Joe Williams Discusses Serpent in the Staglands

By Greg Micek


Joe Williams, of the husband and wife team at Whalenought Studios, recently took some time from his schedule to talk to us.  We didn’t waste time talking about the weather or the Cubs’ unfortunate start to their season; instead we talked about videogames.  Imagine that!  More specifically we talked about the RPG he and his wife are making, Serpent in the Staglands.


serpent1Cliqist : Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Joe Williams : We started Whalenought Studios after we got married and prepped the company with some smaller games and freelancing work. We work full time from home at this point, and can focus entirely on Serpent in the Staglands with our Kickstarter campaign! it’s been a long journey to get here, and it hasn’t been easy, but we’re excited to have fans from previous work be excited about our future, and already have this amazing source of support and excitement for our current project.


serpent2Cliqist : What is Serpent in the Staglands?

Joe Williams : Serpent in the Staglands is a traditional computer role playing game for PC/Mac/Linux. It’s all in real time, though you can pause at any time and give orders, and control up to 5 party members through wilderness, towns, and dungeons. You take the role of Necholai, a god, who is forced to take a mortal form to search for answers as to why he is trapped on Vol (the world the campaign takes place on).


Cliqist : How does this game differ from your previous RPG, Isle of Bxnes? technically, artistically, and gameplay wise)

Joe Williams : Isle of Bxnes was an ARPG, it was designed with action in mind for its entirety. Serpent in the Staglands holds many situations that are able to be completely avoidable with an array of skills and conversation options. It’s also more about exploration of your mostly open world, whereas Isle of Bxnes focused on traveling island to island, conquering each challenge within, and just trying to survive. The art has been evolutionary for us, we’ve been able to increase the scope of it since we’re developing for the PC exclusively now. In a similar style to Isle of Bxnes, we’re hand-animating 8-directional isometric sprites.


Cliqist : So you’re not doing a game with ultra high end graphics supporting Oculus Rift. How can you hope to succeed?

Joe Williams : We’re just happy there remains an audience for the traditional CRPG that is interested in Serpent in the Staglands. We could have made the graphics different, but we stuck to our gut and what we thought fit the gameplay and atmosphere best, despite knowing that wouldn’t necessarily attract a mainstream audience. VR/Facebook adoption to be looked into.


Cliqist : How do you think crowdfunding will impact game development?  Other than the cash of course.serpent3

Joe Williams : We’ve already taken a lot of feedback from our backers and begun implementing it, as well as recorded some great ideas that we’ll be looking into throughout development. The game is already in an early alpha stage, all the core mechanics and role playing elements and interaction code have been done, so we’re in a place where we can easily implement and play around with ideas while we’re continuing development the main content and polish. Besides those suggestions, we also have a giant pool of testers. We already have invested, passionate, knowledgeable CRPG beta testers that will help with the game when we begin the prime testing, and that’s an invaluable asset. Crowdfunding the project has been a success on a lot of different levels, and overall will allow us to create the game these folks want as much as us.


serpent4Cliqist : Are you surprised by the success of your campaign?

Joe Williams : We were completely taken off guard when we were funded in just 4 days. Our community has been absolutely fantastic and shown a lot of excitement for the game and world. There have been a ton of great questions and discussions on core mechanics and we’re grateful we have such an awesome audience that knows their stuff.


Cliqist : You’ve already doubled your initial campaign goal, why should someone pledge still?

Joe Williams : Our initial funding goal was to make the game a possibility to be released in the near future, and all the extra goals since are going into making it the most amazing experience it can be. We’re getting close to the goals we’ve made to increase the journey and quest of your players post release with some free expansion packs. We planned out the game and are sticking to its timetable to release it on budget, but are excited to expand the adventure after its release! Exploring more of Vol is something we’re excited about and have some great locations that can be added to Necholai & company’s journey. Sailing, islands, gladiator spires and underground cities are in the future goals, so we’re really excited to see where we can get!


Cliqist : Can you close us out with a Serpent in the Staglands inspired Haiku?

Joe Williams :

Two points in Woodwise

I can talk to wolves and cats

But not the Serpent


To learn more about Serpent in the Staglands be sure to check out its Kickstarter page.  The campaign is running until April 26th.  You can also vote for it on Steam Greenlight.


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About the Author

Greg Micek

Greg Micek has been writing on and off about games since the late nineties, always with a focus on indie games. He started in 2000, which was one of the earliest gaming sites to focus exclusively on indie games.

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