On the pulse of crowdfunded gaming

Together Q&A: Female protagonist a ‘deliberate choice’ for co-operative play

Posted by Olivia Cottrell on June 12, 2014 | Jump to 0 comments

There’s no way this interview could be more timely. In the wake of certain statements by certain companies on the relevance of including female characters in their games, we exchanged emails with Lyle Cox, part of the creative team behind Together, a Kickstarter project that’s all about inclusivity that we covered last week.

In Together, you (along with a friend or family member) play as Amna and her son Saif as they navigate a deadly forest to get a cure for their sister/daughter’s illness. Together is specifically designed to be as inclusive as possible, and the result is a charming, friendly game that seems to be the perfect way to introduce new players to gaming, as well as fosters a true sense of unity.

BitPulse: What inspired this project?

Cox: I wanted to create a game that benefits society in some way. One way of doing that is to satisfy the core human need for relatedness. I also hope to create an environment where people can strengthen their relationships.

How is developing a game focused on co-operative play different from designing a single-player game?

There are a lot of things I can do differently by only designing for co-op. There are the obvious things like basic mechanics that require two people. But the interesting differences are in the design of the levels and the game that create moments of intense coordination and communication. Working together to accomplish a common goal where neither of you could succeed on your own brings a feeling you can’t get from a single player experience. Co-op games where the second player is merely an addition to the single player campaign have a difficult time creating it as well.

Together emphasizes co-operation and balance between players

Together emphasizes co-operation and balance between players

Amna and Saif have many things that set them apart: they’re a mother and son duo, they’re not white, Amna, the protector, is a lady- how conscious were you of creating protagonists that were different from what you normally see?

We wanted to serve under represented groups, those were all deliberate choices. It also helps set the tone that this isn’t another male revenge power fantasy game.

Since you named Amna “the protector”, I will say, the players are meant to be equal in every way possible in the game. Neither character has any special abilities or differences. Amna does not protect Saif any more than Saif protects her. Both of you are equally responsible for your success and finding a cure for your sister/daughter.

How will the $10,000 break down if you get successfully funded?

~10% kickstarter and amazon fees
~5-10% backer rewards
80-85% Payments to Artists for finishing the game.

The actual costs to finish the game exceed the 8.5k but I will self fund the rest, as I have self funded up to this point. The kickstarter allows us to do a lot of nice to have things we wouldn’t have been able to fit into our budget otherwise though.

How important is it to be able to introduce new players to games easily? What makes Together a good introduction?

I think it is important that people spend time with each other and interact. Sharing the hobbies of your loved ones is a great way to do that. Many people love video games. Many games can have elements that make them difficult to enjoy for the person being introduced. Competition, information overload, difficulty of controls, and having to play alone are some of the things that drive away new players. We do our best to remove those concerns while at the same time keeping optional objectives with increased difficulty available when they have gotten better.

And after this, what games would you suggest to someone who is, for example, introducing a parent to gaming?

That depends on how good the parent is with controls and what interests them. Minecraft is a good place for most because it can fill many different interests and controls can be kept pretty simple. Many people also play the Lego games for the co-op suitable to all ages.

You can find Together on Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight.

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