Interview: Fall Guys Lead Designer talks Season 2, future collaborations and more

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We chat with Fall Guys Lead Designer Joe Walsh about Season 2, the potential for ranked play, future collaborations and more!

AppTrigger Contributor, Eric Halliday, recently had the chance to sit with Fall Guys Lead Designer, Joe Walsh. In the 30-minute interview, the two discuss everything from the upcoming medieval themed Season 2, Mediatonic’s social media blow up and how they’re using their newfound publicity to raise money for charity. They also hint at some big quality of life changes and alterations that we may get to witness in the near future.

The following is a transcript of the interview:

Eric Halliday (AppTrigger Contributor): So, a couple of questions. In an interview, I saw you guys talking about “It’s a Knockout” being an inspiration for the game. I was wondering if anything else inspired this, because I noticed a couple of the rounds, like, Gate Crash and stuff like that are very reminiscent of Takashi’s Castle.

Joe Walsh (Lead Designer: Fall Guys): Yeah, Takashi’s Castle is absolutely the primary inspiration for the game. We also follow a very similar format to that game show, like, it’s loads of people on the start line and you’re whittling them down, round after round. That sense of slapstick, uselessness, of those competitors, was really the starting point for how Fall Guys should feel and control. The start of the project was literally we’d just sit at our desks and just watch Takashi’s Castle for like a week straight and just recorded clips where we’d be like, “oh, that looks funny”, “that should be in the game”, “you should be able to do that”, “that looks like a round”. And we amassed all of this stuff and it’s become the bible for what Fall Guys essentially is. This crate of gifts that we’ve amassed over the first few months of the project.

Eric Halliday: I was personally hyped when I first played it and I realized how much it was like Takashi’s Castle. It had been a weird dream for somebody to finally make a game of that.

Joe Walsh: In a way the first six months of the project of this game was the scariest because the game’s not announced and every single time a trade show rolled around like GDC or E3 you’d watch the conferences and we’re like, “please, nobody announce this game because it’s TOO good an idea to not have other people also working on it.” I’ve always wanted to have a go on the start line and have a go at the obstacle courses and Fall Guys lets people fulfill that fantasy which is ultimately what great games do, they let you fulfill fantasies whether that’s letting people be a super-strong superhero or whatever and Fall Guys is just middle-aged overweight Japanese businessman simulator in a lot of ways.

EH: (laughing) I feel that very personally, so I appreciate it. So, are you guys ready for the cause, you know that you’re going to get a lot of people copying off your idea. Same thing when PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds went big and suddenly you had Fortnite and a million other “battle royales”. Are you guys ready for just this stream of copycats that will come from this.

“…what we need to do as developers is build trust with this new fan base who’s never heard about Mediatonic before and let them understand that we’ve got this, we know what to do, we’re going to make this game the way you guys want it.”

JW: (sighs) Yeah, I mean there’s not much we can do other than make our game as good as possible and make sure we’re listening to our community because that’s the biggest way these games get beaten is when fans are clamoring for something and demanding something but the developer goes down their own route. And then another game answers that demand. So really the best thing we can do is make sure that we’re listening to the community and giving them what they want, essentially. We’ve reached this point where the game is no longer our game. We made it and it’s out there and there are so many people playing it and so many people who feel passionate about it that, really, what we need to do as developers is build trust with this new fan base who’s never heard about Mediatonic before and let them understand that we’ve got this, we know what to do, we’re going to make this game the way you guys want it. And that becomes, ultimately, our role now is kind of serving the community. And making sure the game continues to grow and continues to be the best slapstick physics battle royale that exists, really.

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout Season 2
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EH: And your social media presence is…insane. I seriously give whoever is behind your Twitter account an insane amount of credit because that amount of fan love that you guys are getting, plus the fact that you have people, organizations like anything from the Cyberpunk guys to KFC hitting you guys up and wanting to work with you to do a collab. That all happened so fast! Were you guys ready for that?

