Interview: Lynn Hogan, Founder of Fat Loot Games, on Soul Locus

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We talked to Lynn Hogan, founder and CEO of Fat Loot Games, about creating games, the studio’s most recent title (Soul Locus), complaints that the game’s art style was “too girly,” and making your way in the games industry.

Sam Maggs (The Mary Sue): Tell us a bit about your game, Soul Locus, and why creating this type of game was important to you.

Lynn Hogan: Soul Locus: Cards of Order is a collectible creature tower defense RPG.

I love the bright, colorful, art-style, storytelling, beautiful music, and sense of progression of oldschool JRPGs like Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger, and Xenogears. My teammates love tower defense and creature collection games. Something that takes aspects of all 3 genres hasn’t really been done before, and we wanted to try something new that played to our 2D art strengths.

TMS: When you first faced criticism that your game looked “too girly,” what were your thoughts? How did you handle that as a team?

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Hogan: My first thought was disappointment, but not surprise. Coming from my years of industry experience, I know that a lot of people think that Soul Locus being colorful, bright and friendly means looking “girly”. I can’t say it didn’t hurt my feelings a little. This is our first game released on Steam and our second game ever. But I believe in my team and I believe in my artists.

As a team, we talked about how to respond.

By the time we went to answer on the Steam forums, we already had more comments, this time by complete strangers who loved the art. That felt great since we put a lot of work into our art style—all of our characters and environments are hand drawn.

In addition, there has been nothing but positive reviews and feedback from the folks who have purchased and played the game. With all these new players giving us positive feedback and constructive criticism, that first comment has really lost its sting.

Kimew

TMS: You’re the founder and CEO of Fat Loot Games. What has it been like as a lady in the often-challenging world of game development? Have you faced any challenges, and how did you overcome them?

Hogan: Sometimes when speaking to people at events, I get a surprised reaction when they hear that I’m the CEO of my company. I have even had interactions where people stop talking to me to immediately talk with my male business partners, but my teammates always direct the conversation back to me.

I don’t know if there’s a single person in game development that hasn’t faced some grueling challenges, but I can tell you that the biggest one in my life has been getting nerve damage through both my arms. It’s worse in my left arm, which is the one I use to draw and paint. For years I worked as a concept and 2D artist in video games, card games, merchandise design and comics and the workload just blew out my arms. Physical therapy, stretching and rest have allowed me to slowly and steadily improve.

Screenshot

The biggest advice I can give to anyone who works in this industry is to take a break every 45 minutes. This would have saved me from surgery and permanent damage! I have an excellent assistant now that has been helping me with my computer based tasks, and the rest of the team has been very supportive of my “limited hand juice” and has moved to Skype conversations instead of email whenever possible.

I’ve found a really supportive personal and professional network through both the Seattle Indies and the Washington Interactive Network. Both of those groups are local and have been a great resource for wisdom and mentorship. If you are in the Seattle area, I highly recommend getting in touch with either!

TMS: What motivated you to start Fat Loot?

Hogan: I’ve spent my games career getting to work on an awesome range of games like Call of Duty, Star Wars and Bejeweled. But after getting nerve damage, I was unable to create in the same way I had been for the past 15 years. Over the last 2 years I’ve brought together a team of incredible people that I met in different studios throughout my time in games, all of them dedicated to making beautiful, quality experiences.

TMS: How can we access Soul Locus now, and how can we support the game?

Hogan: You can find Soul Locus in Early Access on Steam!

The best way to support the game right now is to tell your friends, spread the word and just have fun playing it. We love Let’s Players and really enjoy seeing it played on YouTube and Twitch!

You can also find us on the following social media:
Twitter
Facebook
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TMS: What do you hope people take away from the game?

Hogan: I hope that people enjoy their time in the world we’ve created, and I hope that we give them something a little different than games they’ve played before. This is our first time on a platform like Steam, so we are very excited to see what our players tell us that they took away from Soul Locus!

Sam Maggs is a former Mary Sue editor and author of The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy.

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