Joined: 03 Apr 2003
Location: Leiden, the Netherlands
|Posted: Sat Apr 29, 2006 15:17 Post subject: Afterfall - interview
|How did it all start? How did you get the idea of making such a game?
Our team is comprised of people who grew up on various computer games. I think cRPG were our favorite. Unfortunately, we felt there was always something missing from this genre, wherther in game world, mechanics, sometimes in engine capabilities. Even the famous and celebrated Fallout was a little short of ideal.
The idea of creating Afterfall was born about a year and a half ago. With a group of programmers I was working on an experimental 2D iso engine. At that point my friends, Paweł Blokesz and Damian Suchecki, had the idea for a very original game, set in an alternative future. It was on my mind for the following couple of weeks, as I analyzed the world Fallout scene. I compared our vision of Afterfall, which was very sketchy at that time, with the gamers’ expectations. Together with Paweł and Damian we came to the conclusion that “it’s worth a shot”, and we got started.
After a short time, once we gained some trust from the community of Fallout fans, people started joining us, and contributing to our initiative with their ideas, work, experience and devotion. Thus began the project of a game with the richest possible world and mechanics.
Tell us, what will allow Afterfall to make an impact on the cRPG market?
First of all, the rich game mechanics and the outstanding story. A close second are the vastness of the game’s world and the freedom with which the player can operate, sometimes even completely ignoring the main task and concentrating on exploration.
What then will the Afterfall world offer to the player who decides to abandon the main storyline?
A whole galaxy of possibilities. For example, you will be able to join one of the organizations you meet along the way, and perform tasks for them. One of those are Scrappers, a midget-like race living in their fortress made of junk, who are suspicious of any normal human. If you win their trust, however, you will be able to perform contracts for them, giving you access to new parts of the world and unique objects. Another organization the player can join is the great and powerful Trade Federation. It maintains commerce in most regions of the Afterfall world, and gaining its gratitude will give one vast knowledge of farther territories. Additionally, there are numerous gangs and mobs. The Injector Gang, for instance, who illegally manufacture and distribute implants. On top of that there are more than a dozen tribes, a Mutant Liberation Front, religious sects – really, I could go on for a long time; there are so many possibilities the player will never be bored. Some of the organizations I just mentioned are described in more detail on our webpage.
What will be the convention of the game?
The player character will live a great adventure in a dangerous and intriguing alternative world that’s been destroyed by an atomic war. You could say in some respects it will be like the world known from the Fallout series. There will also be a bit of cyberpunk.
How will the world be alternative? Has history gone in a different direction in it? And how wll the cyberpunk elements look like – cybernetic implants only, or some advanced machinery, networks, hackers...?
Before the Afterfall world collapsed, it was very well technologically developed, implantology was well ahead of our reality. Also military technology was very advanced, there were new kinds of weaponry, powered armor, cyborgs, biotechnology etc. When the bombs fell, apparently all life vanished. Only apparently, because some people made it to the shelters, some found cover on the surface. When humanity begun reconstruction, some advanced technology was found undamaged. In some parts of the world, the work left off by scientists was continued and developed further. This gave start to grat cities, in which it is rare to see someone without mechanical modifications, and the streets are packed with heavy machinery. Of course there are also regions where implants and mutations are not tolerated, but hunted down with great zeal.
I can hardly say anything else on this subject, since such knowledge can have an impact on gameplay.
Will Afterfall try to mimic the laws that govern our world? In what respects did you allow for science fiction?
Depends on what laws you mean. As far as the laws of physics are concerned, I assure you, they will be the same as in the real world. And the laws that govern communities all depend on the part of the world you’re in. The Afterfall world is huge, and alternative history gave us additional possibilities for making it varied. Some locatons in our world have no contact with the rest, so they are governed by local laws made by elders or rulers.
In what geographical region does the game take place?
The game takes place in central and eastern Europe. We made a division of the territory into geographical zones. Each of those is different from others. You could say that each has its own character, each will leave the player with different impressions. Three of them will be roughly like the world from the Fallout series, one will be a complete novelty in post-apoc games – a radioactive swamp. Another zone will be completely snow-covered, still another will be very litle affected by the nuclear holocaust. The character of the last zone is a secret, so I will say no more about it.
Is this project your first?
First one with such a big team, yes. The Core Team are quite experienced in what they are doing. Some team members have worked on commercial titles, for some, however, this is the first such project they’re in.
For how long have you been playing computer games?
It’s hard for me to answer for all team members. I, for instance, don’t remember when I last played anything. Ever since I started working on Afterfall, I have too much on my hands and too little time for play. Still, some team members play stuff all the time, allowing us to keep up to date with the releases and new solutions. So, to get an answer to your question, you’d have to ask each person separately.
What is Afterfall’s biggest secret?
The greatest secret of the project is definitely the story. Game mechanics is second. Those two elements are what makes Afterfall what it is, so we devote most time and effort to them, trying to work out every detail and we keep them a close secret.
:Part two, information on the demo, plans, and current project status.:
What can you say about the engine which Afterfall is going to use?
Unigine, www.unigine.com, is not a well-known engine, it is still in development stage, however, if you look at our screenshots, you can see thar it is quite good. The most important thing is that it has all we need (physics, sound system, very good graphics). I invite everyone to visit “Engine” and “Graphics” threads on our webpage, where its capabilities are described in detail.
Will there be translations to other languages and who would be doing them?
We are sure to publish Afterfall in Polish and English versions. Today we have an effective department of English language translators. The German department is under construction, so I think I can claim that Afterfall will appear in 2 language versions at least.
Probably the most important question for everyone: when will we be able to buy the game?
