Joining The Switch Effect on today’s Industry Interviews is Mikkel Thorsted, Creative Director of Flashbulb Games. With their first release on the Switch, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood now available on the eShop (and soon to be released physically), we wanted to get to know more about the studio who came up with this original take on the puzzle-platformer.
Read our review of Max: The Curse of Brotherhood here.
Thank you so much for speaking with The Switch Effect. Before we get into it, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got involved with the gaming industry?
My name is Mikkel Thorsted. I’m 39, and live in Copenhagen, Denmark with my wife and our four kids. I’m the Creative Director of Flashbulb Games and formerly of Press Play. I got into the game industry without any prior experience. After college where I studied computer science and communications I decided to start Press Play with my two friends, Ole Teglbjærg & Rune Dittmer. It was this shared passion and ambition to make great games that introduced new mechanics and fresh ideas. That sounds like a bold statement, but I think just turning some knobs and adding a few new ideas can actually do a big difference. This is exactly what we did when we came up with Max & the Magic Marker, our first game. I made a prototype of the drawing mechanic and together we came up with the idea of mixing it with a more traditional platformer. In that way creating a platformer mixed with a creative sandbox game. A game that certainly stood out at the time.
What was the first console/game you ever owned?
My dad got a Commodore 64 for his 40th birthday, and I quickly took it over. I remember playing games like Mission Impossible and Blue Max on it, but I was more fascinated with the Kapow of the arcade machines. Golden Axe and Wonder Boy were among my early favorites. My favorite console growing up was the Super Nintendo.
Growing up, did you always want to pursue a career in the gaming industry?
Being a game developer has been my dream since I was around eight years old and saw my first arcade video game. At first I wasn’t even aware that it could actually be a way of living. The video games just seemed like something truly magical where anything was possible. I guess that is the fascination I share with millions of kids and gamers across the world. Later in my youth I started learning some programming and kept playing all the games I could come across. I quickly realized that I’m the kind of gamer that always looks for something new in all games, and quickly become tired of the lack of new experiments and repetitive designs in many games.
Let’s talk about Flashbulb Games. For those unfamiliar with your company, can you provide some background as to how it was formed?
Sure, As I mentioned I was one of the three founders of Press Play, which later was acquired by Microsoft and then closed again March 2016. When Press Play was shut down, Rune, Ole and I almost instantly felt revitalized about the unexpected freedom and just couldn’t let go of the opportunity to create a studio with some of our veterans from Press Play. We knew from the get go, how and what we wanted to do. One the first things we decided was we wanted to spread Max to more platforms as it was a game that millions of Xbox gamers had shown a lot of love for and one that we are proud of. Regarding new games we had this idea about making a physics based construction game for all gamers. Basically taking a genre with sort of niche games like Scrap Mechanic and Besiege and making them more approachable while keeping depth and possibilities.
Max: The Curse of Brotherhood was developed under Press Play, which was closed by Microsoft Studios in 2016. The founders of Press Play started Flashbulb Games and are currently working on the sandbox game, Trailmakers. However, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is a beautiful platform-puzzle game that looks like it could have been a movie. For those that are going to experience this story for the first time on the Switch, what can they expect in terms of gameplay?
Thanks for the kind words. The ambition all along was to awaken the sort of feelings we had as kids when watching movies like Goonies and Indiana Jones for the first time. Of course mixed with a video game where you progress from being an average boy into a super hero.
The switch is basically a device that that been tailored especially for Max. First on iOS we had the problem that the screen interface wasn’t very good for the platforming part and later with Max: The Curse of Brotherhood on Xbox & PS4 drawing wasn’t optimal with a stick. On the switch we have stick and buttons for controlling Max and the screen for controlling the Marker. This is super awesome. Another thing we are excited about is the fact that parent and children or friend can actually play together controlling one each, which is actually something a lot of Xbox players have been writing us stories about how they did by passing the controller.
It’s time to “switch” gears. Let’s talk briefly about the Nintendo Switch! What are your thoughts on Nintendo’s newest console?
I love it. It is high quality, super versatile and already has some of the most interesting and best games recently released on any console.
Were there any challenges or new opportunities that came with bringing your titles to the Nintendo Switch?
We were impressed about how easy it was to work with and how capable the hardware is. We are considering what we can do with the platform for Trailmakers and future titles.
Can gamers expect to see Trailmakers or any future titles make their way to the Switch in the near future? Anything you can tease today?
If Max makes us believe there is an audience for Kalimba on Switch. It would be a great fit for local co-op, but it is not a promise.
Finally, is there anything else you’d like to share?
For anyone who is uncertain about if Max the Curse of Brotherhood is their cop of the season, there is a free demo in the store! Thanks a lot for reaching out!
Use the links below to follow and learn more about Flashbulb Games!