Not every game on your shelf needs to make you want to chuck your controller at your TV screen. For something lighthearted, clever, and genuinely good fun, look to studio Massive Monster, best known for their flash game-turned-indie The Adventure Pals. We spoke with Jay Armstrong, Managing Director and developer for Massive Monster, about the studio’s background and their newest upcoming games, Never Give Up and Unicycle Giraffe. Suffice to say, the studio isn’t planning on slowing down, and we can expect many more laughs and charming animations to come in the future from talented Massive Monster.
|| Tell us about your “creative collective.” How did Massive Monster come to span the handful of countries that it does? Where and when did you start as a studio?
Massive Monster was created when a number of game developers came together to pursue the dream of making games for console. We all used to make web games and that’s how we learned to make games, and how we met each other. We started the studio back in 2013 in England.
|| What sorts of work have you done for clients? You’re a developer, but you’re also “hireable.” Are there any projects you’re particularly proud of?
We’ve done lots of different work for clients, from working with universities to create game-like psychology experiments to a game that was installed in a museum to explain how underground train tunnels are made. We love making things, and love working with new people so these type of projects can be really great fun.
|| What inspired the move from flash game to full title for The Adventure Pals? People adored the original Super Adventure Pals, and we understand Kickstarter had a hand in this. How did it all happen?
We were blown away by the reaction to Super Adventure Pals. People really seemed to love it – and so did we. We loved the world that we had created and we wanted to explore it more, so we made the decision to make another ‘pals’ game really soon after making Super Adventure Pals, but at that time the flash world was changing. It had become harder and harder for people to make a living creating flash games and we saw the rise of Steam. So we scrapped the work we had done and began again. We partnered with Armor Games, and then had a Kickstarter campaign where we raised enough money to finish the work we had already done. After that we decided to take the game to console as well. It was a really long journey – and at times very difficult – but I’m so happy with where it ended us and so grateful to have had so many people play The Adventure Pals! I feel really lucky.
|| Who is the sparkling fountain of humor at Massive Monster? It’s safe to say that your studio has a limitless supply of cheerful and clever humor coming from somewhere.
Why thank you! The humour is definitely a manifestation of all our personalities. Julian (the artist and co-creator) and I have a very weird sense of humour and we enjoy pushing each other to make weirder and wacky things. We also had some help with the script from Dora Breckinridge, who is an awesome writer at Armor Games and has a great sense of humour. It’s funny, people who know us and play the game have said that they find it hard to play it and not hear our voices in it – as the game really is just who we are.
|| What’s the story behind Never Give Up and Unicycle Giraffe? It seems like there’s no slowing down for your studio post-The Adventure Pals. Can you tell us about your next two upcoming titles?
Never Give Up is a game we were working on at the same time as The Adventure Pals. Doing two games at once (with only one programmer) was definitely crazy, but it’s great because it means we’ll have a new game out soon! It’s a super challenging precision platformer voiced by Egoraptor from the game grumps. It follows the game’s hero ‘Blue’ as he slow becomes self aware and realises he is in a game. There is also a lot of humour in this game, as although it’s hard there is a big ‘give up’ button you can press at any time, but if you do – be prepared for the game to tease you for it! The game makes fun of you a lot!
Unicycle Giraffe is a mobile game Julian has been working on. You are a giraffe on a unicycle and you have to keep your balance for as long as possible. It’s super addictive and looks great! I think it will be one of those games you can’t stop playing on your phone.
|| What would a triple-A title from Massive Monster look like? First flash games, then indies – we hope that one day we’ll see a hilarious AAA title come out of your studio. What would that look like if it did?
I’d love that! We are definitely looking to grow and build a name for ourselves. We are currently deciding what to do after Never Give Up and the ideas we are having are really exciting. As for AAA I can’t imagine us ever doing anything too gritty or dark, I’d like to think that even if we had a huge team, we’d keep that sense of humour and personality in everything we do. So expect many more games from Massive Monster!
|| What is the hardest part about taking a beloved flash game and transforming it into a buyable indie? And, of course, what is the most rewarding?
The hardest thing is that you are going from a 3 month project to a 3 year project and if you’ve never done anything like that (which we hadn’t) then there are a lot of things to learn, and the most difficult thing is having enough money. But in terms of design, you are also set loose – so it is incredibly liberating. You have a lot more power as well, so you can add all sorts of cool visual effects and go nuts on new ideas. It’s easy to get carried away – but that’s the fun of it!
The most rewarding thing is easy – It’s seeing that people are actually playing the game! It’s being asked to do interviews like this. To think, a year ago we were making this game that maybe no one would ever buy – and now look! There are tonnes of people playing the game and that just blows my mind. Our crazy game about a kid and his giraffe… Who knew? I truly wish that every aspiring developer gets the opportunity to follow their brain (no matter how whacky or weird) and has the opportunity to release something of themselves into the world. It’s a real privilege and it’s definitely the most rewarding part about this whole thing.
|| Massive Monster is stuck on a desert island. Top three games you’d take with you? We might let you have a top five if your developers can’t agree on just three titles to take.
I would take Crusader Kings 2, it’s a huge sandbox world full of politics and intrigue and you could honestly play it forever! I guess that’s cheating, but it would mean you’d always have something new to do! We’d also take Journey and The Last of Us as those games are second to none in terms of creating an immersive experience with the power to move you. Oh! And of course… we’d take The Adventure Pals!