Freedom Planet’s Development: From Sonic Fan Game to Cult Classic | The Art of…Success?

Freedom Planet’s Development: From Sonic Fan Game to Cult Classic | The Art of…Success?


– [JAMES] Recently I covered Mighty No. 9, a video game that was funded predominantly through the crowdfunding website Kickstarter and managed to raise over $4 million USD. However, upon its release in 2016, it was a critical and commercial failure that disappointed many, myself included. But today we’re shifting gears slightly. We’re talking about Freedom Planet, a game that managed to raise a far lower amount of money from Kickstarter and had a team behind it that didn’t exactly have a lot of experience with the video game industry and yet, upon its release in 2014, it went on to be a modern cult classic. Today we aren’t merely talking about how Freedom Planet found unexpected success nor are we merely critiquing the Kickstarter platform or merely just talking about its original mastermind, Stephen DiDuro. Instead through research, interviews, and analysis we’re going to be going over the full development story of Freedom Planet. This isn’t so much the Art of Failure but I guess this is kind of The Art of Success! (Musical Intro) (Upbeat Music) What is an indie game? Most would define that as a video game, most often created by a small development team or even a single person, which is published independently of a traditional video game publisher. These titles are often marked by having a more basic presentation style than a big budget title would and they often serve as references or homages to older styles or eras of gaming. And, in every sense of the word, Freedom Planet is thus an indie game. The story of Freedom Planet technically begins in 2011 in Denmark with Stephen DiDuro, a.k.a. Strife. DiDuro had moved to Denmark from the United States some years earlier for personal reasons and was living a fairly normal life. Living in the suburban area of Herlew, close to the city of Copenhagen, he found himself working a menial day job while he worked on video games as a hobby. These were often just small projects that he’d distribute to his friends but this all changed in 2011 when he decided to make a fangame based off of Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog series. DiDuro had become a fan of the Sonic series at a young age. In the 90s, his family had gotten a Sega Genesis console allowing him to experience titles such as Sonic the Hedgehog, of course, but also allowing him to experience the likes of Gunstar Heroes from a young age. Granted, these were usually experienced from the role of a “Player 2”, as, in true childhood gaming fashion, his older brother usually had dibs on being Player 1. It should then be no surprise that DiDuro’s earliest memories of playing Sonic weren’t actually in regards to playing as the speedy blue hedgehog himself but rather as his sidekick, Tails. In the early-to-mid 2000s, 2 major developments would then occur in DiDuro’s life that would shape his future career. The 1st of these was getting a copy of Clickteam’s Klik & Play software, which was a very basic video game development tool. The 2nd was joining the Sonic Retro community, which is an online Sonic fan-forum and wiki known for its extensive sub-communities focused around Sonic romhacking and fangame creation. From this fan-run website would come several now lauded individuals including Christian Whitehead and Simon Thomley, who would later go on to create the official Sonic Mania for Sonic IP owner Sega. Also active in this community at the time was Leila Wilson, who was cutting her teeth creating music for projects such as Sonic Megamix Version 5.0, which was being headed by Thomley. It was also during this time that DiDuro’s interest in game development would truly flourish. [DIDURO] When you’re first starting with game development you kind of gravitate towards the games that you like and already know and you kind of, like, experiment with those games’ formulas when you’re first starting out and obviously, like, I started out with like Mega Man and Sonic and Mario, just kind of, like, buildnig similar platform games to those. And, that led me to the Sonic Community. I started using the Multimedia Fusion line of products when I was 11 years old. I started with a program called Klik & Play, and my parents ordered it for me from Europe, but I was exposed to it by like, one of those, like, super cheap CDs that you’d get from the supermarket with like thousands of games on them. And, some of the games on there happened to have been made with Klik & Play. So, after I got that I started playing around with it for a few years just like making games by myself, which I didn’t, like, show to anyone, and then, like, I started making some freeware games and then I started dabbling around with like, more sophisticated physics engines like the kind that Sonic uses. [JAMES] In around 2011, then, after being surrounded by those making their own fanmade Sonic games for years, DiDuro decided that he himself was going to try his hand at making a Sonic the Hedgehog fangame. The scope of this project would soon grow to a point where it was meant to be a properly released PC fangame. Though, the main character of this fangame was not actually intended to be Sonic the Hedgehog himself the game did rely on a physics engine similar to that found in a Classic Sonic game and included Sonic-like elements such as rings, loop-de-loops, and the nefarious Dr. Eggman as the big bad. However, as DiDuro continued to work on this project friends began to mention to him the increasing amounts