Welcome to the next iteration of Indie Showcase, the place where we interview the very best from the Indie community! If you didn’t catch our last Showcase with the awesome Pixelbomb Games, do check it out! This time its the turn of OhNoo Studios, a small team based in Poland who have recently released their game Tormentum: Dark Sorrow.
Battle Misfit: For those that are unfamiliar with you, tell us a little about yourself and your work
Piotr Ruszkowski (Illustrator): We are a small indie game studio based in Poland. We are focusing on small story driven games like Tormentum. Making games and playing them was always our hobby so it’s a dream come true for us.
BM: Being a small team of 3, do you find it a lot easier to stay co-ordinated and on the same page than you would with a larger team? Or do you think that more eyes on your work helps?
PR: A small production team keeps the game focused. I think it helps to show our personalities in such production. When more people are working on game it loses its soul and personality. From a technical stand point, it’s simpler to coordinate our work. Everyone is doing their job as best as they can. We are a non-confrontational bunch of people so everyone from our team can contribute their ideas without any fear it will be rejected.
BM: How did the three of you meet and what moment did you know you were a perfect fit for each other?
PR: I met Lukasz in highschool in 1997 and we shared the same passion for video games. Together we met Grzegorz our programmer in our first job at an educational company. So that was a start. We had been working together for 5 years at the company doing mostly educational games for them. After so many years we get to know our strong and weak points which was helpful later on.
BM: Your newest game is Tormentum: Dark Sorrow, which got an amazing review from us. In your own words tell us a little bit about it
PR: Well it’s a dark adventure game with some ethically moral choices. It’s about a man imprisoned in an alien world and your main objective is to get out of it. Also if you like visiting strange or fucked up worlds then this game should be interesting for you too. As for the gameplay elements, it contains puzzle elements like in a Professor Layton game plus point and click mechanics to keep your mind busy while learning the story of our protagonist. If you had lost interest in the Point and Click genre in the past due of its frustration level then you should definitely check out our game because we have managed to streamline the gameplay so it helps to keep our game both smooth and fun for a modern adventurer.
BM: Looking at some of the games you are currently working on and your previous game, Amelia and The Terror of The Night, the subject matter in Tormentum is a departure from these other games. What inspired you to make such a change in direction?
PR: Amelia was an app for kids so it was obvious to kept it more suitable for kids. It was also a test for us to be able to complete a small project by ourselves. Tormentum from the beginning was intended for adults so we finally could craft a story about such taboo stuff like suffering, death, loneliness etc. Of course it was cool to tell a more mature story and try new things. We are always trying to improve with each new game we create.
BM: With Tormentum being a point and click game, do you feel that Telltale have played a big role in bringing back interest to this genre and help people to discover classic titles like Grim Fandango and the Monkey Island series?
PR: I think it shows what today’s modern adventure games should look. I think the biggest sins of the Point and Click classic old games are illogical puzzles, too much walls of texts, slow character’s walking, nonsensical MacGyver-ish item mixing etc. All archaic elements should disappear. The game should be more streamlined for today’s audience and Telltale is showing everyone how to do it. Of course I love old classics but on “let’s plays” on youtube because they are so dated that the gameplay is not so fun. I love the stories and moods in these games but not the controls and other deadly sins of old games. Even today’s developers unconsciously are doing new pc adventure games with old mechanics repeating the old mistakes forcing the audience to become frustration. They put old classics on a pedestal and they think they are flawless and so they copy these old mechanics into their new creations making them a chore to play.
PR: Well Yes and no. I’m personally a big fan of these two masterminds. To create similar artworks that they did you must switch your mind to their thinking. In their art they speak about loneliness, death and fear…so if you understand their thought process you can create similar stuff. For me it’s somehow easier becouse I share the same themes in my art so transition was natural for me. Of course I have big respect for two masters so I don’t compare to them absolutely. Their art is so much better then mine so I like to think that Im just inspired by them in my own way. Also I like to think that our game is a tribute to these people so If you like the game you should also check out Beksiński’s and Giger’s art for more admiration for their works.
BM: Is the focus for you guys at the moment squarely on PC/Mac, Steam and Mobile or would you like to make the transition to Consoles as well?
PR: We have a plan to release our game on OUYA but we cannot guarantee that just for now. If we do a good job with the conversion then we will think about other consoles. Of course we would like to be on every platform available but it’s complicated for us. For example the transitions from mouse control to a game pad is quite difficult to do. It’s definitely not easy but we will try. So our first goal is OUYA and we will try to get there. Fingers crossed.
BM: How is your relationship with your fellow indie developers and your community? Do you like to brainstorm with these groups to improve the quality of games you create?
PR: We know several small indie developers in Poland. We have met on several occasions during the festivals etc. They are all very nice people willing to help you. If we have some questions or troubles we can just contact them and ask. But brainstorming is a very personal process I think. We must make the game how we really want to make it and not worry too much about others. Of course if your game is far in development, the small changes can be good and it shows in beta-testing
BM: Do you have any advice for people who want to follow your lead and get into the Video Games Industry? Who inspired you guys to get into the business yourselves?
PR: Start small, try to finish your project and make it personal. It is helpful to have one outstanding ingredient in your game that distinguishes it from the others. It could be cool gameplay mechanics, a story, graphics, music, whatever. For us Amanita Designs is the most inspirational crew around because they do similar stuff to ours and they do it great. I personally can’t wait for Samorost 3
BM: Now for the fun questions! A friend of yours approaches you who knows nothing about video games and wants to get started. If you could choose one game and one console from any point in history for them to begin their gaming journey what would you choose and why?
PR: Just buy the newest console available on the market offering the best graphics. Unfortunately in the games business, graphics grow old fast and If you want to be excited choose a powerful machine. As for the game I will recommend GTA 5 because It has what a modern video game should have. If a person likes the game then they may want to search deeper and discover other cool games and even indie games. It’s hard to interest someone who is completely new to gaming so I recommend starting with big consoles and games. Indie games in my opinion are for much more sophisticated players searching for something new in a game or for people who are bored with AAA titles and want to take a small break between blockbusters like Call of Duty and chill out for a moment with an indie game and then go back again to something big.
BM: If money was no object, what game would you want to create? Maybe a remake? Or a sequel to a classic game? How would you market it? Maybe have Michael Bay direct an advert for the game or have an all star cast for the Voice Cast…
PR: The problem is that the bigger the game grows, it starts to be a chore and not fun. Money can help and for example we could hire a writer to create better story or animators to make better animations, programmers for faster work, hire actors to work on voiceovers etc. For such stuff money definitely may help. We wouldn’t like to make remakes/remasters/reboots of somebody’s others games. We would want to create our own personal projects but maybe with better technology and resources.
BM: Finally, If there was one game from history that you wish you could have created, which one would you choose and why?
PR: I really couldn’t say. People are different and only they can create a specific game in the right moment of time. I want to know what you had to sacrifice to create a cult classic game. It’s worth taking a moment and think about it. It can be a scary thing. I say it’s better to do your own thing instead…