Interview with Beyond Fun Studios - Aeolis Tournament: Title Meaning, Inspirations and More

Interview with Beyond Fun Studios - Aeolis Tournament: Title Meaning, Inspirations and More
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Just recently, we featured Beyond Fun Studios’ Aeolis Tournament on our Kickstarter Project of the Week series. With their Kickstarter campaign still active at the time of this article, we thought we’d reach out and the team made up of Sebastian Gauvin (Artist), Samuel Lapointe (Programmer) and Jonathan Nadeau (Artist) were kind of enough to sit down with us for a chat.

Alex: Please tell us a little bit about Aeolis Tournament.

Sam: Aeolis Tournament is a 3D party game where each character has an air cannon that allows them to affect their surroundings. You control it by holding the ‘A’ button to suck in air and aspire objects. When you release the ‘A’ button, a big air stream comes out and pushes everything it touches.
With this mechanic, players will battle each other in multiple game modes such as SportsBall which is soccer in a volcano, Explosive Dodgeball involves throwing bombs at the other team and Perfect Storm is like a Battle Royale where it’s a free-for-all to push your enemies off of the island. Also, every mode has their unique Chaos Events where you can have Thunder or firery Geysers just to make the experience of each game feel different.

Alex: I was actually going to touch on that, how many different stages and modes are there?

Jonathan: Currently, there are four game modes and the game is a bit like Mario Party but without the board game. Each of those modes plays one after the other in a tournament but you can also just play one of those mini-games by itself. The fourth one is Snowball Fight; it’s similar to Explosive Dodgeball where you need to use your air cannon to grab objects but instead of having teams, it’s everyone against each other. We probably want to make a few more game modes, but that depends on how the Kickstarter goes.

Alex: Was Mario Party your main source of inspiration or did you take inspiration from any other games?

Jonathan: Mario Party was mostly for the art direction but the gameplay inspiration was mainly from an original Xbox game called Fuzion Frenzy. It was kind of popular, the game came with the original Xbox, and it featured a lot of mini-games without a game board; you simply went straight into the mini-games and it was first to reach a certain amount of points. We really like this concept because you go right into the fun of it. We feel like that is more appealing in a party setting.

There’s also Crash Bash on the original PlayStation that was another inspiration with it’s fast-paced mini-games. So even though the art style is very cute and appealing for children, they are games that everyone can play but they can also be played at a competitive level. It’s easy to learn with the game’s one-button mechanic, but it’s difficult to master.

Alex: So you’re trying to avoid luck-based gameplay?

Sebastian: Yes, we’re trying to avoid luck as much as we can and basing the game on skill. So overall if you’re good, you’re going to win.

Alex: Cool, so I’ll practice a lot! How did Aeolis Tournament get started?

Sam: So to keep this particularly long story short, it started in a Game Jam in Quebec City where we come from. In 2018, me, Joe and another guy took the 48 hour challenge where the specific theme was ‘The Perfect Storm’. That’s where the idea of the wind and the air cannon came from. With this prototype, we won the big prize of the professional category which we are quite proud of. The year after, we participated in a pitch contest where we had to pitch our game and our team and we won that contest as well. So with all of these approvals from people in the industry, we just focussed on this game since then.

Jonathan: After the Game Jam, we were working with different game studios but we knew that we had something with Aeolis Tournament, so we worked on it in our free time between the two contests. At the time of the pitching contest, that was when we all left our jobs and went right into creating our own studio – Beyond Fun Studio – to work on the game full-time as the prize money gave us enough funding for our startup.

Alex: Was going full-time on Aeolis Tournament and quitting your day jobs a scary thing to do?

Sebastian: I guess not because we were all fed up with our old jobs (laughs). So we were really just looking for an excuse to do it and we had enough funding for a couple months. Now we’re a year later and so we had to go and find additional fundings, but we were never really scared – I guess we should have been.

Everyone: (Laughs)

Sebastian: That’s why we had waited so long to start our own studio because it was an idea that we’d had from a long time ago – especially Sam. We simply waited for the conditions to be right and that worked out quite well.

Sam: It really felt natural to go ahead and do it at that moment. We were very confident in our product and the three of us work really well together, so it was a no-brainer.

Alex: That’s very good that you’re feeling confident about it and your game! So we’ve spoken about the party modes, let’s talk about the single-player content. Can you tell us a little more about that?

Jonathan: The single-player is admittedly not as fun as the multiplayer seeing how it’s a party game, but you can play against the computer AI or you can play online tournaments and be awarded coins that allows you to purchase customisation options. You can buy skins or hats for your character, making a progression system for those who want to grind in a party game alone. That’s pretty much it for the single-player – there’s no story mode or whatnot. At some point, we do want to have an adventure game with this lore of Aeolis Tournament, but it would be a different game seeing as how Aeolis Tournament purely focusses on a competitive aspect.

Alex: So once Aeolis Tournament is out, is that something that fans can expect in the future?

Sebastian: If Aeolis Tournament is successful, it’s definitely something that we would love to do. We really like the characters, the franchise and the whole world. We’ve jokingly talked about an adventure game, that’d be cool, but it’s an if.

Alex: I’ve been wanting to touch upon the name of the game. I did a little bit of research as I had absolutely no idea what Aeolis was supposed to mean. I Googled it and got “An area comprised west and northwest of Asia Minor between the 6th and 8th century BC”. Is this related to the game?

Sam: In my research, I found that Aeolis was the Greek island of the wind. So everything, even the pronunciation in French, it’s the same way that you’d pronounce the god of wind Aeolus. So Aeolis, it’s a bit like what we’d call the wind turbine in French, really going for the wind island theme.