I would very much like to answer that question, believe me, but notice we are an amateur team, trying to start a company and finish the work on Afterfall. These days, it is not enough to have a great idea for a game, you have to be able to design it, finish pre-production, make a demo, prototypes, business plans, and lots of other things, in order to get the money for production. We have still a very big obstacle in our path: the lack of financing; but we are making a game in which a lot of people are interested, so maybe some bigger publishing company will take interest in us.
Are you sure your game will give us everything we expect?
You know, the matter is quite simple. Professional companies are unwilling to invest their money in such big game projects. The budget of such a game would reach about $4 or 5 mln, plus 500 thousand for later marketing, and the income may or may not cover that. So why take the risk, if you can make a game for “young players”, and not for devout fans, and if you can develop only part of the game, and not everything – and you will get a bigger profit. I have no idea how the making of Fallout 3 looks like, but I’m sure the developers missed one important thing: notice how 90% of the people playing cRPG always expect something more from the game – titles such as The Fall or Metalheard confirm this. Of course, I’m not saying that these games are bad, but the gamers playing them expected more. That’s why companies prefer to “encourage” young players and not make a sophisticated product. That’s where we come in. We are a Team perfectly described by the phrase “For Gamers By Gamers”, our game can set a new standard in cRPG.
That suggests a question: can such a game ever be made? Everything well developed, a big world, great possibilities...
That is the question I ask myself whed designing any system in the game or testing prototypes, so you can reest assured. But let me explain it differently. Like I said before, professional companies are afraid to invest in something like this because of the risk, but we have a lot of things that can help us in negotiations:
- The Publisher/Investor would not have to develop a marketing campaign from scratch during game production, since our Marketing Department has already started working on promotion and making a name for us. An example of that can be news pieces on many webpages, and in the next few days newspaper reports and also interviews and reports on TV.
- We have two moths left until we conclude the pre-production stage, and have all documents ready to start talking to publishers.
- The budget the publisher would have to give us is not as large as one would expect.
- The people making the game have experience, a drawback might be that the Core Team has not made such a game together before, but here we also have a surprise: Afterfall: Preludium, which is a separate game based on Afterfall’s beta systems.
We can only hope that someone will notice us.
I hope that too, Andrzej! Can you tell us something more about Afterfall: Preludium?
Like I told you before, making a simple demo version of the game would not do the trick, since publishers need something more from us. Afterfall: Preludium is a game set in one location (with several levels, of course), where the player can learn what the full game has to offer, experience a gripping part of the story – the climate is horror and post-apocalyptic, a very interesting mix. The game will be distributed in magazines and in the web, so that most people get to know about our product. More info on Afterfall: Preludium is soon to come, once we show the first runtime game presentations.
How is the work going on Afterfall: Preludium?
Pre-production is pretty much behind us, all that is left to do is a couple prototypes and techdesign parts. Alongside with wrapping up pre-production, we’ve been working on production for the last month. We now have a complete music score, character sounds are currenty being created, and we should have them ready in a week, and move to object and gui sound effects. This month we will have the writers’ editors ready, thanks to them we should have all the statistics, dialogues and descriptions done in a month’s time. (Most of those are ready, all we have to do is type them in.) But here we have the same problem: no money. Let me be frank with you, Silencer – without it we will not make a demo wich would get us a good publisher.
You’ve done so much without money, why do you need it all of a sudden?
Currently there are 38 people on the team giving their best, plus about 20, who do special assignments they get from me (for example QA on the Story, the World, the Dream System, etc.) I myself am surprised we got this far, but notice that we now have professionals on key posts. Many people devoted themselves to the project (mainly thanks to the interest the project enjoys on the post-apocalyptic scene), and now it is time for those people to work not on 200, but 300% capacity. And there’s the rub: some people got jobs at big firms developing games here in Poland, so I have to offer them something more than working on a game which might become a hit. But that’s not all, we are working with the Unigine engine, the version 0.4 of which will cost us nearly $10 thousand, without that licence we cannot finish the demo. We mustn’t forget graphics, working in current technologies costs a lot, you must make low-poly objects, high-poly objects and make normalmaps (which costs the most.) The designers we have could very well be working abroad for big money. If I don’t start paying them for their work, we won’t be able to make the demo we’re aiming at, or finish the game. But that’s not all, we need money for sound samples we’re using (we’re using the cheapest, of course), so, all in all, we are doing everything to get attention from a sponsor, because it’s too soon for a publisher to invest really big money.
I wonder how much money you need to make such a great demo?
Like I told you before, I will answer any question you ask me, NMA has done a lot for us, so I will answer this too. We need at least $35 thousand, I’m sure you think it’s a lot, but it’s not. That’s the kind of money three graphics designers in a big developer company make a month. We are passionate about our game, money is not that important fot us.
Well, it still sounds like a lot to me, how are you going to get it, and what happens if you can’t?
This month we’re launching an advertising campaign all over the game scene, all over the world, and next month we should start getting press reports. We go to various conventions, we have a few contacts I count on, but it is hard to find this kind of money in Poland. We will do our best to present the game we’re making in a positive way. That is all we can do... I don’t want to think what happens if we don’t find this money soon. I have no other ideas (passing the hat around is out of the question, we already collected money for TGE and TSE, and people could think their money went to waste, which of course it didn’t.) Without the money, making the demo could last even 6 or 8 months longer, by then we will have lost our chance, because Betsheda will have released Fallout 3. With the money we could release the demo by Christmas, and the rest of pre-production would be ready by the end of summer.
I hope you get to find your financing. I look forward to hearing from your studio and I wish you luck!
Thanks, Silencer, and thanks for the interview. You won’t have to wait long to hear from us