Contrast Q&A - IGN’s Best Indie of E3
Every now and again a really incredible indie game comes along, something that really stands out head and shoulders above the rest. Of course, the game will always be incredibly well rounded, but there’s always something that defines the game as something special. Whether it’s a gameplay mechanic, a character or an art style, there is always something that defines it above the rest – Limbo, Minecraft, Super Meat Boy and Torchlight just to name a few. I am confident that Contrast is one of those games.
Voted IGN’s “Best Indie Game of E3”, among other E3 awards - this game really has some great potential, but has flown underneath a lot of gamers radars. Compulsion Games have been doing fantastic things here with this title, that absolutely deserve some recognition.
Contrast has some amazing art design, magnetising characters and unique gameplay mechanics. This game takes you into the role of Dawn, Didi’s imaginary friend, in a noir themed world. Using “Dawn’s tricks of light and shadow”, the player can jump between 3D movement and 2D movement by morphing between physical form and shadow form in order to navigate through puzzles and progress the story. Compulsion Game have recently sealed a publishing deal for Contrast, bringing it to the PS3 and the Xbox 360, alongside being approved for the Steam Greenlight program and self-publishing onto the PS4 platform when the game is released.
I have had the privilege of discussing this new title with one of the great people working on this game, Sam Abbott from Compulsion Games. So check out the full Q&A between us below as he clarifies further some of the great features of this game, discusses publishing and his not always so lucky E3 experiences!
Q: I’ll start by asking for an overview of the game for anybody who might not be aware of this project, how would you describe this game to anybody who hasn’t heard of you guys or Contrast before?
A: Aha, my favourite audience! Here’s a one sentence pitch about the game: Contrast is a charming puzzle platformer set in a 1920s, film noir, “almost reality”, where you play the imaginary friend of a little girl, with the power to shift between your 3D body and your 2D shadow whenever you find light.
We are Compulsion Games, a small team of 8 people based in Montreal, and Contrast is the first game from our studio.
Q: How did the concept for Contrast come about? And how did you guys come together to begin working on this?
A: Our Studio Head and Creative Director, Guillaume Provost, came up with the idea for Contrast while working in France, and he founded Compulsion to develop a game based on this idea. He started out on his own, doing contract work to raise money to develop Contrast, but over time he slowly added to the team, to first finalise the concept for the game, and then finally to build the game itself.
Q: The game includes an incredibly unique mechanic where your character can ‘jump’ to and from the shadows when platforming across the level. Perhaps you could tell us more about this mechanic and how it came about?
A: Yes, so the main mechanic in Contrast is that you can shift between your character (Dawn) in 3D and her shadow in 2D. This is an ability you trigger – you choose when to be in 3D or 2D, and you can shift wherever you have a bright light and a shadow. You’ll need to use the ability to solve our puzzles, and move through Didi’s (the little girl) story.
It’s a bit of a clichéd origin story, but Guillaume came up with the mechanic on the back of a napkin in a café in France. He used to work in the afternoons/evenings, and so he would spend his mornings thinking about game design. He was interested in how Portal showed people how to move through space in different ways, and one morning came up with the idea of physicalizing shadows – what if they were objects you could jump on? Everything in Contrast flows from that basic idea.
Q: You guys have really started to grab a lot of attention at the moment, securing yourself a publishing deal for PS3, Xbox 360 whilst also being approved on the Steam Greenlight project and self-publishing on the PS4 - did you expect this kind of success for the project?
A: Hah, well we hoped for it, although you can never really expect a certain outcome. We worked on the project behind closed doors for a long time, and it’s dangerous to get your hopes up when you’re working in a vacuum. However, after our success on Greenlight, we began to feel like maybe we were doing something okay, and we were really happy that people liked what we had made. Having said that, we’re not very egotistical, so we’ll wait for players’ reactions to the full game before we get too excited.
Q: You also had a great E3, getting IGN’s best Indie game of E3 among other awards - that must have been pretty great for you. How did you find working at E3?
It was! E3 was a blast, although we had four members of the team there just to cover all the things we needed to do. E3 for me was a mix of excitement and exhaustion, because I was pretty tired after 3 days, but still keen to talk to more people about our game. Sadly, I didn’t get much time to look at the rest of the show, although I did take a walk around the show floor. Also, my hotel didn’t want to let me in the first night, I broke a tooth, my sunglasses got stolen and I’m pretty sure something else bad happened, but I appear to have blocked it from my memory. So there’s that?
Q: Will we be seeing any multiplayer co-op in this game between the two appealing characters of Dawn and Didi?
Great idea! But, unfortunately not – we’re still only 8 people, and creating a good multiplayer experience is a decision you have to make right at the beginning of a project. We knew we only had limited resources, so we poured all our energies into making a great single player experience.
Q: Is there anything about the game you’re particularly proud of that you’d like to really emphasise?
I think each member of the team is proud of something different – we have a pretty well rounded game in that sense. Personally, I love the world, and the locations you can explore in Contrast – they are unique in that everyone on the team was involved in creating them in some way, and I think it has really worked out well.
Q: Is there any more news on when we’ll be seeing a release date for this game?
A: Not yet - Contrast will release roughly around the launch of the PS4, but we don’t know yet when that will be.
Q: What do you guys think of the new Xbox One indie policy reform - and whether that means we might see Contrast come to the Xbox One as well as the PS4?
It looks like the right move from Microsoft, although the devil is always in the detail! The important thing from our perspective is that the platform is accessible for indie developers. We’re glad to see that Microsoft is taking steps in that direction.
As to whether we’ll come to the Xbox One, we want Contrast to reach as many people as possible. However, we’ll need to get a Xbox One kit before we can start work on it – and right now, that’s not up to us. So, it’s probably too early to say, but it’s definitely more likely now than it was two days ago.
Hopefully we’ll get to see this game become as successful as it deserves to be - and with any Xbox One rumoured to run as a debugging unit for developers, it would be great to see this game come to both of the next-gen platforms.
I for one will certainly be grabbing this game as soon as I can, and hopefully you will too. Keep updated on this awesome new title by checking out the links below, and keeping your eye on JumpToGamer, as we will certainly be keeping track of this game ourselves.
Let us know what you think of this game in the comments below!
Developer Website: http://www.compulsiongames.com/