Earlier this week the world was introduced to Bionicle: Quest for Mata Nui, an extremely ambitious fan game based on the dead LEGO theme which was so popular in the early 2000s.
To find out more about the game we reached out to its developer who goes by the name “Crainy”.
Crainy is the project lead for the game and a CGI artist in their professional life. Programming is a hobby for Crainy who has been at it for around ten years now with video and animation work stretching out even longer than that.
Below we discover how Quest for Mata Nui started, the journey so far, and what we can expect in the future.
Hypertext: Is this a solo game or are more people involved?
Crainy: For the longest time, this game has been a one-man project done by me, however, in the more recent stages of development I’ve received some incredibly valuable help from key contributors, especially when it comes to the creation of 3D assets. Since I’ve revealed the project on Monday, I’ve also gotten an overwhelming amount of requests from incredibly talented people to help out on the project and with that newfound help I’m certain the project will reach an even greater quality than before. Even though I still have about 500 Discord DMs to work through before I’ve gotten to all of them, the people I have talked to so far are all impressing me very much.
Hypertext: Can you give us a quick history lesson of Quest for Mata Nui?
Crainy: Sure! I first started working on Bionicle: Quest for Mata Nui in March of 2014, so its been in development for over six years now. I got into Bionicle way back in 2001 when it first released. I distinctly remember seeing the first Bionicle commercial that was ever aired on TV and since then I’ve been a huge fan of the franchise all my life. I think Bionicle managed to create a very interesting world with a very unique atmosphere that is worth bringing to the attention of more people. Even as a kid, I wanted to explore that world in a proper RPG. That’s the reason I started this game, with this project I’m basically making the game that I’ve always wanted to play since I was a kid.
Over the six years of development, there have been of course plenty of difficult times. There were especially some tough programming challenges to overcome. I distinctly remember a bug very early on in development where the characters would stutter upon movement and it basically made me pull my hair out until I eventually fixed it. Another big thing me and my collaborators have put a lot of effort into it is performance optimization. We programmed some systems for that which are quite complex and took a long time to perfect. However, one of the moments I remember most distinctly from the development so far is that after a long time of working on the engine, when I put the first finished and animated Bionicle model into the game. It was a model for Tahu and it was a magical moment seeing this character finally move around in the world for the first time and where it really became clear to me that this project is on the right and that all the effort spent was worth it.
Hypertext: A big question a lot of people have pertains to most fan games. The general consensus seems to be that you should never announce a project before release because there is the chance that the licence holder will seek legal action. What’s your opinion on this?
Crainy: The possibility of legal action is something that everyone working on a fan-project has to accept and this one is no different. All I can really say here is that this is an unofficial free project not sponsored, authorized or endorsed by the LEGO Group in any way.
Hypertext: What non-LEGO, non-Bionicle games have influenced Quest for Mata Nui?
Crainy: There’s several. For one, which I think is true for many open-world projects, is that Skyrim has definitely been an influence on a lot of it. However, the world design also takes some cues from games like Metroid Prime. Finally, the game takes some inspiration from the Dark Souls series in several aspects, especially combat, while still remaining its own thing.
Hypertext: There’s been a few official Bionicle games released over the years as well as the ill-fated Lego Bionicle: The Legend of Mata Nui. Have any of these influenced your game?
Crainy: Yes, in fact “Bionicle: The Legend of Mata Nui” I would say has influenced Bionicle: Quest for Mata Nui quite a bit. You can see it in the HUD, too. By now, Legend of Mata Nui has been released unofficially by fans, but back when I started working on this project, that still seemed like an impossibility and was likely never going to happen. So I designed some aspects of the game, for example the HUD and how masks are handled, to be somewhat a spiritual successor to Legend of Mata Nui.
Hypertext: Will the game follow what happens in the official lore or will it be its own monster?
Crainy: It will follow what happened in the official lore as closely as possible and is focused on the 2001 Bionicle storyline.
Hypertext: In terms of number of levels / play time / some other metric how long would you say the intended game is?
Crainy: That’s really hard to say at this point. There are no game levels, as it is one seamless open-world, but playtime is very hard to make a statement on right now. I can definitely say that I want the game to take a sizeable amount of time get through, but having a large replayability factor is also important to me.
Hypertext: What did you think of the Bionicle theme reboot LEGO created and then killed off from a few years ago?
Crainy: I haven’t engaged with it enough to really have an opinion on it. However, the concept art that I’ve seen for it looked really cool!
Hypertext: What’s your all time favourite Bionicle set?
Crainy: Oof, there are so many, I don’t think I can name a single set that is my favourite. There are many that I like for different reasons. However, one set I’ve always particularly loved is Onua Mata, he has definitely been my favorite Toa Mata ever since I was a kid.