From ThroughLine Games

Today, we’re talking about ThroughLine Games and their critically acclaimed hit Forgotton Anne.

Forgotton Anne (Steam)

ThroughLine Games (site)

In Forgotton Anne we follow the female protagonist, Anne in a seamless cinematic adventure that focuses on meaningful storytelling, complementing the story-heavy parts with light puzzles.

Forgotton Anne has been rated 8 out of 10 and upwards by multiple and all highly-regarded news sites, like GameReactor and Eurogamer. Along with being the Gold Winner of the Indigo Design Award, what more proof does one need to add this gem to one’s digital cart and press buy unhesitantly.

It’s not often for indie teams to succeed in the way ThroughLine Games did with Forgotton Anne. It has surely something to do with the collective efforts of the team behind it — and I’ve been so lucky to chat with ThroughLine Games’ Creative Director and CEO, Alfred Nguyen.

The first thing I just had to know was how it felt, having, along with a great team, created something so critically acclaimed on possibly all fronts. In short: how does it feel to be able to say, “we made it”?

I think I can safely say that, on behalf of everyone who has worked on Forgotton Anne, we are extremely happy that the game has been positively received […]

A bit of an understatement, I think. Although I have no proof, I have a feeling, at least some from their studio couldn’t stop jumping up and down and up and down. However, to Alfred, it seems like the critical acclaim couldn’t beat the fanmails the team received.

[…] and some of the mails we’ve received from fans have touched us and we are just glad we took the gamble […].

I bet it was a gamble. The game industry is by far one of those that pulls more teeth out than it has anaesthetics. I wanted to know if the making of Forgotton Anne has given Alfred something he could reflect upon concerning game development, but also the game industry in general.

Developing games is part of an industry that thinks in business terms. My advice would be not to take that lightly and make sure you know enough or ally yourself with people who knows about this side of games […] Last but not least, remember Pixar’s motto, “trust the process” — focus on great and effective processes and don’t panic if your darling game looks and play ugly for a long time. It will become a swan one day if you persist.

No sugar coating with Alfred — or at least not until that ending bit. However, the game industry is a tough-as-nails business.

Before we end on a high note, as I’ve saved one or two of Alfred’s best advice for last, let’s dive a bit into the making of Forgotton Anne. The world of Forgotton Anne is a literal Forgotten World where things we don’t think about going.

Curious as Hell, I wanted to know what inspired the world of forgotten toys.

The world of Forgotton Anne as a concept was born out of my preoccupation with memories and the vast expanse of our minds which the premise kind of allowed us to explore as a team. We are so caught up living in our own heads and sometimes the world our mind inhabits isn’t even of our own making entirely, with everything and everyone around us constantly influencing us.

Hold on, this is a longer one, which I didn’t dare cut short.

So it is likewise a premise that allowed for exploration of themes that I’m always interested in and is relevant to everyone, our personal journeys to break free of the metaphorical shackles of the past and learned attitudes and [to] reach a higher level of authenticity and to make informed choices.

Before we conclude with Alfred’s words of advice, here what’s next for ThroughLine Games and Forgotton Anne.

First of, we’d want all fans of Forgotton to speak up and spread awareness of the game as we are still a relatively small independent developer […].

And this is really why some indie developers’ bond with their fans is so unbreakable. Because indie developers need to gamble and sometimes risk losing it all, they depend on their fans to be both their greatest critics but also their greatest supporters. However, we’re not in for blind faith, as Alfred has this to add.

In the meanwhile, we’ve begun working on projects we hope to share more about in the coming year, hopefully, sooner rather than later!

And with that, here are Alfred’s advice. I chose to accumulate it in the end, as to end on a high note.

Alfred’s Advice for People Looking to Join the Industry

#1 Aim for the stars but have modest expectations.

#2 As with all pursuits of passion: pain and pleasure go hand in hand.

#3 Remember that failure is the mother of success, so go ahead and fail […] preferable as fast as possible.

#4 Care about the relationships with others in your team and externally — in the end we’re all just striving for love, recognition, and being able to grow together while having fun, and nothing beats that.

#5 There is a lot still to explore and lots of originality […] go ahead and surprise us all!