Behind the Studio with Finish Line Games
The team at Finish Line Games sat down to talk about their latest release, Skully.
Finish Line Games Lead Designer Jason Canam and Game Director Daniel Posner have been heads down bringing Skully to life. In this interview, they talk about the inspiration behind the new adventure platformer, what players can expect while exploring the game’s lush tropical paradise, and the process of bringing Skully to the world.
Q: Please tell us about your studio and Skully
Finish Line Games is an independent video game studio based in Toronto, Canada. We have grown to a team of 11 artists, programmers, writers and designers. The goal with Skully was to craft a charming puzzle platformer that will not only challenge your platforming skills but make you smile along the way.
Q: Which games had the most influence on the making of Skully?
Being a platformer at heart, the game is inspired by lots of classic platformers, both 2D and 3D. The world structure and flow is largely inspired by games like Donkey Kong Country on SNES, and how themed levels are recurring and give a hint at the gameplay themes found in those levels. There’s a certain rhythm to the levels, the order in which they appear, and the challenges the player faces. It’s very striking, and we worked on getting that same feel across.
Q: How many hours of gameplay can we expect?
The average playtime for a new player has been 10-12 hours. This can vary depending on how thoroughly players search for hidden collectibles and how challenging they are finding the game. For players wanting to seek out everything and fully complete the game — specifically Trophy/Achievement hunters — players can expect another 4-5 hours to reach completionist status.
Q: What sort of features does the game have?
Skully is a tried and true single player adventure, we are giving the player a fun and entertaining quest to undertake and a story to unravel. The game’s focus is on that.
Q: How much time went into development?
It took about 3 years to go from early design ideas to prototyping to production to launch.
Q: How much emphasis is put on the story/storytelling?
There’s a major emphasis on story in Skully, as the narrative is what drives the adventure over the entire game, informing which environments you explore and challenges you face. The twists and turns of Skully’s plot are enhanced by storytelling in the environment and game design, and the dialogue is fully-voiced by a fantastic cast of actors, which is heard in gameplay and narrative vignettes.
Q: What can players expect from the world of Skully in terms of size and environmental variety?
Inspired by classic games, there are several environmental “themes” that appear in the game, and you revisit them all multiple times.
Q: What was the most difficult part of developing Skully?
Finding the hook took some time to get right. We prototyped a lot and actually threw away most of them to start fresh and tackle it from a different angle. Once we settled on physically based movement for Skully, tuning and tweaking the physics was an on-going critical part of development.
Q: How important was it to find the right composer for the soundtrack?
We feel like music is a big part of the immersive nature of video games. We have been working with Eggplant Music+Sound in Toronto on many projects and knew they would do an amazing job.
Q: How does platforming work in the game?
Platforming is physically based for Skully tuned to achieve certain design goals. It’s meant to be forgiving in the right ways but also provide a challenge. Skully’s movement is designed to keep players on edge and always paying attention.
Pro tip: using a Form character for platforming might be easier, but you could be sacrificing speed and maneuverability. If you want to go fastest, you have to risk a bit!
Q: Do you have a favorite character and why?
Skully is our favorite character due to the way that it’s an unassuming and unexpected hero. Skully is not your typical protagonist, and we want the story to show how special the character is in their own right.
Q: Any fun stories or tid-bits of production you want to share with the fans.
Sometimes the ideas that make it into the game are happy accidents. One day Skully jumped out of a Form and the character did not respond and kept doing its magic action. This was actually a bug that looked amazing and we ended up turning it into a primary feature.
Buy Skully Now!
Skully is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC on August 4. You can purchase the game here!