Copyright Grizzly Games

Easy accessibility is particularly important to us

Jonas Tyroller and Paul Schnepf, GrizzlyGames

The original founders of the Berlin-based indie studio "GrizzlyGames" Friedemann Allmenröder, Scha Rabis and Paul Schnepf met while studying game design at the Berlin University of Applied Sciences (HTW). Even their first game "Superflight", a semester project by the trio, was well received in insider circles. A lot has happened since this promising start in 2016, especially in terms of the team's line-up: Paul Schnepf has stayed on from the original team of three. Together with Jonas Tyroller, who joined in 2018, the Berlin designer shows that great things can be created even with a small team.

The best proof of this: In their third game "Thronefall", players take on the role of an unknown monarch in an unknown country. He rides through the country on a horse and must prevent ever stronger enemies from destroying his kingdom. Defeating enemies is rewarded with coins, which in turn can be used to purchase buildings. From farms and barracks to city walls, everything is included. The buildings can be upgraded with additional coins, depending on the purpose for which they are needed. Unlike typical tower defense games, Thronefall allows players to ride in an open world, commanding troops on an open map and taking into account the design of the game's different areas and levels. "Simplicity with addictive charm" is how testers in Pixel magazine describe it - and they are not alone in their enthusiasm: the strategy game was named Best Casual Game at the German Developer Award on December 7, 2023 in Cologne. Projekt Zukunft spoke to Paul Schnepf about it:

GrizzlyGames has already made a name for itself with the video game "Islanders". Now you've managed another successful hit with "Thronefall". How do you manage that as an indie studio?

Paul Schnepf: Unfortunately, we don't really know. We are very careful to take on projects that are "small" enough to be realized in high quality with our team size. In addition, easy accessibility is particularly important to us.

Have you always wanted to be king in your own kingdom - or to put it another way: How did the development of Thronefall come about?

We have always been enthusiastic about strategy games, but we often found the gameplay too detailed, complex and time-consuming. Thronefall is an attempt to bring the same gameplay into a more compact form. Thomas van den Berg's game "Kingdom: New Lands" was a great inspiration for us.

You mentioned the ease of access earlier. Why is that important?

It's a fundamental design philosophy for us. It's less about appealing to a specific target group and more about making our game accessible to as many people as possible. And I think we are succeeding in that. However, we don't have any figures on this.

People keep raving about the colorfulness and splendor of Thronefall: What is the significance of this?

This was probably an attempt to stand out from other titles in the genre, while at the same time ensuring that the gameplay is easy to read.

Thronefall was named Best Casual Game at the German Developer Award. Did you expect such a great response?

Of course, we already knew that Thronefall would be a successful game. However, we didn't really expect to win the award because all the other nominated games were really great. We were very pleased!

What role does the Berlin location play in your success?

As there are only two of us and Jonas works in Regensburg, we don't have any offices or employees and are not dependent on funding, we have little contact with the Berlin games ecosystem. However, we have benefited a lot from our studies here at the HTW and still really appreciate the environment of the program.

What other plans do you have for Thronefall, and what else can we expect from GrizzlyGames?

Thronefall is currently still in the Steam Early Access program, and we will continue to develop it and add new content for a few more months. We don't know exactly how long yet. After that, we will turn our attention to a new project. However, we will only make concrete plans when the time comes.

I've read that you can play the game for hours and lose yourself in it. Does that happen to you as a developer?

No, that doesn't tend to happen to me. I think it's because I usually quickly think of things I want to work on while I'm playing.

Then we can look forward to seeing what you come up with. Thanks for talking to us!

Original article translated from Projekt Zukunft.