Since mid-late 2017 we’ve been keeping a keen eye on Figment. Releasing in September of last year on PC, the game has now been confirmed for a release on Nintendo Switch ‘soon’. Whilst the PS4 and Xbox One versions are still to have their release dates confirmed, we thought it would be as good a time as any to shoot some questions off to the team at Bedtime Digital Games in order to get ourselves ready for the Switch launch.
They were only too happy to oblige…
Hi. Please introduce yourself – what has been your role with Figment and at Bedtime Digital Games?
Several members of the team actually pitched in to answer this interview! But it was Jonas Byrresen, Director on the project, that took time to put the answers together.
So, sell it to us… Why should gamers buy Figment?
If you like unique games, with one-of-a-kind setting, you will definitely enjoy Figment. It’s not every day that you explore a human mind! We also have unique visuals, with a hand-painted result that will seduce all gamers looking for some eye-candy. To top it off, our game is a musical, with singing boss battles. How cool is that?
How did the duo of Dusty and Piper become a reality?
We knew from the start we would have two main characters, working hand in hand. We knew they had to fit each other well, but also have unique traits that would allow them to stand out on their own, so we spent quite some time figuring out how to represent them. In the beginning, Piper was actually Dusty’s weapon! She was more part of him than a stand-alone character. You can see that in the picture below:
As development went on we updated Dusty, and felt that it wasn’t a heroic thing to run around beating up enemies with your friend. Therefore, we instead made her into her own character that could move around on her own, but also have her own opinions when bantering with Dusty, thereby being able to provide more depth to the world.
We were lucky enough to go hands on with Figment at EGX last year – I believe on the very day it launched on PC. At the time it was looking like Figment would release on console very soon afterwards. Why are we still waiting for the console launch a number of months down the line?
Game development is always unpredictable. We sadly ran into some issues while porting the game, as all platforms have different specifics and require some hand-tailored solutions. As it is our first time working on those platforms, we were discovering some of those specific needs along the way, which slowed down our progresses.
With the recent announcement that the Switch version will be launching in the Spring, was it always the intention to run with staggered releases across different formats?
Our plan has always been to release the game as soon as possible on consoles, one after another.
When do you anticipate launch for Xbox One and PS4 to be?
This year for sure. We handle this process internally and want to offer the best experience to our players, so we take the time needed to deliver a high-quality experience. We will definitely give news as soon as we can along the way.
And how has the PC reception been? Has the release to the worldwide audience thrown up any unforeseen issues?
The PC reception has been great! Players and reviewers alike were very enthusiastic about Dusty’s adventure. The worldwide release has been quite smooth, and no major issues rose up.
With that in mind, will all the versions be exactly the same as the PC game?
Indeed they will. Figment works as a whole, and we couldn’t change one part and still make it work. Also, we want all our players to have the same experience of the game.
Figment is certainly a unique looking, and sounding, game. How did the whole idea come about and what other games were drawn for inspiration?
We need to go a few years back to answer this question, when the team was working on Back to Bed. One feedback came back a lot: players really enjoyed the surreal mix of dream and reality from the game, but they wanted to explore that kind of setting even more, instead of just going through a series of fixed level. Figment is thus an evolution of our previous game, and has the same roots in surreal/dream-like artists and work (like Dali, Magritte or Bosch). Gameplay wise, we wanted an adventure that mixed action, exploration and puzzle: some of our inspiration came from Bastion or The Legend of Zelda for example.
The stunning audio that accompanies the Figment adventure is obviously a key part of the experience. Was getting this ‘just right’ one of the most important development aspects? Can you tell us more about the audio?
The games we worked previously on gave us a better sense of the value in good audio and music – especially in the sense that it can be used to tell stories, set moods and give depth to the game’s setting. Early in development, we knew we wanted the music to be a unique part of the game. Our sound designer, Niels, was also game designer and writer on the project. As he was working on a lot of core elements of the game, he was able to intertwine them and they could hardly work without each other now. The environment literally plays music, the boss battles are musicals, there are puzzles based on music to solve… It is part of Figment’s core, and we can’t imagine the game without it.
If you had to change one thing about how making Figment a reality came about, what would it be and why?
Mixing 2D and 3D elements was quite a challenge, and we discovered numerous ways to ease that process throughout the development. We wished we knew those solutions beforehand! But any project has its unforeseen problems. The best thing is to be ready for it, stand tall and fix them one by one, as they arise.
How long do you expect any casual gamer to take in order to fully complete Figment? And what reason is there for them to go back and take it all in again?
Players usually need 5 to 6 hours to finish Figment’s main story. If they are yearning for more mind-digging, they can play through the game again to get all achievements and, more importantly, unlock all remembrane. These collectibles give clues about the life of the character’s head we’re in, and help understand why things are as they are in that mind.
How tricky has it been to ensure that the puzzles included in Figment don’t ever cross that line from ‘fun’ to ‘frustrating’?
Quite tricky as you can guess! The main problem being that people have different tolerance levels for brain-picking activities. We ran a lot of playtests during the development, both with co-workers and outside players, so that we could see which ideas worked well and which didn’t. This helped us reach a good balance between reflection and fun that would fit all kind of players.
With the Switch version in mind, have there been any major development issues spring up due to the portable nature of the machine?
We ran into some issues linked to the Switch system in general, but nothing specifically due to its portable nature.
Are there any plans for a follow up to Figment? Either in the form of new content or a whole new game?
We are currently focusing on porting the game to new platforms. But who knows? We like Dusty and Piper, and we would love to join them on another adventure if we could.
What else lies in store for Bedtime Digital Games – and yourself? Are there any other games in the pipeline that we should be keeping an eye on?
Many more whimsical adventures for years to come! We do have ideas we’re playing around with right now, but nothing that can be shared for now. Hopefully we’ll be able to show you something soon!
Massive thanks go out to the guys at Bedtime Digital for taking the time to answer our quick questions. We look forward to seeing Figment arrive on console soon and hope that you will agree that it is looking like a perfect Nintendo Switch fit.
Let us know your comments down below and we’ll be sure to keep you fully updated in regards to everything Figment.