We recently played and reviewed Cross of the Dutchman by Triangle Studios, an Action-Adventure game that focuses on the Dutch historical folk legend of Grutte Pier. We found the game interesting, but quirky so we wanted to get more information about its conception and development. Remco de Rooji from the studio was kind enough to answer our questions.
PressA2Join: I knew next to nothing about Grutte Pier prior to playing Cross of the Dutchman. What inspired you to develop a game about him? I know your main headquarters is in the province of Friesland. Is he a major local folk hero there?
Remco: That’s right, most children from the age of 10 know who Grutte Pier is, but most don’t know exactly what the story is all about. Pier is most known for a shibboleth he used to discern the Frisians from the Dutchmen. Those who were unable to pronounce the words were beheaded or thrown overboard to drown. Kind of brutal, to be honest. There is however a great story behind the legend. Our goal is to tell that story, and try and share it with as many people as possible through a game.
PA2J: What were some of the main challenges, if any, with approaching the subject matter?
Remco: First, there were the locals. Most people have some idea of who Pier was (especially local history buffs) so people approach you often with new information that might have an impact on how we should tell the story. Even with the amount of research we’ve done, there are still a couple of mistakes in there that we probably should have fixed.
Secondly, there is the fact that almost nobody outside of Friesland (where we’re from) knows who this guy is! So first and foremost, we needed to make sure that we create a game that is accessible to a large group of people, a pick-up-and-play game that can be enjoyed by anyone. Once you finish the game, you know a bit more about our local history, and hopefully you’ve had a good time doing so.
PA2J: The focus of the game being primarily showcasing a story did you, at any point, consider a more narrative-intensive genre rather than an Action RPG?
Remco: This is one of the bits where we think we’ve made a mistake calling the game an RPG. We’re actually updating the store page on Steam to reflect that fact. We think of CotD as an Action / Adventure, but we see that most players regard it more as a hack-and-slash. I guess the end product has a bit more narrative that we would have originally thought, but the game has been with us for so long, that it wasn’t really a very conscious decision anymore to go with more or less dialogue.
PA2J: Cross of the Dutchman seems like it wants to be more. Were there any planned features that allowed the player to do more with the combat, or interacting with allies, order them around, train them and so on?
Remco: We had some big ideas for the game, this is probably the biggest reason why it took us so long to finish the project. In the end, we had to cut a lot of those ideas to make the project work. I would personally really like to work on those ideas in additional content, a new episode or an update. Realistically, we really need to see how well this game does before we can continue to spend additional time into it. It’s pretty much eaten up all of our resources for the year, and we probably need some time away from the game to reflect on how we should take the next steps.
PA2J: The story seems to leave some room for more chapters beyond what is depicted in Cross of the Dutchman. What are your plans for the future? Do you intend to continue the story of Grutte Pier?
Remco: As stated before, yes, we would love to work on the additional two episodes. A lot of the scripting has been done, and we have a great art-style that we could continue to use. If people like the game enough, we will start to figure out how we can make this happen. It would be great to be able to tell the entire story of Pier Gerlofs Donia, from start to finish.
We thank Remco and Triangle Studios for their time and we wish them the best of luck.