The Stray Sheep #20 – GamesCom-Interviews #2 – Through The Darkest of Times & Resort

Okay in today’s Stray Sheep, we’re traveling in time as we’re not only visiting the darkest of times (in Through the Darkest of Times) and the 60s/70s (in Resort) but also going back into the future (in a short bit about GravityLane). These are the second and the third GamesCom-Interview! Sadly, I couldn’t interview GravityLane 981’s devs, but I will for sure, next time!

So, for Through the Darkest of Times, I’ve asked the questions in German! This was, of course, because of the fact that the game is about Nazi-Germany and all that – not because of me and the dev being German. No, that’d be too much of a coincidence, wouldn’t it?

Anyways, I haven’t thought it through all that much since I, now, have to translate the dev’s answers into English again, although he could’ve answered in English all along. Yep. I’m stupid. But I didn’t have my morning coffee on that day, so I guess I can be forgiven.

Okay, so, Through the Darkest of Times is basically a strategic simulation based on the horrible events of the years of 1933 to 1945 where you lead an underground resistance group to fight the NS-regime.

After having played the game for a bit (and it was great gameplay at that btw), I had the chance to talk to one of the devs of Paintbucket Games, Jan-Dirk Verbeek, and ask a few questions about him and the game.

Since I’ve been too busy worrying about halls filled with people and my anxieties and all that stuff, I ended up not thinking up all that many different questions, leading to me asking every dev the same questions (apart from the weird ones). GG, I’d say.

That way we get the most interesting answers and can compare them! Yep. All planned. For sure.

What was your biggest inspiration for the game?

“The biggest inspiration for the game? Well, I’d like to point at Paintbucket Games’ founders as I joined a bit later. I myself was really intrigued by the topic. I found it really interesting to work on a game with a topic this dark that isn’t ‘funny’ but still ‘entertaining’.”

What was the most exciting part of developing this project?

“Oh, well, I’d have to think about that for a bit. I myself am only a programmer. I’d say, 80% programmer, 20% game designer. Most of the time [the most exciting part] is planning a feature or a game mechanic together with my other game designer co-workers and then to actually turn that plan into reality, as a programmer. It’s a lot of fun to find cool solutions to make it as efficient as possible.”

How satisfied are you with the game at its current state?

“Well, we fundamentally have built everything now and are now in the process of actually polishing everything. Now it all becomes really pretty, I’m satisfied, and of course, there are a few features that we’d like to implement before the release but other than that I’m quite satisfied.”

Gestapo knocking

Okay, so now we’ll get to a few “different” questions, cause there’s probably a ton of other, actual journalists that only ask the boring ones.

“Oh, so, now’s the point where I should flee, right?” (laughs)

What’s your favourite game?

“I’m developing games, I’m not playing them anymore. (laughs) Jokes aside, that sounds stupid but it’s really often the case that you don’t get the chance to play videogames as a game dev.”

Oh, well, then let me rephrase the question: Of all time?

“I really enjoyed playing strategy and roleplaying games, but also games like Desperados and [inaudible]. I’ve also played Gothic for quite some time. And, well, more strategy, I guess.”

If you could meet one videogame-character IRL, who would it be and what would you do together?

“That’s quite a difficult question! (thinks) Maybe going into some sort of Video Game Hell with Kate O’Hara from Desperados… I know, quite a droll answer.”

What’s your favourite videogame-antagonist?

“A really great antagonist? Oooh, I’ll have to think of something… I can’t name one right now but I really like it when you’re able to understand an antagonist’s motives even when you’re disliking his or her methods.”

Okay, so last question: If you were a superhero, what would your hero name and quirk be?

“Oh, man, if I were a superhero, I wouldn’t be here. No, (laughs) I’d probably just wait somewhere for something to happen and then jump into the action heroicly to save the day. Just kidding. (thinks)

Well, as for a quirk, I couldn’t give a real answer right now…maybe something with math and system engineering! I know, it’s really concrete for a theoretical answer…”

Reshaping the world…

“Exactly, just having intuitive knowledge about different systems and maybe the ability to manipulate them…”

Using an Apple Macbook (laughs)

“Nope, not that. I’m not an Apple user!”

Well, this hero remains unknown to the world since he always vanishes and clears the data cache and browser history of your minds! Nobody knows who he is! I guess that’s why I don’t have an answer to the hero-name-part of this question… That must be it!

Well, Through the Darkest of Times was really fun to play as I love managing resources, planning out missions and all that stuff. I kind of felt reminded of games like Beholder and Do Not Feed The Monkeys as there’re multiple ways of doing things here and as you’re able to play the game differently, every time you start it.

There’s also a rogue-like-aspects to it, as your character and crew always get randomly generated and as there always are different events mixed into the actual historical events that make the experience unique every time you start a campagne. Lovely!

Another German Dev I found was Matthias Nikutta from Backwoods Entertainment, the studio behind Resort, an atmospheric mystery-thriller-game where you’re interviewing people refusing to leave the former health resort, Larburnum Creek, as the writer Laura Tanner before a comet is threatening to destroy the whole area! “But there’s something rotten at the heart of this picturesque town. A story exploration game between dreams and reality.”

Of course, there’s a reason why I asked him the questions in german: I was lazy and stupid, which is why I now, again, have to translate the answers into English without losing the meaning (I’ll try my best!). I hope you don’t mind. The other interviews all are in English, though!

What was the most exciting part about developing this game?

“We’re still in development, at an early stage as well. It’s the first time that we’re showing the game anywhere in public. We’ve been working on this project for about a year now. We’ve developed a prototype before that but weren’t satisfied with that one, so we just threw it all away and started working on this prototype here. What you’re able to see is only about two to three months old, though.”

What was your biggest inspiration for this title?

“Story-wise, we’ve been inspired by a lot of tv-shows like Twin Peaks, X-Files, Fargo, and mystery-stories like that, and style-wise, we were inspired by games like Firewatch, Dead Static Drive, a bit of Kentucky Road Zero, and a lot of those 60s/70s nature park/resort posters. We used the latter for fictive world-building of some places and the setting in the game, which you can see here on these postcards and posters.”

Okay, so, Uhm, now I’m asking a few weird questions since I am no professional… If you were a super-hero, what would your hero name and your quirk be?

“My her name would be….. Matmoiselle and.. my quirk would be teleportation! That’d be practical.”

And Matmaiselle..?

“That’s my stage name.” (laughs)

Dr Pepper is the best soft-drink, right?

“Nope, not at all. I don’t like Dr Pepper at all, the name is cool but the taste is not. Sorry.”

Awww… 😦

If you could meet one videogame-character from any game in our world here to do something together for one day, who would it be and what would you do together?

“I really like Guybrush Threepwood from Monkey Island and […] just relax outside a bit. I like being outside.”

[We laugh about a joke I made that I can’t talk about on here.]

Okay, so what’s your favourite videogame-antagonist?

“My favourite antagonist? Let me think a bit..” (thinks for about 28 seconds) “Maybe Gravelord Nito from Dark Souls. He’s got a very epic character design, and…yeah.”

To round it all up, I really enjoyed talking to these devs. I should’ve known but I didn’t, at all, know that there’d be this many german devs. There were also ByteRockers’ Games who presented their homage to Portal, Gravity Lane 981, a game where you solve puzzles with a hamster-powered portal-gun that also is able to control gravity and do other things. Really interesting, but only in development for about four months now. Still looked really cool.

Since the devs looked quite busy, I ended up not interviewing them. But I’d be glad to check out their game once it’s out, since I’m a huge Portal-fan!

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed these two interviews! Feel free to leave some feedback and always remember:

If you’re 50 Gold short, destroy the enemy nexus! – LoL

This post is part of a contest/challenge called Blaugust! The goal is to post as much as possible and participants are awarded with different prizes depending on the goal they achieved. My aim is to post on all 31 days of August and if you’d like to know more about this “event”, you should check this post out.