Aeolis Tournament | Interview with Beyond Fun Studio

A closer look at 2020's most approachable indie multiplayer game.
April 24, 2020 9:00 AM by Morgan Shaver

We originally stumbled across Aeolis Tournament during the Steam Game Festival back in March. After trying out the demo, we immediately fell in love with its aesthetic and approachable gameplay. Reaching out, we were thrilled to receive permission to feature Aeolis Tournament in our IOX broadcast.

If you’re just hearing about this game now, you may be wondering... what exactly is Aeolis Tournament?

© Beyond Fun Studio

Aeolis Tournament is a fun and inescapably charming multiplayer game that’s currently being developed by Beyond Fun Studio, an indie team comprised of three people out of Quebec, Canada. Aeolis Tournament is Beyond Fun’s debut game, and they’re not only handling development, but they’re also self-publishing it as well.

Developing and publishing an indie game is a monumental task for a small team to take on, yet Beyond Fun Studio have already managed to pique the interest of gamers all around the globe. For example, Aeolis Tournament raised over $20,000 (CAD) on Kickstarter, and the team won a contest with their game which awarded them $55,000 (CAD).

Looking at the game’s announcement trailer, it’s not hard to see why Aeolis Tournament draws people in the way that it does. Aeolis Tournament just looks like a game you want to sit down and play with your friends, and one you’ll have a real hard time stepping away from once you get started.

We have a feeling “just one more round” is something voiced often during demos of Aeolis Tournament.

Helping Aeolis Tournament not only draw a crowd but retain them are its core mechanics which are easy to understand. These mechanics are then taken and utilized in creative ways across a multitude of different game modes to keep things feeling fresh and interesting.

© Beyond Fun Studio

Now more than ever, we need multiplayer games like this. You can play Aeolis Tournament with your younger siblings, your friends, your grandparents, etc. as a way to bond or perhaps even ease some of the tension that comes with being stuck indoors.

Aeolis Tournament isn’t out right now, but we predict big things for the game once it’s released.

While we wait to get our hands on the game, we found ourselves curious about the history of its development and the talented people at Beyond Fun Studio. With that, we reached out to Beyond Fun Studio with some of our most burning questions, and they were kind enough to share their thoughts with us.

For more on Aeolis Tournament, we’re turning it over now to Beyond Fun Studio!

Aeolis Tournament | Interview with Beyond Fun Studio

© Beyond Fun Studio

What was the first thought or goal you had going into the development process for Aeolis Tournament?

The idea and prototype of what would become Aeolis Tournament was born in a big game jam in Quebec City in April 2018, the Pixel Challenge. The theme was “The Perfect Storm” and what we made at the competition eventually became our first game mode.

It had some of the same core features that we still have: the same one-button wind-controlling mechanic and chaos elements gradually becoming more intense as the game goes on. It won the grand prize and we liked the gameplay mechanic a lot and thought we could expand it and get more gameplay ideas out of it so we tried some new ideas during our spare time.

At that point in time, we already had the idea of starting our own indie studio and this became our main project to focus on, hoping it would lead to something concrete down the road.

How many people are working on Aeolis Tournament, and how long has it been in development?

The team has changed a little since we did that game jam, but we’re still only 3 guys with help from an audio team. It’s been 2 years, almost to the day, since the game jam I mentioned, but it’s only been a year since we quit our jobs and started working on it full time.

We were able to focus on it full time thanks to winning a big indie startup competition in Quebec City, Catapulte, winning 100k$ (CAD) worth of cash and useful professional services.

In about a year, we founded our company with all the work comes with it, the game went from the prototype stage to the (almost) completed game, we found various ways to finance our project (a Kickstarter campaign, contractual work, loans and grants, etc.), we did conventions (PAX South, PAX East, TGS, Montreal Comic Con and Dreamhack) and some promotion with a social media presence. It has been a very big year for us!

Is the development team competitive when it comes to playtesting Aeolis Tournament? Who among you wins the most matches?

We haven’t been able to play together for a while now for obvious reasons, but obviously we get very competitive when we play. Of course, now we know all the tricks to each game modes, but we are each expert at different game modes.

I would say our programmer Sam definitely has an edge since he has to test the features more often than us.

© Beyond Fun Studio

What sort of characters can you choose from in Aeolis Tournament?

From the beginning, we liked the idea of having a cast of humans and anthropomorphic animals just like in the Mario universe. However, we noticed along the way that people preferred animal characters so from now on that’s what we’ll focus on.

There will be 6 characters at launch: a wolf man, a moth girl (that everyone sees as a bunny but it’s fine), a woman pirate, a techy boy as an homage to Fuzion Frenzy, a shark and a cat. Each has 3 different ratings affecting gameplay: speed, power (of their air blaster) and weight (how much they get pushed around).

