Q&A: Mark Foster and David Fenn, Creators of Leaf Me Alone

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When they planted Leaf Me Alone in the Ludum Dare 26 game jam, Mark Foster and David Fenn probably didn’t expect to grow their minimalist game (that jam’s theme) into a sprawling epic.  But they watered this idea seed with, um, brain fertilizer?  Look, we’re out of floral metaphors, so just read this interview the creators of one of the most fantastic, addicting games ever, only on AddictingGames.com!


Mark Foster: Game Designer, Cake Lover

David Fenn: Composer, Also a Cake Lover


What inspired you to develop Leaf Me Alone?

David: I think we just made what we most wanted to make for the most part, so I’d say the main inspirations were all the games that had brought us the most joy over the years. We naturally focussed on drawing inspiration from where our influences in games overlap, such as Zelda, Fez, Sonic and even a little bit of Journey.

Mark: The wind leaf in Zelda Wind Waker was my main point of inspiration.


What was your process for creating the soundtrack?

David: I like to prioritize establishing a mood through use of melody, and I came up with most of the main tunes for the game very early on, which had an impact on the feel of the game as a whole. Then, as we began to expand the story and world, I further developed the musical material to create a subtle emotional arc. You’ll hear a lot of recurring themes, which are adapted musically to match the atmosphere of each section of the game. You play as a small seed from birth though their lifetime. Most of the inhabitants have left the area after certain events happened, which drove them from their home. Exploring the world you encounter several remaining inhabitants including a mysterious masked character — perhaps they hold some clue to what happened to the others?


What was your favorite part of the game design and creation process?

Mark: Designing the world was a lot of fun and then my favorite part was packing it full of secrets and Easter eggs!

David: I think with this game it would have to be the little touches we added. Leaf Me Alone really gave us an opportunity to focus on the environment, so there are lots of details, especially in terms of art and audio, which really enhance the game and were super-fun to try out. I would list examples but it’s more fun to explore and find out for yourself!


Any games you’re playing right now?

David: I’m currently replaying Final Fantasy IX for the seventh or eighth time while waiting for my PS4!

Mark: I’m currently addicted to Vlambeer’s Nuclear Throne, and I also always seem to end up playing Spelunky most days.


This game started as a small entry in Ludum Dare 26, which had a minimalist theme.  How was developing a full game different from the mini-version for the game jam?

David: Ludum Dare is all about fun, being super-inspired and getting loads of stuff done. For me, the rest of the process was slower and more focused, as a lot of the time was spent polishing and refining material rather than jamming out every idea that came into my head! But the end results are even more rewarding.

Mark: We mainly wanted to expand the story of the world into a fuller thing, and really wanted to make the game deeper by adding a lot of hidden secrets around the place. It was over a longer period of time compared to the jam (one month on this version and three days on the original jam), so we had a lot longer to polish everything and make it all more immersive and interesting, with more areas to explore and powers to acquire.


What’s next?

David: I’m going to continue doing what I love, working on games and making soundtracks!

Mark: I’m currently working on a game called CHROMA, which I’m hoping to release next year.


What do you listen to when you’re working on a game?

Mark: I enjoy the Leaf Me Alone soundtrack and sometimes would listen to it while making the game! Aside from that I tend to listen to faster-paced energetic music to “get into the zone” while programming or doing art.


What’s your favorite kind of leaf?

David: Big ones you can glide with or I’m not interested!

Mark: Probably a leaf from a chestnut tree, reminds me of collecting conkers when I was young!


Cake or pie?

Mark: Cake.

David: CAKE.


Movember Fill in the Blank: If I could be any type of moustache, I would be __________.

David: One that is actually just a part of a big beard.

Mark: An evil villian mustache with twirled ends that I could stroke while I laugh manically.


Play Leaf Me Alone here: pwnAG.com/leafmealone

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