Behind the Scenes at Treehouse Live with Taylor Sauer
Find out from artist Taylor Sauer what it was like to be one of two people from Playful Studios chosen to represent New Super Lucky’s Tale on Nintendo’s famous Treehouse Live broadcast at E3.
Nintendo’s Treehouse Live broadcast has become a staple of the annual E3 gaming convention. The mutliday, live broadcast features interviews with game developers as they show off their newly announced games to an enthusiatic E3 audience.
At the 2019 E3 convention, shortly after New Super Lucky’s Tale had officially been announced during the Nintendo Direct presentation, we had the good fortune of featuring an all new level from NSLT on a Treehouse Live segment. Our studio selected Game Director, Dan Hurd, and artist Taylor Sauer to represent NSLT and the studio during the live broadcast.
I chatted with Taylor to see what it was like being on the famed livestream which has been viewed by more than a million and half gaming fans, so far. Was she nervous? What was it like behind the scenes? And what exactly happened when the power went out..
Let’s find out.
Chad: So, what was your initial reaction when you found out that you were one of the two people the Studio chose to represent NSLT on our Treehouse Live spot with Nintendo?
Taylor: I honestly didn’t know what to say or think when I was first told about the offer due to the shock, haha! I try to catch every Nintendo Direct and Treehouse streams and its just such a surreal thing to think that you are being asked to be a part of one. I’m a pretty private person online. I don’t post very much on social media and I was worried about my lack of experience holding me back on camera. It took me a while to consider if I thought I could do it. I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself, especially if its to represent something you and your whole team have been working so tirelessly on for so long. You want to make sure that you are putting your best foot forward to represent something bigger than yourself. I’m just so grateful I didn’t chicken out because of my nerves getting the better of me.
Chad: E3 looks pretty crazy. For anyone that hasn’t attended before, what’s it like on the convention floor?
Taylor: There’s so much to see! This was my first E3 so I can’t compare it to previous ones but I can say that the effort put into making all of these statues and setups around the booths was remarkable. I took so many pictures during my time on the floor that I needed a battery backup to make sure my phone didn’t die on me halfway through the day.
The breadth of games available to play was great too. It can be tough trying to decide which lines you should prioritize but you just gotta be good at pacing yourself and getting there early. Man, there were some games definitely worth the wait. I say that because for some booths, it wasn’t about just playing the game. Some offered experiences around the booth stations that took you out of the convention and placed you in the game world itself.
Chad: Did you get a chance to rehearse or run through the livestream segment beforehand?
Taylor: Dan Hurd (NSLT game director) and I had a rehearsal the day before with Sam, Morgan and the Nintendo crew on the stage to get to know everyone involved and to pace out our segment. I admittedly had some jitters walking up the stairs to get to the stage area but those were pretty quickly squashed. Sam and Morgan were incredibly easy to talk to and really set the tone for how this should feel. Just some people sitting on a couch having some casual conversation about a game. That sounds like such a weird thing to say, especially if you ignore the fact that its on a camera being streamed to a good number of people. But strangely, it worked! I remember telling Dan over and over how I didn’t feel nervous anymore and how odd that felt. It makes such a difference when you are working alongside people that have the right kind of temperament and genuine interest in helping bring out the best of your game to a new audience.
Chad: Tell me about the moments leading up to the live taping? Did you have to walk through the convention floor? How early did you have to get there? Were you getting nervous yet?
Taylor: It should be mentioned that my lovely hotel roommate, Barbara Valentina, got me breakfast pretty much every day just because she’s a wonderful person who is also able to wake up in the mornings and be productive. Unlike myself. So my day started with a beautiful Instagram perfect breakfast. Thank you Barbara.
I tried to wake up a little earlier than I needed to that day so that I had time to fine tune my hair and then find a nice little quiet bathroom at the convention to put on my face. The weather was pretty hot and I knew if I got held up outside, my face would melt off pretty quick.
I put on SO MUCH MAKEUP. My face gets incredibly red very easily so I just spent a ton of my morning prepping my war mask for the camera layer by layer. I had a lot of pointers from Barbara since my skills were pretty limited to the basics. I felt pretty confident after the 10th layer of foundation that I was not going to turn into a tomato on camera in front of the world.
After all of the makeup prep, I went back out to the Nintendo floor and spent some time with the rest of our group that was managing our booth. We talked about what people were saying about the game after playing and it was really encouraging to hear a lot of those thoughts. Dan and I talked about the feedback a bit and what games were pulling our attention at the convention. Soon it was time to go up the stairs to the stage. I’m happy to say that I was more excited than nervous going up those steps this time around.
