At PAX Aus 2019, we were fortunate enough to be able to speak with Ant from Dogmelon Games about their upcoming co-op party game – Baron: Fur is Gonna Fly.
Alex: Hello everyone, I’m Alex from Switchaboo and I’m joined by Ant from Dogmelon Games. How are you today?
Ant: Yeah I’m going well, having a great time at PAX. There’s nothing like meeting new people and having them come and play your game. It’s the best.
Alex: I can only imagine! So please tell us about about Baron: Fur is Gonna Fly.
Ant: Baron is a local-multiplayer party game where you play on a couch with friends. You are an animal in a biplane and you’re flying around having a dogfight.
Ant: [laughs] Literally having a dogfight. You also have weapons that are not exactly historically authentic. You might have freeze-rays or black holes which weren’t available in that era.
Alex: World War I? [laughs]
Ant: Exactly. The game is also up to eight players, so you can have a lot of people on the screen at the same time. Baron is also planned to come out on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Steam.
Alex: Perfect for Switch, definitely! I can see with the controls being quite simplistic, it looks well suited for single Joy-Con play.
Ant: Absolutely! We designed Baron: Fur is Gonna Fly to be playable with the Joy-Con as our base controller, so we knew that we had to keep the gameplay down to as few buttons as we could. Part of the fun of the game is having lots of people playing and the Switch is so good that as due to the Joy-Cons, you automatically have twice as many controllers. We just see the Switch as such a games machine for the family room or even at the workplace – anywhere you want as long as there’s lots of people, someone could pull out their Switch and just host a big multiplayer game. It’s the perfect platform.
Alex: Absolutely! How long has the game been in development for?
Ant: It’s taken two years. That was because we had to start from scratch with our own engine.
Alex: And what was the decision behind using your own engine?
Ant: Dan, the brains behind the engine, was experiencing some technical challenges. Our vision was that it would be easier to develop from Switch to PC this way. Dan was showing me how to use this new engine and within a few days, the best way to teach me was to develop a sample game in two days. That was how we came up with the core of what became Baron. It was just little squares flying around but it was fun enough for us to decide that it could be fleshed out into a full game.
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Alex: Please tell us about the characters and the setting.
Ant: Baron: Fur is Gonna Fly is set in the First World War but the war was very grim, so we’ve given it a cartoony vibe. It’s aimed to have a Roadrunner/Wacky Racers feel where if your plane crashes, you’re straight back up into the air and that’s the idea of the game – light and fun. We want people to laugh more when they die rather than get upset. At first, the biplanes were anonymous, giving the game no personality. So we started to think about having a dog in a dogfight and naturally, we began coming up with more animals. We sent some awful little sketches to the artist who sent back these beautiful animals wearing uniforms and it was such a nice aesthetic that we just continued to move more and more in that direction.
Each character also has their own song, like when your footy team wins and they play the song at the end. And moving further into the early twentieth century theme, there are newspapers, no TV, piano music, it all fleshes out the characters’ personalities. The duck is quite lazy because he doesn’t have to use his wings to fly [laughs] and the bear is just a really happy guy. In terms of the snake, no one wanted to play him in my family at first because they always wanted the cute and fluffy animals. Now we have this song that goes “nobody likes the snake” and it’s all about this really good guy but nobody liked him. Then we put a monocle on him and he then became really popular.
Alex: That’s funny because when I played Baron, I chose the snake.
Ant: Yeah, that’s because he is really classy now. He’s not so intimidating with his monocle.
Alex: [Laughs] The monocle fixes everything.
Ant: [Laughs] It does!
Alex: Touching back on the special abilities, are they character specific or can you pick any?
Ant: The characters are simply cosmetic. They all have the same flying abilities and weapons. There are 13 special weapons (anvils, flamethrowers, ice-rays, etc.) and any character can choose what they like. We’ve done a lot of work on making sure they’re all balanced and we did this by playing the game with my daughter who really likes to win; therefore if I found her simply focussing on just one weapon and always choosing it, then that was a red flag for us saying that that weapon was too powerful. If ever there was a weapon that was too powerful, she’d find it in five minutes and stick to it [laughs]. Now that she doesn’t have a favourite weapon, we know that we’ve got it right.
Alex: Must be handy to have your own personal play tester.
Ant: That’s right!
Alex: In regards to everyone having the same abilities, do the stages vary?
Ant: No, all the stages are cosmetic. We had zeppelins in the sky at one point but we found that the more there was to hit, the harder it got. The levels are pretty much ground at the bottom and sky. They all look different but stay the same.
Alex: Is Baron: Fur is Gonna Fly just local multiplayer or have you considered online?
Ant: We consider online all the time but it is just local multiplayer. We are just two programmers and that would just push out our development time too far.
Alex: And is that the same with single-player?
Ant: That’s right, just local multiplayer.
Alex: Have you considered any Switch exclusive features like HD Rumble?
Ant: The game does have HD Rumble. But the main feature that excites us is simply the portability and the Joy-Cons. The fact that we can take the game to a cafe, set it up in Tabletop Mode, crack out the Joy-Cons and have a nice little two-player game – that’s the main thing that we love about the Switch.
Alex: We’d also like to acknowledge everyone working on Baron: Fur is Gonna Fly.
Ant: Yeah so, myself and Dan do all of the programming. Our art is all done by Tom who lives in New Zealand. Aside from that, we outsource everything, such as the voices and whatnot. We have a commentator who we found on Fiverr due to our low budget and he does John Cleese impersonations. So we have him doing that voice and when we showed it to a friend, they said, “how much did it cost to have John Cleese do his voice in the game?”, so that was good.
Alex: [Laughs] So when can we expect to play Baron: Fur is Gonna Fly on Nintendo Switch?
Ant: Early 2020. It’s pretty much ready now, but we’re waiting until just after the Christmas rush. So we’re aiming for January/February.
Alex: And is there anything else that you’d like to say to our readers?
Ant: That pretty much covers it! Try it out, have some fun and invite your friends around.
Alex: And lastly, where can people go to learn more and keep up to date with Baron: Fur is Gonna Fly?
Alex: Fantastic! Thank you for your time today, Ant.
Ant: Thank you.
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