Interview | Philipp Döschl Producer At FDG Entertainment

I had the pleasure to interview Philipp Döschl and ask him a few questions about FDG Entertainment. Check it out.

When did you make the transition from being just developers to a Company or a business? 

Actually, even when you're 'just' a developer, you're also a company or a business. Since we've always been self-publishing, it felt natural to also start publishing games we liked and help other studios out there become successful.

With Oceanhorn, we produced and published our first game with a bigger scale and it was amazing to get people such as Nobuo Uematsu and Kenji Ito on board. Monster Boy is our biggest game so far both in terms of budget and scope, it is also a childhood dream coming true for everybody involved in the project.

Talk to me about you guy's process of taking an idea into a fully functional game?

Usually, it starts with somebody talking about a new idea in a very informal way, either at lunch or on a coffee break. If we feel there's something worth following about the idea, we continue with a bit of brainstorming and then there's a first prototype, which is usually very rough and not more than the proof that the idea might work. From there, we'll build a team for the project and loooooots of planning start. You have to take many things into account such as the art style, game mechanics, many technical questions have to be solved, starting with which engine will be used on to what tools will be needed, and much more. As opposed to movie production where you have a rather stiff script and storyboard, game development is a very organic and dynamic process. Usually, in the end, the game doesn't necessarily look like what you imagined in the beginning, but that's totally normal. You'll only know if mechanics you imagine are really fun once you prototype or implement them. If they're not, then you have to think of something else or tweak them until they're fun. It's much harder to plan how entertaining something interactive is rather than something you 'just' watch or consume, such as books, movies or series. I'm not saying it's easier to produce movies, it's just a different approach with different challenges.

How much time goes into making developing a game from start to finish?

This absolutely depends on the game, the target platform(s), the tech used and many other factors. Our fastest game was Parachute Panic on iOS, which roughly took a month from idea to submission, the longest is Monster Boy, with more than four years of development. Unfortunately, when you start with a new game, you always underestimate the scope of the project and are overexcited to work on something new.

What platform do you think your games run on the best?

Together with Game Atelier, we're putting lots of effort into making sure the game runs perfectly smooth on every platform, with the same features and so on. Monster Boy will be running at 1080p with 60 fps on all platforms.

What's your opinion on console games moving towards digital and away from the physical disc?

Honestly, I doubt that consoles will completely ditch physical disc or cards in near future or even in the next generation. One of the reasons is that there are still many regions in the world where there's no broadband internet connection, making digital-only distribution very challenging. Here in Germany for example, there are still many parts of the country that have only very slow internet access, if any at all. Same goes for the US and other countries relevant for digital distribution. So going digital-only will result in less sales, especially for the platform holders and AAA studios and publishers. Yet you could argue that Steam is very successful, still the PC and console markets are very different and targeting different audiences.

Also, with the rise of companies such as Limited Run Games, physical releases are getting more important for developers and collectors again. I see many parallels between the music and the gaming industry, where physical is getting more importance again thanks to vinyl. For example, Greenday's almost 25 years old "Dookie" album has been re-released as vinyl.

Physical is also more long-living than digital. If servers are switched off, the games are gone for good and can't be installed (easily & legally) anymore. So when it comes to archiving, physical is pretty much the only way.

I see many reasons why physical will still be around for some time, even if digital will outsell physical.

And then there are these rumors about a Google streaming console. Yes, sure, they might do it and Google has the funds to buy virtually any gaming company to bring exclusive AAA content to its (streaming) platform. However, some problems, such as low latency broadband internet connection, remain. Certainly, not everybody will be able to play with this console, but Google may very well heavily disrupt the console market - to the good or bad, we will see.

What can we expect from the new "Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom"?

Monster Boy is a unique mix of retro and modern gaming. We've spent a lot of time to deliver the best experience we could. Game Atelier is a very talented team and they did an awesome job. We're all super happy about the cooperation and stoked about what the game has become over the years.

For those who don't know Monster Boy yet, it's the first new entry in a more than 30 years old legendary series. We used to play it as kids, so making the first new game in about 23 years is just amazing. You step into the role of Jin, a young adventurer. You're uncle, the king's jester, is going nuts and transforming everybody in the kingdom into animals - including yourself. Your task is to find out what actually happened and restore peace to the kingdom. 

Without spoiling too much, there are quite some surprises and twists. The game mixes platforming with elements from adventure and roleplaying games, in one big world - known as Monster World. Fans of the series will meet friends and discover things that'll remind them of past games. However, the game is a 'stand-alone' game and it's not necessary to have played the previous entries.

Soon you'll be able to discover what happened in the Cursed Kingdom.

What can we expect in the future of FDG Entertainment?

We've got a couple of really cool games in development however, they all didn't reach a stage yet where I can talk about them. Being able to make games for mobile as well as consoles is a very cool thing and its huge fun! Stay tuned for more in the next months.

Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom - Nintendo Switch
Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom - PlayStation 4
Android Games
iOS Games

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