Interview: Soma Games Discusses Brand New Details About The Lost Legends of Redwall

The Lost Legends of Redwall Games
The Lost Legends of Redwall Games

The Lost Legends of Redwall: Feasts & Friends and The Scout Anthology are based on the characters from the best-selling book series “Redwall” by British writer Brian Jacques. It is a very popular novel series with over 20 million copies sold worldwide. The cute and cozy games have been delayed multiple times and are now nearing their release date. In order to understand the inspirations behind both titles and the different gameplay, we spoke with the Executive Producer, Chris Skaggs, over an email interview. 

The Lost Legends of Redwall: The Scout Anthology
The Lost Legends of Redwall: The Scout Anthology – via Steam.
Introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your work on The Lost Legends of Redwall games.<br />
My name is Chris Skaggs, and I’m the Founder of Soma Games which was started in 2008. We first connected with Redwall in 2011 and had a long period of research and pre-production before really getting busy on development around 2016.
Could you tell us a bit about the two games and which aspects of the original book series they adapt into the gameplay?
Chris: Anybody reading the Redwall books will be struck by how often they talk about food and in great detail. The rats could be bashing down the front gates, and the woodlanders would say, ‘Let’s go have some pie!’ And yet, while some kind of cooking game seemed like a no-brainer when it came to Redwall, most cooking games really fail to capture what food is all about – and that’s relationships. As I was thinking through this problem, I had a friend come over for dinner and at one point, Lanette smiled contentedly, her eyes rolled back in her head, and she sighed this long, deep sigh, “…that’s the best meatball I’ve ever had!” and that’s when I grasped the intimate connection between feasting and friends, food and family. But the other big ‘Eureka!’ was reading the cookbook Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat. The book is fantastic, but what it did for us was lay out a system of evaluating good food that we could turn into a completely new and innovative game mechanic. That’s how we came up with Feasts and Friends.

For The Scout, there were so many possibilities it was hard to decide where to start. Our license wasn’t tied to any specific book but rather to the broader world of Mossflower Wood and all that appeared in the books. Ultimately, we made a strategic choice to narratively link our game to what would likely be the subject of any movie adaptation, namely the first book in the series. Once we made that choice we crafted a story that would lead our characters directly to that storied abbey driven by both known characters like Captain Snow and Cheesethief and brand new characters like Scumsnout and Valo Scrimpaw.

The Lost Legends of Redwall: The Scout Anthology
The Lost Legends of Redwall: The Scout Anthology – via Steam.
Why not launch the games in different release windows?
Chris: As an indie studio, we really need to leverage our marketing as much as possible, and that means concentrating the coverage we get into a narrow window. Coordinating a console and PC release across multiple platforms means there are a lot of moving parts, and that just takes time to get right. Also, we’ve seen that interest in Redwall has been growing steadily since we started making announcements, and this article only serves to reinforce that intuition. A little more time has meant significantly more coverage – which is exactly what we needed.
Both The Lost Legends of Redwall games were recently delayed for the second time. What were the reasons behind the delay, and is there a chance that we see yet another close to the updated release date?
Chris: I don’t think so. The Scout, in particular, seems like a great gift game – the kind of thing a parent or grandparent gives to their family. So, there was the notion that a holiday launch would play well. Unfortunately, there was so much competition and noise that we just weren’t getting any traction. Now, with that behind us this February launch feels really solid, and in hindsight, the desire to get in on Christmas was more of a temptation to rush than an opportunity to do the games justice.
The Lost Legends of Redwall: The Scout Anthology
The Lost Legends of Redwall: The Scout Anthology – via Steam.
What's something in the games that you are excited for fans to experience?
Chris: For existing Redwall fans, we think you’ll love the story in both titles. We’ve worked really hard to make them feel like those wonderful novels, and you won’t be disappointed. For gamers, we’re very proud of our Scent Mechanic in The Scout, which is quite unique and innovative; nothing like it exists out there, to my knowledge, and certainly not in its depth and complexity.

In Feasts and Friends, we have one of the most flexible and sophisticated cooking mechanics in the world, and it’s tucked underneath the most charming, cozy gameplay a mouse ever could twitch his whiskers at. Unlike Cooking Mama or Diner Dash, we have a game that actually prioritizes taste and includes recipes you could make, with some adaptation, in real life.