JW: No, I mean, that was the start of it going completely mental when these really big games started contacting us. Like, to begin with, we’re slightly desperately trying to get a look in somewhere to get someone to notice us and the tables have flipped now, and now it’s like we’re the hot property and people are trying to get on OUR bandwagon and that is quite interesting. That’s why it’s so important for us to do things like this charity event for the costumes that allow us to create something positive out of what, essentially, is marketing demand I guess. (laughs) It’s nice to put this spin on something which can be a little, I don’t know. It’s a little weird when all these people jump on the bandwagon, essentially, it’s good to just turn that to something more positive.

EH: Can you tell me more about the charity that you’re doing?

JW: Yeah, so we had all these companies reach out to us and say we should put a fried chicken skin in the game or a gaming laptop or chair skin or you know, whatever, and those ideas are all great and whatever but what we wanted to do was just basically say, “let’s let you put your money where your mouth is, but let’s do it for charities.” We’re essentially auctioning off a skin that will appear in-game and the highest bigger, and that can be a person, that could be a company, it could be whoever they want wins and they get to put whatever they want in the game and the money that they bid goes to charity.

EH: That’s really cool. When did you announce that one?

JW: It’s been running for nearly two weeks and the competition ends on Monday. So we expect to see a flurry of votes over the next few days.

EH: I definitely like the stuff like that that you get going with the community. I got caught up in, I forgot what the hashtag was, but you had that event where you found the highest-ranking person in the game and you gave them the P-Body suit but then you couldn’t find who it was.

JW: Great piece of marketing, that.

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout Season 2
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Will Fall Guys have other video game themed collaborations?

EH: That was very “Golden Ticket”. That was insane. Speaking of collaborations, by the way, with other companies and things like that, you guys did, in addition to the Valve costumes, the Hotline Miami costume and the Bulletkin costume. Do you guys have any other video game themed ones coming out soon?

JW: We do. We’re not talking about them yet but there are some big tie-ins that we’ve started talking to people around about just like games that we love and games we’re excited about and a lot of opportunities have presented themselves and we’re able to start picking and choosing in a quite privileged way which is exciting. We just announced Season 2 yesterday, it’s going to be medieval themed and hopefully going to be dropping some exciting collaborations during Season 2 as well.

EH: I just watched the trailer about an hour ago for it and it looks really cool. I’m really hyped for it, I honestly probably start my day off playing it and before I go to bed I probably play a few rounds and just seeing that content in there is just really cool. Is there anything you can announce from it?

JW: We can talk about why we’re doing medieval. Basically people have been clambering for…”make it harder, make it harder”, “the levels are too easy”, like, “give us a real challenge” so if we’re going medieval it allows us to be pretty dastardly with the things that we can create. There are so many weird medieval contraptions to draw from like trebuchets and swinging axes and things and there’s so much fun content. It’s really allowed us to go play medieval-inspired games, watch a bunch of stuff and there’s a bunch of game shows we used to watch that were medieval-themed as well and Takashi’s Castle is slightly feudal in that sense so there was a lot of inspirations to draw from and it’s allowed us to to make a really fun, stupid, obstacle courses.

EH: Speaking of the shows too, this is kind of a weird question. Have you ever seen an old German game show called “The Golden Egg”?

JW: No I haven’t. Should I have?

EH: Look it up. Picture Takashi’s Castle except it is bizarrely difficult and painful. Like, there’s a maze with clear walls that people have to navigate except it’s underwater and they don’t have a tank.

JW: That sounds horrific!

EH: There’s an asteroid where they had to collect stuff from underneath while climbing except it barely clears the ground. And I was thinking that there were so many things there that would just translate into the hardest Fall Guys stuff.

JW: That’s been one of the fun things is that every season, it’s like Fall Guys has such a great foundation and there are so many stupid game shows that are themed in different ways and we can really…each season we can pick something new and push the barrel out in new ways. But it’s all very light-hearted and we’re not taking it particularly seriously. So, really anything goes with Fall Guys which is a really exciting way of doing things I think.

