TEN QUESTIONS WITH… Lucia Czemerinski Foos (BeautiFun Games)
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We were pleasantly surprised by Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets, the recent frantic puzzle-adventure by BeautiFun Games. The game impressed us with well-designed puzzles, great creature designs and a wealth of content. To discover a little more about the game, we had a chat with Lucia Czemerinski Foos who was kind enough to answer our questions.
Can you give our readers a quick introduction of yourself and the studio?
My name is Lucia and I work as PR & Community Manager at BeautiFun Games. We’re a six people indie dev studio based in Barcelona, Spain, and we’re the proud creators of Nihilumbra and Megamagic: Wizards of the Neon Age. Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets is our third videogame.
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How did the idea for Professor Lupo come about?
The Game Designer pitched the idea to our CEO, Aniol Alcaraz, over three years ago. Originally it was a mobile game, but after we started working on it it just kept growing and growing, until it reached a point where we realized it was too much of a game to restrain it to mobile devices. We liked the idea of the player on their phone or tablet emulating the Intern’s interactions with his own tablet, we thought it was very meta. Luckily that same feeling can now be achieved by Nintendo Switch players on handheld mode.
What was the biggest challenge while creating Professor Lupo?
We faced a lot of challenges, like faking a zenith perspective or animating the Vermis (which are aliens that occupy three tiles each), but I would say that the biggest challenge was making sure that the difficulty curve was adequate. We want to challenge the player but not frustrate them, so the puzzles had to be difficult, but not impossible to solve. We went through each level many times to make sure that we achieved that sweet balanced spot. If the puzzle is too easy, the player doesn’t feel like they have to work to solve it, but if the puzzle is challenging and the player needs to try more than once to solve it, they feel very smart and rewarded once they achieve it.
What is your favorite pet in the game and why?
I love the Furax, I think because it’s the smartest alien in the game, and it really unbalances the scales when you meet them for the first time. Most aliens feel dangerous but dumb, until you meet the Furax and you have to step up your game and start flexing those puzzle solving muscles of your brain even harder than before. I also love the way you have to learn to use them to your advantage, although I don’t want to spoil anything or give too much away. And finally I really love its design, it’s a mixture between Giger’s Alien, a Velociraptor and a pokemon, and I think that’s hilarious.
What were the criteria for selecting the music, movie, literature and indie game collectibles in the game?
We knew we wanted to include collectibles to add some replayability to the game, and given that watching films, reading books and playing videogames was included on the Intern’s job description, we thought this would be our best option. The first time you play it chances are you won’t be able to get all the collectibles. It takes time for the player to master the aliens’ behaviors but once they do, they are always able to go back to any solved level without losing their current progress. We decided to pay homage to some of the master pieces that have influenced us over the years. There’s sci-fi, horror, and fantasy references, and also some very beautiful music. Regarding the videogames, we wanted to include a shout out to some of our favorite indie games as a way to show support to the indie dev community. We value our community a lot and we wanted them to be included some way.
It is important to note that these named collectibles are only available on the Steam version. On the Nintendo Switch version you get to collect them as well, but the items had to remain nameless.
The game is very narrative focused, what prompted this decision?
We just love telling stories. Our games have always been very focused on the narrative. This game can be perceived as a very long 2D animated movie, if you want. We gave cut-scenes and gameplay the same style of traditional 2D animation for this reason. Each level you solve advances the narrative, sometimes a little bit, and sometimes developing a huge plot point. We see the story progression as another reward for the player for solving the puzzles. You don’t just get to feel smart, you’re also getting a story.
Are we the ones playing the game… or is the game playing us?
That is such a great question I don’t even have the answer 🙂
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What are the future plans for Professor Lupo / BeautiFun Games?
I can’t really say much, but I can tell you this: we’re already working on our next project, and you’ll know more about it soon!
What is the most unusual thing on your desk right now?
I’m so glad you ask! I have these very adorable keychains that we had made from the Horrible Pets. They are not on sale yet ,but we’d love them to be, so if you like them and you think we should make more, tell us on Twitter!
Anything else you would like to add?
Yes! Support your local indie devs!
A big Thank You to Lucia for these answers and we look forward to seeing what is next from the talented BeautiFun Games folk. In the meantime, don’t miss out on Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets, which is out now on Steam as well as Nintendo Switch. Don’t forget to check out our REVIEW for the game as well if you are still on the fence.