Friend & Foe are a mad bunch of not-so-youngsters holed up on the west side of Tokyo, trying to make a game called Vane. They also have a Stockholm office where Dangerous Men is being developed hitherto under-the-radar. The five person outfit consists of experienced industry professionals with an impressive list of credits that includes The Last Guardian, Battlefield 3, Bionic Commando & Killzone to their name. This is their profile!
Chart your entry into the industry and the decision to create the studio? We come from different areas of the AAA space, having all toiled away in our own corners on other people’s projects big and small for quite some time. Perhaps naturally we all shared a desire to create something of our own and see if we could actually make it work, and suddenly last year the right ideas and the right capital came together to give birth to this handsome little monster we call Friend & Foe.
What spurred the decision to set up shop in Japan? We were all pretty much living here already, so starting the company here was a given. Japan is a mostly awesome place that becomes hard to leave once you’ve been here a while, and there’s a cute indiescene budding that we’re looking forward to being a part of.
Are there any cultural and development practices you’ve picked up there you’d like to see adopted in the Nordic region? Are there some you’d like to see removed from the Japanese approach to game development? AAA game development has its issues both here and in the west, but of course there is a lot to learn from both and AAA production does run in our veins. For us the most inspiring thing to have happened in the last 5-6 years is the whole explosion of the indie thing though, more than anything. Trying to scope well and create something new and unique with more focus on a single idea or feeling is really where it’s at, we think. If you can pay rent at the same time, you are winning.
Could we explore your two titles in development, Vane and Dangerous Men? Whilst little is known about them, they seem vastly different aesthetically and gameplay wise. What would you like the games you create to say about you as a team? Vane is an adventure game that wants to put the player in a strange place and give him that almost childlike sense of mystery that comes from not knowing what the heck is going on but being enthralled enough to figure it out. It’s about striking a balance between being lost in an open world with the freedom to explore, and going deep into finding out your own fate within it. Vane is about strange, vast expanses and amazing sights, but also about a looming threat and the confines of destiny.
Dangerous Men is more about explosions and brotherly love. More about this pet project soon!
If there’s anything to take away from these radically different games, its that we are a diverse bunch of dudes that never want to be pegged as a genre-developer. If anything Friend & Foe is about allowing all kinds of ideas to exist under the same roof and pushing them all to really high standards of quality, while trying to not spend forever making them. Wish us luck
What would you say is your strength as a team? Most of us are artists at heart that have learnt to wear other, stranger hats, which means that while everything else might go tits up, we can at least rely on each other to create art & sound that make us warm inside, which is great for when they shut the power off.
What would you say are some of the major challenges you face as a relatively new and small outfit? Learning to run a company and scheduling realistically to account for the eons of bizdevving required. It also turns out that making games is really hard!
Finally who is/are the developers in the Nordic region that inspire you and why? We really like Tarsier. Those guys are cooking up some fantastic-looking stuff lately and we really hope their talent & hard work is rewarded! Other names that come to mind are Playdead, who of course make very suggestive, intuitive stuff with a unique richness and mood. Might & Delight are another bunch of guys with some big indie balls! We like that. Plus everyone else we’re forgetting right now…
If you could impart a word of wisdom to new entrants to the industry, what would you say? Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid! Do what you like. Partner up. Start small. Post your stuff. Get together. Make something fantastic and people will notice!