Old School Gamer chats with Save Your Nuts developer Frédéric Bohn (Founder & Programmer, Triple Scale Games), who lets us know why party games and old-school couch co-op is far from dead.
About the Game:
Developed by French-Canadian studio Triple Scale Games, Save Your Nuts is an impossibly silly and endlessly enjoyable multiplayer game for up to 8 players on the same screen, online, or against the computer. No players around? No problem! Save Your Nuts also includes robust AI-controlled opponents and online multiplayer. A thinly disguised “forest sport” featuring intense gameplay, interactive levels and an assortment of crazy animals, Save Your Nuts is certain to leave a lasting memory on participants – whether they win or lose!
Old School Gamer: How was Save Your Nuts born?
Frédéric Bohn: Save Your Nuts was inspired by a very common sight in Canadian cities: dogs running after squirrels. I’ve always enjoyed watching this: Dogs can never catch the squirrels – and the squirrels look like they’re taunting the dogs! I thought, ‘What if both dogs and squirrels starred in their own video game as a wild re-imagining of sports such as soccer or hockey that plays on this timeless rivalry?’ You see, most games don’t feature dogs and squirrels. Having these two species compete against one another in cartoon form makes for some very entertaining moments!
Old School Gamer: What was your role in the game?
Bohn: I started working on the game on my own. I was doing everything related to development and business during the first year of development – including launching the company itself. During the second year, two artists helped me with the art direction and environment/character modeling – and two sound designers worked on the music and sound effects. I’m still involved in all aspects of development, but my specialty is programming.
Old School Gamer: How did you get involved in the industry?
Bohn: I studied IT for five years in France. During my last year at university, I specialized in video game programming. Once I graduated, I decided to move to Canada to find my first job as a game developer. After five years working in the game industry as a programmer for medium and large companies, I realized that I was missing the greatest joy of creating games: being able to flex my own creative muscles. Therefore, I began working on personal projects in Unreal Engine 4 in my free time. Soon, I found that I was not only enjoying the freedom to make my own games but that I could also afford to develop a fully-featured indie title. I then decided to bid my old job farewell and bootstrap my new company, Triple Scale Games.
Old School Gamer: What was development like?
Bohn: Since the beginning, we attached a lot of importance to player feedback. We conducted a lot of playtests and spent quite a bit of time iterating to make sure the game was accessible to everyone. It had to be fun and offer players an interesting challenge! As you know, Save Your Nuts is on Steam Early Access; I’m still working on it – improving the online multiplayer functionality and adding more content based on community feedback (modes, characters, arenas, items, and more).
Old School Gamer: What makes Save Your Nuts special?
Bohn: We believe Save Your Nuts is a great party game because the rules are easy to understand, the controls are straightforward, the graphics are cartoony and the game itself is full of very accessible humor. Anybody can join the party and start to have fun immediately. At the same time, the physics and team-based mechanics offer players plenty of challenge in terms of cooperative and competitive play. Up to 8 players can play using the same screen (or online) – and we even included a robust AI for solo players.
Old School Gamer: What games influenced this one the most?
Bohn: Mario Strikers, Rocket League, and Knight Squad.
Old School Gamer: Any fun stories or wild moments during development?
Bohn: Early in development, the game was all about squirrels – but my girlfriend (who is a big fan of dogs, especially dachshunds) tried to convince me to add her dog into the game. I finally agreed – and we quickly realized that the players loved the dogs and even asked for more animals: raccoons, beavers, armadillos, and cats. Sure, it was a lot of work to add them all – but it made the game so much cooler!
Old School Gamer: What were the major lessons learned?
Bohn: We learned that it’s very hard to find publishers interested in party games because they’re considered to be a niche market. As a result, it’s difficult to get visibility if you’re a small indie team with a limited budget. Our love for Save Your Nuts drove us to come up with creative solutions for problems we never thought we could solve on our own.
Old School Gamer: Do you think preserving older gameplay mechanics in new games is important?
Bohn: Yes, unless you want to create a purely experimental game. Players need references – gameplay mechanics they already experienced in other games – to be able to have fun right away. If everything is 100% new, they will need to set aside some time to learn the basics before playing.
Old School Gamer: What’s your favorite memory as a gamer?
Bohn: My favorite memories include playing couch party games (such as Knight Squad, TowerFall Ascension, Gang Beasts, and Bomberman) in the evenings with 6-8 friends over beers.
Old School Gamer: How do you want to Save Your Nuts to be remembered?
Bohn: I want it to be remembered as a game where you can’t stop laughing when you play with your friends or family!
Old School Gamer: What’s next?
Bohn: A few things: Bringing Save Your Nuts to consoles (Switch, Xbox One, and PS4), new online multiplayer that can handle cross-platform – and new content based on community feedback (modes, characters, arenas, items). We also have an idea for a new game … but we can’t talk about it just yet 🙂
Old School Gamer: Anything else you’d like to add?
Bohn: We think our community is the most important part of the game. If you want to join us, stop by our Discord server or the Steam community hub and say “hi”!
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the author of the book, “The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews With Cult and Classic Video Game Developers,” from McFarland And Company. Featuring interviews with the creators of 36 popular video games–including Deus Ex, NHLPA 93, Night Trap, Mortal Kombat, Wasteland and NBA Jam–the book gives a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of some of the most influential and iconic (and sometimes forgotten) games of all time. Recounting endless hours of painstaking development, the challenges of working with mega-publishers and the uncertainties of public reception, the interviewees reveal the creative processes that produced some of gaming’s classic titles.