Our Friend Victor Ågren Talks About My Friend Pedro
The story behind the phenomenon
Victor Ågren, the founder of DeadToast Entertainment, is also the creator of My Friend Pedro. The game enjoyed some early viral success because of its over-the-top action, which translates perfectly to GIFs — from the first moment we saw a guy burst through a window on a skateboard and shoot in two directions in slow motion, we were in love. That love deepened when we found out that we could kick a frying pan into the air and kill enemies by ricocheting bullets off of it.
Now, a few weeks after E3 and the subsequent successful launch of the game, we reached out to Ågren to ask how the game came together, what he wanted to achieve with it, and — perhaps most importantly — what we should be doing to improve our high scores.
Super Jump: First up — how was your E3?
Ågren: The last month or so is a bit of a blur, to be honest. In body I spent E3 in the comfort of my own home, but mentally I spent it in a state of chaos getting everything ready for shipping My Friend Pedro.
So…why a banana?
Why not :) They’re easy to animate.
My Friend Pedro started as a game on Newgrounds — how did that version come about?
The early Flash version of My Friend Pedro basically started as a final project in school, many years ago now. I didn’t manage to finish the project and scored a job at Media Molecule just after finishing my studies, which put the Flash version of MFP on ice for six or seven years. It wasn’t until I left Media Molecule I picked it up again to finish and release it.
Can you explain how initial development on this current version started? What was the initial seed for it, or the goal at the outset?
After releasing the Flash version of My Friend Pedro, the game proved to be quite popular, and people kept asking for more, which gave me the confidence to start working on a more proper version of the game. Initially the scope of the game was a lot smaller than what ended up shipping. But after I started sharing work in progress footage of the game online it quickly got a lot of attention from various publishers out there, one of them being Devolver Digital. I got talking with Devolver, things clicked, and we decided to partner up. I think it was at this moment when I realised I had an opportunity to make something of impact and I decided to go all in on the project.
My favourite part of the game is ricocheting shots off a frying pan into enemies. Did you have any really wild ideas for the game, any outlandish kill methods, that didn’t make the cut or didn’t work when you tested them?
Yeah, there were quite a bit of experimenting happening early on, with a fair few ideas that strayed a bit too far from what I felt was right for the game. One of them were a crossbow which shot arrows you could detonate at will. Another one was these robot drone enemies that tried to find you and shoot you on sight — but if you shot them back they would get stunned and then you could grab on to it and ride it while using their turrets against other enemies. It ended up being too complicated and convoluted and didn’t feel like it was heading anywhere.
I’ve been playing the game and would love some tips on how to get a high score. Should I use slow mo for every encounter? Is it just a matter of being fast and accurate?
The trick to getting a high score is to keep your combo-chain going for as long as possible. In a lot of scenarios that’s a matter of just reaching the next enemy before the combo-timer runs out, but in other scenarios you’d might want to wait until you’re in a better spot before taking out an enemy so that the combo-timer lasts just long enough to reach an upcoming enemy that’s a bit further away. Using the slow-mo can be good for avoiding shots, since getting hit takes away from the combo-timer. Slow-mo also allows you the ability to do stunts which gives higher points. But at the same time you get a time bonus for completing the level as fast as possible, so for the optimal score you want to use the slow-mo in just the right moments.
What drove the decision to put this game on Switch over Xbox One or PS4?
Devolver was more involved with that side of things than me. But I guess it boils down to the fact that the Switch has been a fantastic space for indies and Nintendo expressed a lot of interest in the game early on and things grew from there.
What has your Switch development experience been like? Were there challenges involved in getting the game working on there?
I was really lucky to have a porting company called 22nd Century Toys help bring it over to Switch. They would handle some of the more technical and platform specific parts. Beyond that, having the game running on Switch helped highlight some areas of the game which was fairly poorly optimized — and I’m happy I got to spend time in to making things run better as it benefited the PC version too.
Is ‘Pedro’ named after anyone in particular?
Yes and no. As I was finishing up the Flash game I just needed a name for the game and I basically just plucked some words out of a sentence that my girlfriend was saying. She was talking about her friend Pedro, so in a sense it was named after him, but then again I don’t really know the guy so there’s no real connection.
What’s your personal favourite thing about My Friend Pedro?
For me it’s probably that it reaffirmed that it’s okay to make a game around something that’s fun to play first and foremost, and it’s okay if the rest doesn’t make all that much sense.