EH: That actually leads into another thing I was going to ask about, now…there has been a weird fan divide. I don’t know if you saw any of the articles I sent to you guys when I was talking about the interview but I wrote one about the fact that my kids play it and one of my kids is six and he had an instance the other day where somebody pushed him off a platform and than messaged him “get rekt”.

JW: (laughs) Oh-no!

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout Season 2
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Will Fall Guys add Ranked play or competitive servers?

EH: And I was just wondering. I’ve seen that the Fall Guys players either just have a lot of fun with it or they take it incredibly seriously. Even at AppTrigger, I just like having fun with it but there’s another guy here who is just like, he wants a ranked server and he wants to show he’s the best and he’s always bragging about his crowns. Have you guys ever thought about doing two separate servers, casual and ranked?

JW: Yeah, I mean it’s something that we’ve thought about but if you’re going to do ranked in your game then you need to have your game designed for this peak level of competition. Like, if you look at games like Rocket League and League of Legends and Starcraft and stuff like that, they design the game for the top 0.1% of players so that the game is perfectly balanced, perfectly fair, and that’s not what Fall Guys is about. Sometimes in Fall Guys, you lose and it’s not your fault and tough shit. That’s just how it goes in game shows. They’re not fair, it’s the same exact thing as Mario Kart. Like, sometimes you have blue shells and that’s not fair, you didn’t do anything wrong, but that’s life sometimes. And that’s the ethos of Fall Guys. Like, it doesn’t really lend itself to hardcore competition. If people want to play it that way and track their own win-loss ratio than absolutely go for it. We are fully behind them but right now we need to be really focused on what features we pick to develop and to nurture a game that we think the most, like, the largest percentage of the community want and so at least, for now, super hardcore ranked is not the direction we think we’re going to take Fall Guys in. We think it’s much more fun as a jump in, play a few rounds, party game and we’re mainly focused on bringing that experience to more people and adding more variety and more ridiculous. We’re going to kind of turn the craziness of it up even more over the next couple of months I think.

EH: I gotcha. Like I said, I’m fully on the “casual, have fun with it” side so I am right there with you on that one. So, have you considered branching out to other systems yet or is that something you can’t really talk about right now?

Will Fall Guys release on other platforms besides PlayStation and PC?

“…we know that there are consoles out there that have a much more potentially casual audience and we would love those people to play Fall Guys one day…”

JW: Right now we’re really focused on making sure that Playstation and PC are as stable and as good as possible which is quite a lot of work there to do to get that game really singing on those platforms but what we’ve seen is that Fall Guys brings people who never play multiplayer games to multiplayer gaming, like, we’ve had so many people message us saying, “Hey I hate guns, I don’t want to shoot people, I don’t like being shot, it’s not fun for me. But Fall Guys allows me to go online and have fun with my friends and compete and feel a bit of that rush.” And we want as many people as possible to have that experience and we know that there are consoles out there that have a much more potentially casual audience and we would love those people to play Fall Guys one day but that’s kind of in the future right now and we’re really just focusing on PS4 and PC at the moment.

EH: I was thinking, like, having a weird daydream about it just popping up on the Switch or something because, oh god, the Nintendo themed costumes…

(both laugh)

JW: Yeah, exactly, that would be insane. A lot of people have just assumed it was a Switch game because there’s something about the colors of it where it feels a little bit Nintendo which is about the highest compliment anyone could ever pay you as a developer. So, if people see us as belonging on that platform we take that compliment. And we definitely do hear people, they want to see it there one day.

EH: Out of curiosity, and I don’t know if you’re allowed to say it or not but pretending legal issues, Copywrite, stuff like that wasn’t a thing, what would be your dream costume. If you could do anything? Some character from some property and it could be one that you don’t have lined up or anything but what would it be?

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout Season 2
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Could Fall Guys get PlayStation-themed costumes?

“I think one thing we’ve never managed to do yet is Sony IP costumes and there’s so many amazing concepts out there.”

JW: I think one thing we’ve never managed to do yet is Sony IP costumes and there’s so many amazing concepts out there. Crash Bandicoot, Ratchet and Clank, God of War, you know these really big tentpole Playstation IPs would be amazing to get into the game. So I think those really iconic Sony Characters, I’d love to see Fall Guy versions of them because Valve was amazing and basically let us do whatever we want and we’d love to see Sony reach out and make it happen on that platform.