of time and effort being sunk into this game’s development. And this was in addition to working a day job! Eventually, he was convinced that instead of continuing on creating a Sonic fan project, he would axe this original idea and instead re-develope this game into a truly original game that he could sell without any worries about it being taken down by Sega. This was the birth of Freedom Planet. [DiDuro] When I was working on Freedom Planet it was just going to be, like, a small little Flash game project but then, that was around the time that Kickstarter was at its peak for video games and some friends of mine convinced me to make just a few changes to what I was working on in order to make it an original title. [JAMES] Instead of Sonic the Hedgehog, this game would feature its own original character, Sash Lilac. Lilac was not a character of DiDuro’s design. Instead, she was the creation of artist ZiyoLing, who gave DiDuro permission to use her for this game. However, some critiques were raised by those who saw early versions of the game. Most notably, these were about Lilac being nothing more than just a purple Sonic clone. Indeed, there were concerns at this point about the game in general having no identity other than a “new” Classic Sonic game. Thus, for many aspects of Freedom Planet, at this early stage DiDuro already found himself back at the drawing board. However, he would also begin operating under the name of “GalaxyTrail”, which he intended to make into his own game studio. It was then decided that the game would have to go through an even further overhaul. Though it would still use the same Sonic-esque engine, gameplay would no longer feature aspects such as the rings though would have its own collectables, and at some point, Lilac’s design was re-tooled from a hedgehog into a humanoid dragon and her own gameplay, too, was tweaked to less resemble that of Sonic. In addition, 2 new characters, also designed by ZiyoLing, were added. These were Carol, a wildcat, and Milla, a hush-basset. A new villain was also decided upon. This would be Lord Brevon, an alien overlord who had his heart set on intergalactic conquest. Brevon, however, was not originally designed with Freedom Planet in mind. In fact, his design had been created by DiDuro some years prior and though he had grown fond of the design he, unfortunately, had not found a chance up to this point to use it. The game would also begin to include influences from other, non-Sonic titles. This is evident in the final game through references to and stage designs that evoke feelings of Gunstar Heroes, Alien Soldier, and Mega Man X. Finally, there came the issue of funding. DiDuro had never worked on a game intended to be released for sale before. The scope here was also much bigger than anything he’d worked on prior. So as such, he would need funding to release it on platforms such as, say, Steam for PCs. In addition, though he could handle much of the programming work himself, he would need help with aspects of game development such as pixel art, and scoring a soundtrack. For the latter of these, he ultimately decided to have the game’s music partially handled by himself and composers Shane Ellis and Leila Wilson, the latter of whom he had begun working with on the recommendations of Simon Thomley! [WILSON] Yeah, that soundtrack is well, it never stops. It’s just pumping the whole time. It’s like firing on all cylinders and it’s like a drag race, y’know. It’s explosively fast. So, I knew Stealth but when I worked on Megamix that was back when it was just Tweaker doing it and, um, we talked a lot and he ended up really liking my music. I really liked his. So he was like “Hey, do you wanna do some stuff for this?” and that was how those first tracks ended up in there. [JAMES] As DiDuro had never worked on a game such as this at this scale before, he set the initial funding bar low. He figured that he could partially finance it himself through money he earned by working his day job and then earn the rest of the money needed through the crowdfunding website Kickstarter. Thus, towards the end of 2012, he and a few others began planning the Freedom Planet Kickstarter campaign. They made a list of expenses and tried their best to find reasonable stretch goals and hoped that the game itself would initially be promoted through word of mouth. Leading up to the Kickstarter campaign’s launch, he also gauged interest and searched for feedback from various online communities. Most notably, the Sonic Retro forums. Ultimately, Freedom Planet had an initial funding goal of only $2,000USD. This was a paltry amount compared to other, later campaigns. Though Freedom Planet was being created at the height of the boom of retro-gaming inspired indie titles, other Kickstarter campaigns launched later in 2013, such as Shovel Knight and Mighty No. 9, would have funding goals of hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars and, in the latter of those game’s cases, teams of experienced game development professionals behind them. In the case of Freedom Planet, however, it wasn’t just a question of if this game could get enough support to be funded but if DiDuro and those involved because of their lack of experience had it in them to create a game that was not only good but could sell well. But then, on 15 January 2013, the Freedom Planet Kickstarter campaign was launched. It was now or never and the fate of the project now lay firmly in the hands of strangers on the internet. (Freedom Planet Intro Music) On 14 February 2013, the Freedom Planet campaign ended on Kickstarter. After 1 month, the