After having delivered the solid hack-n-slash dungeon crawler Creature in the Well in 2019, indie develop Flight School Studio has certainly earned the trust of its players, and sure enough, their next game, Stonefly, looks set to impress as well. Its tranquil atmosphere, its focus on flight, its gorgeous aesthetic, and its promise of a personal story of self-discovery are all elements that can potentially come together in something really good. Curious as we are to learn more about Stonefly, we recently reached out to its developers with some of our questions about it. You can read our conversation with its creative director Adam Volker below.
"Annika’s journey in the game is one of self-discovery. Annika might have stayed home and worked at her father’s mechanic shop her whole life unless fate and circumstance didn’t push her out onto her journey through the world of Stonefly."
Stonefly seems to be placing a lot of emphasis on storytelling, with Annika’s personal arc seemingly taking centerstage. What can players expect from how her character progresses through the story and how she mingles with the world around her?
Annika’s journey in the game is one of self-discovery. Annika might have stayed home and worked at her father’s mechanic shop her whole life unless fate and circumstance didn’t push her out onto her journey through the world of Stonefly. Annika is bright but inexperienced and leaving might have never occurred to her, or might have been too overwhelming to take on. However, now that she has left to recover her father’s stolen rig she is going to be challenged and grow into a creator, a pilot, and a person all her own.
What can you tell us about the secondary characters who’ll be accompanying Annika in the game? Do the relationships and bonds they form with one another materialize in gameplay as mechanics in any way?
Stonefly’s microscopic world has royalty, buccaneers, mercenaries, and bugs out living their own adventure. Each of them is looking for their own piece of life’s puzzle. The group Annika pairs up with are called the Acorn Corps and they become her family over the course of the game. Mechanically, Clara Vee helps the player by being a place for them to buy and sell items and equipment to upgrade their Rig with. While Blair and Daven will add lore and color to the world as well as help orient them towards their next task.
What sort of an approach does Stonefly take to flight mechanics?
The game has a two-part jumping mechanic, you land and leap with the same button. That encourages the player to spend most of their time in the air. Walking is possible in the game but much slower than flying in the air. The player glides automatically and this helps you play strategically during combat, as well as navigate the rocky, jumbled terrain of the ground at such a small scale.
"Stonefly’s microscopic world has royalty, buccaneers, mercenaries, and bugs out living their own adventure. Each of them is looking for their own piece of life’s puzzle."
Does Stonefly leverage its flying-centric traversal in terms of exploration?
Stonefly encourages the player to spend the majority of their time airborne. Exploring up the sides of trees, and briars, and rocks does require some practice. Things are hidden throughout the world for players to find, and learning to leap off of a high platform or up the side of a tall tree to find them should feel rewarding.
As far as the mech is concerned, what can you tell us about what to expect in terms of progression and customization?
Players will have the ability to cosmetically change their Mech’s legs, hull and antennae as well as set custom colors to a very specific degree. Mechanically there are statistical upgrades like health, and jump height as well as functional abilities the player will unlock and upgrade, like a defensive bubble they can drop on the battlefield to lock bugs out of certain areas.
With a variety of enemies to fight, how will combat tie into the crafting mechanics? Will different enemy types yield different resources, so players have to go out looking for specific enemies depending on what they’re looking for?
You do get resources from bugs, but not as much as you would searching for Mineral Deposits, which are highly valuable nodes with a high quantity of resources. Every action and encounter contributes to the player’s upgrade path. Annika’s mind is always spinning, and she takes inspiration from every encounter and bug. The more you run into a certain type of bug, the more likely Annika will cook up some new upgrade for your mech.
"We do as much painting in the beginning of development as we can. We’re trying to realize different scenarios that might show up in the game in a painting."
What was the inspiration behind Stonefly’s art style? What was the process like of settling on this aesthetic for the game?
The art style for the game is inspired by mid-century modern illustrator Charley Harper as well as a myriad of other artists both contemporary and classic. We do as much painting in the beginning of development as we can. We’re trying to realize different scenarios that might show up in the game in a painting. We use those images to drive our look development in-engine and build the final look up brick by brick.
Roughly how long will an average playthrough of Stonefly be?
It depends! The core of the game’s story will likely take around 10hrs to complete. However, there are secrets to unlock and end game content. It may take longer if you are interested in completing 100% of the game.