Set in an atmospheric Dark Age world that’s plagued by nature-infested beasts, Perennial Order is best described as a Dark-Souls inspired boss-rush game with 2-player co-op. And whilst it’s only the first game to be worked on by Gardenfiend Games (an indie studio which formed in 2020 and which is comprised of 4 people who all met on Reddit and Discord), it’s already garnering attention from notable online streamers (such as Iron Pineapple) as well as as Steam Curators (such as JustDaZack) who state that the game “offers beautiful music, an amazing art design, a world with lore that invites to be explored and challenging, yet fair boss fights.”

I spoke to Miguel Félix (Co-Founder/Lead Animator, Gardenfiend Games) about his studio’s first game, and got to ask him as to why Gardenfiend Games decided to partner with Soedesco as its publishing partner. At the same time, I was able to ask him as to what the games industry is like in his home country of Portugal. Certainly, Miguel Félix was more than happy to answer my questions, and he was also willing to disclose as to what players can expect in terms of post-release content when Perennial Order launches later this year on PC, XBox Series and PS5 consoles. Enjoy!

How many people worked on Perennial Order?

In total, four. Our team is a four-person team. It is me, the lead animator. James Markiewicz, our programmer. Julian Crowhurst is the composer and audio designer. And Vincent Van Hoof does all the art in the game.

Given the fact that it’s a four-person team, I assume that you’ve had quite a bit of input with regards to designing the game?

Yeah, so the game design duties and story, all that stuff, was shared amongst the team. We talked about everything. Our team doesn’t really have a creative lead, we all give our input, we all give our ideas… The game is made by everyone in that sense.

For people who aren’t aware of Perennial Order, how would you describe it? And at the same time, why did you make the game the way that it is right now?

I would describe it as a challenging isometric action game. We always like to compare it to Dark Souls and Hollow Knight so people know what they’re getting into. It’s a challenging game where you have to learn boss patterns. A couple of unique things to know is that the game is one hit death so you die in one hit, and it also uses twin stick controls. So you move with the regular stick, but then you attack with the left stick. You don’t attack using X button or anything like that, and you can attack in any direction.

I think we made the game the way that it is because we really enjoy challenging games where you have to learn and overcome the game. It’s a really satisfying feeling, and we’ve seen people learning the game, and when they beat a boss they’re happy, and that’s the feeling that we want the players to have.

Where are you located?

We are all over the place. I’m from Portugal, and all my other crew-mates are from the United States, but even then they’re pretty far away from each other. Julian and James are from the West Coast and Vincent is from the East Coast.

How did you form?

We met online. So Julian, James and Vincent met on a previous project. They met about seven years ago, something like that, and I joined the team in 2020.

And that’s when Gardenfiend Games was created?

Exactly. We met, we started working on the project, and then we founded the studio. And then we gave Perennial Order its name and started developing. And now it’s our first game as a studio.

Soedesco are the publishing company behind Perennial Order. As an independent developer, why did you partner with them as opposed to, say, somebody else out there?

So we started our development process in 2020. We worked for a year on the demo, and then we started pitching. We really like how Soedesco put themselves forward and they have a very good initial approach. They seem like a decently sized company for us to work with. Yeah, we like their approach on how they do their business, and they agreed to the things that we wanted for development. You know, considering our budget and everything. They’ve been good to work with so far.

What’s your game development background?

My game development background is a pretty short. I just have my previous work before this company. I learned Unity in Spine, which is a very popular animation program for games. I did not go to school for games or anything like that, I went to school for animation. I’ve always wanted to do animation in whatever form it took, be it games, movies, TV shows, or whatever.

What about the rest of your co-founders? Are any of them experienced within the industry?

So they have done one game before Perennial Order, it’s called Raindancer. That’s about as far back as it goes. James has been a programmer for a very long time. He’s worked in other industries besides gaming. Raindancer was his first game, I believe, and it was also Julian’s first game. It wasn’t Vincent’s first game, but he has done commissioned work for other projects in the past. We were all very experienced in our areas, and we also learned the game design thing together. And it really came together, because there was no overlap. They don’t have to worry about animation, and I don’t have to worry about sound or programming. Everyone can take care of their field, and then we can all collaborate on the game design part. I think that really helped the team. I think we have a very synergistic team.

