INTERVIEW – In Conversation With Alasdair Beckett-King (Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet! Kickstarter)

By Marty Mulrooney

Alasdair Beckett-King AMO Interview

Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet! is a retro point-and-click indie adventure game presented in a classic 2D style. It is a sequel to the freeware adventure game Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy!, which won several awards and received some great reviews from the gaming press upon release. Nelly Cootalot’s creator, Alasdair Beckett-King, recently started a Kickstarter campaign to raise £15,000 to fund the sequel. To celebrate successfully reaching this goal (and hopefully pushing forward to reach some of the exciting stretch goals), AMO is proud to present an exclusive online interview with Alasdair Beckett-King!

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Hello Mr Beckett-King, thank you for your time and welcome to AMO!

Hello! You can call me Alasdair. Or Ali, if you prefer.

Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself please?

I was born in 1984 (the year, not the book) and I live in London, UK. I’m currently promoting a Kickstarter campaign for a game called Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet. I studied at the London Film School and I’m also quite tall.

What do you do when you aren’t creating adventure games?

I divide my time between creative endeavours like filmmaking and stand-up comedy, and plotting the demise of my many enemies.

Do you remember the first adventure game you ever played?

It was Monkey Island on a Commodore 64. I don’t think it had a noticeable influence on me, though.

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Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! was a freeware adventure game that you released a few years ago. What was the game about?

Spoonbeaks Ahoy! is a nautical adventure game about a young female pirate who is sent to rescue a flock of birds called Spoonbeaks. Her mentor is the long dead pirate Bloodbeard, a fierce pirate and defender of fuzzy and adorable creatures. Her enemies are Baron Widebeard, who has enslaved the Spoonbeaks and his vain and conceited wife, the Baroness.

Spoonbeaks Ahoy! went on to receive some great reviews and even some awards! Did you expect the game to do so well?

I didn’t have any expectations for the first game. But the positive feedback it got, and the love people seemed to feel for it is what pushed me to make a sequel and continue Nelly’s story.

Is it true that you created the game as a birthday present for your girlfriend?

Yes. Best boyfriend ever, right?

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You recently announced a sequel, Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet!, via Kickstarter. It’s described as a ‘retro pirate adventure’ – what can players expect?

It will be a classic point-and-click in the tradition of LucasArts adventures. Baron Widebeard has hypnotised a fleet of birds to do his bidding, and Nelly Cootalot must track him down before he finds the treasure of the Seventh Sea. The focus will be on character, humour, atmosphere and engaging puzzles.

Will there be evil ducks involved?

Once Baron Widebeard has the Fowl Fleet at his command, there is a very real danger of evil ducks.

How will the sequel differ from it’s freeware predecessor?

The graphics are richer and more detailed than the freeware Spoonbeak Ahoy! But the biggest difference will be scale. The Fowl Fleet is a much larger game, with five islands to explore, over 35 locations and 45 characters to meet.

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How would you describe Nelly Cootalot as a character?

She is a cut-throat pirate captain: untrustworthy, bloodthirsty and merciless in battle. Naturally, most of her time is spent rescuing fluffy animals from perilous situations.

The backgrounds look like they’re a higher resolution when compared with the previous game and the characters look a lot more 3D too – is The Fowl Fleet being built using the same engine?

The new game does use the same engine (Adventure Game Studio). However AGS has become open-source since the first game, so hopefully this will make it possible to offer a more flexible playing experience.

You’ve asked for the surprisingly small sum of £15,000 – how will this money be spent?

£15K is a very small sum by the standards of video game development, but my plan was never to make a million. The game is already a fair way into development, and this funding will make it possible for me as the designer to devote enough time to the programming and animation to bring the game to completion. But in addition, it will also make it possible to record voice acting and music which will really bring the experience to life.

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You recently reached your funding goal – congratulations! What goodies can backers look forward to?

There are heaps of rewards, and I can’t list them all here. Some of the best are in-game portraits, which will allow backers to see drawings of themselves as pirates in the Rogue’s Gallery. There are also DVDs of the game available and Nelly Cootalot Doubloons.

What stretch goals are you now aiming for?

We have a variety of stretch goals, including cinematic cutscenes, translations and iOS/Android ports. Since we just hit our goal as I write this, we’ll have to wait and see if those are achievable. Fingers crossed!

If the fully animated cutscene stretch goals aren’t reached, how will these sequences be shown in-game?

If we don’t use cinematic cutscenes, we’ll use in-game cutscenes which were common in earlier adventure games. So no-one will miss out on the story either way!

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You were a finalist in the 2013 Laughing Horse New Act of the Year Competition for stand-up comedy – is it safe to say that Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet! will be a funny game? 🙂

Probably not as funny as if the winner of that competition had written it. I hope that the game will be funny. The humour in Nelly Cootalot is quite gentle and wordy. Funny though it can be, I’ve tried to avoid the style of crude and highly referential humour which is pretty common on the internet. When I read the script, it makes me laugh. So either it’s funny, or I am appallingly smug.

You’re also a filmmaker and animator – what’s your favourite creative medium to work within and why?

Well, I have yet to achieve any notable success in any creative medium. So I’m going to hold off on deciding which is best until I do. I could be waiting for a while…

In your opinion, what makes Kickstarter the perfect platform to fund projects such as Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet?

We all know that Kickstarter has been fantastic for indie start-ups. But it’s been particularly good for me because the community has been so supportive. Our backers offered guidance and helpful nudges along the way, as well as making me feel more inclined to back other projects on Kickstarter.

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Do you currently have any voice actors lined up? Are you excited to add this feature and what will be your involvement with the recording process?

We haven’t cast the voice acting yet, but I’m really looking forward to it. I find it really fun to work with actors, so I can’t wait to direct them, and make them say all the nautical gibberish I’ve written.

Who will be composing the game’s soundtrack?

A wonderful composer called Nikolas Sideris will write the soundtrack. He has a highly varied CV, and he’s written music for indie games including Wadjet Eye’s Resonance and Size Five Games’ Privates.

What’s next for you Ali?

Well, for the foreseeable future, I’m going to be building Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet. After that, who knows? I have an idea for an Edward Gorey inspired adventure game set in a remote Scottish country house. But ideas are ten a penny, we’ll have to wait and see!

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Thank you for your time – I’m a backer and I can’t wait to play Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet!

Thank you!

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For more information about Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet! – and to pledge your support – please visit:

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http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/315061806/nelly-cootalot-the-fowl-fleet-retro-pirate-adventu

AMO would love to hear your thoughts via the comments section below! Also, don’t forget to follow AMO on Twitter and Facebook!

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