Review Fix chats with Platonic Partnership’s Jussi Loukiainen, who explains the creative process behind the brand’s upcoming Nintendo Switch title, Lydia.
Review Fix: How was this game born?
Jussi Loukiainen: Platonic Partnership was founded in 2017 by Henri Tervapuro, Juhana Lehtiniemi, Juho Kuorikoski and myself. Back then we were developing games as a side hustle. Our first project was King of Peasant, but we quickly noticed that we would never finish the game as a part-time developer.
So we decided to make something shorter and more straight to the point. We wanted to challenge games as a medium, and came up with the idea for Lydia. Some of our dev team members had experienced their parents’ alcoholism first hand, and we wanted to stay true to those feeling and emotions. Therefore we wanted to make a feel-bad game.
Lydia was a moderate success on PC, and it enabled us to go full-time in October 2018. Juho left the company at the same time.
Today our focus in on narrative-driven games and digital experiences.
Review Fix: What was your role in the game?
Loukiainen: I was responsible for marketing and biz dev. Although we all gave input to the game design and story throughout the development. And we also voice acted the game ourselves.
Review Fix: How did you get involved in the industry?
Loukiainen: I did my first game designs back when I was seven or eight years old. I still have the notebook in which I doodled some cryptic strategy game rules and maps. I always wanted to work in the games industry, and before we started Platonic Partnership, I was running the business incubator for local universities. I was also coordinating local game industry events and I founded a local IGDA hub.
Review Fix: What was development like?
Loukiainen: We were part-time game developers back when we developed Lydia, and we all lived in different cities around Finland. Once a month we gathered after our nine-to-five jobs to my old workplace, and we developed the game in 48h, almost no sleep, sessions. It was like a game jam, that took place once a month.
Review Fix: What makes this game special?
Loukiainen: Lydia is based on true feelings. The events are made up, but the emotions are pure and they came from the heart.
Review Fix: What games influenced this one the most?
Loukiainen: To the Moon was one of the most influential games for us during the development. Although it was only a small indie game, it still has one of the best stories in any game.
Review Fix: Any fun stories or wild moments during development?
Loukiainen: During the weekends that the game was mostly made, we had numerous wild moments. I think the most fun was the part when we made this disco-Europop song that can briefly be heard in the car scene. We could have just quickly done samples, and that´s it, but no – we made the whole song. We wrote incredibly silly and cheesy lyrics and recorded the song on one take. We laughed so hard when we first listened to the song. The theme of the game was so serious and bleak, that every brief moment of joy felt like a breeze of fresh air.
Review Fix: What were the major lessons learned?
Loukiainen: Start small, keep your focus crystal clear and take enough time in fixing the game after the release.
Review Fix: Do you think preserving older gameplay mechanics in new games is important?
Loukiainen: Not necessarily. I think that innovation plays an important role in game design. For us, as a story-focused game studio stories are the most important part. But we always want to give players something to do, and in our next games, there are a lot more gameplay elements. And we always want to do something unexpected and keep the players at their toes.
Review Fix: What’s your favorite memory as a gamer?
Loukiainen: The original XCOM and Gabriel Knight 1. In XCOM you made the stories inside your head when you tried to keep your soldiers alive. And in GK1 the overall atmosphere in the game was movielike and something never before seen.
Review Fix: How do you want this game to be remembered?
Loukiainen: We want Lydia to be remembered as a game that made people feel.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Loukiainen: We are currently building our next game King of Peasants and audio-based gaming platform called Naru. Both are coming out this year, so exciting times ahead.
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
Loukiainen: We are super happy to be able to bring Lydia to Switch. And we want to thank our publisher Mikaël from Nakana.io. We can’t wait to hear players’ feedback from the game when it hits Nintendo eShop.