French development team, Maximilien Moussalli and Romain Giraud offer up some detailed information on their Mario/Zelda inspired gravity game, Gravit.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role with the development of Gravit.
Max : Hi, my name is Maximilien Moussalli, I am developer and game designer on the project
Romain : Hi, my name is Romain Giraud, and I am also a developer. We did our engineer studies together, in which we have participated in two video games projects. Then we did two internships together in the same field. We decided to quit our respective jobs more than a year ago now, in order to throw ourselves into a full-time project that we really cared about: Gravit.
How did you get started in developing PC games?
Max : For my part, I develop video games with passion since the age of 14. Thus, I have more than a decade of experience in this field and I worked for one year in a video games company.
Romain : I have always loved playing indie games. I started to develop video games during my studies. Then, I worked in a video games company too.
Where did the idea for Gravit come from?
Max : Everything takes place in 2010. This night I made a special dream : I was at an ordinary party, it was already late: about 2 am . And then the sun rises. It is not a kind of scary dream but yet, it was enough to wake me up in a sweat, as if everything was disturbed. But this dream most importantly made me ask myself a question: by what phenomenon could the sun rise earlier ? It was easy to find the answer. If the sun rises earlier, it is that the Earth rotation on itself has accelerated.
It is only a beginning, but after the fact, another question was already coming to my head. If the speed of Earth rotation increases, so does the centrifugal force. Thus, there must be a speed of Earth rotation that would enable having a centrifugal force that compensates the gravitational force. After some research on the internet, I got my answer : if the Earth was rotating 17 times faster on itself, everything that would be at the equators would to be in weightlessness. And what if the Earth was rotating even faster? Well we would be attracted to the sky rather than to the Earth. Ouch ! Here is the idea.
What are some of the successes and failures you learned from in developing Gravit?
The success we are most proud of is the set of physics integrations and fluids simulation in Gravit. Despite some difficulties in the implementation, these lasts work pretty well. The main difficulty was the game overall graphic design. We embarked on this adventure without a graphic designer, and had to improvise the graphic design ourselves. This error caused us a problem at the beginning of the fundraising campaign, but fortunately we have a very skilled graphic designer who recently took an interest in the project.
In its current form, how close is Gravit to your initial vision?
The gameplay is pretty close to our original vision, even if many items have been added (sword of power, boots of celerity …). We mainly need to rework the graphic design, and add a real evolution in the level design.
Some devs admitted their games were too hard upon release because they became experts as they developed the game. Talk about setting the difficulty levels for Gravit and if you faced a similar challenge.
Indeed, when we made our friends and family test the game, we could notice this problem (although some players found it easy O_o). We have simplified it as the tests went on. The gameplay learning is now more intuitive.
Were there any challenges you faced in ensuring Gravit would run on the various PC system configurations?
We work with the XNA technology, which allows deploying the game on any PC running under Windows.
Please talk about developing the art style, level design and music for Gravit.
The music was written by Max brother-in-law : Samuel Pinto Soeiro. He is a talented composer who is helping us in this adventure. Here are some sound extracts.
The graphic design was made by Max until now, but as mentioned at the beginning of the interview, we are in touch with a skilled graphic designer: Jean-Baptiste Casasola. About the current level design, we handled it ourselves. The real level design will come when we will have decided on the final scenario.
Outside of creating the game itself, what is the toughest aspect of being an indie developer?
For us, the most difficult aspect of an independent developer is the workload, pretty big for only two people.
How did you go about funding Gravit and did you receive financial or emotional support from friends and family?
We received a lot of encouragements and positive feedback on our project from our friends and family. Our fundraising campaign is still in progress, do not hesitate to come and help us!
Tell us about the process of submitting Gravit to the various digital distribution platforms and if you encountered resistance in doing so.
The current graphic design has made a bad impression to Steam users for our Greenlight campaign. It is a shame because the gameplay receives very good returns. Internet users have trouble understanding that the current graphic design is temporary.
Will you release a demo for Gravit?
We will soon release a demo, because the perception of the game is better when one plays it. Also, we cannot show everything in the videos. So to see more, stay tuned!
How important is it to get instant feedback about Gravit from users through online message boards and other social networking sites?
It is very important for us to be listening to the community and various sites to understand what is liked or not liked, and thus, improving the game.
How much value do you place on the opinions of those who review Gravit professionally?
We asked video game professionals for their opinion. Thus, we have changed some initial aspects of the gameplay.
How do you feel about the various indie bundle promotions and the “Pay What You Want” pricing methodology? Would you be interested in contributing to a project like that in the future?
We find this concept interesting, both to get known, but also to give the project a second life. We are interested in this idea, but it is still a little early for our project.
What are your thoughts on how the PC gaming industry as a whole are dealing with the problem of intrusive DRM and piracy?
We believe that DRM does not prevent people from pirating the game, but mostly disturb those who legally buy it. There are different ways to prevent piracy, such as making regular updates or integrating the community work within the game.
How do you feel about individuals posting videos and receiving monetization of Gravit?
We believe that making oneself known is very important for independent developers.
How do you feel about DLC and its current implementation in the PC gaming industry?
A DLC should make a real difference in the game, and not just be a level update. Many AAA games are using their fame to release DLCs with no real content …
How do you feel about the online modding community in general and specifically if mods were created for Gravit?
We encourage this community aspect by releasing our game level editor. Thus, it will be possible to create levels / campaigns and to share them.
What advice would you give up-and-coming indie PC developers who are trying to break into the business?
From our experience, it is best to focus on an interesting concept with an adapted graphic design. It is not necessary to have many features. It is better to aim for the first impression.