My Friend Pedro

The Bullet Ballet of My Friend Pedro – A TLS Exclusive Interview

Video games are one of the few mediums out there that can evolve. Thanks to constant technical advances, it’s more than capable for a genre to evolve with the times. Such innovation drives the experience of the indie shooter, My Friend Pedro. Despite the unassuming name, My Friend Pedro aims to deliver stylish action that takes the genre in exciting directions.

THE BLACKLIST

Created by Victor Agren, My Friend Pedro’s has a long origin story. Derived from a project he created ten years ago titled Extreme Russian Gymnastics, Victor wanted to expand the aerial acrobatics he created, but with a twist.

Victor started his action project with the moniker “Blacklist”.  Fitting for the tone he tried to achieve, Blacklist hit a roadblock when Victor joined Media Molecule after finishing college.

After working on the LittleBigPlanet franchise and Tearaway for the PS Vita, Victor left Media Molecule to pursue other opportunities. “After releasing a few Flash games I decided to pick up ‘Blacklist’ and finish it once and for all,” said Victor speaking with Two Left Sticks.

My Friend Pedro
The 2014 Flash version of My Friend Pedro

“During this time there had been a few other games and TV series which used the name ‘Blacklist’.  So I felt a name change was in order. This is when Pedro, the banana, first made his appearance and the game got its name. The Flash version was released in 2014 and ended up becoming popular online. After seeing the response of that game it only seemed to make sense to try and make a proper thing out of it, especially since I had loads of more ideas that would work within the framework of that game.”

EMPOWERING GAMEPLAY

Gestating for quite some time, Victor has gone through various iterations to tweak the combat of My Friend Pedro. Unlike other games, the movement is constant. Players perform jumps and twirls all while taking out two or more enemies in a stylistic way. A far cry from the cover-based shooters which flood the market today, Victor wanted to do something unique to hook players in.

“It all made sense to me, but I wasn’t too sure other people would get their head around the controls at first,” said Victor. “But after seeing the response of the 2014 Flash game I was confident this was something people not only could grasp but would really enjoy!”

Empowerment plays a huge role in My Friend Pedro and is something Victor wants players to truly feel. To this end, players are in full control of the many acrobatic moves capable in the game.

“I really want the player to feel like they’re pulling off the cool things on screen rather than triggering a cool looking animation. A lot of work went into making sure you can combine different moves as they are needed or feel cool to trigger,” Victor said.

With the Max Payne franchise setting the bar for slo-mo mayhem, Victor is making sure to provide something equally compelling. “When you’re in slow motion and are not touching the ground, pushing left or right will have the character rotate in the air allowing you to do really cool flips. This is the biggest thing that sets this game apart from the rest, I believe. It’s also the one thing that has kept me enjoying the game for all these years.”

CINEMATIC INSPIRATIONS

Looking at My Friend Pedro, it’s easy to immediately think of past action movies. The free-flowing nature of the combat and environmental interaction allows a cinematic atmosphere without limiting what players can do.

The Matrix
The Matrix

On what movies inspired him, Victor said, “The main film that blew my mind and inspired my interest in acrobatic gunplay is obviously The Matrix. Equilibrium is another big influence. Other films are John Wick, American Ultra, Once Upon A Time In Mexico, Hard Boiled and other John Woo films. Another source of inspiration has been random clips from over the top Bollywood action films.”

COMPOSING THE MAYHEM

My Friend Pedro plays out rhythmically with bodies dropping and bullets bouncing. ”One thing I’ve realized is that the human brain has a limit on how much excitement it can process in a row. It’s important to bring down the tempo occasionally and stimulate the more intellectual part of the brain rather than the emotional part.

“It’s like a good DJ set, it can’t keep you excited all the time. It needs the beat, buildup and drop for you to really feel excited. So similarly there are moments in MFP which really try to peak your excitement. They’re also moments which has you slowing down, but use different means to keep you engaged.”

Besides the peaks and drops Victor is implementing through the design, My Friend Pedro will have a few other tricks. Players will also find themselves riding a motorcycle and falling from the sky whilst shooting in sequences that evoke the feel of blockbuster films.

My Friend Pedro

FUN OVER DIFFICULTY

Hotline Miami — another revolutionary and renowned action game —helped break up the monotony found in the action genre with rhythmic action, and won players over despite its difficulty.

Opting to go down a different path, Victor isn’t developing My Friend Pedro as an impossible game to finish. Discussing his approach he said, “I’m not really setting out to make a super difficult game. My main concern is for the player to feel bad-ass when they progress through the game. Obviously, the difficulty ramps up throughout the game but I don’t want to punish the player too much from failing.”

My Friend Pedro

“There are plenty of mid-level checkpoints. The main punishment for not pulling off a particular area is knowing that you weren’t being as cool as you could have been. I’m planning on adding different difficulty modes which could make it super hard to play for the people who like a real challenge.”

Additionally, Victor is making sure the game won’t outstay its welcome. Being the sole developer on the project, he can only do so much while maintaining a high level of quality. Victor also doesn’t want the game to lose momentum through a bloated length.

“Personally I am a fan of shorter games without too much of the fluff. MFP would lean more towards the ‘brief adventure’ end of the spectrum, but making sure every second of that adventure is worthwhile. It’s hard to say how long the game will actually be, as the game is still in development.”

WAITING FOR PEDRO

Action unlike anything in recent memory, My Friend Pedro gives players a cinematic approach while making sure they maintain control.  Ultimately, My Friend Pedro could re-invigorate the action genre much like Max Payne did nearly twenty years ago.

Players can expect to experience the banana-fueled action of My Friend Is Pedro in 2017 on PC.

Ian Fisher
A Chicago native, I'm a six year veteran of the game press industry with a deep passion for smaller indie games and all things Sony.

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