PressA2Join recently had the chance to speak to Wim Wouters of GriN Studios about their soon to be released Xbox One game, Woolfe The Red Hood Diaries
Ed: How did you come up with the idea for the Red Hood Diaries?
Wim: It all happened very accidental, actually. A little over 2 years ago, we were working on a series of educational 3D games for preschoolers and looking for a 3D artist to model the animal characters we needed for that. Davy Penasse applied for the job and a little demo in his portfolio -featuring a Little Red Riding Hood in a dark and evil forest- inspired us to that extent that we decided to work together on a concept file and apply for funding. We were granted a budget to get us started, hired Davy as lead artist and began working on a prototype for Woolfe.
Ed: Little Red Riding Hood is the epitome of innocence, what made you decide to make her such a badass?
Wim: We decided to upgrade the traditional innocent child to a young woman to broaden both story and gameplay opportunities. Having done extensive research to older versions of Little Red Riding Hood and other fairytales, there were two things that struck us: the fact that the oldest versions of fairytales were far more gruesome than the ones we know through the brothers Grimm and Disney, and the fact that female fairytale characters traditionally tend to depend on a lumberjack, knight or prince charming to come and save the day. We thought it would be fun to give Red Riding Hood a tragic past (the loss of both her parents), a vengeful motive (punish the one person she holds responsible for her father’s death: B.B. Woolfe) and an axe in our adaptation. We basically made her the heroic lumberjack herself.
Ed: What can players expect when starting out?
Wim: Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries is a deranged fairytale, set in a fantasy universe and players take on the role of a not-so-little Red Riding Hood, who’s after the truth behind her father’s death. Guided by some backstory uncovering information about the environment and Red and her family, you will first explore the city of Ulrica, pick up a weapon and start confronting your demons. After a challenging citytrip, you will head to the forest, where your grandmother lives. And, like in the original fairytale, there just might be a wolf trying to beat you to the punch.
There’s classic platforming and puzzle action, there’s fun (and not too hard) combat and a lot of secrets to unlock.
Ed: Can you tell us a little about the enemies encountered in the game?
Wim: Woolfe features various fairytale-inspired enemies, each with their own backstory. There’s the ever present army of toy soldiers (inspired by The Steadfast Tin Soldier, by Hans Christian Andersen). These mechanical guards patrol and control the city on behalf of their master, the evil antagonist B.B. Woolfe. Red will also encounter the Pied Piper, a flute-playing kidnapper who terrorizes the city, and who’s of course based on the Pied Piper of Hamelin story. Other than that, we have nasty rats occupying the sewers and loads of wolves and some very scary fairies living in the forest. But the biggest bad guy of course is B.B. Woolfe himself.
Ed: The game is set in 2.5D can you explain what this means for those who don’t know and how it makes the game a better experience?
Wim: 2.5D is just a “fancy” way to say we added a third navigational dimension to the typical 2D platformer gameplay. Not unlike Little Big Planet and most of the Lego games…
Our main starting points were a) the gorgeous 3D environments crafted by Davy, b) the ambition to return to oldschool (traditionally 2D) action platformers and c) with a small team, making a full 3D game with the amount of detail we were aiming for was simply impossible, now we only had to make the part of the world the camera can actually see.
Ed: The game was funded through Kickstarter, was there ever a fear that the game might not get made or any difficulties you came across during production?
Wim: We came across plenty of difficulties, of course, as we’re sure every indie studio does. Woolfe was initially intended to be a way smaller project, but a series of events (such as our nomination for best PC and console game at Game Connection 2014 and Microsoft showing our trailer at E3) seriously changed the scope and made expectations rise. Which wasn’t easy, with just a handful of team members and a limited budget at our disposal. We signed a deal with an investor prior to the Kickstarter campaign, ensuring us to continue development of the game as intended originally, so there was absolutely going to be a game any way, but we needed to increase resources to match the ever increasing expectations – hence the Kickstarter campaign.
Ed: Having experienced the game first hand I found it to be very Fable esque, with the beautifully artistic landscape, etc. Are you fans of the series?
Wim: Fable is beautiful, yes, it’s an honour (and a curse) to be compared to huge titles like that…
Ed: What has it been like to work with the ID@Xbox team?
Wim: From the first time we came in contact with someone from ID@XBOX during GDC 2014 in San Francisco we’ve been really amazed at how easy it was to talk to people from a company that seemed so untouchable. We still have to get deeper in the actual porting of Woolfe to XB one, but we know the ID@ Xbox team is just one phonecall away.
Ed: Was it always your plan to bring Woolfe to the Xbox One?
Wim: Not really… but they made us a deal we couldn’t refuse. The phonecall we got started something like this: “Hey, remember we talked at GDC? We really loved the look of your game. We still have an open spot at the E3 launch event. How would you like to be featured?”
You can imagine what happened next…
Ed: Any final message for gamers looking to play the game when it’s released?
Wim: Yes. Some gamers seem to think Woolfe is a big triple A title, made by a big team with a big budget. Those people will probably be disappointed in several aspects of our game once they get to play it. Woolfe was made with a core team of 5. Two artists, two programmers and a writer. I don’t want to minimize the the extra help we got from interns and some temps, but Woolfe really is quite a small indie game, both in play length and in complexity. Nevertheless, we hope players will allow themselves to get carried away in the atmosphere we tried to create.
Ed: The game certainly looks amazing, thank you for taking the time to talk to us Wim.
Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries is currently available on Steam and will be available on the Xbox One later this year.