ESTNN Exclusive: Interview With Bandle Tale Developers Pavel Malakhov & Evgeniy Mikhailov

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ESTNN Exclusive: Interview With Bandle Tale Developers Pavel Malakhov & Evgeniy Mikhailov

It's been a week since the release of Bandle Tale: A League of Legends Story. Bandle Tale is the sixth standalone League of Legends Story title after Song of Nunu, released in November 2023.

I was able to sit down with two of the people behind Bandle Tale, Lazy Bear Games Lead Artist Pavel Malakhov and Producer Evgeniy Mikhailov.

PAVEL MALAKHOV – BIO AND ANSWERS 
Lazy Bear Games Lead Artist Pavel Malakhov.
Pavel Malakhov, Lead Artist, Lazy Bear Games. Together with Riot Forge, he conceptualized a unique visual style for the game, developed a few pixel art techniques, and inspired the team to bring Lazy Bear Games' and Riot Forge's ideas to life.
Q: The art style of Bandle Tale has been very well-received so far by fans. What made you go this route with the art design? What region did you enjoy designing most?
A: Our goal was to create a gaming space in which the player can feel like a little fuzzy explorer of a fairy-tale world, full of details, yet with room for imagination. I think pixel art is quite suitable for it because this type of drawing doesn't allow the artist to show all the nuances and details of textures. Even with a strong desire, there is simply not enough resolution for this. It's a limitation for the artist, but it forces you to be careful and responsible for what exactly you want to show the player and what is better left unsaid. This also gives space for each player to add a little something to the world of the game in their imagination.

Additionally, when you draw in pixel art, the value of each pixel is important, because the displacement of even a couple of pixels can sometimes change the perception of an object. Almost every pixel was placed by our team manually, which I think will have a positive impact on players' final reception of the world.

As for the general choice of colors and shapes, we were guided by the desire to show that the world of Bandle City is an open-air home and playground for yordles. With the help of rounded edges and natural shapes, we created a place where everything is filled with comfort and warmth…  but with a sliver of disorder. After all, we are visiting the yordles' world!
Q: Which skill tree is your favorite and why?
A: My personal favorite skill tree branch is knitting because it has the most improvements to the player's portable backpack house and I am all here for that house customization to the max!  
Q: If there's any League of Legends character you could bring to Bandle Tale, who would it be and why?
A: It's Yuumi for me for sure! Besides the fact that I just like the way she looks with her golden whiskers and overall cuteness, I had the great pleasure of playing Yuumi as a support when, while playing League of Legends, my wife and I had the roles in the bottom line. Drawing her in pixel art was definitely one of my personal goals! 
Q: What was your favorite part about working on Bandle Tale?
A: My favorite part was working on concepts and sketches for the game. At the time that we started working on Bandle Tale, there were many blank spots in Bandle City's lore, so we were in the unknown. Altogether, the whole team tried to find the most interesting ideas for locations, characters, and game objects. We are a small indie studio and we all know each other very well, and our discussions of ideas could be long and intense! From the outside, it would have been funny to watch a group of professionals spend a long time enthusiastically discussing how comfortable houses knitted from yarn can be.

Q: Is there anything you'd like to say to fans looking forward to Bandle Tale?

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A: Hope you'll have a good time playing Bandle Tale! I believe our team managed to create a cute and visually rich world, but only you can evaluate the result of our work. I would recommend having a mug of hot chocolate nearby while playing, as it will help you feel the cozy and chill vibes of our game.

EVGENIY MIKHAILOV – BIO AND ANSWERS 

Lazy Bear Games Producer Evgeniy Mikhailov.

Evgeniy Mikhailov, Producer, Lazy Bear Games. He has been managing all of the process of creating Bandle Tale: A League of Legends Story on the Lazy Bear Games side since the very beginning of the development.

Q: How did it feel when Lazy Bear Games got the call from Riot Forge to design a League of Legends Story game?

A: We certainly didn’t expect that and were pleasantly surprised to learn that people at Riot loved our previous games and wanted to work together on a title in the LoL universe. As most of us have been playing LoL for a while, we were really excited to have an opportunity to contribute to this amazing world. Most importantly for us, we had the freedom to choose which part of the universe we wanted to explore. Picking Bandle City and Yordles was an easy choice, as we all can relate to them and felt like this is the most fun part of the world Riot has created. It was also one of the most unexplored parts of Runeterra, which added to the excitement.

Q: How did you decide on the type of game that Bandle Tale would be? Was this always the first choice?