EH: I know another one and I didn’t realize it until my six-year-old did, we printed up that template that you guys have on your website where you can come up with your own Fall Guys and my six-year-old started drawing classic Mega Man bosses as Fall Guys and he did a Gutsman and an Ice Man and all I kept thinking was, “I would just pay $10 a piece for these costumes.” They were just, they were beautiful.

SEGA Anniversary collaboration on the way?!

JW: That would be so good. I mean, the Sega anniversary is coming up, you never know. We could do something with that.

EH: Is that a hint?

JW: I mean, there’s a lot of exciting things happening but it would be cool to get some Sega things in Fall Guys as well, I mean, why not? We all love those games. We’ll have to make sure your kids get royalty shares or something.

EH: I’m sure if they understood what that meant for them that they’d be really excited. Now, another thing too, you know how a lot of your games are in categories obviously: Team, Survival, all that. You only have one Logic one right now which is Perfect Match. Is that a sign that you guys are planning making more Logic themed ones or are you just seeing how it goes?

JW: Yeah, the Logic thing is something that we always wanted to do. It’s always felt like a funny idea to us because it allows us to play on the idea of the hivemind in a really interesting way. We wanted something that felt a little bit like…do you remember Twitch Plays Pokemon? The idea of the majority thinking a thing, that is what makes Fall Guys, it’s the essence of what makes Fall Guys so good. I think, for me, See Saw is the quintessential Fall Guys level because of how it makes people behave and it’s just so unique. And I think Perfect Match embodies a lot of that spirit in a slightly different way but we know that’s not why people are playing Fall Guys at the end of the day. People want to get hit by stuff, people want to do obstacle courses and so we have it as a little bit of a pallet cleanser in there essentially. So we’re keeping an eye on it and it’s not people’s favorite level, to be honest. I love it a bit and the team loves it and people do love it but generally, it gets a bit of a sigh when it comes up so we’re not rushing to add more logic levels just yet but we do have some great ideas that we think would be fun. But for now, we’re focusing on the stuff that people are really asking for and mostly that is more gauntlets and more stuff at the beginning of the game and that’s where we kind of need the variation, essentially.

EH: Personally, if I could start every game off with Whirl-i-gig…

JW:  Exactly!

EH: Do you have a favorite one?

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JW: Um, I love Slime Climb. Like, Slime Climb is the one that gets me leaning forward in my chair. Like, ready to actually focus and play like, I’m quite competitive and I love all the shortcuts. I love trying to shave time off my route and pushing people off the yellow pillars, I’m that guy, standing there, trying to ruin everyone else’s day. But that’s just me. That’s my favorite level I think. It was one of the last…so like, so Slime Climb and Whirl-i-gig we’re like the two of the last levels we did and I think you can tell we really nailed what makes a great Fall Guys level by that point so I think by the end we really had it down whereas I think if you look at…like Fall Mountain is like the second level we ever made and at the time we loved it, we thought it was the best thing since sliced bread and then, by the end of development it was like, oh, we learned so much that now what we want to do is come back to Fall Mountain and maybe inject it with some Fall Guys “steroids” and beef it up again. Those kinds of things are what we’re looking at now with all the lessons we learned from development might let us go back and remix the other levels and see what interesting things we can do there.

EH: The first time I played Fall Mountain I got so hyped because, going back to what we first talked about, it reminded me so much of Takashi’s Castle…that thing where you’re going up the mountainside and they’re throwing boulders down at you. Sometimes just that simplistic feeling of seeing the boulder coming and knowing that there’s nothing you can do about it.

JW: And that’s why we did it at first, about three of the levels we made first…I think the first three we did Door Dash, which is essentially a level from Takashi’s Castle. We did Fall Mountain and we did Block Party which has the moving Tetris grid because it’s such a classic gameshow thing that we thought we could scale up and do like, yeah, usually it’s one person standing there but what if it was sixty? So those levels really represent our first attempt at making people feel as game showy as possible.

