We were lucky enough to interview the solo developer, Jonas (aka Studio InkyFox), about his new game Omno which is available right now on Xbox Game Pass and other platforms. The game is beautifully unique, with a relaxed playstyle, intriguing locations and it’s host to a simple, yet fantastic story. Learn more about Jonas’ five-year journey of sacrifice, fulfilment and relief below. 

GPN: Hi Jonas, thank you so much for taking the time to take part in this interview with us here at GPN, it’s really appreciated! I’ve personally followed your incredible solo-developer journey with Omno for many years – I hope the hard work pays off for you. First thing’s first, congratulations on the launch of the game! How does it feel now it’s out in the wild? Could you also let our readers know what Omno is about? 

Studio InkyFox: 

Thanks so much! It all still feels surreal! I’m most excited for all those little moments when the game will hopefully surprise players and put a smile on their faces – whether that’s trying out a new ability for the first time, nailing a platforming sequence, solving a puzzle or just interacting with a new creature that really takes them off guard. It’s been a pretty rough last couple of years for pretty much everyone, and hopefully Omno is a game that will bring a little bit of simple, uncomplicated joy into the lives of players for a few hours. 

Omno is a single player adventure game where you play as a pilgrim making your way through an ancient world of wonders on a quest to find a mythical gate of light. It’s a game of exploration and traversal, where you’ll have to use platforming and puzzle solving skills to make your way through each world. Another thing that’s pretty unique about Omno compared to other 3D platforming adventure games is that there’s no combat at all – instead the focus is on interacting with the array of fantastical creatures you encounter, who in turn will reward you for your curiosity – often in fun and surprising ways. 

Source: Studioinkyfox

GPN: Omno has been in development for quite a few years. How did the idea of this project come to light? What were your inspirations? 

Studio InkyFox: 

It all started as a side project in 2016, then I showed bits of it to the public the first time in July 2017, not expecting much, but I was overwhelmed by the reactions. I decided to go full time on this to see if it gets somewhere. I launched a crowdfunding campaign in late 2018 after using up my savings, to see if there‘s public interest in a game like this and potentially secure funding for the “minimal viable product“. It went much better than expected and was an extremely impactful, life changing experience for me. The following two and a half years I focussed on nothing else other than this project. I worked many nights, no vacation, no holidays, and for the last years even no weekends. It really brought me to my absolute limits, physically, mental and financially. Needless to say, as a father of three, this lifestyle comes with some real challenges for the family and it has been a balancing act all the time. 

Influences are always a tough question for me to answer, as I often don’t know myself. I draw inspiration and influences from all kinds of sources – games like MarioJourneyFF7, even World of Warcraft (which I never really even played) have all been influential in some of my thought processes and design decisions for Omno, but I think I draw inspiration equally from art, movies, books etc too. 

 

GPN: You’ve worked on other gaming projects for this one such as the State of Decay series. This is your first solo project, what challenges did you face when creating Omno on your own? 

Studio InkyFox: 

Working on a game solo requires working in very different areas simultaneously – which I was not used to. So sometimes I made a design decision in one place, but later realised that in another field (say storytelling) it required something completely different. So there’s quite a lot back and forth, which means progress does sometimes go quite a bit slower than expected! The biggest challenge overall though is probably just staying on track and staying focused – without having fellow devs to bounce off of, it can be a lonely road – so staying disciplined and motivated is a constant battle. Luckily I have a super supportive family – my wife is the person who I talk to about everything I’m working through and she’s amazing. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to get to the end of the project without her constant support, advice and love.  

Source: studioinkyfox

GPN: Omno was available on Game Pass from day one. How did the opportunity come about with it arriving on Game Pass? Did you approach Xbox or vice versa? 

Studio InkyFox: 

The ID@Xbox folks got in touch with me relatively early in the project, after the Kickstarter, and have been hugely supportive of the project throughout. I think for smaller indies Game Pass partnerships can be a really great way of getting your games out there into the world. Obviously, it’s been less than 3 weeks since Omno launched, so it’s hard to know what the long-term effects of being in Game Pass will be, but so far everything’s been really positive, and it’s so cool knowing/seeing Omno is being played by such a huge range of different players across the world! 

 

GPN: The ongoing Pandemic has undoubtedly affected everyone globally. How has it impacted, if at all, work on Omno and how did you overcome some of the challenges it presented? 

Studio InkyFox: 

As a solo dev working from home, I’ve been lucky enough to avoid many of the problems facing people all over the world right now. Closed schools for my kids meant I had to handle additional childcare duties, which obviously slowed things down at times. However, despite a noisier workspace and needing a bit more focus on time-management, overall development hasn’t really been affected too much, and for that I feel extremely lucky and thankful. 

Source: seaofthieves.com

GPN: Throughout the development of Omno, you stayed in contact with your fans through weekly emails via Kickstarter and kept in regular chats on Discord. How vital was the feedback and did anything surprise you? 

StudioInkyFox: 

Feedback always played THE biggest role for Omno. It all began with the early social media posts that went viral – to my surprise. 

Throughout the development process, I’ve been very engaged with the Omno community, doing tons of testing from the very start with some of the early Kickstarter backers and Discord members, which has been invaluable to me. Also, I’ve run closed alpha and beta tests with backers which gave me huge amounts of great feedback that allowed me to refine so many aspects of the game, fix so many bugs and generally just make Omno a more polished experience, hopefully. 

 

GPN: Now that the game you’ve been tirelessly working on is available for the public to enjoy, what are your plans going forward? Do you have any other projects in the works, or are you going to enjoy some time off? 

Studio InkyFox: 

Near future will be patching all the live versions whenever I come across issues, improving the game generally based on player feedback, and finishing up work on the Switch version, before hopefully taking a much-needed break with the family! In general, spending more time with my wife and kids is top priority for me now the main launch is over – we’ve all had to make huge sacrifices over the past few years to enable me to get this thing done, which I’ll be forever grateful for, and now I just want to give back as much of myself to them as I can for the next few weeks/months, until work on the next game begins! 

  

GPN: Lastly, what advice do you have for anyone out there who is thinking of making a game on their own?  

Studio InkyFox: 

There is so much worth talking about. Not sure where to start here. Maybe with something like “Get feedback early”, “Keep things small”, “never stop learning”… But there are so many of those tips flying around anyway. So, I would rather go with something more unusual and say “Take more breaks – it can really speed things up!” 

Many people ask ‘Would you do it again despite all the struggle?’ – short answer: Yes! It was so worth it in many ways. The entire journey was a massively fulfilling experience to me and I believe that leaving the comfort zones on a daily basis really lets you grow personally. So, I definitely recommend giving it a shot and give your ideas a chance. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my words here! Hopefully you’ll have the chance to play Omno soon, and that you’ll enjoy the experience! Omno is a short game, only around 4-8 hours of playtime on average, but it’s a game I’ve poured 5 years of love and care into, and I am proud of what I’ve created and am so excited to be able to share it with the world! It’s available to play right now on SteamEpic, PS4 and Xbox. 

Richard Atkinson

Lead Editor

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