A: We definitely knew this should be a game where you craft a lot, as this is what we love and know how to do at Lazy Bear. However, we had plenty of ideas revolving around that major mechanic at first, and we went through several different concepts (at one point we even worked on the theme park concept!).Ultimately, we realized that we were exploring Bandle City for the first time ever, so it felt natural to create an exploration RPG game with a road trip vibe. This is how the portable backpack house idea was born. We wanted to have the opportunity to travel around the world and move the house around so you never feel the need to stick to one place. Instead, the game encourages players to go around and explore Bandle City.

Q: Which skill tree is your favorite and why?
A: I’m torn between Nature and Magic here. Nature includes food (and I love good food) and farming. Magic is about creativity, inspiration, and learning how to do portal fishing and craft potions, which is essential – just like food. So I pick both of them, if I may! 

Q: The sub-genre Bandle Tale falls under is quite popular, but how accessible will this be to gamers completely new to games like Bandle Tale?
A: While working on our game we always pay special attention to making sure the game is accessible to anyone who might be interested, regardless of their skill level and genre familiarity. We keep that in mind while implementing any feature and then particularly focus on tutorialization. Bandle Tale is no exception. Little by little, the game introduces the player to more and more ways of interacting with the world and the mechanics without being punished. Even if you fail, you always have another chance or other ways of getting whatever you need. But we aren't holding players' hands throughout the whole game. There are things you will have to figure out here and there so it stays fun and engaging.

Q: A consensus in the community is that Stardew Valley is too good of a game. So much so, that it kind of “ruins” the genre. What quality of Bandle Tale do you think will make Bandle Tale stand out from Stardew Valley and endear gamers to it?
A: I do understand why people compare Bandle Tale to Stardew Valley. I love that game, but while Bandle Tale might look alike on the surface, it's very different on the side. The game offers a familiar farming set of features, but it uniquely focuses on the exploration of magical and whimsical Bandle City and its habitants' stories. Hence the portable backpack house so you don’t stick around one place, and every place you travel feels like home. This is the tale we wanted to tell the world and share Yordles' life experiences and magic. Apart from that, the world we found is far more magical and interesting than we initially expected. I instantly fell in love with this world the very first time Pavel Malakhov, our Lead Artist, showed me the concepts. And from there it got only bigger and more crazy. It is nothing you’ve ever seen before and it gives such a warm vibe I wish I could stay there more.

So Bandle Tale stands out with its vibrant and unique world, its engaging story, and the portable backpack house, which encourages the player to travel more. And it’s not just a house – it is a dance floor, a restaurant, a shop, a garden, you name it. It’s practically everything you might want and this is what makes it so unique.
Q: What was your favorite part about working on Bandle Tale?
A: Definitely exploring the world of Bandle City and the development of the portable backpack house. Both of these were some of the hardest parts of the development, but they also brought so much joy to all of us and seeing the results made us truly happy.

At first, we had tough times figuring out how this world functions and what the dynamics are between its parts. We wondered what it should look like and studied Yordles and their lives absorbedly. Riot provided everything they could and we dived into lore libraries to learn all about these fuzzy adorable troublemakers. But even with everything we learned about Yordles, Bandle City itself remained a mystery to us, so we had to explore it step by step, conceptualize each area carefully, and be mindful of the lore and players’ expectations. This was not an easy task, but very rewarding. Each part of the world that we end up finding is a showpiece, and I know players will love it just as much as we loved exploring them.

I also feel very proud of the team and what we managed to achieve. Working with such talented Yordl….people is the best part of any day! No magic would be possible without them being so magical.
Q: Is there anything you'd like to say to fans looking forward to Bandle Tale?
A: First of all, I’d like to thank all Lazy Bear and League of Legends fans and anyone who’s waiting for the Bandle Tale release! We are truly honored to have an opportunity to make games we love and contribute to such a great universe. We put all of our hearts and souls into creating this game and we really hope that shows off when the players finally get their hands on it. We already received a lot of positive reactions from the community and we are very grateful for all the support. We cannot wait to see people playing the game and exploring Bandle City and having fun just as much as we did while working on it.

Enjoy the game and say hi to Frankle for me!
Bandle Tale is available now on Steam, Epic Games Store, GOG, and Nintendo Switch.
ESTNN Exclusive: Interview With Bandle Tale Developers Pavel Malakhov & Evgeniy Mikhailov
Xavier Geitz
When not busy writing about Esports, the latest and greatest digital gaming deals, and reviewing video game, you can find Xavier wandering Morrowind's Telvanni Coast, tirelessly petitioning for a Timesplitters 2 remake, or trying to understand the Concept of Love.