While browsing Steam Greenlight recently, we came across intriguing-looking first-person adventure NaissanceE by Limasse Five. We’re extremely grateful to the developer for taking the time to answer some of our questions about their first project and reveal more about the game.
On the official website, the developer describes the title as ‘a philosophical trip and an artistic experience’. It takes place in a primitive structure and players must explore the mysterious building, coming across entities or mechanical systems that react to their presence and may open up access to other areas. The game aims to make players appreciate the feeling of being lost in a gigantic, unknown universe and marvelled by the beauty of this world.
Jeux d’Ombres, an experimental game in which perceptions and movement are altered by shadows and lights, was supposed to be the first chapter of NaissanceE and was released in January 2007 as a Far Cry mod. However, the concept continued to develop and became too complex for a first release. The idea to make a spin-off adventure with only some gameplay elements from the main project seemed to be wiser and so in September 2010, Limasse Five was born. A big thank you to Mavros Sedeño for answering our questions.
Can you tell us a bit about Limasse Five and how the studio was founded?
“Limasse Five is only composed of one member, myself: Mavros Sedeño. I was working in the game industry then, three years ago, I decided to work on my own games as an independent developer. I mainly wanted more freedom to express my creativity on personal projects and go away from economically-driven decisions. Even if NaissanceE is a niche game and will certainly not be a best seller, I hope it will be successful enough to allow a new game production and to grow the Limasse Five team.”
In some ways we feel that we should know NaissanceE already: it’s almost like something we’ve seen before, either in a film or in a dream. Is there any kind of storyline or is it a players’ imagination that will help them to come to their own conclusions?
“At the beginning of NaissanceE development, there was a story to help structuring the game, as a guideline. I later decided to remove it because the narrative tools where not efficient enough and because I cut a big part of the prototype, to not explode the development time. I thought it would be more interesting to let the player use their imagination to interpret the experience, led by the environment, the rhythm in the progression and events, or some symbolic clues.”
On your website, you mention that the game contains some rare but exigent sequences as a homage to old-school die-and-retry games. Which titles have you been inspired by and what would you say is your all-time favourite?
“A lot of inspiration came from other mediums such as movies, mangas, paintings or music, but indeed many games influenced me on NaissanceE creation. Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee / Exoddus for the humour and puzzles, Ico / Shadow of the Colossus are wonderful adventures with a lot of work on feelings. More recently, the STALKER series for the immersion in an almost alive world, Portal of course and Journey. This one touched me deeply, it’s a really poetic and philosophical trip with an original social aspect. I never got this kind of experience before in games.
“Hard to say if I have an all-time favourite game, but when I was a young gamer I was heavily marked by Flashback. It was very close to what I expected at this time from video games: an immersive experience in another world.”
The trailers we’ve seen so far look amazing – the sense of loneliness really comes across in the black-and-white environments. Has it been difficult to create this kind of atmosphere and what part of the game visually are you most pleased with?
“This kind of minimalist environment fits perfectly with the will of a symbolic and interpretative world but it requires a lot of work on lighting and a good balancing between simple shapes and more detailed areas. The light gives life to the architecture, influences the mood and gives the sense of scale.
“The ‘big well’ is one of my favourite places, I hope players will really feel small and alone when arriving in this area.”
The soundtrack really adds to the sense of place, with the breathing sounds emphasising the fact that you’re alone (or are you?) in these huge buildings. Did you have an idea for audio in mind when you began the project or did the soundtrack come about organically throughout NaissanceE’s development?
“The music is very important for me in the creation process, it’s one of the most powerful sources of inspiration for the imagination if you are sensitive to it.
“So yes, the whole game is deeply inspired and imagined under the influence of great contemporary composers. Some specific sequences are built and rhymed by musical compositions to try to create a kind of synesthesia, to emotionally touch the players and fully involve them in the strange world they are exploring.”
The original idea was a vast game concept and eventually became too complex for a first title. You mention that you decided to make a spin-off adventure, with only some gameplay elements from the big project included; does this mean that we should look forward to more from the NaissanceE world at some point in the future?
“Definitely, but don’t expect anything in the close future. I first have many game concepts in the wait to take shape. The original idea behind NaissanceE is still growing in my mind for now, the scale and complexity of the project will require a good and large team to be achieved.”
Would you ever consider adapting the game for the Oculus Rift? We can only imagine how amazing it would be to explore those towering, abstract architectures for ourselves.
“I’m clearly thinking about it but it’s not a priority, I prefer to concentrate my efforts on completing the development before going further on Occulus Rift support. If possible NaissanceE will be compatible with the Rift at the release or later via a patch, but I can’t guarantee anything at this time.”
It appears that the next-generation of consoles are looking to embrace indie developers and their games, pleasing gamers who are seeking alternatives to the sometimes-uninspiring big-budget titles. Are these new opportunities something you’re looking forward to?
“Even if console constructors are looking to the indie side mainly for commercial reasons, I think it’s a good thing they open the doors to get more alternative titles on their platforms. It could bring more diversity and creativity to the media.
“We can see the indie scene already has an influence on the industry. My guess is most developers want more freedom to create what they really like. Editors might soon be quieter and less restrictive on the game direction, if they see good opportunities at least. Or if too many developers abandon the boat to go indie!”
Is there any advice you’d give to someone making an indie game?
“I’m not sure I have enough experience as indie developer to give relevant advice. Each project and team needs a different method of work. However they are little things I learned that it’s good to keep in mind when starting a game production. For example, to stay motivated and to continue to progress when you’re blocked on an idea or a technical difficulty, try to work on another part of the game and come back later, there are always other things to do… The solution will emerge more easily when you’re not constantly focused on a problem. If the issue persists but doesn’t concern a primordial aspect of the game, it may be better to simply cut it and concentrate your attention on the rest of the game.”
Can you tell us which component of NaissanceE you’re currently working on? How are you feeling about its release later this year?
“Yes, I’m working on the last section of the game, mostly graphic and audio work, even if the level design and gameplay sometime need adjustments.
“I’m still targeting a release for this fall, but delays often happen and my estimation of the remaining work to do is not always accurate. I’m a bit tired by this three years of development but I’m too attached to my project and I already made a lot of cuts, so I will give the necessary effort and the time needed to make my best on NaissanceE.”
Once again, thank you to Mavros for taking the time to answer our questions. The amount of work being put into NaissanceE and level of passion behind the project is obvious, and what we’ve seen of the game so far looks absolutely stunning. We can’t wait for its release and to find ourselves alone in that dark, mysterious structure.