Interview with Jack Bennett, producer and designer of “The Lost Bear” and “Tails of Iron”
We are glad to introduce you our interview with Jack Bennett from Odd Bug Studio: an interesting and promising team of developers from Manchester.
They immediately became known thanks to the enormous success of The Lost Bear: their first video game, released in 2017.
It’s a 2D platformer set in an abandoned world, where we take on the role of little Walnut.
In 2021, another ambitious project is officially released: Tails of Iron.
A medieval-style Action set during the bloody war between the rats clan and the repulsive army of frogs, led by the ruthless Green Wart.
It will be our duty to guide Redgi: a small rat-warrior who we will discover to be the real protagonist of Tails of Iron.
In this interview we discover some important curiosities about their latest project, some background and curiosities that have characterized their productions and their team.
Tails of Iron tells the extraordinary story of Redgi: a character who faces his past with great courage, in an incredible path of redemption.
How did the choice of imprinting the story of Tails of Iron on a small warrior-rat come about?
All of the rats in Tails of Iron are based on the Game Directors (Daniel Robinson) own pet rats, with Redgi being his original rat.
The story is a reflection of our own struggles as a studio.
It highlights the ups and downs of founding a development studio but also shows that by working together you’re able to overcome any obstacle.
Real life Redgi supported Daniel through those struggles so it only seemed right to have him as the lead in the game.
On top of that inspirations such as Redwall, Mouseguard and Wind in the Willows all showed us that a world filled with anthropomorphic animals in a semi civilized society allowed us to tell stories that reflect back on ourselves, which is something we found really interesting.
One of the facets that surprised me most is the depiction of the battles and, in particular, the fall of Crimson Fort.
Are there any historical events or specific battles that inspired you during the development of this video game?
I wouldn’t say there is one specific battle or event in history that really inspired us with the battles in Tails of Iron but more medieval warfare in general.
Being based in the UK means that we are constantly surrounded by reminders of battles past and it’s something that really inspired us.
When developing the combat in Tails of Iron we really wanted to focus on it feeling weighted and real.
Yes it is a rat with a little sword and shield but we still wanted the combat to feel real even from that perspective.
We wanted to show the brutality of combat and all the gore that comes with it.
The majority of the time Redgi comes out of combat covered in the enemies blood barely surviving with his life.
By doing this we hoped that it would make the battles feel more real to the player and make the loss of the crimson keep feel like a real historical event in the world of Tails of Iron.
Tails of Iron boasts beautiful environments, elements, GDR components and an extremely brutal and difficult combat system.
Were you inspired by any specific video games?
Yeah we were inspired by a lot of different video games.
Our main inspiration were games like The Witcher, Salt and Sanctuary and God of War.
We really liked these games because they manage to masterfully blend a solid combat system with a deep and interesting story all set in a beautiful and believable world.
This blend of elements really allows the player to become fully immersed in the game and the world and is something that a lot of indie games struggle to pull together.
Outside of Videogames we were also inspired by books like Redwall and Wind in the Willows as well as tv shows like Game of Thrones and Vikings.
Another very interesting element is related to the fauna.
Redgi faces armored frogs and bloodthirsty mozis, also finding friendly moles as allies.
Is the choice of fauna linked to any particular experience?
The one thing that really informs us when deciding which critters to put into the world of Tails of Iron is their scale.
The main reason for this focus on scale is due to combat.
If the enemy is too large then the camera will be so far zoomed out that it would be too hard to read, if the enemy is too small then making animations that look and feel real and weighted is very difficult.
On top of this, adding a new creature to the world takes a lot of time.
We really want every species to feel unique and have a culture that feels believable, this means that they all need history and backstory that inter weaves with the rest of the world.
In Tails of Iron there are various weapons and armor sets with many bonus effects.
What do you think is the best equipment for Redgi?
This really comes down to personal preference.
We spent a lot of time making lots of weapons and armor so that there were multiple pieces in every weight category so that every player could find something that suited them both in play style and in visuals.
As a studio we really hate it when playing games where the best weapon or armor is not something we like the look of but we have to use it for its stats.
Hopefully with Tails of Iron players are able to find something that both suits their playstyle and their aesthetic.
Personally I like to play a heavy build so I normally use the heavy iron armor that you get for fixing the cart’s broken wheel and I like to combine that with Thor’s hammer and normally a Two Handed broadsword.
In terms of range I like to can with a crossbow just because I think it looks cool.
As a lover of The Witcher, I quickly recognized Doug Cockle’s voice as an omniscient narrator.
Why did you choose him as the narrator?
How did you find working with him?
For us, working with Doug was a career highlight.
When we were initially talking with our publisher United Label about having a narrator we put Dougs name out there as a pipe dream thinking that the voice of Geralt of Rivia wouldn’t want to work with a small indie team.
But Doug really loved the project and fully understood what we were trying to achieve so working with him was a dream come true.
The reason we chose Doug was that his deep, gravely tones really worked well with the grim, fantasy tone we were trying to set with the story and world of Tails of Iron.
We really wanted Tails of Iron to feel like a story book or a Grimm’s fairytale so having Doug tell the story with his dulcet tones added an extra level of immersion.
Bloody Whiskers is a full-bodied DLC that has brought numerous additions to the fighting and some secrets of the story.
Are there any more DLCs planned or are you already thinking about a sequel? Or a new IP?
Releasing a DLC for Tails of Iron was really important to us.
We wanted to give something to the players that had bought the game and backed our creation so a free DLC giving more detail on the world and the characters in the world felt right.
In terms of what we are working on right now.
I can’t really say much about it at the moment but I will quote the last line from the main game ‘that is a tail for another time’.
The last question is my very personal curiosity: why did you choose this name and logo for your team?
Why Odd Bug Studio?
I’ve been asked this question a few times and it’s easier to break it down into two parts.
The Bug part is fairly obvious. When developing games we get a lot of bugs.
Bugs are one of the only things that are common to every game’s development so it was a little nod to that.
The Odd comes from the fact that the team is all a little bit strange or weird.
If you were to look at all of us together you would never imagine that we work together!
In terms of the logo, we love little characters, which you can probably see from our games, so it only felt right that we had a company mascot.
Hopefully that makes sense? It did at the time when we came up with it! 🙂
You can find respectively Tails Of Iron on Steam and The Lost Bear on PlayStationStore.