What a day for the beautiful people over at proud FLEGA member Pajama Llama Games. After years on the turbulent high seas, their debut title Flotsam is finally hitting Steam Early Access and Kartridge later today. We reckon the three co-founders must feel like sailors returning home after being away at sea for a very long time, not always certain if they would ever see the shore again. Welcome home, guys. You made it!
Seemingly in development for all eternity, the charming city builder dropped on our radar for the first time in late 2015. Pre-production had started way before that, as co-founders Dave Van Verdegem, Stan Loiseaux, and Juda-Ben Gordier were prototyping different ideas out of Stan’s bedroom. It doesn’t get more indie than that!
While the joyful Flotsam quickly became a poster child for the budding #BelgianGamesIndustry, development was rocky. One of the first titles to be backed by VAF/GAME, the team quickly faced the fact that their idea for a floating city builder would quickly outgrow their budget. Juggling different projects to keep fuelling their dream and going back to the drawing board at crucial times meant that progress on the game sometimes was painstakingly slow, and people started to doubt if it would ever come to fruition.
But they soldiered through because they believed in their game, and rightfully so. Combining a striking art direction with an established genre literally drowned in an ocean of original gameplay ideas, Pajama Llama made a splash everywhere they went. From the quirky drifters that build your town out of garbage to the curious whales that float by, the game oozes character. It’s charm netted the game numerous awards over the years such as Most Promising at the Belgian Game Awards 2019 and most recently Best Unity Game at the IndieArenaBooth during this year’s gamescom.
The clouds ultimately cleared when the team signed a publisher deal with Kongregate. Free from financial woes, the team was able to hire more people in order to break through the bottlenecks previously blocking steady development. It’s a testament to the strength and perseverance of the team that they managed to navigate the eb and flow of the development process and safely sail the ship into port at the end of it all.
Though the long development cycle might make this feel like the end of a journey, it’s actually the beginning of one. Much like constructing a cosy town, Pajama Llama have been smartly building a similar community on Discord. With the game out in the open, the team will use feedback from this large school of followers to plot Flotsam’s next destination. Another trip that may take the team into uncharted waters, but one we’re very keep an eye on.
Congratulations to everyone who worked on this and bon voyage, everyone!