Developer: MADSOFT Games (www.madsoftgames.com)
Formats: Playstation 4, PC, Mac
Release Date: TBA
Check out our interview with Andrew-David Jahchan, director, designer, & lead developer for upcoming 2D puzzle-platforming adventure Me And My Dinosaur:
Q. How would you describe Me And My Dinosaur to someone who had never heard of the game?
Me And My Dinosaur is a whimsical, cartoony puzzle-platformer that follows the adventures of a young boy named Hunter and his pet dinosaur Rex. To advance through the game’s 30+ levels, you’ll need to master the different strengths and weaknesses of both Hunter and Rex to solve puzzles and by-pass platforming challenges, all while avoiding the mutant creations of the mysterious entity known as Bioneer Labs. You can play the game solo or get a friend to join you in the game’s drop-in/drop-out local multiplayer where they’ll take control of Rex. Oh, and you can find and raise Baby Dinos in the Dino Daycare.
Q. We’ve seen plenty of unlikely duos star in video games, but a boy and his pet Dinosaur is pretty unique. What made you decide to choose a Dinosaur as the star of the game?
Simply put, Hunter needed a friend who was big and lovable. And dinosaurs are great! Who doesn’t like dinosaurs? Especially, dinosaurs like Rex who behave more like dogs than prehistoric reptiles bent on tearing the flesh from your bones. Plus, our writer studied vertebrate palaeontology in University, so once she got over the historical inaccuracies and warmed to Rex, she was able to infuse the game with a certain degree of believability.
Q. Hunter and Rex have to work together to solve a ton of puzzles throughout the game world. What sort of puzzles will these consist of and how will they utilise both Hunter and Rex’s abilities?
Both Hunter and Rex are designed to have different advantages and disadvantages when it comes to their movement and abilities, so when designing puzzles, we allowed those differences to inform the basics of obstruction and enemy placement. Looking at Hunter, he’s much smaller than Rex, he can jump and swim, and he can interact with game objects and switches. Rex, on the other hand, is much too large for many areas, he cannot jump, but he is invulnerable to damage. A lot of the puzzles therefore revolve around Hunter navigating past obstacles to open a path for Rex or having Rex barrel past enemies and shield Hunter from attacks. As you reach later levels of the game, you’ll also uncover new collectable items that give Rex more powers including the ability to spit fireballs and jump to great heights with the power of his toots. And just to add a smidgeon more complexity, buttons, switches, and bumpers are all Rex and Hunter specific.
Q. Talking about the game world, from the screenshots I’ve seen everything looks incredibly attractive with a cartoon style that is vibrant and full of colour. How many different environments will the player get to explore in Me And My Dinosaur?
When crafting Me And My Dinosaur’s levels, we really wanted to capture that old-school “each level is themed” mentality present in so many classic platformers. Players can expect to explore eight different environments with Hunter and Rex, ranging from lost deserts and tropical forests, to city streets and secret laboratories. Areas are split up into three different levels, each focusing on a different aspect of the environment. For instance, in the hustle bustle of downtown Commonsville, you’ll have to avoid speeding cars in one level then navigate the pigeon-infested rooftops in the next.
Q. Of course, the journey for Hunter and Rex won’t be an easy one – we’ve seen in the trailer that there are Scientists that want to take Rex away. What other enemies will the player face in Me And My Dinosaur?
Well, we don’t want to give too much away, but suffice to say that the scientists at Bioneer Labs like to experiment, especially with genome tampering and hybridization. Most of the enemies you encounter in Me And My Dinosaur are the results of their work. For instance, you’ll encounter creatures like the Snatchounds, strangely gelatinous canines that act as sentries and attack dogs. You’ll also encounter semi-helpful enemies like the Spitweed. The Spitweed spits a bomb-like seed when hit by a rock which can be used to jump with Hunter and Rex simultaneously. We tried to keep enemies unique; the same tactics won’t always work.
Q. At the end of the trailer there’s a brief reveal of a huge, terrifying looking Dinosaur that seems to eclipse Rex in size. Does this mean that there’ll be boss encounters in Me And My Dinosaur, or do we simply get to meet more Dinosaurs throughout the game?
The answer is yes. Yes, there are boss battles and yes, you’ll get to meet more dinosaurs in the game. The majority of the new dinosaurs you’ll meet will be found in collectable eggs hidden throughout the levels. Bring those eggs to a Delivery Outpost, and you’ll be able to hatch and raise the Baby Dino in the Dino Daycare.
Q. Me And My Dinosaur started life as a flash game back in 2010, but this new release is starting everything from scratch with all new graphics, programming and design. How different an experience has it been developing Me And My Dinosaur for PC and consoles as opposed to as a flash game?
As many Flash developers know, Flash was never really designed for game development. It’s clunky and awkward; the workarounds alone can drive you up the wall. Working with Unity 5 has been wonderful by comparison. Unity takes care of so much of the inane, repetitive tasks we had to deal with in Flash. And sure, C# has its quirks and sometimes the custom editor functions we use throw tiny temper tantrums, but the difference really is like night and day. As for console development, it’s been very interesting working with the PS4 hardware. The specs are all set, so that makes things easier, but at the same time, there are many more hoops we need to jump through as a company to bring the game to market when compared to publishing on PC/Mac. It’s all a learning experience, but one we are very much enjoying.
Q. One of the main features I’m really excited for in Me And My Dinosaur is the ‘Dino Daycare’, offering an experience that could be likened to the ‘Chao Garden’ in the Sonic Adventure series. How exactly does Dino Daycare work and what fun will we get to have with the Dinosaurs that we raise?
Funnily enough, the Chao Garden directly inspired the Dino Daycare, but being that we’re working at a much smaller scale than the Sonic Team, we had to narrow the scope of the Daycare a bit. There are currently over 25 Dino Eggs hidden throughout the game, each with their own unique Baby Dino for you to love and raise. But Baby Dinos need to eat Dino Chow to grow big and strong, so you’ll need to craft their favourite foods by collecting ingredients from the Daycare’s three minigames. You can run through an obstacle course in Dino Dash, dig through ancient ruins in Dig Dig Dino, and solve puzzles in the confounding DinoMatrix. Feed enough Dino Chow to your Baby Dino and they’ll reach their maximum level, which will unlock unique hat accessories for your Dino family. We’re working really hard to make those minigames as fun as possible, so it doesn’t feel like a chore to raise your Baby Dinos but more like a fun, little diversion.
Q. When can we expect to see Me And My Dinosaur and on what platforms?
If all goes well with our Kickstarter, you can expect to see Me And My Dinosaur coming to Playstation 4 in Q4 2016, and coming to PC/Mac via Steam in Q1 2017. There is the potential for one other console, but we can’t confirm anything yet. It all depends on the Kickstarter’s success.
Q. Finally, can you tell us something about Me And My Dinosaur that no-one outside of the development team knows?
Because the buttons and bumpers are colour-coded according to character, we also went in and adjusted their appearances to make sure colourblind gamers would be better able to differentiate between them at a glance.
Me And My Dinosaur is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter – if you’re interested in backing the game click here!