Lets Talk High Flying Strategy title, Highlands with Jonathan Ortega

Every day we see new Kickstarter campaigns launch; it’s a seemingly endless sea of games to back out there.  After a while though, things start blending together, title images start looking the same when you’re looking at 40+ new campaigns launching every week.  Highlands is different though.  As I obsessively hit refresh on new campaign list Highlands from Burrito Studio gave me pause; the concept art had a very Maxfield Parrish vibe that I was drawn to.  To learn more about Highlands I spoke with Burrito Studios’ Jonathan Ortega; here’s what he had to say.


highlandspic2Cliqist : Who are you, and what do you do?

Jonathan Ortega : My name is Jonathan Ortega and I’m the game designer at Burrito Studio, nice to meet you!


Cliqist : How did you and your team hook up?

Jonathan Ortega : There was this game concept that I was thinking about for a while, and then Maude and Alex joined in to make a first prototype.  We loved the game so much that we dedicated our time to it and the project grew serious.


highlandspic1Cliqist : Can you tell me a bit about Highlands?

Jonathan Ortega : Highlands is a turn-based strategy game that has strong RPG elements.  It is a ‘Risk’ style strategy game where the map is divided in territories you have to conquer.  Plan carelessly and the enemies will conquer yours.  A big difference is that instead of having disposable and anonymous armies that you send to fight, the game focuses more on a guerilla-style warfare where every character levels up and has his own story to tell.


Cliqist : The artistic direction in Highlands is pretty unique, what inspired it?

Jonathan Ortega : A lot of inspiration has been drawn from the works of Hayao Miyazaki.  Our visual team has also a strong background in traditional animation which is the reason for the hand-drawn feel.


highlands3Cliqist : Wouldn’t it be easier to just use some nice 16 bit style pixel characters instead of hand-drawn ones?

Jonathan Ortega : Yes it would be, but by going for hand-drawn visuals we are building a strong signature about our game aesthetics which you do not see often in indie games, especially the strategy genre (remember the hexes?)  It has its deal of fresh air, but it also comes with its challenges.


Cliqist : The Kickstarter is off to a strong start, are you surprised?  What sort of pre-campaign work did you do?

Jonathan Ortega : Aside from putting up all the promotional kit for the Kickstarter, we also each rallied our extended network.  It was a group effort, everybody at Burrito Studio spent a lot of time contacting everyone they knew.  We also had a very good presence at the Montreal ComicCon earlier this year and that helped us a lot.  We are very happy with the response we get from the community and we would really love to be Staff Picked!


highlands4Cliqist : Typically I would ask you what would happen if you failed your funding goals, but let’s go the other way with it. What would you do if Highlands were to be dramatically over-funded?  Say, to the tune of 200k

Jonathan Ortega : We kept our stretch goals realistic for a great single player experience, but going into that kind of funding, we would definitely aim at multiplayer.  I think there is a great opportunity at the moment to make a convincing TBS multiplayer game that does not have sessions that span for 10 hours or more.  A ‘Risk’ style TBS game could be a great answer to that.


Cliqist : What would you say to someone that’s on the fence about backing Highlands?

Jonathan Ortega : I would say that we are trying to achieve a turn-based strategy format which is very simple and intuitive.  If you feel like you need something refreshing, Highlands will definitely bring something new to the table.


Cliqist : Is Highlands a scam, or unattainable pipe dream? What assurance do backers have that your team can deliver?

Jonathan Ortega : I think a lot of it has to do with where you are in the production of your game.  We are already well into production with a functional pipeline and a playable alpha.  Everything you see is actual gameplay footage.  The challenge here is that projects do take time, and we really want to produce a polished game, and not a rushed one.  That is the reason for our Kickstarter.


Cliqist : Can you close us out with a Highlands inspired haiku?

Jonathan Ortega :

Up in the clouds

The view makes me realize

I’m freaking cold


Thanks to Jonathan for taking the time to answer our questions!  You can learn more about Highlands by heading over to the Kickstarter campaign.  You can also track the Highlands Kickstarter by checking out our Campaign Calendar.


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Greg Micek

Greg Micek

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


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Greg Micek
Greg Micek
Greg Micek