EH: Now, speaking of the level design, I have a question about one of your coworkers.

JW: Sure, go for it.

EH: Meg Ralph. Okay, so she has designed Hex-A-Gone, Tip-Toe, Tail Tag and Egg Scramble…is she okay?


EH: Because those are the most aggressive stages, like every one of those I feel like my hair gets greyer every time I play those.

JW: Yeah, I think each level designer has their own type of level but she also did Perfect Match so she clearly has a more sympathetic side as well. These levels are designed by people but we all kind of agree as a team but those definitely came from her brain initially and I think she’s very proud of the pain, the chaos that she’s inflicted upon the world, for sure.

EH:  She does seem to take pride in it. I will say though, with Perfect Match, and I don’t know if she’d like this or hate this but I found out when you play Perfect Match the second that the fruit appears that you all need to stand on, if you just dive at a blank tile you’ll get like 12 people to stand on it and then you just hop off.

“…I see people that are like, ‘Perfect Match is boring’ as a developer I’m like ‘alright I hear you and we’re going to work to improve this level’ but as a player I’m like, ‘you’re just playing it wrong.'”

JW: That’s why I love that level so much. It’s that strategy. I love confidently striding my Fall Guy onto the wrong tile and there’s just nothing else like it in the game and it’s just so funny so whenever I see people that are like, “Perfect Match is boring” as a developer I’m like “alright I hear you and we’re going to work to improve this level” but as a player I’m like, “you’re just playing it wrong.” You need to be more devious you need to trick people more because that’s the true fun. It was really important to us that with Fall Guys that we allowed that type of play, like, people complained about the grab mechanic, it’s slightly toxic, but when you watch a game show, you watch Wipeout, there’s always one competitor who’s too competitive and he’s trying to cheat and he’s trying to push people out of the way and he’s trying to cheat and so we wanted that part of the game show to come across. You really need a villain with these things so it’s not too friendly and if you can’t interact with other people or throw them off then the game becomes slightly too single player. You kind of need these meaningful interactions with people to really let the game sing and let these interesting stories emerge.

EH: Right, because I will admit I’m one of those people that…well…I have a rough time with grabbers. I understand it…but, you know…but if I’m playing See-Saw and I see that dude standing on the last platform just hanging out by the edge and I’m looking at him and I’m like, “I hate you so much and I know what you’re about to do” and he’s just over there waving…

JW: I think with a lot of that stuff just seeing them is enough to throw you off your game enough where you can then screw up your See-Saw route and fall and he didn’t even need to do anything, he just stood there. I think that’s like, the joy of Fall Guys really.

EH: Okay, so I think that’s mostly it on my questions. I know you said about Season 2 and the Charity event. Was there anything else you wanted to talk about that you’re currently working on for the near future?

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Quality of life improvements on the way

JW: Well, there’s a lot of quality of life features we’re looking to implement that people have asked for and we’re working to get those in soon. And a lot of them are just little things like we totally hear that people have five versus four Fall Ball and that should never be in the game so we fixed that. We did that recently so those changes are in now. You should never see uneven team games again hopefully. But also just small things like being able to quickly see whether or not your friends are still in the game, having a randomize button in the character customizer. Just the little things that will makes that experience better. The ability to quit during loading screens, for example, is infuriating. If you forget, you’re just sat waiting for like 20 seconds. We hear people loud and clear on that stuff, we’re listening and we hate that stuff as much as everyone else because we play the game. I play Fall Guys most evenings when I’m done with work so we feel the frustration.

EH: Were you guys thinking of adding a system where the people…because I have this happen a lot in Team games where, especially in Fall Ball, where the second my team loses a point to the other team I’ll suddenly turn around and notice that one of my teammates has dropped out of the game. Have you guys worked on a system for quitting midgame?

