Britain-based PixelCount Studios is the mastermind behind the delightfully whimsical, sometimes eccentric, and always charming Kynseed. Released on Steam as an Early Access Game on November 8, Kynseed has since enthralled players with its aging mechanic, clever writing, and breathtaking pixel art. We had the pleasure of speaking with PixelCount Studios, a developer that boasts a trio of Lionhead Studios veterans well-versed in what it means to make a truly memorable game.
|| As Lionhead Studios veterans, what’s driven you to take up the sometimes-patchy, always-underappreciated mantle of an indie studio? We understand that PixelCount Studios’s core is made up of three industry experts famously responsible for work on the Fable series.
Lionhead closing gave us two options really. Find jobs in other studios (never easy) and help make things for other people, or dive into fresh new waters and try something exciting.
Other Lionhead devs had dipped into these waters so we thought we might as well try!
|| We can’t avoid the acorn question…sorry. The Kynseed itself is a “mystical acorn.” How does Kynseed’s acorn tie into Fable’s notorious acorn lore, if at all—both real-life and in-game?
It is a little cheeky nod. We wanted to do an RPG with Fabley features, and a game with the addictive loops of Fantasy Life. Thinking about the famous acorn brought together the unifying idea of a family tree that grows. In Fable, those trees never grew. In Kynseed, the acorn HAS to grow, so we will finally fulfil that promise (;
|| What are the most important legacies of Lionhead Studios that you wish to carry on? You’ve called yourselves elsewhere a “baby Phoenix chick that has sprung from the ashes of Lionhead Studios.” What traits do you most hope to see reborn?
We want to carry on the Lionhead spirit of eccentricity, creative freedom, Britishness and crazy ideas thrown into the cooking pot.
|| In what ways does Kynseed embody and embellish a sense of British-ness? PixelCount Studios is based in England. Surely there’s a unique flavor of Britain sprouting from Kynseed’s soil?
Kynseed is actually set in post-post-post-apocalyptic northern England.
It is inspired massively by the 80’s UK computer games, British culture and heritage, folklore and nursery rhymes, Tv and movies from our youth and of course, the rich tradition of surreal humour and wordplays.
|| Why pixel art for Kynseed? Such extravagantly beautiful and detailed pixel art isn’t necessarily the obvious next-step for veterans of Lionhead Studios.
Cost! We were originally looking at 3rd person in UE4 (our mockups can still be seen) but as the team diminished and the vision grew, we decided that to keep costs down and make the game simpler to develop we would go 2d.
Plus, we absolutely love pixel art and thought it would better capture the feel of the games we love like Ultima 7, Times of Lore, Zelda etc.
|| How do you balance the sense of aging and loss in Kynseed with its more whimsical moments? In a game where everything ages and dies, it’s only natural to assume there will be moments of genuine sorrow for the player. Simultaneously, Kynseed is charming and humorous. How does a studio successfully combine the serious with the silly?
It is a tricky act, but by celebrating death and keeping the writing light and consistent with who these people are, we feel we can have sad moments combine with silliness quite comfortably.
The best comedy is often dark and it’s the spikes of sudden humour that people use in bad times that is very interesting to us. It is a very British thing to make jokes at normally inappropriate times.
By having the people of Quill rejoice in death and see it as a rebirth, then it gives a warmth and hope to the passing of loved ones, knowing they will return as part of nature’s cycle.
|| PixelCount Studios has to live out the rest of their years in a game at least one of their members was involved in making. Which one is it, and why? Kynseed included!
The Movies, because it would be a fun, lively place to live in and no threat of darkness taking over the world or giant cows killing you with huge poo!