Just a couple of weeks ago we got early access to Black The Fall, which we really cannot wait to get our hands on once it comes out. The game is an atmospheric puzzle game set-up in a communist dystopian era and is developed by Sand Sailor Studios.
We wanted to know more about this indie developer and got them to answer some questions for us.
- Can you tell us one thing about your game that no one else knows. Could just be the most random thing about your office/studio.
When we introduced the Guardian, we used a placeholder sample sound for him to give the alarm. Sounded something like “Shmahat”. So even if we have proper voices and sounds now, internally we still call the Guardian: Shmahat. We pronounce it like this: [ʃmʌhat].
- How did you guys come up with Black The Fall’s concept?
We wanted to create a game that reflects communism, as our families saw it, in both atmosphere and game mechanics. So, we’ve built the puzzles and characters around this idea, trying to give the player the experience of living in an oppressive system and the means to escape it.
- What were your inspirations for the game?
Our country’s history, our parents’ stories, Orwell’s 1984, games from our childhood like Another World or Flashback.
- What inspires you outside of gaming? What other fields interest you as a studio?
Our interests and activities range from rocking the guitar, Aikido and cycling, to Yoga, contemporary art and psychology.
- Was just going through your website and you guys seem like a fun bunch of people. Tell us a bit about your studio.
We’re really like a family and all things get eventually discussed or solved with a laugh, a hug or, more often than not, a joke. We’re a tight group, most of us being ex-colleagues or partners in previous projects, brought together by Cristi and Nico, the founders.
- Are there any challenges you face as a game developer?
The game development industry in Romania is growing rapidly with more and more opportunities arising now for new devs. However, for us it was quite a journey, learning by doing, as there was no formal training in this field. Back in the day there were no Romanian accelerators or too many events where we could pitch our game. Also, there is no legal and fiscal framework to encourage gaming, so there is still some lobby to be done in this respect. With all these setbacks, it’s quite easy to lose a market momentum, but hard work and being as active as possible in the network, can make up for it.
- What are your thoughts on VR Gaming? Do you think you would be developing VR games in the near future?
We are firm believers in this new wave and it looks like developing for VR requires bending the rules of game design. And this is something we’d be very thrilled to do.
- Has the change in the market towards VR affected indie game developers? If so, how?
I think there are more opportunities to develop games for VR, facilitated by the hardware producers, rather than a high demand on the market. So, there are only good news in this area, it just depends who’s brave enough to adventure in this completely new realm.
- What’s your most anticipated game of 2017?
We recently posted a list with the games we’re eagerly waiting to be published: http://www.blackthefall.com/news/video-games-wishlist-2017
- What’s your favorite game of the year from 2016?As a studio, we published a list of our favorite games of last year, for each of us http://www.blackthefall.com/news/the-best-games-we-played-in-2016
- Gameplay, Story, or Graphics? Which is more important to you?
We think there are good games with no graphics, good games with no story, but there can’t be an enjoyable game without a good Gameplay.
- If you were to give some advice to budding game devs, what would it be?
Ah, not sure, each dev has his own challenges, dreams and needs. I guess staying curios, keeping it simple and always having the player experience in mind would be a good start.
Sand Sailor Studio is an independent game development studio, founded in 2014 by Cristian Diaconescu, Nicoleta Iordanescu and Emil Nestor, in Bucharest, Romania. Currently we’re working on Black The Fall.
Sand Sailor Studio was born at a crossroads, where experience meets meaning; so do expect entertainment that comes with some cultural baggage.