What game engine is the game made in?

It’s Unity.

Why do you think Unity is so popular amongst the game development community, including yourselves?

For us specifically, it’s the best 2D engine. We think Unreal is trying some things to approach the 2D space. But I think Unity is really the best, and we think they should specialize even more in 2D, because I think that’s where they thrive. And honestly, it’s a very accessible program. I had some Unity experience, and James had Unity experience. But Julian and Vincent didn’t, and they were able to pick up the program. There’s a lot of tools and tutorials out there. It’s the most accessible program right now, especially for the kind of game that we’re making. If we were making a high-fidelity 3D game or something else, we might have gone with Unreal, but our specialization is 2D games. Vincent is a 2D artist, and that’s what we’re going to be focusing on.

Do you think Godot or GameMaker could have been better alternatives?

Potentially… Frankly, I don’t know too much about those game engines. I think I learned Godot a little bit, but I honestly don’t even remember it. And since James is the main programmer, it’s kind of like whatever he says goes. You know, we’ll follow him and learn whatever he wants us to learn.

From a gaming standpoint, USA is one of the biggest markets, but Portugal isn’t. From your perspective, what’s it like to work in Portugal as a game developer? And how much support have you received from the rest of the games industry, as well as your own family, community and the government as well?

From what I know, it’s very challenging to be in the games industry in Portugal. Right now, I think we have one very successful studio in Portugal. Saber Interactive, I believe. They do the SnowRunner and DAKAR: Desert Rally games, so we know that they’re doing very good. But for smaller studios, it’s very hard to get off the ground. Portugal is not the easiest country to do that in. For me, honestly, since I work remote, the company is based in the U.S. It’s not the biggest deal in the world. My family is very supportive and it’s been okay. But there is no… We know a lot of countries like the Czech Republic, I think, and some other countries have specific funds, some kind of support for game development. Portugal, as far as I’m aware, has little to nothing .

You mentioned how hard it is for companies to get off the ground. At the same time, Gardenfiend Games is primarily a USA based company. What do you think are the reasons for why you’ve been able to get so far? I mean, you’ve been able to get your company off the ground, and have also been able to get a publishing deal…

Yeah, we got much farther than a lot of people, yes.

What do you think are the reasons for your success thus far?

Honestly I think it’s really the team. We’re so synergistic, and we work so well together. We’ve been working together for three years, and we’ve barely had any bad arguments. We really haven’t had a bad argument. We’ve had a couple of disagreements, but nothing like that. Like I said, Julian is an incredible composer, he makes such good music. Vincent is an incredible artist, James is an incredible programmer. I’d like to think I’m decently good, I don’t want to brag or outsell myself. I’d like to think that I do my job well within the team. We have all the core pieces. Like a lot of development teams are missing an artist so they have to freelance. They’re missing audio so they have to freelance. We have all the necessary pieces to make any kind of 2D game that we want. I think that’s what’s really helpful. And the guys are just incredible. They’re always thinking like five steps ahead of everything. I think that’s the reason for our success. That’s why we were able to get a publisher and hopefully Perennial Order is going to be successful.

What are you going to do after Perennial Order is out? Are you going to be supporting it via DLC? I mean, I assume there will be some sort of support towards it in terms of patches and what not…

Yeah, obviously there’ll be support in terms of patches. If there are bugs, we’re going to fix them, and all that stuff. There are no plans for DLC or any post-launch content, because we’re not 100% sure if we’re going to make our money back. We’re not sure. We think it’s going to do okay, but we don’t have the sort of buzz to confirm that we’ll be able to spend the development time on post-launch content. If everything goes well, and if the game is very successful, we would love to do something. But right now, we’ve got to think about the next project.

Do you know as to what the next game is going to be about?

I can’t really confirm anything. We obviously have ideas and we’re planning things, but I can’t really confirm anything yet.

Is it going to be a 2D game?

Oh yeah, most definitely.

Okay, any last words?

The reaction has been positive. It’s a hard game, so it can be polarizing. But everyone who has played it, and who has stuck with it, has said very kind things. And we’re hopeful that this translates to us finding an audience. Thank you also for the interest in the game.

Thank you so much.

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