Studio: Strange Loop Games
The Strange Loop booth, back at PAX, was one of the few that BrainLazy had to take multiple trips to before we managed to catch the ear of one of the devs. Vessel, the game on display, was among just a small sampling of the games on display that was actually in its finished state, and much beloved at that. Once we were able to touch bases with John Krajewski, he was open and helpful in discussing the past and present of his impressive game. Since the full game is out and ready to buy, we thought it would be fun to focus our images on the concept art they were willing to share. You can also find a great look at their process at their blog.
Task: Explain how you would put a Fluro to work if you owned one
I believe I was a proponent of the idea of having my Fluro (a creature made of water) become the mascot of a water park. Seems like a good fit to me.
Dev: John Krajewski
BrainLazy: What title would you like to discuss?
John Krajewski: Vessel
BL: What was the inspiration for this title? How did you conceive of the idea?
JK: Vessel started life as an experiment in physics engines, I wanted to make a object and liquid simulation. Over the years I kept adding to this until eventually it became evident that we could make a really interesting game out of it, and from there we started to build the story, mechanics, and visuals around this simulation we’d created. The primary mechanic we designated as the most interesting physics simulation we made – giving life to ordinary matter. With that as the core of the game, we were able to construct the story, visuals, mood, music, everything. It all grew naturally from that seed of an idea, discovered in the course of creating a physics simulation.
BL: Does the game differ greatly from the original concept? What inspired the change and how did it evolve? Why did you choose your current direction?
JK: Our prototype build was what we first showed, and that’s what was in IGF. Since then we’ve really refocused the design, made creating life the core mechanics and emphasized the puzzles and interesting things that can happen with that. We redirected towards that because we really wanted to emphasize the gameplay possibilities of this simulation, and do something with liquid that simply could not be done without that tech. Rather than being an aesthetic feature, we made it the core of gameplay, and the game benefited greatly from that decision in my opinion.
BL: Regarding being an indie developer. Are there any prototype games that never came to fruition?
JK: Not full games, but there are plenty of experiments. Playing with the physics of the world was how we created the puzzles, finding interesting things about them and then taking it a step further. Design in my opinion is an act of guided discovery, and by finding the concepts for our puzzles within the interactions of the systems we built we give them a natural feel, there’s nothing arbitrary about them.
BL: What attracted you to indie development?
JK: The ability to control your own destiny a bit more. To try something new and exciting, and a little bit risky, which is less possible at larger studios with huge budgets involved.
BL: Would you ever work for one of the big developers/publishers? If you already have, would you ever go back to it?
JK: We all used to work at Pandemic Studios. I enjoyed working there a lot, and I learned a ton. I like the indie role better, but there are good and bad things about both. Sticking with indie for the foreseeable future!
And so there you have it for Monday’s peek into the indie mind. Wednesday we’ll be back for more of the Indie Megabooth look back. You can find out more about vessel and Strange Loop at their website, www.strangeloopgames.com