Alto’s Odyssey: A stunning new game by Team Alto
The team behind award-winning game Alto’s Adventure have just released its sequel – Alto’s Odyssey, a breathtaking new mobile game. We had the opportunity to ask their lead designer Harry Nesbitt a couple of questions to learn more about this incredible new experience:
Q. Alto’s Odyssey is a gorgeous game, and the visuals also played a big part on the tremendous success of its predecessor. What kind of references did you use to create the unique aesthetic for both games?
A. I think the aesthetic comes from a few different places. I’ve always been inspired by games, as well as art in general, that opts for a more minimalist, impressionistic approach. I think by stripping away the noise and reducing elements down to their simplest components you can build towards an overall more immersive experience – you’re essentially asking the viewer to engage and fill in the blanks, leading to deeper, more personal connection with the work. From a technical stand point, keeping things simple also makes it much more manageable, particularly for a small team with limited resources, to create something that can hold it’s own against more higher fidelity games. I think it’s important to always be aware of your limitations and work within your means.
Q. What was the design process behind the sequel?
A. I remember almost 12 months before we started, producing a sheet of thumbnail sketches to try find the overall tone of the game, and really explore how the new environment might come into play. I particularly wanted to avoid the kind of usual cliches you see in “desert” games – it’s important that the world feel totally authentic and respectful towards the cultures that it draws from, not simply as “theme” or set dressing for the sake of the game. I think getting that right was almost the determining factor on whether this game was going to work from an aesthetic stand point, and many of the narrative flourishes, such as the hot-air balloons that represent this central idea of travel and exploration, came from these early sketches.
Q. Alto’s Adventure – the first title in the series – is a multi award-winning game. What are the new elements and mechanics that you have implemented to create a new experience for Odyssey and take it even further?
A. When we started designing the game, we tried not to take anything for granted. We deliberately stripped out a number of core components from the first game and challenged ourselves to come up with new and exciting mechanics in their place. Some things eventually found their way back in one form or another, but it definitely forced us to think more carefully about what was integral to the experience, and what we could improve and iterate on. We actually spent several weeks early on in development prototyping a bunch of different mechanics to try and see what would stick. It became pretty clear that anything overly complex, particularly anything that required more than one touch input, didn’t really feel right. The things that did eventually make it into the game, such as wall-riding and water mechanics, felt immediately at home – they hopefully challenge the player to try new things, without compromising the underlying vocabulary of the way you play the game.
Q. The music in Alto’s Odyssey enhances the immersion and atmosphere, setting the game apart from other endless runners and delivering an experience that is highly engaging and relaxing at the same time. How did you collaborate with the musicians involved in the process?
A. We were incredibly lucky to work with audio designer Todd Baker, who’s background includes games such as Tearaway and Monument Valley 2 – he’s also based here in the UK which allowed him to work much more closely with myself and Joe Grainger (the other programmer at Team Alto). Todd brings such a level of care and craft to his work that immediately aligned with our own sensibilities. From day one, he had such a clear and singular vision for what he wanted to create, that we knew we could totally trust in his process, and listen in awe as the magic came together!
Q. What are you main sources of inspiration when you start working on new projects?
A. We’ve been very focused on Adventure and Odyssey over the last few years, which hasn’t left a lot of time for new ideas, but we’re certainly hoping to make more time, now that the team has grown, to get back to being creative and experimenting. I think it’s important to always make time for new experiences, be that games, books, movies and other media as well as generally stepping outside of your comfort zone. To that end, travelling can be one of the most rewarding and inspiring things you can do, providing you’re in a position to make it work!Illustration Technology UI Design Video & Motion Posted on March 1, 2018