up with other human characters? Like, will she meet up with other Vikings?

William: In Jotun’s lore, each warrior must face the challenges alone so that he or she may be correctly judged by the Gods. However, expect to encounter fallen warriors, heroes from Viking sagas and other mysterious characters on your journey through purgatory.

Me: Due to the positive reception of the Kickstarter, and it appearing on Kickstarter’s front page, have any publishers, like Sony or Nintendo, offered any assistance to get your game on their consoles?

William: I unfortunately can’t talk about any possible negotiations going on at this point.

Me: Do you and your team have a release time figured out?

William: We plan on delivering the game in September 2015.

(If you want to support the Kickstarter, go to this link!)