Exclusive: Senior Executive Producer At Stadia Games Reid Schneider Talks Savage Planet, Small Teams, And The Future Of Cloud

Next week, an enhanced version of Journey to the Savage Planet is coming exclusively to Stadia. First released on PS4, Xbox One, and the Epic Game Store in January 2020, Journey to the Savage Planet is a unique first-person Metroidvania that revels in lush, vibrant locations and quirky, irreverent humor. Savage Planet was one of TheGamer’s best-reviewed games of 2020 because it offers a tightly focused campaign packed with fascinating enemies, clever puzzles, and some of the best first-person platforming this side of Mirror’s Edge. The expansion, Hot Garbage DLC, added a ton of variety to the game with an interesting new planet to explore, new enemies to defeat, and most importantly, a friggin’ jetpack.

If you missed this diamond in the rough last year, you’ll have a chance to play the game in a new all-in-one package on Stadia next week. Journey to the Savage Planet: Employee of the Month edition includes both the base game and the Hot Garbage DLC, as well as brand new messages from Kindred Aerospace CEO Martin Tweed and brand new ads for fake products like the infamous Meat Buddy. Stadia Pro subscribers will be able to play the special edition for free on February 1.

In December 2019, Savage Planet developer Typhoon Studios was purchased by Google and integrated into Stadia’s first in-house studio, Stadia Games and Entertainment. Ahead of the Journey to the Savage Planet release on Stadia, we spoke with Reid Schneider, Typhoon Studios co-founder and senior executive producer at Stadia  about Savage Planet, his love for Star Wars and Ghostbusters, and his vision for the future of cloud gaming.

TheGamer: Do you consider Journey to the Savage Planet to be a Metroid Prime-like?

Reid Schneider: Metroid Prime was definitely an inspiration for the team. This is especially true considering how long we’ve all been waiting for a new one to come out! That being said, we felt like there was a big opportunity to add our own spin on it by focusing on humor, tone, charm, and CO-OP.

Have any of the reactions to the game from players surprised you or stuck with you?

RS: Overall, we’ve been really happy with the reactions from players and the weird/crazy things they’ve done with the game. The humor seemed to really resonate with gamers, and we’re super appreciative of all their support.

The team has also really enjoyed watching speed runs, and seeing players use the systemic aspect of the game to create their own jokes. I remember back when it launched, there was a video of a couple of friends playing together. One person created his own grapple seed path to get to his buddy on a high up ledge. You could see he was working really hard at it. When he finally got to the top, he was greeted with a backhand slap from his partner (which internally we nicknamed the “Italian Grandma” after our Animation Director, Mike Mennillo). The slap was so perfectly timed it sent him right over the ledge, plunging to his death and ultimate re-print. That type of physical comedy is gold!

Are there any particular lessons you took from developing Savage Planet?

RS: I think it solidified our core belief that a small team of REALLY TALENTED people can create awesome work. The Savage Planet team was only about 28 developers and some amazing contractors. In AAA games today, they have grown to become these behemoth productions and what our Creative Director calls the “Vegas Buffet” of games. This means that they are built to have something for everyone. Our goal was to create something focused, unique, crafted, AND a game players can finish without it taking over their lives.

Considering your work on games like Arkham Knight and Mad Max, what are your thoughts on the impending ‘licensed game renaissance’ with games like IO Interactives 007 and MachineGames Indiana Jones on the way?

RS: Working on licensed games can be either an incredible experience or a downright difficult one. What it really comes down to is two-fold. 1) Does the licensor understand the gaming medium in that it’s 100% different than a film or a traditional consumer product. 2) Is the dev team really passionate about the IP, and do they have experience in the genre? If both of those factors above are a resounding “YES”, you can expect amazing results. I’m personally really excited to see what MachineGames does with Indiana Jones. Their work on Wolfenstein is really inspiring! They clearly hate Nazis. 😉

Related: Stadia State Share Could Be Huge For Speedrunners And Content Creators (If Developers Bother To Use It)

Are there any or licensed games you’d be keen on making?

