Our exploration into the world of Furmins, Housemarque Games’ first entry into the iOS market and currently one of the app world’s most entertaining games, continues in an interview with Mikko Eerola, the game’s Lead Artist. Renowned for his work on Outland, Mikko’s influence can be found in all aspects of Furmins, from the main characters’ undeniable cuddliness to the game’s rich, immersive backgrounds. He recently sat down with us to talk art style, character design and the origins of mysterious “bird”.
The Furmins world is built around the main story: the king falls asleep on the river and the river rises up, causing problems for the Furmins themselves. I wanted to reflect how this action changes the environment throughout the story. For example, in the second world (“Homelands”), you see the result of the river drying up – the world looks more yellowish because the leaves are turning yellow.
This is a progressive theme which continues throughout the game – as you move through the levels, you can see the leaves change color and eventually drop since the trees are starting to die.
From the beginning I wanted to consistently show the goal of Furmins – which is the mountain, and its summit. For example, there is a stone archway in world three, which you can already see from this sort of keyhole view from world two. Also, when you get to level four (“Fields of Furminia”), you can see that you’re out of the woods, and thus have a better view of the world, and your objective. On a separate note, you can see in level five that it’s slowly turning to night, which is another way to show progress in the game.
You decided to show the change from day to night in order to illustrate time passing, correct?
Correct. Also, there’s a “color rhythm” that I wanted to do with the game, so that the player is not in “warm tone” levels three times in a row. For example, there is a switch from level five to level six, where the main colors go from cold to warm. Creating this kind of diversity is a difficult thing, because one level will always be cut and you never know which one it will be – and so unless you plan for it, you’re going to end up with levels that are repetitive in terms of colors. That’s why the colors for the game were edited until the last possible minute to keep the overall game’s visuals balanced. Also, thanks to our skillful coders, we ended up with twice the amount of worlds than what we had initially planned. Naturally my workload doubled but I was glad I could fit the entire journey of the Furmins into the game.
On the subject of time passing, I should point out that in level six you can see the trees have gone completely red, and so at this point the most time has passed in the game.
Level eight is thematically different from the others. Tell us about it.
We call level eight “Cosmic Adventures” because there are several themes in the game, one of which is for the Furmins to get to higher ground. Since the last level of the game is the summit of the mountain, the idea is that should you continue going higher, you’ll eventually get to space.
So this level isn’t really connected to the storyline. It’s more a case of, “let’s try some game play things that we couldn’t fit anywhere else”.
What about the bonus level?
For the bonus level, I wanted to show that after you reach the summit and win the game, things aren’t dry anymore. It’s a level that logically takes place after playing through level six, so you can see the results of your efforts. You last see the ground in level two, and after that you just climb higher and higher. The bonus level was meant to communicate your trip back home, with the marble ruins in the background reminding the player that the journey was the real goal.
Want more? Stay tuned for Part 2…