Studio: Owlchemy Labs
I must say, when it comes to dedication to a theme, it would have been tough to beat the Owlchemy Labs booth. Each one of the devs and reps were bedecked in flannel and sporting big plastic tree-felling equipment. I took notes while our interviewee showed me how the game works and told me the woeful tale of a lumberjack who HATES TREES, what with one of the nefarious forest fiends having killed his grandma… IN COLD BLOOD!
Task: Get a photo taken next to a lumberjack while holding an ax
Dev: Alex Schwartz
BrainLazy: What title would you like to discuss?
Alex Shwartz: Jack Lumber! (http://jacklumbergame.com)
BL: What was the inspiration for this title? How did you conceive of the idea?
AS: At Owlchemy Labs, we create silly and absurd downloadable titles. When we started talking about a game where you played as a supernatural lumberjack, we knew we had to build it. It was just our style.
BL: Does the game differ greatly from the original concept? What inspired the change and how did it evolve? Why did you choose your current direction?
AS: The game went through many many iterations until we finally ‘found fun’. The current version of the game where you stop time and chop logs in the air by drawing a line through them was actually the 7th prototype after 6 crashed and burned. We kept iterating until we knew we had found something magical, and it took a trip to a cabin in the woods to actually realize what we were doing wrong with our prior prototypes.
BL: Regarding being an indie developer. Are there any prototype games that never came to fruition?
AS: We have a ton of prototypes that never ended up seeing the light of day. One actually had to do with an alternate history of how the titanic *actually* sank.
BL: What attracted you to indie development? Would you ever work for one of the big developers/publishers? If you already have, would you ever go back to it?
AS: We wouldn’t mind working with big developers and publishers so long as we are still creating silly off the wall experimental games driven by innovative gameplay mechanics. Creative control is our number one concern. Asking us to develop in a different manner is like asking Trey Parker and Matt Stone to design their shows differently. It’s what makes them unique and amazing, and is the core of who we are as developers.
BL: Before we go, is there any more you’d like to share about yourself and your studio?
AS: I’m Alex Schwartz, the Founder/CEO of Owlchemy Labs, an independent game development studio based out of Boston, MA. We’re responsible for the popular game Snuggle Truck, an original self-published title on iPhone, iPad, Mac and PC (on Steam now!), Android, and a few other minor platforms like Blackberry Playbook and some others.
We’re fully self-funded and bootstrapped from the ground up. We maintain creative control on every one of our projects and aim to keep it that way.
Our next original title is called Jack Lumber. A tree killed your grandma and you’re out to get revenge on the forest. A typical lumberjack story. You can see some details on http://jacklumbergame.com
Owlchemy Labs has always been interested in cross-pollination and collaboration with designers and artists from outside of the game industry. Our first collaboration came in the form of bringing a popular IGF-winning (Independent Game Festival) game to iOS by re-writing it and building it for a mobile platform. The game is calledAaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!!. It’s a base-jumping game where you gain points as you graze by buildings at breakneck speeds and flip off protesters on your way down. (This game also got 9’s and 10’s in the reviews – such as from TouchArcade, the biggest iOS review site)
And so ends the first batch Indie Megabooth look back entries. We’ll be reaching out to the remaining devs soon, so check back often. If you want to learn more about Owlchemy Labs’ latest project, head over to jacklumbergame.com. Adios!