This week I’ve been talking to game developer and animator Jennifer Dawe who is working with Lead Developer and Creator Jason Brown of Dapper Swine Studios to create SeedScape. Jennifer has been interviewed for TechRaptor before about women in the industry, so you should check that out, too.
I’ve heard lots of great things about SeedScape, people calling it the new Harvest Moon. Was that your inspiration? How does SeedScape differ, what makes it interesting and new?
Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing were probably the biggest inspirations for Jason and myself as we both love those games. SeedScape is a bit different than either of those games because the area you play in is procedurally-generated, and you are far less limited as to where you can put things. Jason is also making it so every game area you generate is just a little bit different in other ways that encourage people to always look for new things. You’ll have legendary plants among other things that are generated when the game world is created, and you will have different ones than other people, though there will definitely be repeats it won’t be a get it once and never again kind of thing. There’s a very “Surface level” playing experience you can have where you never touch the deeper parts of the game and you can still do well in the game, but there will also be layers of complexity you can dig into if you dare. This will make the game more fun for all ages. You can continue the game long after you complete the initial story, and there will be lots of interesting things to do to keep you going for a long time.
SeedScape recently got Greenlit, congratulations! Was the response to SeedScape more positive in general than your other projects? If so what do you think makes the game so special?
Definitely, I think Jason and I are hitting all the right notes by making a game that not only we want to get made, but a game that people have been requesting for a long time. PC has been neglected in the “comfy simulation” market, it’s mostly been handhelds and consoles that have marketed to the demographic that enjoys this. I just think it’s something the PC market has been dying for.
If SeedScape becomes successful, could you see yourself creating ports?
Absolutely, it was one of the things we discussed early on, Jason always made sure when designing the controls to keep other systems in mind.
You came under a lot of controversy when a user attempted to boycott SeedScape on Twitter. How did you feel about the public reaction to this?
Jason and I were actually relaxing after some pretty intense crunch time, streaming and marketing the greenlight, I had gone out with friends. I came home really late, and Jason was offline for the night, I had a bunch of Direct messages linking me to all sorts of crazy things going on. Honestly by the time I figured it out what had happened it was already a runaway train. Jason literally had no idea until the next morning when he logged in to check our page.
We received overwhelming support even when we were still very confused as to what was going on. I tried to ignore most of the people saying bad things as it was clear they were from a certain group I had run ins with and was targeted by before for years prior to this.
We were halfway to the top of Greenlight prior to this happening, and this certainly put things over the top though I was grateful that many people said that if they didn’t think the game looked good they wouldn’t have voted for it or promoted it. That’s the kind of honesty I have come to expect from this community, and I appreciate it.
The main thing I found disturbing about this is that Jason was targeted specifically because of me. He has not said anything for or against Gamergate, he just works on games and keeps to himself. They literally put him on a list of people to avoid simply for going with an animator who believed in the game but also had personal opinions they didn’t like.
We’re grateful for the chance to make a good product that will now get seen, it has taken a burden off of our shoulders as far as distribution goes, and we are certainly not going to let it go to waste.
Do you feel that this is a problem in gaming at the moment, where people are judging others for their opinions, and for their relationship to others rather than their work?
Absolutely. I noticed this problem back in 2012/2013 when I joined social media, if you weren’t agreeing with the right people, you were mysteriously shunned by others who really had nothing to do with them, they should have been competition but it was clear they were not. I was the competition, but not with skill; for opinions as if that was the way you cultivate an audience rather than making a good game a lot of people enjoy.
What projects do you have in mind the future? What game would you love to make?
I may eventually like to get back to building online roleplaying communities, but I’ve also had people ask me if I would be interested in making a point and click adventure game, a platformer or a horror game so those are also options.
Finally, what message would you give to women who want to get into the industry right now?
Don’t let the fearmongering scare you. If you really want to do this there’s no reason you can’t. There are a few jerks out there but the industry has been overwhelmingly positive and most of my biggest opportunities have come from men welcoming me for my abilities not my gender. It’s only about that if you make it about that.
We would like to thank Jennifer for speaking with us. If you want to find out more about SeedScape check out its Steam page.
What do you think of SeedScape? Would you buy it? Please leave your comments below.
Edit: Changed wording to reflect that Jason is the lead developer at Dapper Swine and the Creator of SeedScape.