ADIOS Amigos is a co-op 2D exploration sim game that’s serious about astrophysics but joyfully silly when it comes to the cooperative chaos of exploring solar systems and building a home. Originally self published on PC in 2018 by Swedish indie developer Cosmic Picnic; a four man team made up of veteran DICE developers Niclas Forsell and Filip Karlsson, cartoonist John Holmvall and musician Joakim Kanon, the definitive version of ADIOS Amigos titled ADIOS Amigos: Galactic Explorers is out on the PlayStation Store today! Packing a new co-op intro campaign, a new vehicle, improved camera controls, parties, and more. Space enthusiast and developer Niclas Forsell kindly agreed to answer a few questions over email about ADIOS Amigos and the artful science of riding a sofa into a black hole.
First things first, how did you guys at Cosmic Picnic first meet and what made you want to make games together?
Niclas Forsell: Me and Filip Karlsson were colleagues at EA DICE. We both transferred to Ghost Games to work on Need for Speed: Rivals.
When I quit my job to create my own game, it became clear it would be difficult making a PS4 game as a solo developer. So I showed my prototype (of Amazing Discoveries In Outer Space) to Filip and luckily, he decided to join. Then I approached my old friend Joakim Kanon and asked him to help us with the music.
A year or so later, at an Atari retro computer meetup, I stumbled into a former colleague. He introduced me to the cartoonist John Holmvall. We started emailing and John decided to join the team. We finally had an artist, and the team was complete!
What were the initial ideas and inspirations behind ADIOS Amigos and how did it come to be?
Niclas: I always wanted to have co-op in our first game Amazing Discoveries In Outer Space (PS4/2016).
I have always been very fond of co-op games. Legend of Zelda: Four Sword Adventures and Bubble Bobble especially. But the game needed to be more approachable to be enjoyable in co-op. So we started to rebalance the game and create new levels. Suddenly the game had grown into a sequel.
I should also mention the movie Gravity that made a big impression on me and was in my mind when creating the space station gameplay in Amigos.
What lessons carried over from your work on big budget franchises like Battlefield to ADIOS Amigos?
Niclas: A pretty good understanding for all the steps required to ship a console title. It’s a lot of work.
Which engine did you choose for ADIOS Amigos, what particular challenges did working with that engine pose and how did you overcome them?
Niclas: The ADIOS games are built with our own custom game engine. We utilize the MonoGame framework for stuff like input, sound playback and resource management.
The problem with having your own game engine is that you need to do everything yourself. But having limitations can also be liberating. ADIOS would have been a very different game if it had been built in Unity.
A video game protagonist wakes up in an on-fire science lab with nothing but an AI and a high-tech gun to…
In terms of coding challenges, how did you go about engineering The Cosmic Clockwork – the detailed physical simulation of ADIOS’ sandbox that lets players zoom around in asteroid fields, ride furniture into black holes and throw things into orbit around the sun?
Niclas: It’s very much an iterative process where we add something to the game and then play around with it and try to “find the fun”. Most of the gameplay in ADIOS has been created like that.
Soundtrack wise, how did you and Joakim Kanon meet and come to work together?
Niclas: I met Joakim at high school. I always knew he was a talented musician so when our first game project needed music, he was the first person I thought of. And he took the job very seriously. I’m still not tired of the music he created for ADIOS even though I hear it every day.
What have you guys been working on in the last 4 years between ADIOS Amigos’ first release and Galactic Explorers?
Niclas: In 2018, after ADIOS Amigos the team disbanded. I went on parental leave and later worked as a consultant on Battlefield 2042. But I felt an obligation to the fans of Amazing Discoveries In Outer Space to have the franchise return to its Playstation roots. But since Filip is busy making a living as a consultant in the game industry, it was up to me to solo-develop Galactic Explorers. So it took some time to finish.
As a space enthusiast which bits of space interest you the most and what parts of ADIOS did you enjoy building the most?
Niclas: Well I do enjoy accurate portrayal of acceleration and artificial gravity! So making the space stations was very entertaining. The game generates a wacky random space station and then throws it into space (Good Luck!). The space station then tries to maintain its orbit around the sun with the thrusters that it has been given. I love how the sudden bursts of acceleration affects the things that float inside the station.
What’s next for ADIOS Amigos and what’s next for Cosmic Picnic?
Niclas: Creating patches with the Galactic Explorers content for Xbox/Steam and releasing the game in Japan. And if the Galactic Explorers performs well, we might create some competitive game modes as free updates.
ADIOS Amigos: Galactic Explorers is available to purchase on the PlayStation Store today for both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 platforms.
Do you think space is the place? Do you pine for weightlessness of zero gravity? Check out our review of indie space station builder orbit.industries.