It's been a painfully long four years since the last original Futurama episode graced our screens (insert Kif shudder), but good news everyone, the Planet Express-less universe is no more with the launch of the Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow game available now on iOS and Android.
Developed and created by Jam City, via its game studio TinyCo, and FoxNext Games in tandem with creator Matt Groening, executive producer David X. Cohen and the Futurama writers, Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow is the closest thing fans are getting to new episodes, and frankly, we'll take it!
The game itself is created as an interactive world-building adventure where players build out New New York, and can also go out into space on Planet Express missions, which feature choose-your-own-adventure format and 16-bit melee games to earn points, materials, and money to get to new levels in the game. Here's a trailer for the original story, based around the great and mighty Hypnotoad that runs through the spine of the game:
Now watch the launch event's live table read of Season 6 episode, "Proposition Infinity," written by Mike Rowe:
We had a chance to talk with James Boyle, VP of Product and Operations at TinyCo and Game Director on Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow, about how the game came to be, and how closely they worked with Cohen and crew to make sure fans aren't, as Bender would say, boned:
You've done several of these types of games for other Fox shows, but how did the Futurama game differ in any way from what you had done before?
Boyle: Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow is unique in that it blends a number of game mechanics together to bring the universe of Futurama to life: world-building, combat, and narrative choice. A huge part of what makes Futurama so beloved is all of the wacky antics that occur when the Planet Express crew explores the far reaches of space together. We’ve brought that same sense of adventure to the game with our space missions, which allow players to choose a crew of their favorite characters, explore faraway planets, and engage in fun 16-bit combat and choose-your-own-adventure style gameplay. Everything about exploring space is brand new and exclusive to Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow.
Players can explore New New York or go out on space missions. Was there a lot of discussion of maybe only doing one or the other, or did you have to service both important parts of the Futurama series?
Our goal for this game has always been to make it feel as true to the show as possible. Early on, we had a number of different ideas about what that meant, but space exploration was always going to be a big part of the overall game experience. As the high-level design started to come together, however, we realized that it made sense to incorporate two major settings: New New York would act as the player’s home base and drive a lot of character and story progression, while Space Missions would serve as a platform for differentiated, fun gameplay that focused on player choice.
How much did the writer's narrative impact the expansive nature of the game? Or did you push them to include more characters, worlds, and in-jokes so it's as jam-packed as it is?
Working with David X. Cohen and the Futurama writers has been an amazing and humbling experience. They actually helped us to focus the narrative direction and design of the game. We first came to them and Matt Groening with an extraordinarily broad story outline, which they soon turned into the now-infamous Hypnotoad mating ritual gone awry. In addition to being a hilarious set-up, this story provides real motivation and stakes for everything that player does. It also helped us hone the mechanics behind Space Missions, since we suddenly knew how important it would be for players to explore a variety of planets to rescue their friends from the far reaches of the universe.
As for in-jokes -- perhaps unsurprisingly, David and the writers are bona fide Futurama encyclopedias. Collectively they have more Futurama writing credits than there are Futurama episodes. We’ve never had to push them to make any game content feel more jam-packed with Futurama references or in-jokes... they can do that naturally!
How did you work with Rough Draft to create the animation style of the game?
At Rough Draft, we work primarily with Claudia Katz (Producer of Futurama) and Peter Avanzino (Supervising Director of Futurama). Claudia and Pete are absolute experts when it comes to the look and feel of Futurama and what makes it so iconic. Every single piece of art in the game -- every character, building, planet, item, and animation -- goes to Claudia and Pete for approval, to ensure it meets the standards of the show. Additionally, we worked with a much larger team from Rough Draft (including Claudia and Pete) to create our four pieces of original Futurama animation for the game.
What's the plan for expansion? How often will players see new missions or added areas to the game?
We’ll be updating the game with new content every single week. Additionally, we’ll be introducing larger updates (like limited-time events that introduce wholly new features) every 4 to 6 weeks. For us, launch day is the very beginning of a process that will hopefully last years and years as the game continues to grow, evolve, and improve. There’s never a dull day for Futurama: Worlds of Tomorroww, so stay tuned for more updates!