Contrast and the Future: Interview with Compulsion Games
Compulsion Games is the studio that brought us the shadowy noir puzzle solving indie title Contrast. Released November 2013, Contrast followed the story of Didi and her imaginary friend Dawn and it followed their wild adventure through the 3D and 2D worlds.
You progressed through the game with both characters, but mostly solved 2D shadow puzzles with Dawn. The story mostly deals with righting the wrongs in Didi's life, which makes Dawn act as bit of a guardian angel. With plot twists by the dozen, you wont expect what happens next, besides having fun with shadow platforming.
I reached out to Compulsion Games on the eve of their 1 year anniversary of Contrast's release. I had seen many interviews with the company before so I had expected to have a humorous conversation, and I was not disappointed.
Sam Abbott: Thank you! It's a bit of a surprise - as you know, Steam user review aggregates came out relatively recently (and well after the launch of Contrast). Until then, we had a feeling that "well, we did okay". But metacritic wasn't quite as nice to Contrast (bit of an understatement really), so when the 91% rating came out, we felt pretty great about it. It'll be interesting to see how the system evolves as people get used to using the Steam rating system, but for now, I'm just glad people have enjoyed Contrast :)
SA: Haha, not well! The reviews were super mixed, but by and large, the players really enjoyed it, particularly on Steam, except when they were yelling at us for getting stuck in boxes. We just focused on supporting the game as well as we could, and enjoyed feedback from people in the community. We reached a really varied bunch of people, and people's experiences and emotional attachment to games is always just so nice to hear.
SA: Yes and no. The problem with AAA experience going into an indie studio is that you want to keep that high production value, but can't compete on scope. So, what we're trying to do is create games that play great, look great, but were created as cleverly as we could. For example, in Contrast we used shadows to tell the story of the game. That was originally intended to be cool, but also save us work on fully animating things. It didn't quite work out that way, but it's an example of how we try to be smart with our time.
SA: We have :) We started work on a new project a little while ago, but unfortunately we're not ready to announce it yet. It'll be a bit different to Contrast, but we're building on what we did well on Contrast, and it'll definitely feel like another Compulsion game.
SA: Yes, we thought about it very hard at the end of last year. Unfortunately, we're not going to be creating any more content for Contrast. This is mostly to do with wanting to take a break from Contrast - it was really draining by the end, and we wanted to work on something new. But we're not ruling out going back to create another story in the Contrast universe, it's just that we won't do it for a while.
SA: Great idea! I have no idea what to do. I've only just realised that the anniversary is a week away, that's embarrasing! Just too busy working on the new one, I guess :)
SA: Oh, definitely! The website was our first creation, and it's a good example of what we want to do as a studio - we want to be innovative, but quirky as well. (www.compulsiongames.com, check it out before it gets a facelift...) We're injecting a lot more black humour into Next Compulsion Game, which is really fun to work on.
SA: Horrible! Literally none of us have any survival skills. I think our art team would sacrifice themselves willingly, they're just so nice. I'd die making a pointless speech about health and safety, falling off a ladder without any zombies present, but I think our programming team might come out okay. They seem to enjoy hitting things, so I think that natural talent could translate into zombie killing.
While I'm sure the Human Shield portion of the questions was a bit off but the interview went really well. It looks like Compulsion is working on a new project, while they wouldn't give anything away in terms of it, I'm certain we might hear from them soon enough. They are hard at work on the title as it took them some time back and forth to be able to comfortably sit down to respond.
Keep an eye on Compulsion games, and while biding your time waiting for news about their next game, go check out Contrast. It is available now on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and on PC.