So the Gamescom is over. As every year, I was there covering it, and this year I was lucky enough to get an interview with Red Thread Games!
My main focus this year were indie games, and of course I couldn't pass this opportunity to add RTG to my list of indie companies to meet with. After a beautiful presentation of the game and a little bit of interaction with Zoë around the streets of Propast, I got to ask some questions around RTG, its development... And its relationship with the forum! So it is only fair that you guys get to read exactly what Ragnar had to say
I hope you guys enjoy it. I certainly did
Dreamfall Chapters in Gamescom 2014: Interview with Ragnar Tornquist
Silvara: Dreamfall Chapters, Dreamfall, The Longest Journey – these games have a very established fan base, which has been waiting very… long, and very…
Ragnar: Patiently, yes (laughs).
S: Eagerly. Eagerly! That’s the word I was going for (laughs). Even so, you couldn’t work on it before…
S: … so you created your own studio and you kickstarted the game.
S: This shows that we are living a new “era” of independent games. What would you say about that?
R: It’s changed everything. I mean… Not just Kickstarter; Kickstarter has been a big part of it, but it’s a combination of digital distribution channels and acceptance of indie games. More than acceptance, actually: for instance, in Sony’s press conference, half of the games announced were indie games. Indie game creators are, like, the new stars of gaming. Also, a lot of developers go into indie from AAA publishing. Kickstarter has been just another tool to help people realize this wishes, and to be able to make that move into indie gaming, distribute and publish your own game. I think it’s part of a revolution that’s been happening for the past five years. Maybe even less than that; maybe just for the last three years. We were extremely lucky to be able to join that revolution at this point, to go to Kickstarter and to get the support of so many people. It’s a democratization of game development, a liberation from traditional publishing distribution models, and it’s opening game development to completely new games, ideas, and markets. Yeah, it’s changing everything.
S: A liberation, you say?
R: Definitely, a liberation from retail chains having the power, publishers having the power to do market research and decide what games are going to see the light, and what people are going to play. It’s a liberation from all that and a way to the more creative, artist-driven industry that we are seeing today. We still have the AAA games, and they are always going to be there, but there will be fewer, while indie games will benefit from this revolution.
S: But this liberation comes with its share of responsibilities.
R: Yes, it does. Our main responsibility is with the people who have backed us and given us a lot of money to make the game. They are sort of our customers even before the game is done. That is a weird way to do it, and we are very conscious of that. But in terms of developing the game… We feel more free than when we are tied to anything, because we can make the game we want to make, and that is enough. We don’t expect everybody to like it or love it, but if we are happy with it, we will do the best we can. And it’s so much easier to be happy with something when you have full control of it, and when there is no one to tell us ‘no, you can’t do that’, or ‘you can’t say that’. So yes, it is a responsibility, but it’s also a massive weight lifted off our shoulders. If we fail, it’s our own fail. But if we succeed, it’s our own success.
S: And now the game is going to be released on PS4. That’s pretty big for a company that is so young and for an indie game.
R: Yes, it is big for us. But it’s true that Sony has really made things very easy for indie developers to make their way to Playstation. They gave us the dev kits for free, they gave us Unity licenses, they’ve always been extremely supportive… It feels like they understand that indie games is where the revolution is happening. Indie games give them a lot of variety for their platform, so they want as many games as possible. They are quality-conscious, but they are also very good at staying in touch with developers and seeing what games have potential. They were there from the very beginning. We talked to Sony right after the Kickstarter campaign, and they said that if we wanted to have it on PS4, they would give us the kits and facilitate the process, and it’s been great. So yeah, I am a console gamer, so for me it’s a big deal, but Sony really has made it very easy. A lot of people are flocking to Playstation because of that support.
S: Just one last question.
S: How do you like your new socks?
R: (Big laugh) You know about that as well?
S: I was part of it!
R: Yeah, I’m actually… Am I wearing them now? (Checks his feet) No, I’m not. But I did wear them on the way here yesterday. And they were comfortable. (Chuckles) And they help a lot, because I barely have clothes now. We need to get the game out and start selling, then we can buy underwear and socks and shirts again.
S: Great. A whole new wardrobe! (Laughs) You have a huge fan base in the forum. Anything to tell them?
R: They are awesome. They keep us in line and it’s always great fun to go there and see the reactions. I went there to read what they had to say about the PS4 release, and of course, the first reaction was negative. But the great thing about the forum is that there is enough rational voices to calm things down after a while. It’s great to go there and read people’s opinions, and see their support for us and for each other. They are active, and that’s the best part. That’s what we do this for. Games often vanish into a big black hole after a while, but we have such a loyal community. I still like to read threads about the story in Dreamfall and see what people are talking about and what they are discussing about a game that came out eight years ago.
S: Have you freaked out at some point after someone got it right? (Laughs)
R: What actually freaks me out is when they get it wrong, but the way they got it wrong is better than what we came out with, and we go like “oh no! We should’ve done it like that!” We’ve actually done it on a couple of occasions. I have to admit that a few times we’ve actually taken things that the community theorized and everybody agreed on. We figured, “that’s not exactly what we had in mind, but you know what? We’re going to take that, because it’s better”. So when we can do it, we do it. It has happened, yeah. That’s a scoop!