project had been promoted by several YouTubers and some media outlets and had managed to smash through its original $2,000 funding goal, ultimately reaching over $25,000! Pitched as a mashup between Sonic the Hedgehog, Mega Man, and Gunstar Heroes, interest was piqued in those who felt nostalgia towards the games of the early and mid 1990s. Within a few hours it had hit 25% of its funding goal. Then, the very next day, it surpassed its original goal, guaranteeing that GalaxyTrail would receive funding. Whether those involved were ready for the work ahead or not, it seemed that Freedom Planet was actually going to get made. By the end of the campaign a relatively staggering amount had been raised. DiDuro was amazed by the success here though work was ultimately just getting started. Due to how far they had beat the original funding goal, Freedom Planet had managed to earn a variety of stretch goals, which were perks intended to incentivize people to continue to back the game after it had achieved its original desired funding amount. These included promises of hiring extra programmers, a web comic that would follow the plot of the game, animated and voice acted cutscenes, and even 2 additional playable characters in the forms of the ninja-like Spade and the alien, Torque. This would bring the overall character count to 5. It was also during this time that the overall story of the game would begin to resemble its final form. In the final release, it would go as follows: Our 3 main heroines, Lilac, Carol, and Milla, live on the futuristic planet of Avalice, which is divided into 3 countries: Shuigong, Shang Mu, and Shang Tu. The world itself is heavily influenced by various eastern Asian cultures and is very technologically advanced. The nearly limitless power source for the world is supplied by the Kingdom Stone, a mystical relic of supposed unimaginable power. However, soon the planet is invaded by the army of the intergalactic warlord Lord Brevon, who kills the king of Shuigong, assumes control of that country, and sets his bloodthirsty sights towards stealing the Kingdom Stone. At the same time, the alien, Torque, crash lands on the planet and, disguising himself as a duck-turtle thing, meets up with our heroines and tells them of Brevon’s plans. Thus, they all set off to save the world from Lord Brevon, all the while getting entangled in diplomatic squabbles, which ultimately result in them going through a wide variety of platforming stages. To put it simply, though darker than your average Sonic game, and especially so as it ultimately had mature moments such as torture scenes in it, it is ultimately a classic 2D platformer plot that serves the purpose of giving players an excuse to go through a variety of levels. This game would also differentiate itself from Sonic games further through its gameplay. Despite still having a physics engine and some stages that resembled those of a Classic Sonic game, each of the 3 main characters was noticeably more combat-based than any of the Classic Sonic characters were. The game had hit all but 1 of its planned Kickstarter stretch goals and was planned to have fully animated cutscenes done in the same Sega Genesis-esque art style as the rest of the game. This was due to DiDuro feeling that such a story had not really done in a game like this before. A development team was assembled featuring people from around the world. Though DiDuro himself was in Denmark at this time, the bulk of the Freedom Planet team was located in the United States, with several other members in Canada, various European nations, and, of course, ZiyoLing, who created the original designs for the game’s protagonists, who was located in China. Updates went out to Kickstarter backers at a fairly regular pace as progress on the game began to ramp up. These ranged from gameplay showcases to updates on rewards and even interviews with the developers! Of note, early on, on 1 February 2013, DiDuro was interviewed for Kickstarter’s official podcast. Also during the first weeks of the campaign, a page was created on Steam Greenlight, where people could publicly follow progress and play beta releases of Freedom Planet. This version of the game was also promised to anyone who had backed at least $10 USD to the campaign. And thus we find ourselves back on 14 February. The same day that the campaign ended, additional funding options were opened up via PayPal for those who had wished to back the game but had missed out on the Kickstarter campaign. The future seemed bright and the game was set to be released in around May of 2014. One thing that marked the Freedom Planet campaign from many other games financed through Kickstarter is the attempts made to be transparent with how funds earned would be spent. This included a full budget breakdown on the game’s main Kickstarter page, which went so far as to even account for the cut that Kickstarter itself would take when the game was funded. In addition, DiDuro felt a moral obligation to point out any changes in where funds were allocated whenever he could. Then, over the following months, work continued steadily. Pixel art was created. Stages were programmed. Music was composed. On the surface all seemed well but tensions did get heated at some points. Though, not counting voice actors, the GalaxyTrail team would come to encompass several people, Freedom Planet was very much so DiDuro’s baby. He did the bulk of the programming work and even dabbled in other areas of the development process, such as the soundtrack. He on occasion would butt heads on aspects of the game not handled by himself, such as is the case with a couple of tracks created by Wilson. Most problematic of these was the theme for Sky Battallion, a stage which DiDuro and Wilson went back and forth on for weeks. She would later say of this: “We fought that song like a goddang dragon!” 2 things made Freedom Planet stand out from other popular retro-throwback titles of the time. The 1st alpha build of the game was made available to backers before funding even ended and, though reportably quite fun, was also a bit rough. At this point the graphics weren’t nearly as detailed as in the final release and in the earliest of alphas, the game also apparently only ran in a 4:3 aspect ratio, such as found on an old CRT television. However, by 15 May 2013, when alpha version 1.4.1 was released, most of this had been updated and the game felt smoother and even ran in a more proper, modern 16:9 aspect ratio. Then, barely a month later, a demo of the game featuring the Sky Battallion stage was released and it seemed that progress was indeed continuing at a very steady rate. Another push for promotion also began around this time. In the same post to the Kickstarter page in which the June Sky Battallion demo was released, a call was made to backers to potentially get demo versions of the game into the hands of gaming websites and YouTube personalities so as to raise awareness of the project. DiDuro also began toying around with the idea of potentially porting the game to a home console after the initial release. Then, in November of that year, Freedom Planet would be announced for its first major showcase at a video game convention. This would be at the Indie Game Megabooth at PAX East 2014 in Bostom, Massachusetts, one of the most notable gaming conventions on the North American east coast. To quote DiDuro: “It was an unforgettable experience.” However, though close tabs was being kept on the budget and though development team members were being brought on only as needed, DiDuro still did a majority of the programming work himself. While he worked seemingly nonstop on the game at times, remarking that he gave up much of his social life while working on it, he also found himself becoming a bit of a workaholic. Particularly, while working on some of the game’s bosses, especially the larger and more complex of these bosses, he would find himself getting stressed out with certain things he was trying to program. Ultimately, the stress would build and build until he would have to step back from what he was working on. However, instead of actually taking a break from working on the game, he would take a “break” of sorts by temporarily redirecting his attention to other aspects of the game. [DIDURO] It’s really interesting because sometimes when I’m struggling with, like, building something in a game and I need time to figure out what to do next, my idea of taking a “break” is to kind of, like, work on something completely, like, inconsequential to the game itself. So, that’s the reason that you can sit down on the benches in some of the stages because that was just something that I coded while I was in Fortune Night’s case, working on the boss fight for that stage, I think. Like, I was taking a break from it because it was taking me awhile so I ended up coding benches, but out of one of those, like, programmer’s blocks as I would call them, I ended up coming up with this idea for a motorcycle that Carol could ride. [JAMES] Work would continue through the 2013 holiday season and into the start of 2014. Towards the beginning of that year, a proper release date was even announced: 30 May 2014. Yet, by this point, some decisions were made at GalaxyTrail in regards to some of the Kickstarter promises. Most notably, the 2 promised additional playable characters though still appearing in the game’s story mode in cutscenes, and though partially playable at this point, they would not make their way into the final game. [DiDURO] My biggest worry was if the game would do well enough that I would be able to uphold all of my obligations to the backers of our Kickstarter. This was because we had a few stretch goals that we were having difficulties with. One of those stretch goals we had was to make kind of like a webcomic series to expand on the events of the game and that didn’t end up working out so we communicated with the fans about it and said that we instead wanted to use that money to improve the pixel art in the game instead and thankfully they were very understanding about that. So, a couple of other stretch goals involved adding new characters and we got as far as getting them into kind of like beta testing, but by that point we were pushing the Multimedia Fusion engine to its absolute limits and we were basically having difficulties inserting them into levels that were designed for the main 3 characters instead of them. So, at some point I would maybe like to make a spinoff game that involves those characters just so they at least like, have something. [JAMES] Some other major changes were also decided on during this time by DiDuro. These were both in regards to the game itself and his personal life. Around this time, he would move from Denmark to Central New York so as to be closer to family and the majority of those working on the game. In addition, some levels were also cut at this point. Most notably, these were the Warp Sector and Horizon Starport stages, which were supposed to be exclusive to the character, Torque. However, though Torque was scrapped as a playable character along with these stages, remnants of them are still within the data of the final release. However, while some aspects of the game were being cut other aspects of the game were being expanded on. For example, Final Dreadnaught, the last level of the game, would extend into a multi-stage long gauntlet. Also, despite moving back to the United States, the majority of the game’s team still worked remotely and, indeed, several team members didn’t even meet DiDuro in person until after Freedom Planet’s final release. As the announced release date approached all seemed well on the outside. Updates continued consistently on the Kickstarter page with both private betas and public demos being released. The game began to be covered by more and more press outlets and was even featured on the cover of the May 2014 issue of Indie Game Magazine. Backers were even being well communicated with about the game and their rewards. So, it came as a shock to many when the game faced the first of several delays on 5 May 2014. Announced via the Kickstarter page, the game was to be moved back 1 month on Steam from 30 May to 30 June. But then, on 20 June, the release date was pushed back again until 19 July. So what happened? Well, the animated cutscenes are what happened. The bulk of them weren’t started on until the final months of development and working on them nearly wrecked DiDuro in the process. Indeed, supposedly even the game itself wasn’t even fully completed to his satisfaction until days before release. While many video games experience a “hell week” or “hell weeks” as a form of crunch time prior to launch, that bit of summer before the Freedom Planet launch has been referred to by some involved as the “hell months”. [WILSON] He didn’t do the cutscenes until the very end of the game was in development. He had 2 weeks. He’d already pushed it back twice and and he was in the dev chat like “Guys, I don’t think I can do this” and we were like “You can because you have to.” So we were there, like, giving him moral support but that about killed him. [DIDURO] So, uh, we, well, I had to try to rig together a system and I ended up, like, hard-coding a lot of the positioning of the characters and stuff, so that made it difficult to go back and, like, fix bugs in the cutscenes and stuff. But thankfully I had some help during that final stretch. Like…and then I think we made, like… the final stage is actually 4 stages all in 1 and I think we ended up making all of those in the last couple of months as well. Like, between the graphics and whatnot, we were crazy productive. [JAMES] For better or worse, though, and perhaps at the expense of his own mental health, DiDuro was determined to have the game launch within the summer of 2014. One last demo was released on 24 June and then, barring one final small delay to the game, this time only by a few days due to Steam not wanting new releases to release on weekends, on 21 July 2014 Freedom Planet the final game was finally released to the world. Whether the game would be the retro throwback that DiDuro had hoped for and whether the blood, sweat, and tears put into the project by those involved with GalaxyTrail would pay off… only time would tell. [EPIC NARRATOR] A crisis has befallen our world. For centuries we have depended on the Kingdom Stone, but its strength is fading. Tensions are brewing. And I now feat that war…may be inevitable. [JAMES] This was the launch trailer for Freedom Planet. Shared out across the internet by backers, Sonic fans, and retro gaming enthusiasts alike, the game seemed to quickly gain steam, ultimately culminating in a release that was… remarkably quiet. That’s not to say that Freedom Planet was poorly received, though. Far from it, actually. Brad Jones of Game Rant would say of the game: [JONES] All in all, Freedom Planet is a game that deserves to be mentioned among titles like the excellent Shovel Knight. It’s rooted in the history of video games, but developed with an appreciation for the fact that times have changed since the classics of the retro era had their day. Whether it’s the engrossing gameplay, endearing character designs or light-hearted plot, Freedom Planet will likely offer something that puts a smile on your face. Plus, it’s probably the best Sonic game we’re likely to receive for the foreseeable future. [JAMES] While Richard Naik of GameCritics.com would award the game a perfect 10/10 score, stating at the end of his review: [NAIK] The most impressive thing about Freedom Planet is just how good it feels. It feels great to find the correct sequence of actions to send Lilac rocketing through a level at warp speed. It feels great hearing each song on the excellent soundtrack for the first time. It feels great to nail the perfect spindash on an enemy and absolutely shred it. That type of exhilaration is rare and worthy of praise. There’s no shortage of retro-style games that will charm one’s socks off with beautiful sprites and catchy tunes, but to combine all of that with such a deep mechanical understanding of those old Genesis platformers is a remarkable feat. GalaxyTrail, please take a bow. [JAMES] However, though critic scores were positive, what ultimately led to Freedom Planet gaining traction was word of mouth over the next year. Eventually, there would be uptake from YouTubers such as SomeCallmeJohnny and My Life in Gaming. [COURY] To say that I enjoyed Freedom Planet would be an understatement. It truly felt like I had discovered a long lost Saturn game that just so happens to appeal to a bunch of things that makes me love games the way that I do. Maybe I’m being overdramatic, but it simply clicked with me in a way that not a lot of games do these days. And that’s going to keep me coming back for a long time to come. [JAMES] Due to positive word getting around, sales did eventually pick up. However, the game was not without faults. Many critics noted that the cutscenes often went on longer than expected for a game such as this and that the story’s overall tone and pacing was all over the place. These were faults acknowledged by Stephen DiDuro, who lamented on having not spend more time on crafting the cutscenes. In addition, some critics thought that the game relied too much on being based upon Sega Genesis-style platformers, and that this held it back from achieving its own identity. These gripes, among others, led to DiDuro, around this time, to begin to plan a sequel game. However, he wasn’t quite done with this first game yet. In early 2015, GalaxyTrail would make an appearance at the PAX South expo in San Antonio, Texas. Like any incarnation of the Penny Arcade Expo, this is considered one of the go-to events for those in or interested in the video game industry. Indeed, it has since been considered by DiDuro as one of the first major pushes for the title. It was also around this time that DiDuro would decide to pursue one of his lifelong dreams: he had always wanted to have a game on a Nintendo platform. Thus, he began searching into how to accomplish such a feat. And remarkably, it was a fairly easy process, involving him contacting a few Nintendo representatives he found through their website. Thus, on 9 March 2015, it was announced that later that same year Freedom Planet would be coming to the Nintendo Wii U. [DIDURO] That was around the time that the Wii U was starting to pick up steam, and even though, obviously, it never got to the same heights as the Wii before it, I still saw an opportunity to bring our game to a whole new audience who wasn’t into PC gaming or Steam or anything like that. Another thing with that is that it had always been a lifelong dream of mine to have a game on a Nintendo console so, like, just the fact that Nintendo at that time was starting to cater more towards indie developers, like with their Nindies Program, I just saw that as an opportunity to realize my dream and I’m just really thrilled at how open they were towards us and, like, how much they helped us out with, like, marketing and everything. So, I’m really thankful to Nintendo for really making that a reality. [JAMES] The Wii U may seem like an odd choice to some as that system itself was a massive flop for Nintendo and that was very evident in sales numbers by 2015. However, despite the stagnant sales of the Wii U, Nintendo began to become increasingly open to independent developers. Thus, while major 3rd party developers seemed to avoid Nintendo’s console like the plague, for indie developers such as GalaxyTrail it seemed like a perfect fit for their title. After being give a small push by Nintendo themselves during the E3 Expo in 2015, mainly in the forms of a new trailer for the game and a free demo via their eShop service, the game was released in early October that year once again to acclaim. By 2016, the Wii U and Steam versions of Freedom Planet had together sold over 250,000 copies. With the success of the Wii U port DiDuro then turned his sights to another console, one which had sold much better than Nintendo’s machine: the Sony PlayStation 4. Getting a game published there, however, was easier said than done. DiDuro had hoped that this version would release some time in 2016. But, after his initial experiences with Sony, he began to wonder if this would ever get released at all. Sony was much more difficult to deal with than Nintendo and their process was vastly different. Sony had a quality assurance system that seemed crazy and hard to pass, and also made having a publisher seem near-essential. Indeed, Freedom Planet had to go through Sony’s quality assurance system 4 different times before it was allowed onto the PlayStation Network Store. In comparison, when the game was later brought out on the PS4 in Japan, due to that version being handled by XSeed, an established video game publisher, it only had to go through Sony’s systems once. While Freedom Planet was making its initial rounds through Sony’s QA testing, attempts were also being made to bring it to the Nintendo 3DS handheld. The game’s engine was successfully ported but however, it seemed impossible to get it to run at any speed above a sluggish crawl. But then, after the announcement of the 3DS’ successor, the Nintendo Switch, in late 2016, this version of the game was altogether abandoned. Finally in March 2017, after an arduous wait Freedom Planet would make its way onto the PlayStation 4. A year later in August 2018, it would also find its way onto the Nintendo Switch. The game would find steady sales and even find a cult following and is now considered by many to be a modern classic. Freedom Planet’s creator’s didn’t set out to change the world but they did set out to create an homage to gaming in the 90s and then fill said homage with their own characters and flair. Against all odds and a lack of experience in the gaming industry that to many would’ve spelled failure and doom from the very start, they found resounding success. (GalaxyTrail Jingle) The story of Freedom Planet is the story of a game that many thought would not succeed but ultimately did become a successful cult classic. However, whether Freedom Planet’s success is truly the result of the time and effort sunk into it by those behind it or is just the result of pure luck, that’s for you to decide. This wasn’t really a traditional Art of Failure episode, but this was definitely a documentary!

