Moo Lander will be abducting your PC and consoles early next year, and the developer of the game The Sixth Hammer has given us more details on the unorthodox platformer. Controlling a UFO, we’ll be conserving milk as it’s the galaxy’s most valuable resource. As explorers of an alien planet, we’ll be in search of an ancient device that can create an infinite amount of the white substance. On the way, you’ll be encountering more than 20 different enemy types and taming all manner of different cows to save the day.
RetroWare: Can you give us your elevator pitch for Moo Lander?
The Sixth Hammer: Ever wondered what a cow-overlord would look like? Moo Lander is an action-adventure RPG with Metroidvania elements featuring an epic story about cows and milk. In the game, milk is the purest and most effective resource. You will unlock a unique arsenal of milk weaponry and defenses, while stranded on a dangerous alien world with your faithful ship AI.
RW: Where did the idea of a UFO-based 2D platformer with cows come from?
SH: There was this very old browser pixel art game about a flying spaceship that had a fixed amount of fuel and the player had to use this resource smart in order to get to a static cow at the other end of the map and beam her up. This was the core conception, later came inspirations like Ori and Rayman, and things got complicated (in a good way).
RW: What is the aim of the game? Are you trying to save your civilization with the last spaceship known to your kind?
SH: The main mission and goal is to save your civilization, as it is dying from lack of milk due to a devastating war. And yes, you have the last remaining working spaceship, and that’s it, you’ve got one chance to find the milk-generator device and supply your home planet with milk.
RW: In the game, you can tame all sorts of mighty cows on your journey. How do they differ and how do they help the player?
SH: In Moo Lander, every single cow is different – it has her own special attacks, moves, stages, an arena for battle, you name it! When you tame a mighty cow, you beam her to your home planet, and she helps your people with the milk she produces.
RW: Can you tell us more about your advanced Cow AI?
SH: Well, we’ve spent a lot of time developing the special behavior nodes, and all the different reactions that the cows have towards the player. The node tree is really a huge one, but you will have to play the full game in order to experience our special Cow AI.
RW: What types of enemies will we be fighting along the way?
SH: The enemies of Moo Lander are numerous, but we can generally put them into two categories – flora and fauna. So you have some static plants, that stay in one place but have all kinds of ways to blow you up. And you have the moving creatures like the Flying Shooter or the Stalker, who are really aggressive and hard to avoid. Every enemy requires a special type of strategy to be defeated in the best way.
RW: In a platformer, a very important factor is the multiple environments you explore. Can you tell us what we can expect in the game?
SH: We have a total of four biomes to explore in Moo Lander. They are huge and have branching paths as well as optional cow boss battles. Each biome has its own theme and environmental gameplay elements. Not to mention the clever puzzles to be solved.
RW: How can you upgrade your ship? You say that there are new tactical and combat abilities to unlock. What will we be able to outfit our ship with?
SH: On several given levels, there’s the option to unlock an ability – either a lethal attack, a non-lethal attack, or a defensive ability. You can equip the ones you’ve unlocked. And then, when you kill enemies, you research their DNA and put this research to good use by unlocking camouflage modules. These, you can equip at any time as well. And lastly, you are given several “innate” abilities that are always present, like the dash ability.
RW: What inspired the pretty art style? I like the use of the foreground and the background to dive you further into Moo Lander.
SH: Well, the art of Ori was a pretty big influence. [We also have] our own artists’ vision of how an alien world with space cows should look like.
RW: What co-op modes do you have in the game? I’ve also heard there is a PvP mode. How does that work?
SH: Yes, we have a PvP mode, where you go up against each other by either choosing a Lander or a Mighty Cow. There’s also a PvE mode, where two of you go up against an AI-controlled mighty cow. Then there’s the Galactic Mooball soccer mode and Survive the Waves mode. We have more interesting multiplayer action coming down the line.
RW: Releasing a demo can be a costly venture for an indie studio. Did you find it beneficial on Steam?
SH: Yes, it is actually very beneficial, not in a financial way, but it opens up a lot of opportunities to market your game. [It does] some nice stuff with the community, and generally, it is considered a good thing if an indie game has a free playable demo on Steam. It is good publicity.
RW: What games are your biggest influences as game developers?
These would be the Ori series, the Rayman series, Earthworm Jim, and Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet. But Ori is the biggest inspiration for us as game developers.
Is it tough to stand out as a game developer in Bulgaria? Is there a development scene there?
Actually, no – the indie game dev scene in Bulgaria is just starting to grow, so there are very few truly independent studios, and we are one of them. So yeah, I think we stand out and it is not so tough. Standing out in the grand, world indie scene is another thing.
What advice would you give to indie developers who are starting out?
Never give up on your dream, even if you fall down hard. If it’s a passion for you, that should fuel you all the way to a complete game. And get the best possible team to work on your indie game, talent is key.
When is Moo Lander coming out? What platforms will it be releasing for?
We [are aiming] for a spring 2022 release if everything goes well. Moo Lander will be out for PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch.