Gaming Square Exclusive – Interview with Mattis Folkestad

We got in touch with Mattis Folkestad, developer of award-winning point-and-click adventure Milkmaid of the Milky Way, about his upcoming game Embracelet. I personally can’t wait!

ND: Hi Mattis! Thank you for speaking to me. How are you doing with this pandemic?

MF: Hi! I’m doing all right, all things considered. I have a decent setup for working at home, but I do miss being around other people and leaving work physically after a long day.

ND: Did the Coronavirus affect the development or publishing of Embracelet at all?

MF: When the pandemic started, I had to work from home while also taking care of my kids. Productivity dropped quite a bit, and I lost a bit of momentum when I was planning to finalize production. Also many festivals and conferences where I’d planned to show off Embracelet were cancelled, and the uncertainty of everything at the moment makes it a bit more scary and difficult to release a game.

ND: Could you tell us a little bit about Embracelet, and what inspired it?

MF: After I made Milkmaid of the Milky Way in 2017, I spent some time travelling to conferences and festivals and ported it to a lot of different systems. Summer of 2018 I felt inspired to start an even more ambitious project. I’ve long thought the north of Norway where I grew up to be a great setting for a game, and started working on some different ideas. I also started playing piano again, and some of the themes I created actually inspired the story and feel of Embracelet. I wanted to create a mellow, melancholic game about the transition into adulthood and the joys and pains of growing up. I was also inspired to make a game in an art style I’ve never done before, so when I got a grant from the Norwegian Film Insitute I was overjoyed to start working on Embracelet full time.

ND: Obviously you developed the entire thing on your own, which can’t have been easy! What sort of problems did you come up against, and did you have any support from other developers in the community?

MF: Making games is incredibly, ridiculously hard! But the challenge is also super rewarding, and since I’m fortunate to have worked on a lot of creative projects both on my own and in teams I have quite a lot of experience in a wide variety of fields. There have been many problems and technical challenges, and many funny bugs throughout the development process. But the most difficult has been to create so much content in such a short timespan. Embracelet has lots of characters and sceneries, and around 27000 words of dialogue and in-game text. It’s not a big game compared to games released by studios, but for a solo developer it’s been a lot of work.

Before the pandemic I shared offices with Hyper Games and Krillbite here in Oslo, and though they didn’t work on the game directly it was very helpful being around so many talented game developers. I’d love to have a bigger budget and a team of people one day – that would be the dream!

ND: If there’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone wanting to develop a game on their own, what would it be?

MF: I’d encourage them to find some unique idea or vision to follow, and not make something too big. Even a small game is a lot of work, and actually finishing a project – or at least getting it to some playable state for others to enjoy – is such a rewarding and great learning experience.

ND: Do you have any other game ideas or projects you’d like to share?

MF: Not until I’ve released Embracelet! But I’d love to plug Krillbite’s Mosaic and Hyper Games’ upcoming game Mörkredd.

ND: What sort of games do you like to play?

MF: When I’m in development I rarely get to time or have the energy to play other games. I’m quite genre-agnostic and enjoy any game with some sort of uniqueness, either in visual style, gameplay or story. I can’t wait to release Embracelet and finally get to play all those incredible games that have been released the past two years!

ND: If you could think of absolutely any game to appear on the market, what would it be and why?

MF: I’d like to see more games discussing real world issues and creating game mechanics that can teach us about ourselves. I also think there’s room for more comedy and romance in games!

ND: It’s been lovely talking to you! I can’t wait to get my hands on Embracelet, which launches on Steam and the Nintendo Eshop in September 2020. To whet our readers’ appetites, here’s the official trailer:

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