Holden Boyles Discusses Spirit
By Julie Morley
Recently, I have had the pleasure to talk to Holden Boyles about the details of Spirit and the details of its successful Kickstarter campaign. Spirit is a platformer game working off of the player’s curiosity and need to answer questions. On April 2nd, it was 267% funded! Here’s what he had to say:
Cliqist : Firstly, for our readers who aren’t too familiar with Spirit, could you tell us a little about it?
Holden Boyles : Spirit is a pixel art platformer that is really just about exploring a world of whimsical and inspiring places. You play as an older man who has just retired to a remote mountain village and decides to check out the ruins of an ancient temple across the valley. Once you reach the temple, the game is essentially a journey through some very beautiful and surreal environments.
Cliqist : I love the idea behind Spirit! It’s original and works with the player’s curiosity. What has inspired the concept for Spirit?
Holden Boyles : In any artistic endeavor I take on, my goal is always to create an experience that I would personally want to be a part of. Wouldn’t it be awesome to live in a peaceful little town in some gorgeous mountain landscape? Wouldn’t it be even cooler if you stumbled upon a magical pathway to an enchanting long-forgotten world and could just wander around there? I think that would be sweet, so I wanted to make a game in order for me to do that, in hopes other people would want to as well. When playing a game, or watching a movie, or experiencing any work of art, I like to be transported to a moment and place that I cannot experience in real life.
Cliqist : That being said, for this story, what about the game medium seemed appropriate for it, rather than comics, animation, writing, etc.?
Holden Boyles : Well since the purpose of Spirit is to simply explore a beautiful world, I think the concept of exploration is done best in an interactive format like games. Every artistic medium has the potential to accomplish certain things very well, and for me, games are a means to create explorable worlds that don’t exist in reality.
Cliqist : Per chance is there a specific reason a retired old man is the main character? Will other characters be introduced that are playable?
Holden Boyles : Honestly, I had the setting, I had the story, but I couldn’t think of any person who would have the desire or means to relocate to a remote mountain village besides someone who was retiring there. There probably could’ve been a few other scenarios that would’ve made sense, but you also don’t see many elderly protagonists in games out there, so I thought it would be a nice change. The old man is the only playable character.
Cliqist : More specifically, what inspired the Temple concept? What can you tell us about the spirits in the Temple and the ancient civilization that found them? I recall from the demo that the temple was existing even before the ancient civilization came along.
Holden Boyles : I really love the mood that ancient ruins and architecture give off visually and conceptually. There’s something really other-worldly and mysterious about the vacant remains of old environments. As for the actual story behind the spirits and civilization, you’ll have to wait to play the game! The telepathy ability that we’re adding in will play a huge part in discovering the history behind the Spirit world.
Cliqist : As for gameplay, many of the backers have critiqued Spirit and given their suggestions which are being taken in account for improvement of the finished game. Other than trimming down the grass cutting feature, what else is being adjusted for the finalized game?
Holden Boyles : Oh man, there are tons of things that we’re fooling around with. In general, the demo was very much an early prototype of what Spirit will be, so those who played through the demo will be experiencing a much more polished and professional gameplay experience in the finished product. Personally I’m most excited to be adding in all the little details that make the Spirit world more real, moments like when the birds fly above you and you stop to admire them. It’s the little interactions with nature and the environment that make the experience nice for me and that will be largely expanded upon in the real game.
Cliqist : Since the kick off of the Kickstarter campaign, many changes have been decided on for the complete game, one of which is telepathy. An example: meditation is relied on for connecting with the environment and averting obstacles. What benefit does this feature give to the gameplay? Will the players be heavily relying on this ability or is it purely situational (i.e. the Temple)?
Holden Boyles : The intention with the telepathy ability was initially to add some sort of extra mechanic to overcome various obstacles, but as the idea developed more, I realized that Spirit should not have any “challenges” or obstacles and should be an experience of complete ease and pure discovery. Therefore, the telepathy ability has now become a feature that will simply allow the player to peer into another realm and communicate/ interact with the beings and events happening there. It will definitely be vital to progress through the game at certain points, but for the most part it’s a way to almost experience each level twice, in that you can traverse the real world, and also get a glimpse into the alternate world in every level too.
Cliqist : Spirit has been 267% funded. The game will now be twice as long with more features which is pretty awesome. What information can you spoil our readers with about the extension (such as mechanics, story, etc.)?
Holden Boyles : Well, initially the game was going to mostly take place inside the temple and then briefly through this whimsical world on the other side, but because we doubled the length of the game, I completely rewrote the entire script from the point beyond the demo so there is this massive new world of deserts and lakes and ancient ruins to explore. All of these environments you pass through have some kind of dream-like flare or surreal quality to them that before just weren’t written into the script. Its way way cooler now that I had the opportunity to expand the Spirit world to a much bigger size.
Cliqist : In addition to the question above, can you tell us anything about the sequel/prequel? I am personally eager to know a bit more about it.
Holden Boyles : To be honest, nothing official has been decided in regards to the follow-up. But what I can tell you is that I’m working with two different scripts that I’m actually trying to merge into one right now. One story takes place across this vast ocean of diverse islands, and the other revolves around the ability to restore life to all sorts of dead or lifeless things. Both tie into the Spirit story quite nicely, but getting the details just right is something that will be tackled in the future once Spirit is further along.
Cliqist : The promotional artwork is absolute beautiful and I personally would love to see that released in poster or print form! Do you intend to make merchandise for Spirit such as posters, mugs, etc.?
Holden Boyles : We are currently in the process of signing with a publisher who may bring some merch into the marketing strategy for Spirit, but for now we haven’t talked much about it. However I will be creating a lot more artwork for the game as development goes on, all of which will be exclusively shared with our private forum backers who pledged $50 or more to the Kickstarter. Some of the art will definitely make it out for promotional purposes though I’m sure.
Cliqist : Is a release date in mind, especially after reaching stretch goals? Can we expect to see it on Steam?
Holden Boyles : No particular release date has currently been discussed, and because of the extra work we’ll have to do now due to the stretch goals, we’re looking at multiple months of full-time development starting in mid-April. Never the less, I’m confident the game will be out well before the end of the year, and with our publisher’s support it should be available directly on Steam.
Cliqist : Pick five words that to you best describe Spirit.
Holden Boyles :
Art – Exploration – Nature – Beauty – Dream
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[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/julie.jpg” ]Julie Morley is a freelance writer and comic artist from Spring, Texas. She attended the Academy of Art University for two years, studying Animation and Illustration. Whilst here, she learned about writing comic scripts, storyboards, and general storytelling. Since leaving college, she has been working on personal comic projects, stories, and illustrations. She aspires to release a self published comic within two years. For the majority of her life, she has been playing console games, typically being third-person shooters and sandboxes. Her favorite game of existence is Dark Cloud II (Dark Chronicle) and her favorite Indie game is Gone Home.[/author]