28 thoughts on “Freedom Planet’s Development: From Sonic Fan Game to Cult Classic | The Art of…Success?

  1. Enjoy what you saw and want to see more videos like this more often? Why not support us on Patreon, and even get extras such as the uncut versions of the interviews featured in each AOF episode? https://www.patreon.com/stuffweplay

  2. I remember last year I see Eviscerator MK2 playing this and I liked how it looked. It's interesting to know this was similar to the success of sonic mania. It's a game I've wanted to play but not got around to it yet.

  3. That man reading Richard Naik's review of Freedom Planet has a truly graphically impressive voice. I guess the guy read Brad Jones' review was ok as well.:-) But yeah fantastic video as always man. You've improved massively at presenting this series in a very short amount of time.Freedom Planet 1 is awesome & I is hype for Freedom Planet 2!

  4. This was a really cool video! I like the documentary style a lot, and the editing was stellar! Keep up the good work 🙂

  5. I'd love a series on the Art of Success. See all the little games that made it from decent all the way to big.

  6. I'm so glad that Freedom Planet happened in its own original form. Galaxytrail and the franchise has a great potential, especially since they're working on Freedom Planet 2. I really hope they succeeds and they're doing great, and even after!

    Also: Thanks for doing this video. I think it was brilliant and well-scripted. I think you should give your shoulder a little pat for it!

  7. Amazing video! I always wanted a video that went deep into the development of this game. Never knew that's how the benches were programmed!

    Oh and uhh… at 21:45 is that Dr Light and Dr Wily?!

  8. Freedom Planet is my shit! I love this game. It was the main inspiration for my current project and my goal as a game designer is to one day release a game half as good as Freedom Planet.

  9. stephen is pretty cute ngl. (His hair is amazing.)
    He sounded so sad and choked up in all the interviews though ;~;

  10. >FP2 expected to release by 2020
    I hope so! I have plans related to Freedom Planet and they require being this damn patient for the game to come out in full.

  11. I really hope DiDuro doesn't nearly put himself out doing FP2's cutscenes. He's being smart in holding off on a concrete release date this time around. As much as I love the game, and am really looking forward to 2, DiDuro's and the rest of the team's health is important!

  12. I have the game and just couldn't get into it after the first level. I just feel like the top running speed is weird since you can't reach it by just running, it throws me off

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