RS: Definitely! I’ve always been a huge fan of both Star Wars and Ghostbusters. It would be awesome to do something in those universes at some point. On the Typhoon side, we always love the idea of injecting humor and charm into the work we do. It feels like those franchises have opportunities for both.

Are there plans for Journey to the Savage Planet 2?

RS: Obviously, we can’t say much about anything like that, but I can say that the team is really passionate about the universe we’ve created, and we would really like to do more with it. We do drop some subtle (or not so subtle) hints in the Employee of the Month Edition coming to Stadia, so hopefully, people will check that out and let us know what they think.

Can you tell me about your next project at Stadia?

Again, can’t say too much there, but what I can say is that the team really likes building content that is ‘systemic, has strong flavors and charm.’ Ultimately we want to continue focusing our work in that direction. Inherently what that means is that some people will love what we do, and some people won’t like it. For us that’s ok. We often say the opposite of love is not hate, but rather indifference. If we show gamers something and they are indifferent to it, it means we failed as a team. We always want to come out swinging which means we hopefully win, but we might also get knocked down occasionally.

How well did Journey to the Savage Planet sell?

RS: The game sold really well, and we know our partners at 505 have been happy with the results. From our conversations with them, it exceeded their expectations in some cases. It’s also worth mentioning that the game will be releasing on Steam on Jan 28 for those PC players who are not yet ready to take the plunge into the Epic store ecosystem. Something else we’ve seen is that Game Pass has been a huge amplifier for us in terms of users. The team is always excited to have more people playing!

Related: IO Interactive’s New 007 Game Could Learn A Lot From Nightfire’s Famous Mission “The Exchange”

How did you make that horrible meat buddy?

RS: All credit for that goes to the amazing Davy Force who we worked with closely on all the ads. He’s a creative genius and meat buddy is truly the stuff of nightmares. Also, if you liked his work in the original game, the Stadia Version (Employee of the Month) has some even crazier ads. We’re super excited to see what people think of them.

Why do you think a large portion of the audience still turns its nose up at streaming tech, yet it’s the dominant force in film and television? What needs to shift to change the mood?

RS: IMHO it is just a matter of time before streaming becomes the dominant way to consume gaming content. If you think about the rise of OTT services like Netflix, Disney+, Spotify, the choice in consumer’s hands is unbelievable. As a parent, I also find our house is already littered with kids’ stuff, so not having to buy more CDs, DVDs/etc is a huge win.

Obviously traditional media like tv/movies/music is strictly “one-way” rather than the “two-way” required action from gaming. Change takes time, but once it does take over it can quickly become the dominant way to consume content. Nobody can say for sure how long, or when, it will take hold, but I do think it’s coming. If 2020 taught us anything it’s that change can come very quickly, and condense what should take years into months.

TG: Are you the IRL Martin Tweed?

RS: Unfortunately no, but the guy who plays him a total badass. He’s a local Montreal actor named Adrian Burhop. Every time we recorded his pieces he also totally “went for it” and left nothing on the court. While filming we learned he’s not a huge fan of animals, so this only made us want to put more into his scenes to pump up the ridiculous! If you like Martin Tweed, you should definitely check out the Employee of the Month edition on Stadia, as he has a lot more screen time!

Journey to the Savage Planet: Employee of the Month edition launches exclusively for Stadia on February 1. Stadia Pro subscribers can play the game for free. Check out our full review of Journey to the Savage Planet and the expansion Hot Garbage DLC.

Next: The Clear Winner Of The Next-Gen Console War Is Mobile

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  • Stadia
  • Journey To The Savage Planet

Eric Switzer is the Livestream News Editor for TheGamer as well as the lead for VR and Tech. He has written about comics and film for Bloody Disgusting and VFXwire. He is a graduate of University of Missouri – Columbia and Vancouver Film School. Eric loves board games, fan conventions, new technology, and his sweet sweet kitties Bruce and Babs. Favorite games include Destiny 2, Kingdom Hearts, Super Metroid, and Prey…but mostly Prey. His favorite Pokémon is Umbreon.

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