What sort of game modes will be available when Aeolis Tournament is released?

There’ll be 6 game modes at release, with a mix of 3 free-for-all games and 3 team-based game. Each game mode uses the one-button mechanic where you hold a button to vacuum and charge air in your air blaster then release it to create a blast of wind.

All the game modes can be played either based on a time limit or with points or elimination rounds which greatly alters the strategy. The free-for-all modes include a king-of-the-hill game where players push each other off the island, a snowball fight where players grab, combine and shoot snowballs at other players and a game mode similar to Hungry Hungry Hippo where players have to bring marbles into their own base.

The 3 team game modes are a soccer game in a volcano, an air hockey game and a dodgeball game played with explosive bombs.

How many different maps does Aeolis Tournament have, and are there any map hazards that add unique challenges for players to look out for?

One of the main features of the game is actually the “Chaos Events” that are hazards and events randomly happening on a stage during the game that increase the chaotic factor of Aeolis Tournament. Each stages has its own hazards but they can also be turned off it the settings.

© Beyond Fun Studio

Are there items in the game that players can use to their advantage?

The main gameplay difference comes from the choice of characters, but there are power-ups randomly appearing on the stages that give temporary boosts to either of their stats (speed, power, weight).

Do you have plans to continue adding content like game modes and maps following the release of Aeolis Tournament?

Yes, we have plans for up to a year of new content after launch. Obviously, this is all depending on the initial success of the game and if it is worth it but it is the plan. We’ll alternate between free and paid content to continually re-engage players to come back to the game and see the new stuff.

It would include new game modes, new characters, new customization items and maybe more settings to customize your games.

Will there be any customization options such as skins or decals?

Yes! Before each game, players can choose the color of their character and equip fashion items or even put cool skins with special effects. These items are unlockable when progressing through the game’s achievements and challenges.

Aeolis Tournament is extremely approachable and accessible thanks to its one-button gameplay. Would you say that Aeolis Tournament is a game the whole family can play?

Yes, this has been proven to be true when showcased at events like PAX or ComicCon. We’d have very different groups of people coming over to play. Competitive guys, groups of friends and also families with kids.

Most gamers just grab the controller and they get how it is played right away, but it wasn’t too long for people with very little gaming experience to get a hold of it. Even then, some very young kids, without even understanding how to play, still had so much fun watching the action with the movements and colors and explosions.

It was a focus for us to the make the experience as accessible as possible, that’s why we’ve showcased it to the public in about 8 events during the production to get feedback about the gameplay and the user experience in order to improve it.

Continuing that thought, have you implemented any accessibility features into the game such as subtitles or zen modes where players can practice?

The only texts in the game are “functional” and there is no dialogue to subtitle so that wasn’t an issue. Players can choose to practice by playing quick games, with configurable settings, solo against only AI players. That way, the stakes are low and you don’t need to constantly be online or have a friend to play with.

© Beyond Fun Studio

How many gamers in total can play Aeolis Tournament at once, and is there both local and online co-op?

8 players will be able to play on the same PC or Nintendo Switch (given you have enough controllers!). The online mode obviously also supports up to 8 players in a game.

Players will be able to play the tournament format online across platforms in order to constantly have more players online.

Will there be an online leaderboard and trackable progression for competitive players?

Not at the moment. We understand that it would be interesting but not knowing how popular the game will be and since it is still a party game first and foremost, we figured we would wait before putting a lot of efforts into this kind of feature.

We’ll see if there is a big enough base of active players and demand for it and then we might make it happen. However, there will be local progression.

Players will earn in-game currency after completing achievements and tournaments that can be spent on customization items and skins.

When is Aeolis Tournament expected to release, and on what platforms?

The release date isn’t totally fixed yet because of the COVID-19 situation, but we plan to release sometime in June. It will initially be on Steam (PC) and Nintendo Switch.

Are you planning to release Aeolis Tournament to other platforms following its release?

We would love to bring to PlayStation and Xbox but we knew from the start that we wouldn’t have the time or the resources to do it for the initial release. We look forward to doing it after the release, probably for the current generation of consoles. We will also try to bring it to Mac and Linux operating systems on Steam.

Finally, where can gamers go for updates and info on Aeolis Tournament?

We’ll be very active on social medias as we get closer to our release date so everyone can follow us @beyondfunstudio on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. If people go on the game’s website at aeolistournament.com they’ll find a link to our Steam page to wishlist it and also be able to join our mailing list and Discord channel.

We want to thank Beyond Fun Studio again for not only allowing us to show Aeolis Tournament in our IOX broadcast, but also for taking the time to participate in this interview. We can’t wait to play Aeolis Tournament in June, and we’re hoping to find a few people to play with (or against)!