Have you dreamed about going abroad this year but know it’s inaccessible due to the pandemic? Well, we were able to talk to Face IT’s Euegene Siryk to discuss a vivid indie runner title called Summer Catchers. The premise is that the protagonist has never seen the summer or the ocean, so she’s decided to go on an adventure. We’ll be seeing the seasons through her eyes for the first time. It might be the next best thing to a vacation as you explore this stunning world that Siryk and his small team has created.
Retroware: Can you give us an elevator pitch on Summer Catchers? What are you doing in the game?
Euegene Siryk: Summer Catchers is a road trip adventure with pixel art visuals. It’s a story that has a beginning, a culmination and an unexpected ending. Along the way, you’re meeting various characters, helping them, and in return, they help you progress the story.
RW: What was your inspiration for the game and its gorgeous environmental art style?
ES: Thanks for a kind word! It’s not a secret that the game’s visual style was heavily influenced by another game, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery, though its style is very obvious only in the first level of our game.`
RW: How does the two player mode work?
ES: Coop elements work differently in different parts of the game. For example during a ride, players use the vehicle’s tools in turns. In scenes with stores, while Player 1 is talking to NPCs, taking on quests and repairing the vehicle, Player 2 can move around the scene freely and kick various objects or characters. This way he’s able to discover secrets and stashes that are hidden from Player 1 – it’s somewhat of a unique feature for Player 2.
RW: Games from the runner genre can become stale after an hour of gameplay. How do you keep changing it up for the player?
ES: As the story progresses, the core gameplay doesn’t change. We tried to create various obstacles and tasks so that the player doesn’t get bored.
RW: There seem to be multiple vehicles in Summer Catchers. How do they change up your play style?
ES: The initial idea was that vehicles and costumes would be combined into sets that would affect the gameplay a lot. However, since we had a very small team and the development process was already dragging too slow, we had to discard this idea, leaving them as simply cosmetic items. Still, we think it’s a cool addition.
RW: How many levels are in the game and are there any incentives to replay them?
ES: The game has 8 levels, and each level includes a minigame, where you can win a special item. It’s okay if the player doesn’t get them all, but it’s possible that someone will want to replay the game in order to collect all of them.
RW: Are there any Switch specific features like HD Rumble or gyro controls?
ES: We’re using HD Rumble, but it’s not a part of the game’s mechanics.
RW: Are you considering a PS4 or Xbox release for Summer Catchers? Maybe Stadia?
ES: At the moment we’re not planning to port the game to PS4/5, Xbox or Stadia.
RW: Tell us about your studio. How big is it and what is it like to work there?
ES: The game’s development was financed by the FaceIT company — it’s the biggest company in my city and one of the biggest ones in Ukraine, though I worked on the game with four developers. The team’s composition [changed], but I have led the project since the beginning.
Initially, I had an idea for the game that I presented in an animated trailer and fake gameplay that I pitched to several potential investors I knew. Everything started to roll soon after that. We started working with two developers, but then another one joined us. I was responsible for drawing, writing dialogue, recording sounds, and in general performed as a game director. This way we released Summer Catchers on Steam and mobile devices. Only two people worked on the game’s Switch port, including me.
RW: How substantial is the game development community in Ukraine? Do you have game jams or conferences in the country? If not, what do you think can be done to boost up the industry over there?
ES: Game development is quite well developed in Ukraine. Game jams, conferences, communities — we have them. We participated in several conferences with our game, both in Ukraine and in the neighboring Belarus during the development process, and it even gained a number of awards. Unfortunately, most companies in our country focus on mobile games like match-3, clones of successful casual games, or casino and gambling applications. We also have outsource and child studios that work for western AAA giants. What I think the game industry here is lacking is government support similar to many European countries — though I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.
RW: Is it difficult finding a publisher for your games or is it fairly easy to get in contact with someone like Noodlecake?
ES: It was quite simple in our case — even before we started looking for a publisher, we already had a number of offers. Still, we sent out a dozen letters to publishers we were interested in ourselves, and almost all of them answered to our pitching. This way we started our partnership with Noodlecake.
RW: You also develop applications and business software at Face IT. How is game development different for the studio? Which do you prefer?
ES: Our team worked only on Summer Catchers. I can speak only for myself — as an artist, I work as a freelance illustrator and animator. I love it a lot too, but games are my true passion.
RW: Has Nintendo been helpful and timely in releasing your game to the eShop? Has there been any stumbling blocks along the way?
ES: We’re happy with our cooperation with Nintendo and haven’t encountered any blocks during the development process. There were certain difficulties with check procedures, but the lack of experience is probably the reason here — everything that’s done for the first time can seem difficult. Anyway, before we had an agreement with our publisher, we managed to contact Nintendo’s European office, acquire the license for the game’s Switch development and acquire a devkit. I’d say our experience [has been] very positive so far!
Summer Catchers is available now on the Nintendo Switch, Steam, and mobile devices. Thanks Euegene Siryk for your time.