JW: I mean, there’s probably potential for us to work on a system that penalizes the player for quitting the game more than we already do. Right now you forfeit all the rewards so if you quit that’s it. You don’t get any of the Kudos and we feel like, for most people, that’s enough of a deterrent. But I think if you look at most multiplayer games they go above and beyond with that stuff and they say “well, you quit three games a day and you’re banned for 24 hours.” that kind of thing. We’re starting to look at that kind of stuff. And the thing with Fall Guys is that we did not know this game would be this big and suddenly there are these types of problems when you have a huge player base that we didn’t expect to have. You know the big one is cheaters for example. We didn’t expect them. We were so worried about getting the game finished, getting something released that we never thought we’d have these problems and now we’ve got time and now we’ve got some revenue coming in we can start to apply some more things like improving quitter prevention, cheater prevention and these types of things that are growing on our list of priorities.

EH: Can you imagine just needing to cheat at Fall Guys?

JW: I get it. I do get it. I mean, it is funny to cheat at things. We’ve all done it, maybe it’s not video games but people just like cheating at the end of the day so it’s always going to happen. When the game is so big and it’s so big on Twitch a lot of people who cheat, it’s not just about cheating it’s about being seen cheating by this big streamer. They want that moment of celebrity. We’re coming for them. I hope, within the next few months that’ll be a problem we never have to see again. Usually, with these games it’s always a cat and mouse, you’re always going to be chasing people around. But we definitely got some plans to really incentivize people for staying in the match for sure.

EH: Like you said, you weren’t expecting this many people and the game is running so well now like I even noticed a week or so ago you guys did an update and it just looks like it’s performing better on my PS4…it just looks nicer. And, you guys are doing really good things over there, like it’s, it’s like you said, you have no way of expecting it was going to get this big that fast and for you guys to be consistently putting out new stuff while maintaining it, seriously, good job guys on that one.

JW: Thank you! We’re doing our best and it’s something that we, we don’t have the team that Epic do, we don’t have the team that EA do to pump out content and fix things at a rate they do so it’s really good that the player base is sort of acknowledging that it’s going to take us a while and we’re probably going to mess a couple of things up along the way but…this is all a big learning process for us as a studio and we’re very much on the world stage in a way that we weren’t before also. It’s exciting but it comes with its problems as well.

EH: Absolutely, but the fact that you guys have been able to handle that is, like, I’m not lying to you. If one day I hop onto Netflix and see there’s a documentary about the first 48 hours your game launched it would be in my queue like that. *snaps* Now, speaking of stuff that you guys are doing, like changing up and fixing things, there was one concern you guys have plans on working with. Because I know, right now, the yellow team is a meme. I hear about it all the time, but, there’s a whole colorblind community and, my former manager at a place I used to work was colorblind beyond any point I had ever seen. I was talking to him the other day and he was telling me that if there’s a team game that features a yellow team, he pretty much just runs around randomly because he has no idea. Are you guys planning on working a colorblind mode in?

“…one of the pillars of Fall Guys is accessibility.”

JW: We definitely are. That’s high up on our list of priorities. Like I said before, one of the pillars of Fall Guys is accessibility. That’s why the character is easier to control. That’s why the game is easier to understand. And we wouldn’t be being true to those pillars of accessibility and bringing new players to games if colorblind people can’t play the game. We’re definitely hearing people on that and we’re going to be putting a lot of work into making sure that people can play the game.

EH: Right, I remember he said one of the things he said, making it almost like a cel-shaded thing where there’s an additional cel-shaded style border around your team’s characters just to make them stick out. He likes the game but he gets into these situations sometimes, especially in Hoarders, where he’s like, “I have no idea which side is mine anymore.”

JW: I think the easy bit is showing people who the players are on your team. The hard bit is making sure you know which area of the map is yours as well because it’s all well and good knowing who your team are but if you don’t know where you need to go then it slightly defeats the purpose of it so that’s what we’re looking at now is finding a way for people to know “where’s my base?” “where’s red base,” “where’s blue base?” Even if it’s harder for them to figure out.

Season 2 of Fall Guys starts in the very near future so keep your eyes on AppTrigger for any additional information and, in the meantime be sure to check out our additional Fall Guys articles like our review, our parent review and more here!