BFG Interview with level designer Stefan Schmitz about Giana Sisters Twisted Dreams

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I would like to thank the team from Black forest games for taking time to answer these questions. A big Thank you to Stefan Schmitz The Level designer of BFG

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1. What was the Development time spent on Giana Sisters Twisted Dreams?

Stefan Schmitz: We spent about 12 months developing the game.

2. What was your motivation and Inspiration in creating Giana Sisters Twisted Dreams?

Stefan Schmitz: For our new Giana game, we really wanted to bring something fresh and new. Doing another clone wasn’t an option for us. So Jean-Marc, our Creative Director, started by thinking about what made The Great Giana Sisters outstanding and different from SMB. He came up with her transformation into the punkie girl that was really defining. Expanding on that concept should be the approach – so he came up with the idea that not only she should be able to transform, but her whole dream, with even more impact on the gameplay. We started prototyping the environment morphing and thought about switching Giana’s abilities, the enemies and obstacles.

With the first playable version, we realized that it turned out being really fun. It was also exciting to explore the meaning of Giana’s experience a little further. She is a teenage girl who is trapped in a twisted dream. She can transform her dream because she is in a stage of her life that implies transformation, with all the inner conflicts between rage and self-confidence.

This haunting dream tries to keep her in her childhood, while she desperately wants to grow up. In one layer of her mind, the dream tries to remind her how scared she was from monsters lurking in the darkness. Getting wiser, she is now much more able to keep her composure and rather amused than frightened by it. Which in turn let’s her jump and twirl lightly over her demons. The other layer overwhelms her with candies and plushies in that bright “princessy” world she used to love so much. Now, however, she can’t stand that anymore and goes on a rampage!

3. Could you please share with us some of your fun moments while the game was under development?

Stefan Schmitz: We had several memorable moments during the development of GSTD. One of it was when we saw the first time the morphing world working. It was really a doubtful bet before checking if it wouldn’t be annoying to switch back and forth during the game. When we finally had a prototype, which was a real milestone for us!

The Kickstarter campaign was also a lot of fun through the interactions with the backers. All the communication, through videos and live streams, was an exciting experience and we discovered so much fantastic people! Recently, when the game was finished, one of our backers asked us if he can come to our place to pick it up! He took his car and covered 150 km around midnight! Isn’t that mind blowing?

And there was that one infamous level nicknamed LoLa. I wrote a design card for that level and Sarah burst into laughter when she saw it. Since then we have a poster on our wall telling “I don’t have a dirty mind, I have a sexy imagination” – jokes about this level are always on me.

4. Any plans to bring Giana Sisters Twisted Dreams to the WiiU?

Stefan Schmitz: We have been tempted by and put some thoughts into a Wii U port. With a handful of core third party titles that are already confirmed for Wii U, the console positioning seems perfect Giana and it would be reasonable for us to release it there. It goes without saying it would be great honor for us to stand shoulder to shoulder with these great Nintendo platformers. Right now, however, we concentrate on PC, XBLA and PSN.

5. On kickstarter you had long term goals for the game, are there any plans to develop them still?

Stefan Schmitz: Of course. We still want to deliver the additional content that was promised in our stretch goal. While we were not able to fully implement them in the first release, we will deliver them in DLCs. And as promised – the first DLC will be available for free to all our backers.

6. What is your favourite level in Giana Sisters Twisted Dreams? (Both developing and playing)

Stefan Schmitz: I guess my favorite level is 1-6, the Amethyst Mines. It was the first boss level for the game and ate about a man month production time, not to mention the polishing afterwards. In the beginning it was supposed to be a level centered about the dropped mine cart feature. I like to improvise a lot when confronted with Design challenges, so working around the missing feature and adapting the level was no problem. Boss levels were supposed to be challenge peaks, so I reflected this within the design – I guess I have overdone it a bit Laughing

7 Are you guys planning to work on other games for the future?

Stefan Schmitz: I hope Giana 2 will happen and I would be glad to direct the Level Design again. As a big Mega Man fan my dream would be to work on a Jump’n’Shoot platformer in the future – let’s see where things are going.

Above that we do have a lot of ideas and projects up our sleeves. As of yet we haven’t decided which one to follow next. Looking back at the experience we had with Giana so far, we will definitely consider crowd funding as part of the project funding. A large part of our heritage is our proven open-world-streaming technology, which we intend to enhance and develop further. You can rest assured that everything we release will have a great art style, state-of-the-art tech and game play and always something special.

8. What is your favourite video game out there?

Stefan Schmitz: Mega Man X (SNES 1993), is the best game Ever! … Oh, you mean today? Hmm… today Borderlands 2 is my current favorite game Laughing, the Mechromancer class pretty much reminds me of Punk Giana, lol.

Thanks again for your time!

Game on!

The Game Mistress

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