I was delighted when I discovered a really cute looking game called Lolly Joe, by Happily Games. I wanted to learn more and so reached out to Peter and asked him to tell us more about it...
Who are you and what is Lolly Joe about?
'My name's Peter Valencia, a 25-year old game developer as well as a 3D artist from southern California. You may have previously heard of me from some of my past work as an artist, like on A Hat in Time.
Lolly Joe is a 3D platformer starring Joe, a cute dog who wields a giant rainbow lollipop. Joe is on a journey to reunite with his friend Noah, with whom he parted ways long ago. However, for reasons explained later in the game's story, Joe has found himself inside Noah's mind, in a world where fantasy and reality become intertwined and anything can happen! Along Joe's journey you'll be met with strange and wild situations that couldn't happen in the real world.'
Who came up with the concept?
'Myself, Peter. I designed and created everything in the game on my own, including all of the characters and the worlds. The only thing in the game that I did not create myself was the music.'
What has been the most challenging aspect of the game for you?
'Coming from an artist background, programming and scripting were not something I had a lot of experience with, so there were certain things in the game, particularly the bosses, that really challenged me. I was more than willing to take on the challenge, though. Challenge is what game development fun for me, and it gives me experience that allows me to learn new skills or hone my existing ones. I'm very confident in my scripting skills now thanks to Lolly Joe.'
Why should we take a look at it?
'Lolly Joe features really colorful cartoony levels, challenging platforming gameplay, unlockable costumes, and cute character designs, all of which help set the game apart.
From the start of the Lolly Joe's development, my #1 goal was to make a really unique game. 3D platformers are making a comeback in a big way right now in the industry, and as a one-man team with absolutely no money or budget to work with, I wanted to make sure my game stood out among the growing crowd of indie 3D platformers with bigger budgets and larger teams. I did that in several ways, most of which I listed above, but the primary one was adding a touching story that was inspired by my own life and my struggles with a debilitating autoimmune disease.'
Wow what an interesting concept! Tell us more...
'Most 3D platformers have throwaway stories that are merely there to "tick a checkbox", if you will, and there's nothing wrong with that! Most of my favorite 3D platformers had very forgettable stories. However, today, games with a strong focus on narrative have taken over the industry, and for a long time I've believed that 3D platformers may not have died off years ago if they had kept up with this trend. Essentially, I think a lot of gamers nowadays want to feel like their time on an adventure actually matters on a deeper level. For many people, it's not just about getting to the goal pole at the end of the level anymore - there needs to be a "why" to their accomplishment. A game where you're collecting things for the sake of collecting them doesn't really accomplish that for those people, no matter how fun it might be.
I'm confident that Lolly Joe will leave an impression on you and make you feel your time playing it was totally worthwhile. The story is incredibly relevant to anyone who's suffered from a serious illness or disability, or has a loved one who suffers from one - and if you think about it, that's really all of us! Of course, there will always be some people who don't care for any story in their games, so I added the option to skip all cutscenes (with the exception of the ending cutscene) if you really want to.'
Does the game have any music? If so, what style & why did you go with that?
'Lolly Joe does have music. I picked out every single track very carefully to make sure they perfectly fit the various situations in the game. The style varies depending on level. For example, the first world in the game (the Suburbs) has a relaxed melody in the contemporary genre, to reflect the quiet and peaceful setting. On the other hand, the second world (the City) has a jazzy and more active sound to it.'
If we want to play it where can we find it?
'Lolly Joe is available on Steam, Itch.io, Humble, and Indie Gala, for the affordable price of $6.99.'
follow Lolly Joe and Peter's progress @happolygames.
follow me @ninichimusic