Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves, what drove you into game development and how you got started?
Hyper Three Studio is a small indie game development studio established in Spain, Barcelona in October 2019. Founded by 3 persons: Isaac Cortez (Programming), Abraham Cortez (Game Design), Oscar Flores (Concept Artist). All the 3 members are from El Salvador, a small country in Central America.
We started game development in 2014 producing our very first game called "Agartha - the hidden land" which of course wasn't successful at all haha. However, it really made us enter this game development world and we have been growing since then.
In 2018 we applied to a game incubator called GameBCN and we were the only international team selected, we spent 6 months learning new things about game development and it really helped us to level up our skills as a team. After that, we knew we had to move from our country to the lack of opportunities and the visibility you get as a game studio in El Salvador. We had a partner which wanted us to be in Europe and we decided to move to Spain, we came and established the company, however during the pandemic situation this partner retired and we had to keep up by ourselves and that's where Tiny Lands started as a "Final Fantasy" for us, we had to create something with our limited budget and time at that moment.
Can you tell us about your previous projects?
We have released 3 mobile games on the Play Store and App Store: Agartha – The Hidden Lands, a 2d runner where you have to overcome obstacles with help of magic spirits; Frog Island, a game where a frog has to eat fireflies; and Puck Hole, a hypercasual game where you have to throw the puck into the hole, but the game features many obstacles like spikes, bouncing walls, wind zones, etc., that make your task more difficult. We have developd Preveni2 for a game jam in Barcelona, a game about safety measures. Lastly, we also produced a local co-op shooter game called Robot 4Z, the last one for PC was set in the queue due to the pandemic situation and funding to produce it.
Can you tell us more about your latest game, Tiny Lands? What is the game about, and what platforms is it available for (including future platforms).
Tiny Lands it's a relaxing low-poly isometric game where you have to find the differences in the beautiful, fully rotatable, and zoomable 3D environments.
We wanted to create a new twist by implementing 3D and there was nothing visually appealing in the market that was fun to play about finding differences, but not only that, we wanted to create something that was pleasant to the eyes that looked handcrafted and told a story. Added to that, the sound effects in each level are according to the scene you are playing (Seagulls, crows, train, thunders, waves, birds, and so on) and we also include healing and relaxing background music by BigRicePiano which adds a smooth touch to the game. And to give players a more immersive find the difference game, you will also experience the dynamic environments like Snow, Rain, Wind, and fireflies that add life to the static isometric diorama.
The game was released through Steam on January 22, 2021. Tiny Lands is confirmed to be released on Switch but we can't provide a final release date yet, however, we will announce it on our social media soon.
We are also considering releasing the game on XBOX and PlayStation but we are working on that and might be during 2021.
So, if I understand correctly, you were developing Robot 4Z but, due to the issues you mentioned above, the game was put on hold and you began work on Tiny Lands? It sounds like a scenario of "build your parachute as you are falling down". How long did it take you to come up with the idea for Tiny Lands, and how long did it take you to make the game?
Yes, we had to put it on hold because Robot4Z is a more extensive game to develop and we knew we did not have enough funds to make it. With no funding and our company on hold (we had to pause it due to the funding), we had to think of something more achievable in terms of time.
We were also thinking of something simple but beautiful, something that people could relax and enjoy. It took us about 3 months to polish a vertical slice (The game started its development in march 2020 when the home quarantine started) and 5 months to produce the final version.
Most of the times you will see independent developers sticking to formulas (like shooters, platformers, walking simulators, or horror games in the case if your interviewer here, lol). How did you come up with the idea of making a "spot the differences" video game? Do you feel it was a natural step from your previous projects, or more like a drastic change of direction?
We took the inspiration from the traditional Find the difference game on the newspaper and took that to a new level using 3D with a beautiful and relaxing mood. It's funny that 2 of the founders of Hyper Three Studio are actually twins and people used to be confused and had to find the differences. There was nothing visually appealing in the market so we decided to create a beautiful Find the difference games in 3D.
How has been the reception for Tiny Lands on Steam? What are people saying?
The community in our social media and steam is very happy with the game, there is always space to improve and we are listening to the community to make the game better. We have announced in steam new free content is in the way thanks to their amazing support!
Are you able to go back to Robot 4Z after the pandemic situation recedes, or is it more of a "wait and see" situation?
For now, we will focus on Tiny Lands since it's providing funds to sustain the company and we see a big market opportunity with this game. Maybe in the future, we might retake Robot4Z but for now, we don't think it's going to be in our roadmap.
I perfectly understand what you mean about lack of opportunities in El Salvador (not to mention there's a lot of "clapping and congratulations" but not actual sales originating from the country). Do you have plans to return to El Salvador at some point or do you think you will have a better chance if you stay in Spain?
We moved to Spain for strategic purposes (better chances). It's more convenient to say you have a studio in Europe rather than in Central America (you are lucky if they know where El Salvador is located), however, that doesn't mean there is no amazing talent there. Our desire in the future is to become a bridge not only for El Salvador but for Central America and provide opportunities to hidden talents there.
What are your thoughts about Salvadoran-culture influenced video games? Do you think it is possible to make a culturally influenced game that is appealing to the international market?
For now it's difficult because El Salvador is not an important country (that's true). Salvadoreans do not consume indies but only AAA games, so the gaming society it's not indie supportive so it's going to be hard to promote a game about El Salvador. But that doesn't happen only in El Salvador but in many countries. We would definitely recommend creating a game that can be enjoyed and understood by the majority. By this time we have sold only 3 copies in El Salvador (2 from friends haha) so that's what we are talking about, El Salvador consumes more AAA games rather than indie. However, our target is not El Salvador but Asian players which represents almost 62% of our gross revenue and the rest in NA and EU.
Do you have any final words for our readers?
We would like to thank the people who supported us since the beginning and trusted in us, and for the ones who are enjoying Tiny Lands, from the whole team "THANK YOU!"
Hyper Three Studio: http://hyperthreestudio.com/
Tiny Lands on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1354910/Tiny_Lands/