Aerie: Spirit of the Forest is a time management game with a powerful message about caring for the environment. German online magazine Gamesetter recently published an interview with Karol Kowalczyk, Co-Owner of World-LooM and the project lead and programmer of Aerie about the game’s nature-friendly message. With permission, it’s reprinted here in English.
What exactly is Aerie about?
The inspiration for the game came after watching the movie “Avatar.” What we liked most in the movie was that it tells you about caring more about environment, but it doesn’t do it directly. What we wanted to achieve was to give a similar feeling in the game: rather than trying to tell people directly what to change in their lives, it is better to show them how beautiful the nature can be and that maybe they have parted too far away from it.
But you can also just play the game and think of it only as a game. That’s ok too; we don’t want to force anything – it still is a very fun game to play. But we hope that, even if players don’t think about it while playing, it will plant a seed of the main idea deep inside them.
What does Aerie’s story mean to you?
In one sentence: that the nature is beautiful on its own. Note that Aerie is never “upgrading” anything in the game – she is only restoring the land to the state before the meteorite fall. People try too much to improve everything, without considering if the change is really an improvement. We should rather have some respect. The nature was able to do very well without our help for millions of years, and it evolved into a really impressive and beautiful environment. So our role should be only to protect the ecosystems from danger from outside (like the meteorite in our game) and restore the state that was before. Other games are about constructing, changing, sometimes fighting enemies off. Aerie concentrates on healing and restoration; this is also a deed that is heroic and worth doing.
At first, the main character was a unicorn. Why did you change this and does the story background changed for you by using now a human as main character?
The idea was to give player a feeling that he/she is in a place where no human has ever been. So we thought that the main character of the game shouldn’t be a human either. What we figured out later on is that it is uneasy for a player to empathize with a unicorn. That’s why we decided to make an exception. Also, it seems that in the USA the unicorn is considered a very childish character and we didn’t really want the game to be perceived as a game targeted for children.
Compared to your Fix-it-Up games, Aerie’s graphics and colors are much softer. Why did you choose another style? Was it because it was time for something new or do you want to emphasize the softness of the nature theme?
It is true that the game has a bit different art style than typical casual titles. We decided to make it softer than the typical time management style in order to create a really immersive and peaceful feeling. So I’d choose the second answer. Also, we wanted the game to have a very relaxing atmosphere. You can notice it in the game music, too.
After making the game, do you have the sense that you look differently at the environment and how we treat it?
I’d rather say that we used the game to make a statement about what we’ve been thinking about and feeling for a long time.