Sony decided to dedicate a significant portion of last month's PS5 Future of Gaming show to the fascinating world of indie games, and one of the most interesting titles announced was Goodbye Volcano High. The next game from GNOG developer KO_OP, it is a story-focused adventure all about dinosaurs attending school. That's certainly an interesting and unique premise so we decided to catch up with co-creative director Kyle McKernan and community manager Marcela Huerta in an effort to learn even more about this lovely looking cross-gen title. What we discovered is a project the LGBTQ+ community can't wait to play.
Push Square: It's been just over a month since the announcement of Goodbye Volcano High at Sony's PS5 Future of Gaming show. When did you find out the game would be included in the livestream? How did it feel to be a part of such a big event?
KO_OP: We found out Goodbye Volcano High was going to be a part of the PlayStation 5 event a couple of months before, and as a small team we were thrilled to have this chance to announce our game at such a huge venue.
Being part of this event, one that was seen by so many people around the world, was absolutely surreal! I think I speak for all of us on the team when I say that it was the biggest moment of our careers. We were all on a Zoom call, sharing the experience together; a few of us got messages from our relatives in other countries, which was special.
In the time since that reveal, how has development been coming along? Are you still suffering from the effects of COVID-19?
Games milestones are stressful in the best of times, but we're making it work! The uncertainty of the world right now weighs on our team, for sure, but we make sure to check in with each other. We've always been a studio that prioritizes our health and wellbeing, so we're trying to do that now that we're working from home: taking personal days, switching to 4-day workweeks, trying to find some balance between the real world and Slack.
Could you explain the inspiration behind Goodbye Volcano High? Where did the idea behind sending dinosaurs to school come from?
Goodbye Volcano High was inspired by our desire to tell an emotional story with characters that find themselves in changing circumstances and how dark times can give flight to connection and love and self-actualization. The idea started just as a casual conversation about dinosaurs and then immediately sparked into more as we talked. When we first started developing it we were drawing inspirations from our favorite anime, TV shows and movies but we quickly realized we could make something unique to our own experiences. As the world around us became a bit more uncertain we saw an opportunity to reflect on how it made us feel and how it affected our relationships with others.
The game's reveal trailer gave very little away concerning the actual plot. Could you provide a basic narrative setup for Goodbye Volcano High?
Goodbye Volcano High is a teen coming-of-age story that takes place during our main character Fang's graduation year. Big news about a potentially life-altering event hits right at the beginning of the school year, and it paints the rest of the senior year -- and all the changes that come with that time in your life -- in a new light.
What will gameplay look like? Is this an experience where we'll be making choices and directly affecting the plot?
In the game, you'll be guiding Fang through conversations and experiences with their friends and family by choosing how Fang responds or acts in situations. The player will also be able to shape Fang's experiences through various interactions outside of dialogue. Our story branches based on the player's choices, so each response you choose or action you take will have repercussions on your relationships with the other characters and how the plot moves forward. There are other elements to the game that we'll be revealing in the coming months!
Goodbye Volcano High strikes us as KO_OP's biggest game to date. How ambitious is this project and do you think you have achieved the vision set out at the start of development?
It is absolutely the most ambitious game we've ever made, and our first narrative game. We've had to modify and develop a lot of production tools to help us, but every time we find a new solution we get so excited about how much easier it'll make the whole process. We won't know until we're done, but we're really excited about how it's looking so far. We figure out a lot of things as we go, which we think sometimes helps us find unique processes.
The game also sports a beautiful, colourful art style. What was the inspiration behind that?
Thanks! We're ridiculously proud of our art team. With GVH we're going for a detailed and colorful art style that resembles an animated movie; the backgrounds are hand-painted, and paired with the expressive characters, we think it makes every shot feel special. Because the game is so much about emotional growth, we want the art to bring you closer to what Fang is experiencing at any given moment.
When can PS5 and PS4 players look forward to playing Goodbye Volcano High for themselves?
All we can say right now is 2021.
Is there anything else you would like to share about Goodbye Volcano High? Why should Push Square readers be excited about it?
We've been really moved by people who have reached out to tell us how much seeing a nonbinary protagonist during a mainstream gaming event meant to them. As a team with a lot of LGBTQ+ devs and artists, we're putting a lot of ourselves in this game, and to know that it's important to other queer people has been hugely special to us. We want folks who love narrative games like Night in the Woods or Life is Strange to be excited to have another story-heavy and visually rich experience to look forward to!
We would like to thank Kyle McKernan and Marcela Huerta for taking the time to answer our questions and Nicolas Verge and Geneviève St-Onge for making the interview possible. Goodbye Volcano High comes to PS5 and PS4 in 2021. Are you interested in this beautiful, narrative-based adventure? Share your thoughts in the comments below.