Depois de termos adorado o quão estranho e irreverente é Viktor, a Steampunk Adventure, e a história do seu protagonista, um javali que perdeu o emprego e que enceta uma missão de conquistar o mundo, aproveitámos para falar um pouco com o seu autor, Zvonimir Barać, sobre este jogo, o futuro, e o mercado indie.
Ricardo Correia: The market is completely saturated, and this is common-sense for everyone. There isn’t a single genre that has breathing space to get to get games noticed by everyone. In a sense, Viktor, a Steampunk Adventure is one of the most unique games of its genre. Did you feel it was hard to get it across media and consumers?
Zvonimir Barać: Getting noticed is definitely a difficult thing for indie games today, even very unique and special ones. On the same week we released Viktor, a Steampunk Adventure, hundreds of other games came out on Steam, many of which came out on the same day, such as Nier: Automata. This over-saturation of not only games in general, but an over-saturation of high quality games, even in the “indie” category, means that you have to compete against the very best for visibility and popularity. But maybe the biggest problem for us was that we did everything by ourselves, from publishing to advertising to paperwork. We had absolutely no connections, budget or industry knowledge. On the way, we did tons of mistakes, but in the end, we met some incredible people and felt a bit like superstars by doing all this by ourselves.
RC: Most of graphic adventures protagonists are silly but nice characters. You decided to create a certain “rudeness” for Viktor. Do you think it helped him stand out?
ZB: Most video game protagonists are witty soulless shells for players to fill them with their own selves. They are usually full of witt and sarcasm and always ready to pop a one-liner at the exact right time. Here we decided to make a difference and make our character a completely developed person complete with quirks and flaws. It’s not unusual for Viktor to start clenching his fists and yelling at someone he disagrees with, which is a far cry from the cool and sober Mannys and Guybrushes the industry is so accustomed to. Not the most popular choice, but he definitely stands out among the popular blandness.
RC: On the artistic field, you decided to do a children’s book visual approach to your game. Was this a fundamental decision for the development of the game or you thought along the way that it would fit well with the game’s tone?
ZB: The art style was done in an Eastern European style of cartoons that we grew up with. A lot of them were not meant for children, but nobody cared about it back then. We tried to give that experience to our audience. People love the art and animation style, it became a very strong point of the game. Some feel the cartoon style of the Eastern block in the cold-war era is a perfect frame for the despotic and bizarre world that Viktor finds himself in.
RC: What are the main influences you’ve felt for the development of Viktor, the Steampunk Adventure?
ZB: Oh, it’s just things we love from the ‘80s and ‘90s. Point&click adventures, punk rock, steampunk, logic puzzles, politically incorrect cartoons… once you play the game, it becomes quite obvious. We tried to refrain from the easy road to humour such as breaking the fourth wall or using too many pop-culture references, and tried to focus more on character and situation comedy, and let the humor flow from the interaction of different quirky characters with their own worldviews and agendas.
RC: I’ve been asking this to several point-n-click developers, but do you believe the genre is stuck closely between generations, without a real appeal to younger audiences?
ZB: Back in the ‘90s, adventures had a lot more story directly connected to gameplay than any other type of game. Today, most games feel as if you’re progressing through a movie. But there’s still younger people who like a more meditative experience and puzzles connecting a story, rather than running around murdering everything.
RC: As a more straightforward genre, do you believe the new content makers like youtubers and streamers actually hurt sales by creating playthroughs of these games?
ZB: To be honest, none of us understand this completely, but for some reason we believe youtubers help out with sales a lot. We tried our best to provide as many of them as possible with their own copy of the game. They are mostly a polite bunch and were actually kind enough to ask us if we wanted them to stop at a certain point or if they can play through the entire game. On the other hand, our game is packed with enough content, such as minigames, optional dialogues and alternative ways to solve puzzles that no playthrough could really present the entirety of the game experience.
RC: Regarding the actual story of Viktor, was the crazy idea of questing to become the emperor after losing the job the initial concept of the game?
ZB: The initial concept was that he just gets angry at the injustice that he reads about in the newspapers. It was supposed to be a message to all the people who just rage at the news without doing anything about it. But that didn’t have enough conflict, so we gave Viktor another reason to change everything – the loss of a job. If you follow the introduction and his dialogues closely, you’ll see Viktor’s actually bent on conquering the entire world, not just Austria-Hungary, which is a nice setup for potential sequels. But when that’s going to happen and whether Viktor’s going to be conquering the Roman Empire or Texas or something else, that’s anyone’s guess…
RC: What’s along the road after the development of Viktor? Are you already working on a new title and is it another (great) graphic-adventure?
ZB: We’re already working on a new project called General Horse and the Package of Doom. Follow it on Facebook and Twitter to see the progress. It’s still in stealth production, so you, the readers of this interview, are the first to see any links to the new game. It’s going to be a full motion video lovechild of Monty Python and Oregon Trail set in a distant galaxy ravaged by bad puns and russian accents.
Our programmer Alex already developed another game, an interactive comic book All You Can Eat. Feel free to check that out as well.
RC: We want to thank you for your time and congratulate you and your team on what you achieved with Viktor, a Steampunk Adventure.