Nominee | Best Student Game

Semih Parlayan is the lead programmer and André Bengtsson is the lead artist for TeamCrew, which created Frog Climbers.

Each year at GDC, MFA students from the NYU Game Center interview the Independent Games Festival nominees, asking them three questions about their development process. In addition to this interview, you can read all the insightful interviews from 2017 here. These conversations, and much more, will happen when the Game Center returns to GDC in 2018. Learn more about the Game Center at GDC 2017.

Corey Bertelsen: What main concept, image or question began this project?

Andre Bengtsson: First, it was done for a course where we could only have unique input devices, and we would expo it at a conference.  So we wanted to make something that was easy to get into and had quick matches that you could have fun with other people around.  That was the main idea I think.

Semih Parlayan: It wasn’t originally done with XBox controllers; the original had these big joysticks that you had to use.

Corey: Can you describe a specific experience with another game or media that influenced you as you worked on Frog Climbers?

Andre: Yes, GIRP – a game by the guy that did QWOP.

Corey: Oh yeah, Bennett Foddy – he’s one of the instructors at NYU

Andre: Oh right, yeah!  Yeah, that game was a big influence on Frog Climbers.  

Semih: In the beginning, I think we didn’t really think of GIRP, but when we had the idea complete we realized “Oh, this is similar to GIRP,” so we took some inspiration from it.

Corey: You mentioned the custom controllers – was there a specific tool or methodology that you think was important in shaping Frog Climbers?

Andre: That’s difficult… you should probably ask our designer [laughs].  

Semih: I think what got people interested was the controls.  Like, this back-and-forth motion and the coordination in your brain.  A lot of people struggle with learning it, then they get pretty skilled at it.  I think that’s what people like.

Andre: And we tried to focus everything around the core of just having two hands and gripping.

Semih: And also player interaction.  A lot of the player interaction makes it enjoyable.  Grabbing other players by the legs and throwing them off the mountain is always fun.

Corey Bertelsen, a recovering structural engineer from Minnesota, is studying game design at NYU.  He likes synaesthetic games, improvised music, and pancakes.