What were some of the major challenges you encountered during development?
Chris: The Scout was by far the most ambitious project Soma Games had ever tackled, so it came with a huge pile of growing pains, lessons to learn, and difficult iteration. It’s as also the first time we licensed anything so it came with a whole world of legal considerations that we’d never dealt with before.

I also want to call out to the Redwall fan community. ‘Challenge’ is the wrong word because they’ve been so wonderfully supportive and active, but it has been a huge sense of responsibility. I can’t tell you how many people have shared a story of how Redwall changed their lives – or even saved them! This is a word that is profoundly loved by millions of people, and once we comprehended this, we often found ourselves in an “angel fear to tread” kind of place where we could easily make somebody’s day…or break their heart. Lemme give you an example, a YouTube streamer was recently playing when he came upon the Brain Jacques memorial near the end of the first act. You see him pause, get genuinely choked up, and move to see the kind of care and love we put into something that HE cared for and loved. So that relationship with fans has been powerfully rewarding, but also kinda of scary that we’ll mess it up.

The Lost Legends of Redwall: Feasts & Friends
The Lost Legends of Redwall: Feasts & Friends – via Steam.
Did you ever consider an Early Access release or a demo version to gather proper feedback from the fans before a full release?
Chris: The Scout Anthology is actually a collection of the three acts that were previously released separately. So, in a very real way, we’ve had a period of “early access” on Steam where we took on a lot of great feedback and constructive criticism to polish up to what we see in the Anthology today.
Since when has the game been in development, and how many developers have actively worked on the title?
Chris: We technically started pre-production as early as 2011, but then Mr. Jacques, the author, passed away and that slowed things down for several years. We started in earnest around 2016 and at one point had nearly 50 employees and contractors on the project, though to be fair, that was also on multiple games at one time. Escape the Gloomer and The Lost Legends of Redwall were also being developed at that high point, and it was a lot to manage.
The Lost Legends of Redwall: Feasts & Friends
The Lost Legends of Redwall: Feasts & Friends – via Steam.
What were some of the features or pieces of content from the earlier builds that were scrapped mid-development?
Chris: At one point, we had a proper and robust stealth game in development with lots of enemy AI and light combat mechanics in active development. But then, after a critical design meeting, it was clear that for all the good ideas being worked on, the game lacked a solid core game loop. There were just too many competing elements. So, at that point, we determined that the three game pillars would be Story, Puzzles, and Exploration/Traversal. Anything that didn’t connect to those pillars was either deemphasized or just cut entirely. You can still see stealth elements in the game now, but they’re far more narrative with respect to gameplay.

Feasts and Friends was similar in that different iterations were either fully procedural and open-ended or more directed and linear. When we committed to Story as a pillar in The Scout we further committed to it in all our Redwall projects, and that brought the narrative aspect of Feasts and Friends to the front as well. All those sophisticated cooking systems are still running in the background but it’s really the characters and their relationships that come front and center.

There are still tons of stories you can explore from the Redwall book series. Do you have anything in mind that you would like to adapt next?
Chris: DO WE EVER! We’ve actually done a lot more writing for this world that we really pray will come to see the light of day. There are two sequels to The Scout, called The Miner and The Archer, that we’d just love to produce given the opportunity, not to mention a half dozen mobile games we’ve prototyped. Plus, our mobile interactive fiction app is just ripe for ongoing story expansion. We’ve spent a lot of time becoming subject matter experts in the world of Redwall and building the biggest online community. I really hope all that effort is put to good use in the future. So if Netflix wants Redwall games to warm up the fans for their show, they know where to find us.
Anything else you would like to share with the readers?
Chris: It’d be easy to think Redwall is just a story for kids, but 35 million readers ought to tell us that it has a lot to offer readers and players of any age. Redwall is such a great story, such a great world, that it’ll delight readers, players, and soon viewers for decades to come.

The Lost Legends of Redwall: Feasts & Friends and The Scout Anthology are the upcoming installments in the Redwall franchise. They are developed by Soma Games and published by
Forthright Entertainment. The Lost Legends of Redwall: The Scout Anthology will be released on PC, PlayStation 5, and  Xbox Series X/S on February 20, 2024. The Lost Legends of Redwall: Feasts & Friends will be released on PC at the same time.

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