Review Fix Exclusive: Inside ‘Newt One’

Review Fix chats with Ari Carrillo and Dev Jana, the team behind the beautiful indie title Newt One, for an inside look at what makes the game a special one.

About Newt One:

Newt One rewards you for how much life you bring to the game world, not how much life you take from it. Embodying your progress through color and music, Newt One’s purpose is to generate happiness. You play as Newt, a new tone in a musical land that has fallen to the Great Slumber. Awakening this sleeping, silent world is your rite of passage. Seek out your friends and find the missing Elders to restore this realm’s music, life, and color!

Review Fix: How was this game born?

Dev: Ari and I have known each other for over a decade and one day he posted something about making a game on facebook. I had been working a great job, but wasn’t doing much creatively so I responded with “let’s make a game!” Three years later and we’ve got a little company and are releasing Newt One – our first game.

I had been working on a music system in Unity that controlled the environment. This became the basis of the first builds we were making, but it quickly became apparent that it wasn’t really fun. The Newt One that we’re releasing now, for me, was really born when Ari put together the first mood boards that showed what each Realm would look like. I have a screen cap from that Skype call because I remember it being the very moment that I knew what we were making. 
They weren’t even complete yet, but the ideas popped out of those mood boards and invaded my mind with such force that there was no turning back from that point on.

Review Fix: What makes this game special?

Ari: We made the game with the intention to create a fun and relaxing experience that would make people happy every time they would play it. Unlike other games that succeed at exposing players to very difficult and stressful gameplay mechanics, Newt One rewards you by taking you on a colorful journey with fun challenges while providing plenty of time to relax, listen to its vibrant music, and wake up your world while you are at it.

Review Fix: What Games from the past have influenced it?

Dev: I was trying to make a cross between Mario 64, Journey, and Loco Roco as far as the high level influences. Other influences include Monument Valley and Katamari Damacy. 
Musically, I was playing instruments like guitar, bass, keys, and percussion while mixing those with synths. But I was incorporating some time signatures you don’t usually hear in games that were influenced by Dave Brubeck and the RX Bandits. For melodies I was trying to keep solid hooks like you’d have heard in 8 and 16 bit era games, and I’d layer harmonies influenced by John Frusciante.
I have no idea what influenced Ari’s level design. It is unlike any games I’ve played.

Ari: Phantom Brave, FF9, Loco Roco, and Journey influenced the character design and overall art style of the game world. As for level design and implementation of puzzles in 3D platformers, I would say that Super Mario 64, Dual Hearts, Trine, Little Big Planet, and DeBlob2 were great influences for me.

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Review Fix: What did you learn during the development process?

Dev: A game is much more than a set of features. We originally had a ton of features that we thought were “interesting” and “different,” but once in the game they were disjointed and kept the game from feeling like a “game”. On paper the list seemed like it would make a compelling experience, but it had no personality once interactive. The game we’re releasing is simpler, more focused, and has gobs more charisma than the original ideas we had. That’s something that came from the freedom we have from being indie and not having a publisher to make happy or release schedule to which we’d have to adhere.

Review Fix: Any fun stories?

Ari: We were at Gamer’s Rhapsody convention in Minneapolis and a game developer good friend of ours stopped by our booth to drop off his 5-year-old daughter while he gave a talk. His daughter had no objection. After 45min he returned and asked his daughter if she wanted to stop playing Newt One and go over to their booth, and with hands on the controller and eyes on the screen her reply continues to make my day today: “Dad, I can’t go! I promised my friend Curno (a character in the game) that I would help him save the world.” We all laughed, I think she continued to play for another 30min before her father came to pick her up and both returned to his booth.

Dev: I tell this one a lot, but originally we had enemies on which you’d jump – like most platformers. I added a ghost feature so when you jumped on an enemy they turned into a ghost and floated away. I was super excited to test it, but when I killed the first enemy I felt SUPER guilty. Immediately I told Ari that I didn’t want to hurt any of his cute models and we suddenly had one of our main guiding lights for the game – nonviolence.

Review Fix: What inspired the Art?

Ari: When we originally started working on Newt One, we thought that perhaps it would be a mobile app, so we decided to use low-poly models right from the start. Also the use of geometric shapes allowed us to create bigger shapes which facilitated level design. I’m originally from Mexico, and I’ve always loved the colors imprinted in Mexican blankets or “Zarapes” so a lot of the color choices found in the game environments mimic those found in Mexican textiles. The combination of geometric shapes and vibrant colors is what mostly guided the decision for the sharp and clean look that the game has today.

Review Fix: What’s next?

Dev: While we’re launching on mac/pc right now we’ve got plans to expand to other platforms this year as well. Check http://devnari.com for updates as there should be some announcements this Spring! 
Also, I’ve started working on some high level game designs for our next game and have even built some simple prototypes, but I can’t commit much time to those until the platform conversions are done for Newt One.

Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?

Ari: We are very excited to release Newt One and we look forward to letting everyone experience its fun, relaxing, and happy gameplay.

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Patrick Hickey Jr.

Editor-in-Chief, Founder at Review Fix
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Master Jedi and Grand Pooh-bah of ReviewFix.com and is the author of the upcoming book, "The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers," from leading academic and non-fiction publisher McFarland and Company. He is currently the Assistant Director of the Journalism Program at Kingsborough Community College and is a former News Editor at NBC Local Integrated Media and a National Video Games Writer at the late Examiner.com. He has also had articles and photos published in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, Complex and The Syracuse Post-Standard. Love him. Read him.

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About Patrick Hickey Jr. 7540 Articles
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Master Jedi and Grand Pooh-bah of ReviewFix.com and is the author of the upcoming book, "The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers," from leading academic and non-fiction publisher McFarland and Company. He is currently the Assistant Director of the Journalism Program at Kingsborough Community College and is a former News Editor at NBC Local Integrated Media and a National Video Games Writer at the late Examiner.com. He has also had articles and photos published in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, Complex and The Syracuse Post-Standard. Love him. Read him.

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