Driftmoon Interview

Driftmoon Interview with Anne and Ville Mönkkönen

Games nowadays tend to be extremely dramatic, depressing, and filled to the brim with weaponry and zombies. Thankfully, a game occasionally comes around to break that mold and try something a little different. In my case, playing Driftmoon as been quite the pleasant experience. With a colorful cast of characters and witty dialogue, the game is certainly a nice change of pace from the usual RPG experience. Its unique style and light-hearted nature is what prompted me to get in touch with the husband and wife team Ville and Anne Mönkkönen to discuss their labor of love, Driftmoon.

Tell us about yourselves!

Anne: Let me see now… We’re Bike trailer enthusiasts, the Biggest Hope of Dark Chocolate Factories, Adventurers, Parents of two Lovely and Speedy Little Kids,  Ambassadors of Goodwill,  Lazy House Cleaners,  Non-professional Singers, Wannabe Photographers, Children of God,  Coding Wizards,  Storytellers, and Husband and Wife. Oh yes, and also the developers of a goodhearted adventure RPG called Driftmoon!

Ville: But not all of the above go for both of us, so you’ll have to do some guessing.

What is it like to develop a game as a husband and wife team? 

Anne: The answer to that question has fluctuated like night and day during the development process. When the kids have been sick, and we’ve had a deadline, it’s truthfully speaking been quite terrible, because we’ve had to squeeze the work from our sleeping time. But luckily it’s  often  been very inspiring, and interesting as well. Even if it’s been a lot of hard work, I’d do the same again!

Ville: The best part has been the fact that we’ve been able to work together and toss around all our crazy ideas, share the triumph and progress of the good days, support one another when it’s been tough, and share a common dream and goal.

Driftmoon - Riverside

What made you decide to venture into the world of independent game development together, and what inspired you to create a game like Driftmoon?

Ville: I’ve been making games for years and years, ever since I was a kid, actually. When I met Anne in 2006, I had started on my new project which was later to become Driftmoon, and after my day job, I spent a few hours each evening working on it. Luckily, Anne decided not to get mad at me for my time-consuming big project, or sit in the corner, moping. Instead, she was instantly interested in what I was doing, and since then, she’s constantly surprised me with her creativity, and her ability and enthusiasm to learn new things.

Anne: For me, working on Driftmoon has really been a big learning experience. I’ve started with taking zillions of photos, and hunting for sound effects, and went the full circle into designing the plot, the characters, and the dialogues, and scripting with our editor (alongside with Ville, obviously). But all the actual coding I’ll gladly leave to Ville. Luckily our editor doesn’t require that. 🙂 Still, no matter how cool it is to learn new things, the best part has been to be able to share such a huge project with my love. Neither of us could have done it alone.

Driftmoon was in development for seven years! What took so long?

Driftmoon - Trying to work
Ville found it hard to get work done!

Ville: It was incredibly tough to nail down what the game should really be like, and how to get it just right, so we had to prototype many things. We’ve actually had three completely different plots in the game before we found the one that both of us loved. Not only that, but making our own game engine took a lot of the seven years as well.

Anne: The other important things in our lives, like our kids and our pay jobs obviously also played a pretty big part all through those years.

Seven years is a long time. How has the game evolved from your original plan to what it is today as a finished, launched product?

Ville: At first Driftmoon was called Cormoon, and it was to be a multiplayer action roleplaying game, with platformer gameplay mechanics. A few years later it turned into it’s current form of top-down single player RPG, but we didn’t know what the story would be yet. The story took another year or two to really nail down, but when we finally figured it out, it’s been smooth sailing from there. And just when we were ready to ship the game, I decided to change the perspective again. A lot of people had been asking that they’d like to tilt the camera, even just a tiny bit – and since there probably were hundreds of these requests, I decided to implement it. That took a complete restructuring of all our character models, since they were completely optimized to the direct top-down view. But I think it looks much better now, we’re very happy with the change!

Anne: Now if you happen to be a fan of  directly top-down, don’t worry! You can still easily adjust the view point back up  by pressing Page Up.

Something I didn’t expect from Driftmoon was to enjoy it in a manner similar to a really good book. I found the characters to be quirky and the dialogue charming! What made you decide to create a game with such an emphasis on its written elements?

Anne: Thanks! Wonderful to hear you’ve found similarities between Driftmoon and a good book. 🙂 One of the benefits of working together has been the fact that we’re usually not short on ideas when we get the chance to toss them around together. That means we had a lot of stories to tell. Both of us also enjoy reading good books (when possible), and playing story-heavy games, so it felt natural for the first game we did together to put an emphasis on the adventure, and the story.

Ville: To me the most important part of a roleplaying game is the story and the characters, so that’s where we’ve put most of our development time into. We had a lot of fun writing all the dialogue, I’m definitely going to miss that. First one of us would write a rough draft, then each of us would go through it taking turns revising the dialogue, and playing with the kids.

Driftmoon - Sarah
Hey, you look really familiar! Where have I seen you before, ‘Sarah’?

The story in Driftmoon isn’t your typical “dark and scary tale” often seen in games nowadays. In fact, it’s often quite the opposite! What kind of reaction do you hope players get from the story?

Anne: I’d really like Driftmoon to be a feel-good game, a game that would leave you smiling, so it’s always awesome to hear playing Driftmoon’s managed to brighten up someone’s day. I know that’s what I’m hoping for the most. Calling Driftmoon the cure for depression might be a tiny exaggeration, but that would be a pretty remarkable achievement for a psychologist, don’t you think? 😀

Ville: My favorite feedback is: “Playing your game is like being wrapped in a warm blanket with a cup of hot cocoa on a cold winter night.”

Are the modding tools easy to use? What is your hope with regards to user-generated content?

Driftmoon - Anne
Hey… wait a minute!

Ville: Having used both the Unity engine and the Driftmoon engine, I find that it’s easier to make levels with our own editor. I’m inclined to say that the Driftmoon editor is pretty easy to use for any game that looks and plays a bit similar to Driftmoon. We’ve had a lot of good mods already, and there are still many more coming. My current favorite is a mod that allows the player to be a woman – a great addition to the game, considering we didn’t have the time to add the option ourselves.

Anne: What I usually say is if I’ve learned to use the editor, anyone can learn to use it.

Now that Driftmoon has been released, what comes next?!!

Ville: Mobile versions (and Linux & Mac), of course! Driftmoon is perfectly suited for tablets. Be sure to check our website in the coming months, we’ll be revealing more about that soon!

Anne: If we get the chance, we may even implement some tiny additions or enhancements in the game before releasing the new version. After that, God knows… We ourselves don’t, at least yet. But I can tell you that we do have a long list of ideas. 🙂


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