Just Adventure: First off, thanks for doing an interview! Did Lost Echo start out as a mobile adventure game, or were there any other platform options?
Both: The pleasure is all ours! When we started making games, we started doing a very ambitious PC adventure game. A couple of months in, we realized that with our resources it would never be finished. Since we didn't want to compromise our vision for that game we decided to put it on hold. So we started thinking what we should do instead.
It had to be doable in a reasonable amount of time. A mobile adventure game was starting to make a lot of sense. Touch is great for adventures, we had a couple of ideas that would actually work better on mobile than on PC and the limitations of the hardware would help us keep the scale of the game to manageable levels. And so we started working on Lost Echo.
Just Adventure: Were there any adventure games the team drew influence from to create Lost Echo?
Both: We played and loved adventure games since we were young but I don't think there are any distinct and direct influences (with one exception). But in general, we really loved LucasArts adventure games when were kids, so we went with no death or dead-ends. And while we wanted to tell a serious story, we did like how other games combined a great plot with humor (Sierra games and Phoenix Wright games).
Speaking of Phoenix Wright, that's the one direct influence. We did really like how the text was presented in that game and how much sense it made to present it like that on smaller screens. That's true for most Visual Novels but Phoenix Wright was our first experience with the genre.
Just Adventure: Did Lost Echo go through any changes before the final product? Such as, changes to the story, gameplay, etc?
Both: The only things that stayed the same throughout development were the basic premise (and plot twist) and that the fact that it was an adventure game. Everything else was changed or iterated upon multiple times. For example, the main character that is in the game is actually the third iteration of the character and that was actually changed pretty late in development. You can see the previous character model in the bar, drinking alone, being now reduced to a cosmetic non-interactive character.
Just Adventure: It’s been mentioned that Lost Echo even works on the iPhone 3GS, were there any technical issues the team had to overcome through its 2-year development? Was there anything left out that you wanted to keep in?
Both: The only real issue we had with having to keep support for the 3GS was memory management. Some scenes are really close to the limit of ram iOS allows you to use on a 3GS. We would have liked to add a bit more in certain scenes, for example more vegetation and more items on the park, but we weren't able to. When we started developing and with the timeframe we had set back then (which was about six months...), the 3GS was still quite relevant and had to be supported. If we knew we would have taken so much time we would have probably dropped support for the older devices and added things like facial expressions to the characters and a bit more visual polish overall.
Just Adventure: You have Lost Echo’s walkthrough on your website, was this intentional to help novice players along, or were people getting stuck?
Both: We were planning to release a walkthrough eventually, but from the first day there was a lot of demand for one, so we decided to release it sooner rather than later. Maybe we should have included a hint system in the game? We're not exactly sure how we feel on the matter.
Nick: At some point allowing the player to get “stuck” became a sin in game design. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. But one of my most memorable gaming moments in my youth, was when me and my father finally solved a puzzle in Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis after weeks of trying. We were feeling so proud of ourselves that I still remember it to this day (and in retrospect it was a pretty easy puzzle, it was one involving a lantern and a hieroglyphic).
Vagelis: I also had a similar experience with Loom, when I was trying to leave the first island. I couldn't get past the tornado. I had been trying for weeks going back and forth. To make matters worse, I had to change 5.25” floppy disks every time I went to the tornado. When I finally managed to get past it, I felt great!
Just Adventure: Lost Echo: Resonance is an upcoming free update that will include a host of changes. Will this still include the same characters, or show another aspect of the story?
Both: You will be playing most (all?) of it as Chloe. And there will be some new characters in it, that aren’t really new... That's all we can say at this point.
Just Adventure: Final question, does KickBack Studios have any projects planned for the future?
Both: We... have a lot of ideas. We are a small team of two, we can only do one thing at once. We do have a couple of ideas we want to prototype, but that's going to be after we finish Lost Echo: Resonance.
A hearty thanks to the guys at KickBack Studios for doing an interview with us!