In a follow up to our Ether One review, Tony Davies took the time to sit down and interview the Audio Designer and Composer for White Paper Games, NJ Apostol. Ether One has just been short-listed for the Editor’s Choice Award at this years Develop Indie Showcase and we wanted to find out what inspired him and the guys at White Paper Games to make Ether One and what the future may hold for them all…
Who are you and do you do within the company?
My name is NJ Apostol and I am the audio designer and composer for White Paper Games
How long have you been working for White Paper Games?
I have been working for White Paper Games for the past two years almost since the company was founded
How did you end up joining White Paper Games?
As a team we all met through Preston Uclan, I was on a music degree and I did my best to get involved with the games department in my second year. It was through meeting some of the other students that I made the contacts with White Paper Games after that I got asked to join the team and from that moment on it was a full on let’s make a game mentality
What made you decide to work in the gaming industry?
I’ve always loved video games ever since I first played games like Paper Boy, Mario and Duck Hunt. Actually some even earlier than that which I don’t remember the names from on the Spectrum. I set out at university to make music for films animations etc, whilst I was there I found I was getting asked for a lot of foley so I started to focus on both. Getting the chance to make Ether One was the ultimate opportunity to put both practices to use. I have also always had an interest in acting so starting with a video game was a nice first step for me because I got to practice my voice acting and didn’t necessarily have to have any skills facially, which is quite lucky in my case
What games have inspired your work?
Huge inspirations in gaming for the audio in Ether were games such as the Uncharted series, The Last Of Us, and Dishonoured was a huge one! Although Ether One may not sound like these games I tried to look at the quality control within them and at least make an experience that flowed smoothly in terms of sound design. There are many different things I tried to achieve within Ether, I think one thing that most people probably don’t pick up on is the fact that the game is almost completely in tune with itself in terms of diagenetic and non-dietetic music/sound there are only certain areas where you will hear any form of dissonants or the game feeling out of tune and it’s always on purpose to try and create an atmosphere for a certain area
Tell us a little bit about your game, Ether One
Ether One is a first person adventure puzzle game with a strong focus on narrative. It offers a simple narrative path for somebody who wants a quick and beautiful scenic game, but with optional puzzles you can get lost in the environment and story of ether for hours and hours on end. It really is down to the player how much they want to take from the game
What research did you do for the game’s sound design?
It’s very hard to say specifically which research I did on any given day. Every single day I would look at what tasks I had to achieve and think to myself how can I create a new sound that I haven’t heard before. I spent a lot of time at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. I would also walk around Manchester taking sound recordings of places like Islington Mill for the industrial area in the game, I wanted to try and make things sound as authentic as I could. On the more experimental side of things I watched a lot of torture scenes from films and used the sounds of them to make the pneumatic sound for the chair that is iconic with the start of the game I wanted to give it a personality as it represented the dementia of the patient and the feeling of being locked in to the condition. Every day I would try and take inspiration from some piece of art that I had seen and thought could be relevant to what I was trying to put across in the game
What made Elspeth Edmonds the choice for the voice over provided throughout the game?
We had actually been trying another actress before we met Elspeth but after a few tests it just didn’t quite seem like what we were looking for and the direction hadn’t been cemented at that point so we were still very open as to what the female role in the game should sound like. After Elspeth was put forward to us as a voice actress we spent about another year developing and changing the style of Jean before we actually settled and decided on a specific sound. At this point the games narrative was really starting to take shape so it all came together nicely and we were really excited about the quality of the voice acting. Ben Britton was an American voice actor who also made himself available for the game and once again pushed to the level of professionalism far further than we thought we would initially achieve, although it was always our goal to do it as well as reviews are saying we did
Any advice for people trying to break into the gaming industry?
If you can’t find a company that are looking to employ or if you can’t find an outlet for your arts/talent just do it yourself. Learn to code, learn to write music, learn to make 3-D art, learn to write game scripts and just make something. All of the tools are there and people can make apps and games on iPhones easier than ever. So don’t let somebody not hiring stop you from doing what you want to do we made this company ourselves and none of us had ever made a full game before we just did it! You can too!
What’s next in store for you/the company?
Honestly we haven’t started the second project. We’re still focusing on getting a Mac build finished and getting the game onto PS4 later on this year after that we have some ideas but we are just going to take one thing at a time
Where can people find you online?
Anything you’d like to say that wasn’t asked? Any shout-outs or last minute thoughts?
We would just like to say thank you so much to everybody who has already supported us by buying or playing the game, anybody who has reviewed it and anyone intending on buying and playing the game. You are the people we made it for and we wouldn’t exist without you so thank you very much
Ether One is available now on PC and will be available in the near future for Mac and Playstation 4.