Interview: OnionMilk tell us about their game Dunrog and their Lodz based Studio.

OnionMilk are an Indie Game development team from Lodz in Poland. With one game, Pidgeon Fight, on Steam already and another game, called Dunrog, scheduled to be released in early 2020, we took an opportunity to catch up with the team at #PGA and ask a few questions about the game, their development style and process.

If your curious, apparently the name OnionMilk was made by combining the founders nick names, Zbigniew Cebula (Cebula- tr. Onion) and Nabiał (Nabiał – tr. Dairy, synonymous to Milk).

PK: What was the lightbulb moment that sent you down the path of game development? 

In fact, it’s hard to say, where and when it was that moment, when we said: “yes, this is this day, when I will start to create games!”. In fact, it was more like being a child that want to be firefighter or astronaut. We loved games since we were children. We play when we can to and when we were kicked out to play outside, we still play. Play in the imaginary game worlds, that we loved. We were moving games mechanics into our playgrounds.

We were mages, knights etc. We came out with dreams about new imagined races in the games we know like “Heroes of Might and Magic” or “Starcraft”. When we got older, we were already on the path (each of us). We started from searching for knowledge and tutorials about how to make our own games and then we began to study. We create games to make our childhood dreams come true.

PK: The studio is a developer of original IP only or do you do work for hire assignments?

We’re an independent studio, that decided to start making games, using our spare time. Most of us have different jobs that allow us to make a living. Some of them are game development related, some of them are not. So, all you can see in “Dunrog” is just hard work that comes from our motivation and faith in what we do. We also considering joining forces with a publisher, but it’s not a sure thing just yet.

PK: How big is the team so far, what’s the future growth plan, and what game dev roles are the hardest to fill? 

At this moment we have 6 people. Team is open to hire some new people, but we want to keep all our team in one place, so living in Łódź is a requirement. It’s just easier to manage team like that. We always know how much time any of us have and when we are all in the same place it’s easier to have a team meeting in our office, which are in Art_Inkubator, or just go somewhere to get some inspiration like a movie, board games or just beer.

For some time, we were lacking people that make music or sound design, but our presence at Poznań Game Arena allowed us to solve that issue. It’s also hard to find someone with experience in marketing, that is prepared to do it as a hobbyist, so we have people that are still learning and do their job as best they can, but it is worth it. Our testers from Discords (now around 20 of them) are highly engaged. We also found that some of our game fans want to help us with different localizations of the game.

PK: We have seen a couple of games exhibited at Poznan Game Arena, one being Dunrog, which is like a voxel art dungeon crawler– why did you choose that art style for the title? 

We’re aware, that as a small independent team have limited resources. First thing is to calculate the cost. We don’t want to start a project that we can’t finish, or one that would take us eternity to make. So, our art style has to be as simple as possible. Using voxel-art not only makes our models easy, quick to make and animate, but also lets us hire someone, who wants to learn that style, without professional knowledge of 3D art. During this summer, we also changed voxels into marching cubes, that can give players a quite fresh look, that wasn’t used to much in game development previously. Marching cubes are in fact something like rounded voxels, so our style is a little softer, than regular voxel-art.

It was good decision as well for design part. Our game is quite old school. We don’t have tutorials; we don’t make an instruction for using every item in the game and we don’t protect players from making mistakes. A lot of special game mechanics are hidden, waiting to be found. We’re open for experimenting with our game. Anyway – voxels are great for working on grids so, our generators really like to work with them.

PK:  Fast development cycles versus long ones, do you have a philosophy around game development cycles? –  or is the fast development cycle and straight to market more economic necessity or perhaps a better consumer positioning vs the bigger more time demanding games out there?  

We want to close our games in up to 1-2 years of production time. It’s optimal for us to not lose our motivation and be highly focused on developing it. If we’re promising a game to our fans, we want to don’t make them wait for too long. We also want to be sure, that we can quickly get some feedback about gameplay, so we’re trying to close our development in multiple fully playable stages (milestones), that we can show on events, meetings with friends or just present as a closed alfa/beta to people, that want to test our game and help

us with some opinions or bug reports. So, it’s just our preferences, not a money focused decision. We love to work that way and be motivated with people, that like to play our game, even on early builds.

Does the studio have a speciality, a common thread that you can find in all the Onion Milk projects? From the outside looking in, All the games that you have worked on as a studio have a specific sense of humour in their presentation, is this just a reflection of the team or is their design in this?  

All our games have simple graphics. We like to keep them in low poly or pixel-art looking. Till now, it’s a great match with all our projects. As well, we like to put some humorous things in all of our games. As a team we also like to goof around a little time to time. You can find us in pigeon masks (the dresscode that we made for Pigeon Fight) or wearing all white (cause OnionMilk is white and it’s gives us visibility on events) or just being crazy wearing random animals’ masks like bears, owls, horses etc. We’re definitely not an ordinary team and we refuse to be “normal”.

PK:  Publishing support or direct distribution – what’s your opinion on the benefits of having a publisher involved in the process. 

We developed and released our last game solo and now we’ve decided to try to find out how it will be with a publisher. For now, we can say, that is really surprising how flexible publisher support could be. Of course, some of them have their own demands like publishing it on certain platforms at the same time (for now Switch is very popular) or distribution for certain regions, but mostly you’re able to set your goals and come up with an agreement on how to proceed. More support means more profit for a publisher, so it’s good to know what you want at the first place. It’s up to you, whether you want your future publisher to just hype the game, or maybe you want something more. They can help you with localization, porting for other platforms, finding new team members or they can even just give you the money, if you have a good plan, how your game will use it and achieve big success after release.

So, if you have a good proof of concept of your game project and you know what you want, finding a publisher is definitely worth a try.

PK:  I ask everyone this: How do you browse games on Steam – how do you select a game to play on the weekends? 

Some of us have their own YouTube channels about games, that they like to watch. Some are digging really deeply in Steam Store to find really special, unique games. We also like to check out games from our competition. If we find one like that, we share it and play it together (if possible) to find as much inspiration as possible. For “Dunrog” it is “Delver” and “Barony”.

PK:  What’s the next 12 months look like for Onion Milk?  

We’re planning to release “Dunrog” in next 6 months (Q1 2020). So, it will be a lot of hard work to get that done. Especially on multiplayer and story mode. As well some biomes need textures and models to be finished. We’ll also see how our negotiations with publishers will go. After release, we’ll start a new project. We have some ideas, but for now we can’t tell more about them. We’re also planning to extend content of “Dunrog” with DLC.

OnionMilk can be found at:

http://onionmilk.org

https://store.steampowered.com/search/?developer=OnionMilk