Nintendo Everything recently had the chance to speak with Max Wrighton, Director and Co-Head of Studio at Half Past Yellow, about the upcoming Time on Frog Island game. We covered a variety of topics, including art style, gameplay, Switch version, and more.
How did you find the look of the game? Were revisions made to achieve the style it has now, or was it naturally designed from the start?
We had already defined a basic style before starting work on Time on Frog Island (ToFI). We were prototyping a few different ideas and playing with different visual styles at the same time and the art direction came through early on. The very first tweet we posted with The Sailor already shows signs of the final style.
— Remy Stuurwold (@R3mzo) April 18, 2020
What prompted the name change to Time on Frog Island from its original title of Trading Time: A Croak Tale? Was it a need to condense the name or did something happen in the middle of development that felt appropriate to go with the new title?
Trading Time was the working title of the project from the early prototypes of the game. As we built it, the name grew on us because it had a childish, playful feel to it that we really liked. The initial idea of adding the A Croak Tale subtitle was our plan to both keep the working title while improving SEO, but ultimately it didn’t have the impact we wanted and a change of full name seemed like the best idea.
One thing we couldn’t help but notice with some hands-on time is how seamless traversal across the island is with the multiple uses of platforms, items, and ways to jump, bounce, and glide. . During development, did the island expand to such a distance and size that it was something that seemed essential to do, or did it happen by wanting to do something more than just walking from one area to another like other similar games would?
ToFI is a game about learning the lay of the land, getting lost and meeting people in a new place. We always knew there would be a lot of racing around the island, so we had to make it our goal early on that it was going to be fun to just get from place to place. From bouncy animations to level design, it was important that they all work together to serve “the fun of movement”.
Moving on, due to the quality of the jumps and the use of the environment and objects, were there certain platformers who personally inspired the team members to create this fluidity? Although not really one, Time on Frog Island seems to be doing much better platforming than most other real platformers lately!
Thanks very much! As you said, ToFI is not a platform game as such. However, there are platforming elements to the game, and learning the limits of the movement system makes it easier to navigate the island and complete some of the time trials hidden around the world. Those who have seen the game can probably guess that we are very inspired by Nintendo titles, and 3D Mario games are no exception to that.
Have there been too many cat games in the past few years that have you picking up frogs, or are there other amphibious creatures or animals in general that you’ve created concepts for?
Using humanoid frogs as island dwellers was actually a completely random decision made by our artist. The sailor was created first and was fully human, but we knew we wanted the islanders to be completely different. One of the first concept pieces we picked up was an image of the sailor sitting with a large frog by a tree and it was so charming and relaxing. The popularity of frogs on the internet was never part of our decision-making process, but we totally got lucky when we started posting content on social media.
A big part of games like this and what makes them so appealing outside of their initial, welcoming art direction is the ability to go at your own pace. With an increasing production of games in recent years that focus on this on their respective islands, have you taken inspiration from any of them? Also, what did the team work hardest on to ensure that Time on Frog Island aimed to achieve that feeling of not being pressured and taking the time to explore on your own?
I’ve said in other interviews and on social media that the whole team has a deep love for A Short Hike, for us that’s the definition of this type of experience. The objective is pretty straightforward, but most players get sucked into the world for the time it takes to collect those first feathers. Pan-Pan is another game that’s a bit more linear, but ultimately has that openness and lack of pressure to progress. These two titles had a big impact on ToFI.
The game is releasing on all platforms, but obviously Time on Frog Island feels right at home on Switch. What was it like working with the hardware, and were there any limitations that required the team to rethink the game’s structure and/or design?
The Switch has always been on our minds (mostly because most of the team owns one) as a platform for the game, but we hadn’t made a game before and we didn’t have a kit of development when we started production. That said, the toony styling, low poly meshes, small textures, and smart UVing have always kept the game file size small and manageable. We tweeted about it early in development.
— Half Past Yellow (@halfpastyellow) February 24, 2021
Half Past Yellow is based in Denmark, which is also home to many other talented studios that have given us the likes of Welcome to Elk, Inside, Hitman 3, Deep Rock Galactic and LEGO Builder’s Journey in recent years, making it a top – profile location for some of the most unique, memorable and artistic games to release recently. What do you think makes Denmark such a wonderful country for some of the most creative studios in the industry?
That’s a very good question. The other co-founders of Half Past Yellow and I met in Copenhagen through a university exchange program, and after only a few months here, we fell in love with the city and the development community. games here. I think there’s a lot of openness and interest in trying new things in the gaming community here and it really shows in the studios you mentioned.
Time on Frog Island will launch on Switch this summer. You can check out our first thoughts on the game after recently playing it on Nintendo’s console. here.