The product of a 3 person team based in Germany, A Juggler’s Tale is a small indie game that is being made by young creatives from the internationally renowned university, “Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg”. Still only the studio’s first title, A Juggler’s Tale has already won the BEST NEWCOMER Award at the German Videogame Award 2019 and is being compared to side-scrolling narrative based platformers such as Limbo, Inside, and Little Nightmares. I spoke to Dominik Schön (Game Design, Gameplay Programming, Level Art) and got to ask him as to what else inspired his team’s first title. Enjoy!
How long has A Juggler’s Tale been in development for, and what inspired the game?
Yeah, so we started developing back in 2017 as a student crew. So it was a massive project of ours, and then we did some other study projects. But we always thought about this game, and that there this so much potential within it. So we got the opportunity to take a break-year from our studies after the sixth semester. To take a break, to found a company, and to work full-time on the game for 9 months. That was last year, and the game is still not finished, but we believe in the game and we think that probably around the same time next year we will be finished with development. And then later in 2020, we will release it. So there’s still a little bit of time to go.
The game reminds me of Limbo and Little Nightmares. But in your opinion, what were the biggest influences on A Juggler’s Tale?
So our influences were Inside, Little Nightmares, Limbo. And from the narration side of things, The Stanley Parable, because that game had a really strong connection between the player and the narrator and we really found that to be such a cool concept we wanted to bring to our game as well.
What has the reception been like for A Juggler’s Tale thus far?
People seem to like the game. We got some great feedback on the visuals and also on the gameplay. Of course, some people don’t get some puzzles… all that kind of stuff. But I mean that’s part of the game, that’s part of why you play it.
What would you say is the biggest weakness that you need to still resolve between now and the game’s release? What are the challenges that you face between now and the game coming out in 2020?
So we still have a lot of work ahead of us to make it like a full-fledged game. The game is divided in 5 separate chapters. And we now have 3 in a state which you can play. And the other 2 still need to be done. The others I think need some polish and some rework. There are some bugs in there and of course the story also needs some more time to really get where we wanted it to go.
Are you looking to self-publish this game, or would you be looking to get a publisher involved?
We are currently in talks with lots of publishers for our game, because we want to focus on the game itself. But we still haven’t made a decision on that yet. I think self-publishing is pretty interesting for us as well because we already have quite good reception on social media, marketing-wise, so its not like we need a huge marketing boost to get ourselves out there. But still, I think especially if we wanted to focus on more platforms. We are currently only working on the PC version but I think the game would be great on Nintendo Switch for example, or on consoles.
Boxed physical copy?
(Laughs) So I think if we want to do that then we would actually need help from a publisher.
How big is the development team?
In the core team, we have 3 people. But at least everyone knows what everyone else is doing. So we really enjoy working with a small team size. And we have a group of, I think, 10-15 people working on and off on the project. Like if we need some sound design or some music, we have a guy that does that. And some concept artists… we also have someone doing animations for us. So it’s always dependent on what we are currently working on, and we have a group of people that support us in that way. But full-time working on the game… it’s just us 3.
One of the problems with small teams, especially with in a scenario where there is a lack of funding, is finding the talent. Finding people that are prepared to work with you who happen to be good. What kind of difficulties have you had with regards to finding the right people from the perspective of them being good?
So basically the people that we have worked with, we have worked with previously on study projects, or even before that. So we know that we can trust them in their work and that we know that what they do is great. We aren’t in the position yet to really outsource work to people that we don’t know yet. So it’s a comfortable position for us.
Thank you so much!