Dr. David's Indie Spotlight: Deconstructeam talks torture and starvation in Gods Will Be Watching
Gods Will Be Watching is all about having your back against the wall and making difficult decisions. The minimalist graphics stylistically create a world that’s hauntingly ambiguous, and point-and-click gameplay ensures that you’re always engaged in this survival tale. What started out as a 72-hour Ludum Dare game jam is now on its way to being something much bigger as Spanish developer Deconstructeam continues to build away on its intriguing project. After reaching its Indiegogo ambitions in just three days, Gods Will Be Watching has definitely proven to be something people actually care to see more of.
I had the chance to interview Jordi de Paco, also known as GreyShock, the CEO of Deconstructeam. What does the studio think of the reaction Gods Will Be Watching has received thus far? What influenced the team to create such a thought-provoking game? Also, what are these guys and gal playing in their free time?
GameZone: Congratulations on reaching your funding goals through Indiegogo. How does it feel to have such a tremendous amount of support from fans even with quite a lot of time left in the campaign?
Jordi de Paco: We are overwhelmed, totally unexpected. In less than 72 hours the game was funded and now we find ourselves redesigning the campaign in order to reach the stretch goals. As we were preparing for the new game + (10,000€) the goal was already achieved. Madness. Now we are working toward the unlockable cinematics which will expand Gods Will Be Watching's plot and universe.
GZ: Can you give the readers some info on exactly who Deconstructeam is? Who are you folks? What are some of your favorite games?
JDP: We are a group of friends who joined their talents in order to pursue a dream: making games and telling compelling stories. Deconstructeam has been raised over 15 months of intense development, from game jam to game jam, in order to not only grow our skills but our understanding of what fun is and how to achieve it (in my opinion, the most difficult part).
We are five members and our favorite games are quite different: Metal Gear Solid, Shenmue, Duke Nukem 3D, Amplitude, and Ocarina of Time.
GZ: What's Gods Will Be Watching all about? What type of game is it? Can you share any influences? What kinds of players will gravitate toward it? Also, can you explain the title?
JDP: Gods Will Be Watching is a game about moral dilemmas and harsh situations. We call it a "moral puzzler" or "dramatic puzzler," a game in which not only the mathematical outcome counts but also the ethical approach to the problem. Is eating your partners the best choice? Or is it just the easiest?
Since the game sprouted out from a game jam, we didn't have time to think about references or inspiration — just popped in my mind and started developing it. Probably the games of Lucas Pope inspired me a lot — being capable of creating fun without action, just decisions.
We aim for an adult public who will appreciate the kind of moral dilemmas we offer to them. We plan to put the player into extreme scenarios. Having many lives depending on your actions I think is something that a lot of people will enjoy.
About the title ... we brainstormed around 30 minutes during the Ludum Dare. Gods Will Be Watching felt pretty cool and got along pretty well with the tough decisions theme. The Gods will not interfere, they will just judge you quietly ... but on the new game the title will have quite more relevance. :)
GZ: Gods Will Be Watching started out as a 72-hour jam at Ludum Dare. How did the idea for this particular project come about? What were the influences behind the game?
JDP: We don't know. This is the worst part of the interviews. We wasted the first eight hours developing failed ideas — we were stuck, almost condemned — and out of nowhere, my subconscious lend me this rad idea, all the package, the snow, the survival, the mechanics. Amazing.
GZ: What are some of the differences players will get to see, hear, or experience in this updated version of Gods Will Be Watching compared to the Ludum Dare original?
JDP: Depth. The game will offer more immersive experiences. Not only through the improved graphics, SFX and soundtrack. The Empathy System we are designing for this version will make feel the world more alive; your actions will not only affect your target but everybody around. Kick someone on the floor and their partners (or even yours) will be affected, changing the mood of the entire scene. Also, the game will contain lots of animations. On the original, text boxes explained you what happened, but now you will truly see Marvin going out for food or the torturers hurting you in many ways.
GZ: Gods Will Be Watching is all about making incredibly tough decisions during intense moments. Can you share an example of the scenarios players can expect to come across?
JDP: The trailer showed some of them. Handling a hostage situation, enduring 20 days of torture, testing experimental vaccines on your partners. In more detail, for instance, on the deadly virus scenario, you will have to find a cure injecting your teammates with experimental serums. You will able to decide how risky the experimental vaccine is going to be — as more risky, more you'll advance on the research, but more likely to die will be the recipient. Also, autopsies will be very useful in order to discover the cure.
GZ: Did you immediately know that you were going to expand the original Ludum Dare prototype? What made you want to make the project bigger and eventually start the Indiegogo campaign?
JDP: For us, it was another game jam like the previous ones but... so much love suddenly came. We received 140,000 players in a month after we submitted our entry to the Ludum Dare and appeared on lots of media harvesting great reviews from press and public. We were amazed by all the gameplays on YouTube and the comments of the players. Some of them even wrote short stories with the game characters ... that made us so happy.
We felt this as a clear sign.
GZ: Would you like to continue creating games with more serious themes like Gods Will Be Watching? Will your next endeavor be similarly rooted in decision-making? Is Deconstructeam looking that far ahead right now?
JDP: We'd love to expand that. We feel that with this project we are exploring a new genre, tons of ideas came to us, not only for expanding Gods Will Be Watching's universe, but to give birth to lots of interesting ideas. Also, we have another interesting prototype, Ages of Irving, a torture simulator that puts you in the skin of a freelance torturer: http://www.deconstructeam.com/games/agesofirving/
We think Ages of Irving would do great as a point 'n' click sandbox investigation adventure.
GZ: Is the Deconstucteam staff currently playing anything? Do you even have time to play video games right now as you toil away on Gods Will Be Watching?
JDP: Roguelikes. Binding of Isaac and Rogue Legacy are the most played games right now at Deconstructeam. They allow us to play short amounts of time and go back to the development. We are working so hard, seven days a week, to develop Gods Will Be Watching into a compelling title that finally lets us adopt the indie game development as a living.
Thank you to Jordi for taking the time to answer my questions. And thanks to all of Deconstructeam for going out and turning a rad game jam title into a full release. To catch a glimpse of what you can expect of Gods Will Be Watching, be sure to check out the original Ludum Dare prototype.
Want to talk about indie games, Kirby, or cheap pizza? Follow me on Twitter @dr_davidsanchez.