October 28, 2020
Games Lift: Leif’s Adventure builds on decades of experience
Leif’s Adventure is instantly appealing. It is a side-scrolling action-adventure combining exploration, combat, platforming, collection, and puzzle-solving for one or two players. It isn’t shy about taking inspiration from classics, but it also has a unique look and new ideas to add. There is something deeply inviting, even wholesome about it. Leif’s Adventure is the kind of game you would want to play with your kid.
Leif's Adventure is a side-scrolling action-adventure combining exploration, combat, platforming, collection, and puzzle-solving.
The connection is no coincidence, Roman laughs: „I grew up with these kinds of games.“ Roman’s father brought computers home, and on one fateful day, an NES. Mario became a friend to Roman, and turned him onto a quest of becoming a game developer. The self-professed „Nintendo fanboy“ from Switzerland found work as an illustrator in Hamburg 20 years ago. He has been working in the games industry ever since.
But something kept bugging him. Germany has a tradition of sim and strategy games, a strong scene of studios producing mobile and browser games. That is where Roman found good work. „But at the end of the day, I just didn’t come home eager to play these games myself“, he admits. He wanted to get closer to the kind of game he grew up on. He wanted to embark on an adventure.
Roman is an illustrator by trade, and it shows in the colorful, distinctive look of Leif’s Adventure. But aside from music and sound, everything is done by himself. Coding was a thing he had not done yet. The solo developer had a network of industry professionals willing to give him help and pointers. He found good middleware, which gave him a running start when developing his game in Unity. And he kept learning.
Roman Fuhrer did most of the development for Leif's Adventure by himself but had valuable support from freelancers and friends. (Picture: Julia Rogalitzki)
Developing Leif’s Adventure was an iterative process. Roman was not after a defined market segment; rather, he was trying to develop the kind of console game that he himself wanted to play. Basic ingredients like the setting and story changed during development: Earlier, Leif’s Adventure was set in a school. While it has changed into a fantasy setting, it still is a story about growing up.
Two experiences have been vital in finding how the game works and where it should go: Going to trade fairs and conventions gave Roman real insights into how people experience his game. „I try to stay back“, he explains. When people aren’t mindful of the developer watching them, they play more naturally. Here, Roman learned that his game can be popular, that it really is a game for everyone – „except for one guy in Paris who immediately said it isn’t for him“, Roman admits, laughing.
Roman’s next important source of feedback is his wife. „Leif’s Adventure“ can be played as an asymmetric coop game – one player controls Leif, the other one a small, floating and invincible ghost. Solo players will switch between both of them in order to solve puzzles and collect shiny orbs. But the game works on a whole new level when two players of differing skill levels play together – like Roman and his wife. Roman did not set out to make a coop game. That it turned out this way, however „cannot be a coincidence“, he admits.
„Leif’s Adventure“ can be played as an asymmetric coop game – one player controls Leif, the other one a small, floating, and invincible ghost
What’s left? Mainly the getting done part. In his milestone pitch presentation, Roman detailed how he is spinning up his PR strategy – and wowed the audience with an interactive presentation inside a custom-built level of his game. It is evident that he can bring quality to the table, and quickly. So the last part of his developer journey will be to make sure people will notice.