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Maximizing minis: Young Thor & Frima’s Love for All Things Tiny

Martin Brouard's Avatar + Posted by Martin Brouard on Aug 05, 2010 // Executive Producer, Frima Studio

Developer of fan-favorite Zombie Tycoon and the recently launched Young Thor talks about rethinking just how big a mini can get.

PS minis: Young Thor - Wallpaper

Last week’s launch of Young Thor has been a tremendous occasion for our studio, and finally launching one of the biggest mini titles to date has brought up a lot of warm praise and even some questions from the fans. In short, I’d love to take this opportunity to tell you how this project came about, and fill you in on our unique approach to minis.

PS minis: Young Thor PS minis: Young Thor - Hel

Nearly three years ago, an idea came to us for a project surrounding a fresh take on Norse mythology. We wanted to make something that we’d enjoy as hardcore gamers, but also something for all ages that our families could dive into at the same time. While we weren’t exactly sure where we would decide to take the game, our imaginations ran wild before we got into the actual game design itself. We created our own animated short for Young Thor that helped us wrap our heads around what we wanted to do. Once finished, we all knew that we still wanted to tell this story in game form, but we wanted to do so in the same vein as an animated short.

At the time, there just wasn’t really a platform for that.

We DID know that we loved the PlayStation platform, but we didn’t want to stretch things into a full-on retail game, nor did we want to go as big as a downloadable PSN game. We needed a format that could help us encapsulate the essence of a short animated film, yet retain the feel of the all-out epic adventure we wanted to enjoy. By 2009, we knew that Sony had exactly what we were looking for when the PlayStation minis were first announced.

PS minis: Young Thor - Fallen Warrior PS minis: Young Thor - Nid Hogg

This is what lead us to the launch of our first mini, Zombie Tycoon, a ghoulish take on the RTS genre that was designed to be played in as short or as long of bursts as needed. Once we wrapped on that project, we finally had time to go back to the drawing board on Young Thor. Not only did this mean a total redesign of the characters and the logo, this also meant we were faced with the challenge of creating not necessarily a ‘full-length’ action epic, but a ‘mini-length’ action epic. A game that would fit the tone for what minis are all about, yet still retain all of the same production value as a full-blown retail game.

PS minis: Young Thor - Artwork

I’d say that overall, this was definitely the most challenging piece of new territory for us, rethinking a lot of how we knew games could be presented and trying something fresh. In our story, we wanted Young Thor to travel through rich and vibrant environments, but we also only wanted to focus in on four of the Norse realms where we would follow him on his journey. This meant that we would give the player an epic experience, bashing their way through all four worlds, upgrading experience and finding rare items – but this also meant keeping the experience brief, or ‘mini’, as you will. This was an idea we fell in love with, but also wanted to see if we could flesh things out for the hardcore players like us. With this notion, we gave players the option to re-explore those same levels with a completely different set of enemies and challenges, also giving 50 different achievements to complete. This was precisely our goal: a short, epic story for everyone with plenty extra packed in for the hardcore gamers like us.

PS minis: Young Thor - Items

This is why we love the minis so much. We have the ability to create something for everyone, tell our stories, hook players in just long enough to finish, and then give them even more gameplay on top of it. We encourage players to check out all of our minis, and not to miss Widgets Odyssey II which launched this week and which echoes many of our same approaches we had with Young Thor. I also want to thank everyone again for supporting Frima, and we look forward to continuing our delivery of quality games on minis that come from big ideas.

//Add Your Own

23 Comments

1

+ PEULL on August 5th, 2010 at 12:02 pm said:

bien joué!


2

+ Trifoce566 on August 5th, 2010 at 12:04 pm said:

first?


3

+ Trifoce566 on August 5th, 2010 at 12:05 pm said:

dam.. nvm… anyways looking great


4

+ Axecution on August 5th, 2010 at 12:07 pm said:

The problem i think Mini’s have is that, they say “Mini”. Honestly, “Mini” just makes it sound like “cheap, and over in 5 minutes”. I ended up buying Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess, and loving it to death. I was expecting it to basically be… bad… just cause it says Minis.

Maybe its just me, but putting “Mini” on a game is like changing a disc-based games case to be pink rather than clear. It makes it seem much less mature, and much less like you should buy it. *shrugs*.


5

+ Xx-NinjaPwnr-xX on August 5th, 2010 at 12:12 pm said:

i agree #4 i have monsters and it beat some of the real full games i have. Smart idea put into a game, but this looks sweet nice job steppin it up guys :D


6

+ TheTwelve on August 5th, 2010 at 12:13 pm said:

Wait this game’s out already?

