Exclusive Interview: Pewter Games Studios Talks The Little Acre

It’s a great time to be a fan of adventure games. Thanks to developers such as Double Fine and Telltale Games, the genre has seen a resurgence of popularity, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.

One of the most interesting adventure titles in the works is Pewter Games Studios’ The Little Acre. Taking place in 1950s Ireland, it blends fantasy with one of the worst time periods in the country’s history. To find out more about the upcoming 2016 release, we talked to Pewter Games Studios’ co-founder Christopher Conlan. It was an interesting discussion about using hand drawn animation, storytelling and much more.

Check it out below, and enjoy!

We Got This Covered: One of the first things players will notice about The Little Acre is the hand drawn animation. Why did you decide to go that route, and how much extra work has it been for a relatively small studio such as Pewter Games?

Christopher Conlan: At its earliest stage, the decision to use hand drawn animation was made simply because we preferred how it looked to other alternatives. We were aware it meant more work, though maybe we didn’t understand exactly how much work at the time. In the end, though, we’re really happy with how it’s turned out, and traditional animation has become a signature of ours. Plus, it’s like you said — it’s one of the first things players will notice!

WGTC: Players will control both Aidan, and his daughter Lily. Do the two different characters affect gameplay?

CC: Gameplay is technically the same across both characters, though each character does end up going to some different areas. I think an interesting thing about having the two characters is seeing how the story eventually overlaps. Aside from that though, I personally love how Aidan and Lily’s personalities affect how they perceive things differently; from having polar opposite reactions to similar situations, to identifying the same objects in the environment as something with a different name. If you find something while playing as Aidan which results in funny or interesting dialogue, you should remember to examine it again while playing as Lily!

WGTC: The Little Acre begins in 1950s Ireland, which is one of the worst decades for the country. What made you decide to set a game in that time period?

CC: We chose that particular setting for a few reasons: firstly, the level of technology available around that time makes it easier to incorporate our own fantasy elements in a more believable way. There’s a juxtaposition at this time and place, between the old Ireland and the new — hand pumps for the household water, but a hydroelectric dam providing electricity. Visually, the characters, vehicles, and environment are obviously also affected, and that decade was an interesting one to use.

Aside from that, we wanted Aidan to have an engineering background which would enable him to find solutions to the problems he encounters, so we thought it would be interesting to say that he has military experience as an engineer during WWII. But being in rural 1950’s Ireland, he’s been finding it difficult to apply those skills.

WGTC: The Little Acre has gone through many iterations in its development, can you share some details on these scrapped versions? Was it ever not a point-and-click adventure game?

CC: It certainly has! One of the key plot devices is a glove which can amplify the energy produced by crystals found in Clonfira, which is the alternate world in The Little Acre. Originally, we had planned to incorporate this feature as the core gameplay mechanic, using the glove for combat and puzzles. We actually had this working in an early version of the game, but soon realized that the game world was more about exploration and discovery than about combat and destruction. So after weighing it up, we decided to stick with the point-and-click adventure mechanics, albeit with some stuff you don’t often see, like switching to an isometric perspective.

WGTC: On your website, you say that Pewter Game Studios has set out to develop story-driven games. Do you feel like you’ve succeeded in crafting a memorable narrative for The Little Acre?

CC: I hope so! It’s hard to say before a lot of people have had a chance to experience it, but so far feedback from early testers has been positive. I think the thing with adventure games is it’s hard to get a feel for them until the very last stages of development, when things like the VO recordings, sound effects, and all the bits of polish start coming together — even though we’re only talking about the narrative. So it’s only recently that we’ve been able to step back and say “Hey, this is starting to look as good as we hoped it would!”