Alex: Hm, I wouldn’t have known that if I didn’t ask. The game itself seems like a natural fit on the Nintendo Switch, was it made for the console from the ground up?

Jonathan: Not from the ground up but as soon as the prototype was playable, it was something that naturally came to mind. We started making it for PC and we really want to make sure that it’s also working on Nintendo Switch. So maybe not at first during the Game Jam, but Switch came in mind very early.

Alex: I see, because the single button gameplay seems to work so well with being able to play with single Joy-Cons.

Jonathan: Absolutely! You can play with single Joy-Cons and since you can play with up to eight players on the Nintendo Switch, it’s really easy to get up to eight controllers since you already have two controllers with one system; get a friend and you have four!

Alex: Do you have any ideas for local wireless play?

Jonathan: Not just yet. For now, it’s always on the one screen and you have the ability to play online where you play with your own screen. However, there’s no local wireless feature in the game.

Alex: Is there any HD Rumble or other exclusive features on Switch?

Jonathan: We’re definitely working on seeing what the Switch has to offer. I personally don’t own one so it was all new when I received the development kit. I was very excited as I really wanted to see what the Nintendo Switch was and I saw that there were a lot of things that the Switch can do that I wasn’t aware of. There are a lot of things that we would love to experiment with as the rumble effect would provide much better feedback when your air cannon fills up to its maximum capacity. The accelerometer is a feature that I don’t think we’re going to use, but it’s definitely something that we’re going to be looking into. We really want to make Aeolis Tournament great on the Switch with exclusive experiences.

Alex: It seems perfect for it! Can you please tell us a little bit more about how game’s development has been coming along, if there have been any challenges and how it stands in early 2020?

Jonathan: The challenge has certainly been working on the game whilst simultaneously working on the business and marketing. We’re used to just working on the production of games, but we weren’t accustomed to developing a business and an active community. In terms of networking, Sam has been doing a lot of that and this has been his first experience with it.

Sam: Yeah so as I am the only programmer of the team, there are a lot of technical aspects that I wouldn’t want to bother others with. For one, we want the online multiplayer to be as smooth as playing locally and we want to make sure that anyone from anywhere can play it; we want to support cross-platform so that people on Switch can play online with PC users, and maybe eventually PS4 and Xbox One if we port Aeolis Tournament onto those platforms. We really want to make sure that everything is there so for me, that was the biggest challenge.

Jonathan: Yeah, it’s going quite well! It’s something that we’re really quite proud of. We have really gone outside of our comfort zones, we have persevered and we have almost always achieved what we’ve set our minds to.

Sebastian: Yeah, I think that doing a game on a fifth of its expected budget has certainly been a challenge; we’re doing the game for much cheaper than what it should normally cost.

Everyone: (Laughs)

Sebastian: It’s our first game; we don’t want to have to take out loans and take too much of a risk. So we’re making the game on an insanely cheap budget.

Alex: Eating a lot of two-minute noodles and ramen?

Everyone: Yes, exactly (laughs)!

Alex: So going back to the cross-platform online play, was that something you always wanted to implement from the start?

Sam: Not from the start. It wasn’t something that we really wanted to do in the beginning but when developing it, that was something I knew would be available for us to implement. We wanted to make sure that more players could play Aeolis Tournament since it’s a party game. Unfortunately, you won’t always have friends on your couch playing games so even if you’re alone, you can still play with others online. Since our game isn’t as competitive as a first-person shooter or something like Rocket League, there’s no real advantage to be playing on PC versus playing on Switch. So that’s why we really want to focus on players playing on whatever console they prefer.

Alex: In regards to your Kickstarter campaign at the moment which we are about halfway through, how has that been going so far?

Jonathan: Right now, there are 19 days left. We are almost at the 50% milestone, going slowly but surely! We will continue to make updates and tease people on new features and stretch goals in order to make the backers come in. It’s very stressful, we try not to lose hope too much and I think today, we’re doing the Snowball Battle update.

Alex: Very nice! That’ll probably be out before this interview goes up; I’m quick but not that quick.

Everyone: (Laughs)

Alex: Is there anything you’d like to say to backers or to people who are on the fence about backing?

Sam: Well I guess if anyone wants to get the game cheaper, that’s the way to do it. Besides that, thank you to those who have invested in Aeolis Tournament.

Jonathan: We also have a tier for backers who want early access during the alpha and beta testing. So that’s a great way for players to get their hands on the game early and it’s great being able to get feedback before the full release.

Alex: Is that only for PC?

Jonathan: Yes, but I think we can offer temporary Steam keys, even if they want their final version to be a Switch code.

Alex: So when is the Aeolis Tournament release date on Nintendo Switch?

Jonathan: It will be at the same time as the Steam launch which is hopefully in May. We don’t have a fixed date yet, but we are aiming for May.

Alex: That’s not that far away! Is there anything else that you’d like to say to our readers?

Sam: If you want to have a great experience on Nintendo Switch, I think there aren’t a lot of games that allow for up to eight players – I believe I saw ten – so that could be something that allows us to standout. Aeolis Tournament is very casual but also very competitive, depending on what kind of friends you have, but it’s an experience that can be fun for everyone, even if you’re losing. It’s certainly a game for everyone, children seem to love it too, so we’re really excited about that.

Alex: And where can our readers go to learn more about Aeolis Tournament and keep up to date with the game’s progress?

Jonathan: You can follow us on social media: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can go to our website where you can sign up to our mailing list to get news at least once per month, as well as our Kickstarter campaign.

Alex: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us.

Everyone: Thank you very much!

Thank you for checking out our Aeolis Tournament Interview and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: