By Marty Mulrooney
Papier is an adventure game with RPG elements based on the original tale by Matt McArdell. Taking place in a world made of paper, the developers hope to raise $140,000 via Kickstarter to complete the game and realise their vision. Today, Spycraft Studios’ Matt McArdell joins AMO for an exclusive online interview!
“Each person has a story. Their own, that defines who they are, who they were, and who they will be. In this world of paper, a person’s story is bound to the pages of just one book. Each person and all things have a book that defines them and tells their story, without which they would not exist.”
– Extract from Papier.
Hi Matt, thank you for your time and welcome to AMO!
Thanks Martin, it’s great to be here.
Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself please?
I’m Matt McArdell and I’ve been developing software professionally for the past fifteen years. My first game programming effort was as a kid, in 1986! I taught myself to program in basic on a Sord M5 computer, and made my first text and ASCII based adventure game. At university my interests were heavily in interactive 3D and virtual worlds and since then I have worked on a variety of software projects. I’m someone who definitely needs to balance technical pursuits with creative interests. I’ve always pursued visual arts, animating, and music, so I’m happiest when I can bring all of these things together.
When was Spycraft Studios first founded and who are the other members of the team?
Spycraft Studios was founded in 2009. The core team developing Papier is Mark Murray, Shaun Goldsworthy, and me. I first worked with Shaun several years ago, and it’s great to have him now riding shotgun as a developer. Mark is our Blender guru and has great experience with interactive media. Blender is the creative tool we’re using to model and animate the in-game environments and characters.
You recently announced the Kickstarter campaign for ‘Papier Adventure’. What made you decide to pursue crowd-funding as opposed to more traditional methods of getting a project funded?
There are a number of reasons for deciding to pursue a crowd-funding campaign at this time. Mostly, I’ve been inspired and encouraged by the support that I’ve seen for other original concept games. The people who really appreciate the kind of game that you’re making can be directly involved in making it happen, which is brilliant. You know that from day one, you’re making the game for the people who really want it!
What can you tell us about the premise of the game?
As illustrated by the visuals, the game is set in a world of paper, where everything in it has the quality of having been sketched into existence. The main character is Papier. At the beginning of the game, he’s a boy who starts out with a fairly mundane existence and longs for something more. Fortunately, there is a lot more to Papier than he is aware of.
Part of the mythology of this world is that a person’s life story is inscribed in a book that is kept safe in a mythical library. All things in the world exist because they have an entry in this library. In reality, Papier does have extraordinary powers and poses a threat to the plots and schemes of a mysterious foe. The problem is, the pages that describe his powers and significant parts of his life have been removed from his book, and so they do not exist unless returned to his book. In recovering the pages and completing chapters of the story of his life, Papier will regain the people, powers, and future that belongs to him.
The visuals look very impressive and distinctive – how are they being achieved?
This is another quality of the game that I’m excited about. While my original sketches are nice enough, the technique being used really makes the visuals “pop”. Using the original concept sketches as a guide, we model the environment in 3D. The textures applied to the 3D surfaces of the environment are actually hand-sketched on paper, scanned, then wrapped onto the 3D virtual surfaces. We then have the benefits of a traditional art aesthetic, combined with the lighting, effects, and flexibility of the camera views made possible by using a 3D game engine.
Will Papier remain a black-and-white game throughout?
Mostly it will, but there are definite exceptions. The texture of paper is greatly enhanced by using only the scanned pencil artwork and it really does reinforce that this is a paper world, rather than a cartoony game world. However, colour will be used for things that have magical, and emotional significance. At the other end of the spectrum, so to speak, there is part of the plot that will take place in more of a colour painted location. While black-and-white is the default visual design approach for the world, if we find that subtle splashes of colour enhance the result, especially for the elements of nature, then the style will be augmented with colour. This is the kind of thing that we’ll put out to the backer community for feedback as we experiment throughout development of the game.
The game will use a ‘3rd person camera view’ with general gameplay using a ‘slightly above and behind’ view. What other video games would you offer as examples that feature similar types of gameplay perspective?
The camera view will adapt to the environment and to plot triggers as Papier moves about. As much as possible, the camera will provide a view that allows the player to see Papier, and at the same time provide a more immersive view from within the scene. On the whole, it is similar to the World of Warcraft view, except that the general camera view that follows Papier will automatically blend with selected camera viewpoints throughout the environments to enhance the experience.
Will there be any first person sequences?
There will be activities where a first person view makes the most sense, but this won’t be when moving around. For example, a first person view will be used when you need to manipulate a device with complex parts, such as cogs, levers etc.
Will Papier himself be a silent protagonist or will he talk and make comments and observations throughout the game?
Papier is a first-class character. He will talk to other characters, think aloud at times, and let you know if he has something important to say.
What can you tell us about the voice actors involved with this project?
We have some extremely talented people joining us for voice acting. Cat Adey was the vocalist on popular video game ‘De Blob 2: The Underground’ and has appeared in over twenty-five musicals. Bek Chapman has been an actor, musician, session-singer and voice actor in Melbourne for many years. Her credits include ‘Pepper’ in Nikelodeon’s cartoon ‘Cha-Ching’ and number of musical theatre performances. Rich Davies is a singer and musician and has just returned from performing in the United Kingdom. A versatile vocalist, Rich will lend real depth of character to his parts. I’ll also make an appearance and will call on others as required.
Who will be responsible for composing the game’s music?
The composer details aren’t finalised yet, but I’ve been discussing this with a few associates who are composers.
Papier will contain ‘RPG elements’. Can you expand upon this?
This refers to a couple of game design elements that bring a bit more depth to the gameplay. Papier, as a game character, isn’t just a vessel for carrying inventory. The magical powers that he acquires throughout the game will be upgraded as he achieves goals and gains more experience. In some cases it will be possible to combine multiple powers for different effects. Also, there will be foes that he has to defeat using his powers, so there’s a simple combat element that is commonplace in RPGs.
Is Papier still very much a point-and-click adventure game despite these RPG elements?
Strictly speaking, I wouldn’t describe Papier as a point and click adventure, even though they have a lot in common. The term point-and-click reminds me more of an adventure game that consists of mostly static scenes only, which Papier is not. I’d say it strays closer to action-adventure, but the story and characters are the priority over action.
What is your favourite adventure game and why?
That’s a tough call. I’ll close my eyes and say Grim Fandango, for the dark humour and visual style. Definitely fun!
What do you think makes Papier stand out from the crowd?
I would say the visual style, integration of the unique story with gameplay that allows more freedom to explore the environments, and the paper-themed powers that Papier wields.
If you had to name some influences for Papier, who or what would they be?
Any influences are related to the imaginative and whimsical nature of the story, rather than gameplay or visual style. While not related, ‘The Nighmare Before Christmas’, by Tim Burton, impresses me with the attention to detail of the characters that really does embody what they are about. Every time that I watch it, I notice more traits and character quirks that make me chuckle. Other influences on the whimsical side are the artwork of Brian Froud and the absurd stories of Roald Dahl. Brilliant!
What platforms will the game be released for?
Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Android (mobile and tablet).
What rewards are available for Kickstarter backers?
All reward tiers include the game for all supported platforms. Other reward tiers include the game and combinations of:
– The soundtrack/score.
– An encyclopaedia of creatures, characters and locations including artwork and descriptions.
– A Special Edition package that contains downloadable digital versions of these.
– A Collectors Edition package that contains physical versions of these including the boxed game, soundtrack, bound book, and Papier postcards that appear in the game.
– The Papier tee-shirt.
– The opportunity to have your face or likeness appear in the game and name in the game credits.
If the $140,000 goal isn’t met, will the game still be released at some point in the future?
If the goal isn’t met, then it will take much longer to get Papier ready for release and we’ll have to look at other options to help get the game made. One of the reasons that we’re reaching out to the Kickstarter community is that Papier can’t be our number one priority without raising the funds. So, reaching the goal will be a win-win situation for everyone.
Thank you for your time! I wish you all the best of luck with your Kickstarter campaign – it has been a pleasure interviewing you Mr McArdell!
It’s my pleasure, thank you for your interest in Papier!
Please visit the Papier Adventure Kickstarter page to pledge your support for this project!