Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role with the development of Project Temporality.
Hi I’m Niklas Hansson the founder and Producer at Defrost games, I have been working on the PC games industry for over 17 years now ranging from being a Software Development Manager at Massive to creating and running Defrost Games. On Project Temporality I am responsile for the Game design,Most of the code and the planning .
How did you get started in developing PC games?
I knew I wanted to work in games already when I was 16 so I decided to work hard to learn programming as that seemed to be the most essential skill back then, and 3 years later I was a bit Lucky that Massive started up in the town I was studying in so I applied for a job and somehow got it 🙂 Before that I spent some time in the Demo Scene
Where did the idea for Project Temporality come from?
I would say one of the biggest inspiration from Project Temporality comes from the little web game Cursor 10, a brilliant game where you have a tower to climb and you get 10 characters each with a limited amount of time and you have to try to get as high as possible. Also a lot of inspiration came from an internal time maniupulation based Shootemp which .are still on hold however.
What are some of the successes and failures you learned from in developing Project Temporality?
It’s not enough that the game is unique you have to be able to show to people that is unique, for a game that happens in the players head this is really hard and of course marketing is a huge undertaking as a indie Developer. A big success was test on real players early, we went to lans and exhibited the game not telling people it was in progress that gave us valuable feedback that testers that sit down to play the game did not.
In its current form, how close is Project Tempocrrality to your initial vision?
The original Vision was basically Play with time, so we are very true to that but there are also sadly many things that got left on the cutting floor like open world levels, I love those personally but testers got confused and they took much more time to make, We also have had a lot of mechanisms during development that sadly didn’t make it in the final game. But then a Game is never finished only shipped and we hope to add those things in as DLC or as a followup.
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 Project Temporality and if you faced a similar challenge.
Difficulty is really a tough issue especially in puzzle games, because you want the puzzles to be hard. But not frustrating, testing ourselves were pointless so we had a lot of people from the outside come in and help us with testing, Our goal is a 3 step method. The average player needs 3-4 attempts to solve a puzzle but each time he gets a little bit closer so he still feels he is making progress. Temporality is a hard game but the 3 step solution seems to work for pretty much everyone thanks to our rigorous testing.
Were there any challenges you faced in ensuring Project Temporality would run on the various PC system configurations?
Using XNA we are partially shielded from this we largest issues we have was trying to ensure a good minimum platform, we thought having the game running on the 360 would assure that but found out we had to do a lot of special optimizations for the lowend PC’s. But we recently found out that XNA’s mp3 player is depending on windows media player being installed so there are still issues
Please talk about developing the art style, level design and music for Project Temporality.
We decided early on that we wanted a slightly unreal otherworldly feeling for the game, we also knew we wanted it to pass what we call the magazine test, if you shift through a magazine will the screenshots stand out from the rest as being different. To achieve this feeling we experimented a lot working with highly saturated complementary colors, we also opted to let most of the color in the world come from the lightning to allow us to easily change the mood and use many different colors without reproducing new assets. Once the setting with a Jupiter ignited was decided upon everything fell in place leading to the lushly colored game you see now.
For level design in Temporality it is quite different from most game since it has 2 elements first desining the puzzles and then the actual level, we needed to be able to move puzzles between levels easily to adjust the difficulty curve. This sadly clashed with our intention of what we call Whole level puzzles where the entire level is a single gigantic puzzle, but again testing showed this to be the right choice.
Outside of creating the game itself, what is the toughest aspect of being an indie developer?
Marketing, self promotion, funding all of these are things that doesn’t come naturally to most developers, you wan to be making games not spend all your time doing other things. And even though we do realize the need for the other parts in the beginning they are tough because you are not used to them
How did you go about funding Project Temporality and did you receive financial or emotional support from friends and family?
Temporality is founded by my savings, but also I had another job part-time during most of the development to help with the cash flow. Most of the team is also working on a royalty sharing model so that they are wrking for out futre sales.
Tell us about the process of submitting Project Temporality to the various digital distribution platforms and if you encountered resistance in doing so.
The big impact was Steam, we listened to what valve said and went into greenlight early with a very early build. And that of course was a total disaster. Back then you needed a very polish video and game to hope to pass greenlight despite what alve said. Pretty much the views you got in the first 10 days are most of your views, so we sat around developed further on and was actually planning to relaunch our campaign when we finally did pass it, We think not relaunch to early was a good choice as else we would be ignoring the people who vote on us in the beginning
Did you research similar titles when trying to come up with the launch price?
Since there are no really similar titles what we did do what look at titles with similar production values an 15$ pretty much appeared as a sweet spot instantly. We considered going higher as a lot of indies are doing today but we think raising the price just to make more money on the steam sales feels wrong.
How much value do you place on the opinions of those who review Project Temporality professionally?
We listen to all feedback no matter where it is from and then we weigh it based on the persons suitability for the niche we are targeting, releasing a game like Temporality you are going to get very different opinions depends if the player gelled with the game or not. But we would much prefer making a game 50% love and 50% doesn’t care for than a game that doesn’t excites anyone.
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?
They are a very interesting accept, we have been contacted by most bundle operators by now and we feel it’s a great way to get som extra attention after your gae has been our for a while, but doing it early we feel are wrong towards the people who actually payed for the game. But the marketing opportunities can’t be ignore.
How do you feel about individuals posting videos and receiving monetization of Project Temporality?
It’s fantastic it allows us to work In a symbiosis that booth sides benefits from, we get extra exposure for our product and they can earn a living doing it so it’s a win win. Nintendo is probabely the only games company in the world that doesn’t think this is just great.
How do you feel about DLC and its current implementation in the PC gaming industry?
I think DLC might very well be the best thing that happened to the industry when done right. And one of the worst things done wrong. Imagine you are playig a game and you love it and want more, Pre DLC you would be waiting for 2 years on a follow up at best. With DLC you can get new chunks of the game for decent prices made by the developers when they are at their top having learned all the tools to perfection (Mass Effect DLS comes to mind). The problem is all the shady DLC designed to get the player to pay for extra bullets, unlocking characters on the disc. If you need to do that you should use free 2 play.
How do you feel about the online modding community in general and specifically if mods were created for Project Temporality?
Modding is an extremely cool part of PC gaming, sadly it is becoming harder and harder to do compared to how it was 10 years ago. But a lot of very talented people started their career in the modding community and as developer that someone would love your game enough to sit down and released their own modified copy is an amazing thing. I think only lawyers dislikes modding J
What advice would you give up-and-coming indie PC developers who are trying to break into the business?
Think about the business part first, Secure founding, Make sure you can finish it. Also do something no one else is doing we don’t need a 100 metroidvania clones. Find your own space and most important of all, Have fun doing it.