Photos from Behind the Scenes at Treehouse Live
Chad: Did you have any friends or family back home that were tuning in especially to see you?
Taylor: I told my mom and she put out the word to my family as soon as she could, haha! My parents and friends have always been incredibly encouraging when it came to my interest in art and then in game development as a career. Saying you’re going to school for art always gets some side eyes from people because it can be a difficult profession to navigate. Without that support, who knows where I could have ended up. It was really cool to share with them what the efforts and sacrifices lead to in this moment. It was something was all had a part in.
Chad: During the broadcast there was a pretty crazy moment that happened across the convention center. Can you tell me about that?
Taylor: So things were going pretty well so far during our playthrough while we were live on Treehouse. We were at the point where Dan collected the 2nd Soggy Boggy Boy Wormal and it was time for the musical solo on stage. The Wormal gets up there, plays his little song and then wraps up his performance with a little slap on his jug. Right when he slaps the jug, BAM! The lights above the stage make a huge pop noise and all the lights went out for a split second. As we take in what just happened, we look over at the live feed tv and see that it cut over to the “I am Error” screen. We saw the Nintendo team, without skipping a beat, jump into action quickly to figure out what was going on and how to get things back up and running. It was clear they felt bad about the power cutting out during our stream but we knew it was clearly not their fault. I mean, the whole building was scrambling to get things back in running order as quickly as possible. Dan and I just started joking around with Sam and Morgan until they gave us the cue that we were good to go. The great thing about the Switch was that even though the power went out, the Switch stayed on so we didn’t have to restart the game. Another great perk of a handheld game, haha!
I went to go check out the stream on youtube later to see what the audience actually saw go down when this all happened. I’m so sad that they didn’t see it cut off when we did! It was such a perfectly synced up moment with the slap of the jug and the boom of the lights above us. We all joked around that the jug band solo was so great that it caused the power to go down.
Watch the New Super Lucky’s Tale Treehouse Live Broadcast
Chad: With your responsibilities on the THL stream, do you feel like you still got a chance to experience E3? Did you get a chance to play any games that stuck out to you?
Taylor: My responsibility load was really light compared to others on the Playful team. We had a couple of our own people manning the booth. All day, every day. There were also people getting social media content to document the convention and our journey for Treehouse. My responsibilities were to basically make sure that I made it to both the rehearsal and the actual live stream session. So that meant there was a lot of time to explore the grounds of the convention and find things to play.
I did get an opportunity to play Luigis Mansion 3. This was one of those booths I mentioned earlier where you also got an experience on your way to play the game. They had a huge mansion facade around this giant room that was filled with consoles. There were people dressed up as bellhops to lead you to a console to play in this room themed out with giant versions of art from the game to look like a hotel. There were even little animatronic bats flying above you. It was just incredibly well done.
Chad: The feedback on the Treehouse Live segment has been great. Is there any particular aspect or part of NSLT that you are looking forward to having players see?
Taylor: That’s such a tough one to narrow down. There’s just so much we touched as we kept working on NSLT.
I loved having another opportunity to work with Lucky again. This was the second platformer I worked on besides the VR Luckys Tale game so I had learned a lot of do’s and don’ts with how to marry art and cleaner platforming. Responsiveness from the character and the terrain are incredibly important to a platformer and everyone working on NSLT put a TON of effort into making sure that we hit those concerns pretty aggressively. The team was pretty excited about the result and we hope the players are too.
Another exciting aspect of NSLT is that we are giving the players a more well rounded story and deeper characters. The game has a more fleshed out storyline that helps make the flow of Luckys journey feel more fulfilling and charming. This was a huge joint effort across a lot of departments to get this to the finish line. We had so many internal chats about how to better present some of these really cool characters and it wasn’t until closer towards to end of the project that it was finally clamped down and solidified. The quantity and quality of tasks for the animators, concept artists and sound department to fold it all in was just incredible. Anyone that works on games will tell you this is par for the course. You want to get in all the great ideas and time is closing in around a project so much faster all of a sudden. Lucky for us, we got the great ideas in just in time thank goodness!
New Super Lucky’s Tale releases worldwide on November 8th, 2019. To learn more about the game, and see more of the hardwork that Taylor, Dan and the whole NSLT team put into the game, head to newsuperluckystale.com.
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