Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role with the development of Fractured Reality.
My name is Ross Tunney, and I’m the head developer of New Reality Games. I handle the vast majority of the development of our games, along with all of the marketing and PR. Technically, I’m the only member of NRG, at present, though I work very closely with certain freelancers over the course of several projects. For example, all of our soundtracks have been composed by Elezeid Audio Studio, and all of the concept and character art is handled by our ‘resident’ artist Dayna Gibb.
How did you get started in developing PC games?
I was always a keen writer of fantasy and sci-fi, but I found that adding a level of aesthetic value to those tales allowed them to transcend into something… coherent and special! Video games are such a wonderful form of expression and storytelling- they bring together so many different art forms and can often bind them into something amazing. I started out making commercial 2D RPGs with RPG Maker, basically to start building some foundations, and we’re now moving into Unity3D.
Where did the idea for Fractured Reality come from?
This is a question that I get asked a lot, and there isn’t really a straight-up answer for it. Fractured Reality is the consequence of a series of very specific events that happened both in our previous 2D titles, and events prior to that. The idea of exploring parallel worlds has always held a fascination for me, and Fractured Reality allows us to do just that!
What are some of the successes and failures you learned from in developing Fractured Reality?
Jumping from a simplistic 2D engine to a highly advanced 3D one carries a steep learning curve! I wouldn’t say we’ve had much in the way of failure- there’s always a solution if you encounter a problem. And if you don’t know how to solve it yourself, thanks to the internet, there’s always someone out there who can help! As for successes, we’re launching our Kickstarter on 1st April of this year, so ask me again in a couple of months.
In its current form, how close is Fractured Reality to your initial vision?
The games; the characters and stories don’t really adhere to a vision or plan. They evolve and grow as the project progresses; that is to say, nothing is really set in stone! But it is shaping up to be a really enjoyable experience.
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 Fractured Reality and if you faced a similar challenge.
I’ve had this comment myself when developing previous games. And it’s really hard to please everyone! So with the difficulty, we’re going for a general ‘medium setting’ difficulty throughout- there is strategy involved in every battle, and therefore a level of challenge, but no cheap bosses or cheap shots. Then there’s going to be tons of optional content for those who are looking for the ‘real’ challenge. Most of this will be available towards the end-game.
Are you prepared to ensure Fractured Reality will run on the various PC system configurations?
We remain confident that your average-level PC will run Fractured Reality without any trouble.
Please talk about developing the art style, level design and music for Fractured Reality.
The team all love anime and JRPGs, so the character art has a lot of Japanese-esque style. But for the environments, I wanted to go for something a little more realistic, and less cartoony than we sometimes associate with anime and JRPGs. We wanted to take equal inspiration from both Western and Eastern influences.
The level design pretty much handles itself! We have a wide range of settings, which we call World Fractures. These ‘islands’ (all that is remains of once complete Worlds) hang around in a non-space, bound by a torrent of digital power which was once the Datastream.
So, throughout the game, the player can travel to any accessible World Fracture by utilising World Shards- these provide instant teleportation to said Worlds. Our resident composer, Scott Holmes from Elezeid Audio Studio has a wide range of inspirations, and he tries to imbue those influences into his tracks, while keeping them fresh and trying to convey the appropriate mood. Honestly, I generally just provide key words to describe a track, and perhaps the names of a couple of similar-style tracks that I might have heard in the past, and he comes up with some really wonderful pieces.
Outside of creating the game itself, what is the toughest aspect of being an indie developer?
Handling Marketing and PR has to be top of this list. Particularly when running a Kickstarter campaign! You have to be there to answer questions from backers, try to get word of the campaign out to gaming websites, all while trying to continue work on the project- backers want to see some progress while the campaign is running!
How are you funding Fractured Reality and are you receiving emotional support from friends and family?
We’re launching a Kickstarter campaign on the 1st April to fund the development of Fractured Reality. Emotional support from my wife has been awesome, especially when I’m exhausted from working through the evening. Working from home certainly has its tough moments (especially when you have three young kids)!
How important is it to get instant feedback about Fractured Reality from users through online message boards and other social networking sites?
Since we’re trying to reach out to a wider audience with this title, the feedback from users is incredibly important! This is why we plan to launch the Kickstarter campaign so early in the development of the game- backers can really get involved and help to shape the game into something that will keep everyone entertained!
How much value do you place on the opinions of those who review your games professionally?
I think that as long as a review is balanced, then there are no problems. Professionals don’t troll a product just because they personally didn’t resonate with the game; they point out what is good, and what is not so good about the game. An indie dev that doesn’t listen to the opinions of those who play the game aren’t going to go very far! So I’d say a considerable value should be placed on the opinions of professional reviewers.
How do you feel about the various indie bundle promotions and the “Pay What You Want” pricing methodology?
I love the ‘pay what you want’ bundles. Our previous titles are pretty regular on there. This gives folks the chance to pay what they think a product is worth, when they might normally just pass up on the game because they consider it too expensive. Then there’s the added draw for people like me- I like to fill my library with less expensive titles, rather than make one or two larger purchases.
What are your thoughts on how the PC gaming industry as a whole are dealing with the problem of intrusive DRM and piracy?
That’s a tough question! As an indie developer, pirating is something that does worry me, but I think we should all just accept that there are always unscrupulous folks who simply won’t pay for products. And at the end of the day, if they wouldn’t have bought it anyway, then you’re not really missing out on a sale, right? I think that the level of DRM protection is going a little crazy these days!
How do you feel about individuals posting videos and receiving monetization of Fractured Reality?
This wouldn’t bother me in the slightest. If you put time into playing my game in a let’s play, or something of that ilk, and you attract the attention of x-number of watchers, you deserve to make something back for your time. It’s not hurting anybody, at the end of the day.
How do you feel about DLC and its current implementation in the PC gaming industry?
Honestly, I think that with the current production value of video games, particularly in the AAA industry, DLC is a necessary evil! It’s a catch 22- players expect more and more from AAA studios with each generation, and in turn, the production value of each title goes up. So these studios have to make sure they can somehow claw that money back. Personally, I prefer to have my games self-contained upon release, but that’s simply not how this business works. It’s often easier for Indie developers, in a way, because we’re granted a little more leeway, in some respects.
How do you feel about the online modding community in general and specifically if mods were created for Fractured Reality?
That would be awesome. I’d love to see a vibrant and buzzing community of modders. There’s so much creativity in the modding community. I mean, just look at how alive the Skyrim modding community is- I’ll bet that a number of people bought Skyrim just because of the awesome mods.
What advice would you give up-and-coming indie PC developers who are trying to break into the business?
This is such a touch industry to break into. My advice would be to start small, build some brand recognition and build a bit of a following, like we’ve done with our 2D RPGs before now. It’s also a great opportunity to make some valuable industry contacts while you’re at it! At least with this method, you won’t work on a project for say, 12 months, to find that nobody is interested in it.
Don’t give up! There’s so much rejection, criticism and trolling on the internet, that it can be easy to lose motivation. You’ve got to have so much dedication and patience (or an insane amount of luck) to make it in this industry. We’ll let you know when we ‘make it’ 😉