Mile Marker 21: Owlboy

Illustration for article titled Mile Marker 21: Owlboy

Tired of stodgy corporate games made by The Man and his minions? We're playing the 31 best indie games for a change of pace —- and so we can judge them. Today, Owlboy!


In A Sentence
Mute Owlboy communicates with facial expressions and takes on enemies by clutching friends with weapons and flying around with them as he fights the pirates threatening his sky island home.

State Of Completion
The team is working to have a fully playable demo in time for the Game Developers Conference in March.

Owlboy was nominated for excellence in visual arts, and I can see why. The game makes stunning use of pixel art to create a colorful and surprisingly detailed world with depth, interesting lighting and great character design.

But the game isn't just visually interesting. Owlboy uses facial expressions to communicate with everyone, his slow-flapping wings offer a type of flight that takes some effort to master and the puzzles I came across in the relatively short demo show great potential for a game with depth.

Answers We Demanded
Kotaku: How did you come up with the name to your game?

Blake Edwards: We worked on Owlboy for a few months before settling on the name. My girlfriend had once suggested to us (half-jokingly) that the name of our hero/game should be called Owlboy. At first, we thought the name was too silly, but before long the name stuck and we couldn't think of it being called anything else.


Simon S. Andersen: Despite it sounding extremely cheesy, we started liking it for just that reason. It was like a throwback to the old platform game names like: Super Mario, Megaman, Wonderboy and Alex Kidd. It was easy to remember and had a nice ring to it, so why not. Besides, if we want to modernise it later we can always add 'Reloaded redemption evolution round-2 ultimate' at the end for a special release.

Kotaku: What do you do for a living now? What do you hope to do?

Andersen: Right now I work as a freelancer doing art- and game related jobs whenever someone needs me. What I hope to do is create games for a living. We're already well underway in that department, but we still need that big break to get everything moving so for now, it's working our collective sitting utensils off till we get there.


Edwards: I started Owlboy as a hobby programming project when I was in college studying computer science. Now I'm a programmer at CCP Games, doing my dream job.

Jo-Remi Madsen: Making video games has been the focus of my life since I was a toddler. Initially, meeting Simon and discovering Owlboy immediately triggered my interest of getting to work with such a talented artist as him. His art-style fits perfectly with the one I've been eager to put into all my own video game designs, and I decided to help Simon completing Owlboy and, with his help, start making video games on a full time basis. I truly believe, with the skills we both possess, we can develop magnificent video games in the future. Making video games is what I hope, and definitely will continue to do.


Kotaku: The entries of the IGF are an eclectic bunch, ranging from esoteric art titles to straight forward drop-in-and-play casual games. In creating your entry what do you hope to accomplish with your game?

Andersen: I've always had a goal of creating something unique whenever I start a project. I've always been fascinated by how 2D games work, and with Owlboy, I wanted to explore a concept that would only work in a 2-dimensional setting. I feel in the race to promote bigger and better hardware, marketing teams have instilled this idea that 2D games and indeed pixel art is somehow obsolete. As an artist, I reject the idea that a medium gets canned when a new one comes along. People still make paintings despite the camera being invented. So I wanted to see what new things could be done with a 2-dimensional pixel game, maybe inspire others to rethink their idea of what it is as a medium and hopefully show that an original concept can be successful in an industry filled with genres and rehashes. Owlboy is probably not the best way to do this, but it's a start. Oh, and naturally, I want it to be a damn entertaining game too. Have to add that in there.


Madsen: This is the first game I've developed with the backing of a team. I've been working solo up until now, developing small games for my website. Finishing Owlboy will be a tremendous leap for me as an aspiring game-developer. I wish to stay in the team even after Owlboy's completion, and with the team's help, continue to develop games that aim to entertain.

Make sure to check out the rest of the Independent Games Festival finalists as we head toward the March awards show.


"It was easy to remember and had a nice ring to it, so why not. Besides, if we want to modernise it later we can always add 'Reloaded redemption evolution round-2 ultimate' at the end for a special release."

They already won me over with that quote. Gotta love developers that can make fun of themselves and the industry were they work in. ^__^