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7

+ TomHoang on August 5th, 2010 at 12:18 pm said:

I was really disappointed in this game. It was boring and the combat was terrible. Save your $5.


8

+ Jeigh on August 5th, 2010 at 12:21 pm said:

@ TheTwelve

I’ve been there. So many games (great and otherwise) seem to have practically NO fanfare, while others, mere carbon-copies of previous games come off as nothing short of the encore/repeat of the first coming of Jesus (not to be confused with the second coming).


9

+ Destiny89 on August 5th, 2010 at 1:01 pm said:

Looks great but i would have loved it more if it was playable on PS3 with trophies :P


10

+ LokeSTL on August 5th, 2010 at 1:04 pm said:

Any chance we will see some Dragon Quest style RPG Minis? I’m surprised no-one has come out with one yet. XBL has Breath of Death VII and others, yet nothing of the sort on PSN. It’s very disappointing to me the lack of traditional RPGs on a Sony console this gen, Mini or otherwise. Must I really stick to the failed experiment of a handheld for them?


11

+ Kirkpad on August 5th, 2010 at 1:28 pm said:

By the way, the link to your animated film didn’t work. Instead, go here (http://www.frimastudio.com/#/news/) and scroll down.


12

+ heycheri on August 5th, 2010 at 1:35 pm said:

I’m actually pretty excited to play this. For only $5, it can’t be that bad! I’m almost finished up with DeathSpank (too bad it doesn’t have a Platinum), so this is my next game! :D


13

+ Kirkpad on August 5th, 2010 at 2:35 pm said:

Actually, the easiest way to watch that short would be to go to the last post about this game right here on the PS Blog: (http://blog.us.playstation.com/2010/07/15/epic-action-of-young-thor-thundering-to-psp-minis-new-official-trailer-is-here/)


14

+ TripG on August 5th, 2010 at 4:37 pm said:

Young Thor is the best Mini game out there – period. The character and storyline was good; the gameplay varied; and working on unlocking all of the trophies was exciting. I hated killing 100 raptors though – that took forever. You simply can not go wrong with this game. And as for a sequel…., I’ll take that as soon as possible.

On a more personal note, I appreciate hearing from the developers regarding how they went around creating the game. Between the official website for Young Thor and Sony’s blog, it is clear to anyone as to how much passion/desire went into the game.

It’s a pity that other developers can not take the time to do this. Then again, given the quality of some of the other Minis, can you blame them for not showing their heads.


15

+ CDubyahS on August 5th, 2010 at 4:45 pm said:

I doubt chicks dig tiny things….


16

+ polo155 on August 5th, 2010 at 4:48 pm said:

@7 dont be a *ss


17

+ ExcelKnight on August 5th, 2010 at 4:57 pm said:

I really like your games, Frima. I also want to know if Vector TD will ever end up as a PSP Mini, since that’s by far one of the cooler looking TDs I’ve played and it seems like a perfect fit for the system.


18

+ DarthDanMan on August 5th, 2010 at 6:37 pm said:

@16 ExcelKnight

There already is a Mini Vector TD not by Frima, but by Candystand lol. Go Frima!


19

+ TheTwelve on August 5th, 2010 at 7:38 pm said:

Bought.

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20

+ lostshore on August 5th, 2010 at 7:50 pm said:

I check this blog daily and I rarely even log in to post, but I love that artwork. I’m gonna go make this purchase as soon as I get a bit of spending money and time because of it; it’ll be my first mini!

Anyway, great vision on the fresh take of Norse mythology! It seriously rocks!


21

+ Enigma777 on August 6th, 2010 at 5:11 am said:

Zombie Tycoon… didn’t one of their devs post at the IGN boards? I seem to remember that…

Good to see them doing well!


Martin Brouard's Avatar

22

+ Martin Brouard on August 6th, 2010 at 7:11 am said:

Thanks for the great comments. We are really proud of this game.
It can really be enjoyed by youngsters (my 8 years old daughter really loves it) and by more experienced gamers as many of the critics have been saying so far. Lookup Young Thor on Metacritic or Gameranking if you need proof :-)

@9: It is playable on the PS3 and looking really nice on a big screen at that. Trophies are not allowed for minis though. But there’s 50 ingame achievements that are pretty fun to unlock.

@17: Vector TD was developped and published by Candystand but ported to Minis by Frima :-)

Cheers.


23

+ Heavenly_king on August 7th, 2010 at 11:24 am said:

looks good, maybe I will buy it soon :D


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