We’ll be working on a review for Clan O’Conall and the Crown of the Stag, so I got in touch with HitGrab to talk a bit about the game. Come check it out!
PS4Blog: Hi! Thank you for joining us this morning. Can you please help us get started by telling our readers a bit about yourself and your work?
Craig: Hi there! My name is Craig Orser, and I work as PR, marketing, and publishing support on Clan O’Conall and the Crown of the Stag. I also wrote all the content in the game, so it’s a fair number of hats to wear!
Our Celtic character-swapper was made under HitGrab Game Labs, a Toronto-based mobile-focused indie studio. That makes Clan O’Conall our first real foray into console gaming. I had the privilege of joining the team in early 2020, and it’s been an incredible experience every step of the way.
Jake: Hello! I’m Jake. I work as a Game Designer at HitGrab, a company best known for its long-standing passive MMORPG, MouseHunt.
As a company, we wanted to experiment with expanding our reach into some more action-focused, console-oriented affairs. In 2019, I took on the role of Lead Designer for the development of our character-swapping platformer, Clan O’Conall. I planned out the game’s progression, mechanics, and enemy behaviors and had a direct hand in building its content and levels!
PS4B: Speaking of which, Clan O’Conall and the Crown of the Stag is ready to go on Nintendo Switch. How would you describe the project to someone who’s never heard about it?
Craig: Clan O’Conall is a character-swapping action-platformer set in a hand-drawn storybook world of Hibernia. Players control one of three heroes at any time and can swap between them mid-jump, mid-combo, pretty much at any time. The result is fluid, weaving gameplay that is easy to pick up but with almost no limit for mastery.
Our game draws on Celtic art, folklore, and mythology in a way we hadn’t seen done before. Players will explore a world that is fully realized, visually and culturally, in the traditions of Irish, Scottish, and Welsh tales.
Jake: It’s an art-driven platformer game set in the colorful world of Celtic mythology. As a player, you’ll take on the role of the 3 O’Conall siblings, who can be freely and seamlessly swapped between, on a quest to rescue your father – and the land of Hibernia – from the evil Caoránach, Mother of Demons.
The game features perilous platforming challenges, beat ’em up action, and puzzle-solving, requiring the use of all three playable characters’ unique abilities to overcome! Each character can be upgraded with new augments and abilities throughout the game’s progression, which will be necessary to tackle the epic boss fights that stand in your way!
PS4B: The Kickstarter for the game certainly had its ups and downs, managing to reach its funding goal during the final days of the crowdfunding campaign. On that note, what were the hurdles or challenges you had to overcome during the whole development process?
Jake: Our Kickstarter was a wild ride for sure, but it was a culmination of a lot of things that we had to do as a studio and things that we had never done before. For many of us, Clan O’Conall is our first title developed. Everything about planning, building, showcasing, and distributing a game were things we had to learn with Clan O’Conall itself.
Like many studios, we suffered huge setbacks due to quarantine and work-from-home. It upset a lot of plans that we had for Clan, including an invitation to GDC 2020 that was unceremoniously canceled the week before audiences would get to try the demo. In essence, we had to switch our whole approach to the game and how we built it with no warning. It sucked, but we learned to adapt.
Craig: And as our debut game, we also put a lot of work into discovering the fun that lay in a gameplay concept like Clan O’Conall. Other games have done character-swapping mechanics, but we spent a considerable amount of time finding the right balance between each character and what swapping can let you do. As a result, we’re super proud of the fluid way players have been able to overcome challenges in the game via swapping.
PS4B: I really like the game’s art style, so I was wondering if you were considering working on a digital (or physical!) art book to showcase the game’s art and the creation process.
Craig: It’s something I think is totally worth chronicling, especially when you see some of the pre-production art and all the various ways the game could’ve turned out. All that is really just great fodder for future projects too, and other adventures these characters could have in Hibernia.
Jake: We actually had scope for an art book, including some sketches for a cover page too! Hopefully there’s enough demand from fans that we can make it happen!
PS4B: And that’s all the time we have for today. Is there something else you’d like to add before we go?
Craig: To people looking to try Clan O’Conall out: you don’t have to impress us, but we love being impressed anyway. Send in your clips/clear times! Watching people experiment with swapping is a ton of fun to watch as developers. We hope to see some incredible things!
Jake: Clan O’Conall and the Crown of the Stag will release on June 2nd for Nintendo Switch, so please check it out!