In Rain of Reflections wanen we ons in een dystopische wereld in een tijd nog ver van ons vandaan waarin niets is wat het lijkt. Dat nodigt uit tot meer en Gamed kreeg de mogelijkheid tot een exclusief interview, waarbij wij ontwikkelaar Lionbite aan de tand voelden.
Een noot vooraf: Dit interview zal anders zijn dan eerdere artikelen, zo zal deze in het Engels worden behandeld, dit om het internationale publiek dat de uitgever wil aanspreken te bereiken. Nu dat uit de weg is nodigen we jullie uit voor het volgende interview met Victor Leijonhufvud, oprichter en studiohoofd van Lionbite Games.
We wrote about the game recently and how it managed to score a 75. At the time, Maarten pointed out how the title reminded him of Blade Runner and possessed a strong visual style and dito soundtrack. Criticisms were given on the short play time, but ultimately Rain of Reflections was considered a ’strong debut title’ for the team at Lionbite.
Recently we had the opportunity to talk with Lionbite themselves about their first title and learn more about the background of Rain of Reflections. We spoke with Victor Leijonhufvud, founder and CEO of Lionbite Games, on his firstling.
Gamed: The game seems to get part of its concept and influences from the movie Blade Runner. Was this movie the inspiration and if so, what intrigued the creators behind the game that they wanted to have these influences in it?
Victor Leijonhufvud: So, to me personally as the world-builder and writer/director on the project, it was about capturing that feeling - that mood - to establish a particular atmosphere of romantic, dystopian, beautiful brood.
Blade Runner, the cyberpunk genre and in extension neo noir has such complicated worlds with so many details to build on, and as a creator I'm all about the details. With that as a basis, each team member has brought their own interpretation to the table and the mix of it makes it come together as rich in detail, and hence the game world becomes a believable place in the end.
The soundtrack has been such a valuable tool for us during the creative process, and I really think it shines in the final result, capturing the essence of that feeling I'm after and communicating it beyond words.
Gamed: The title includes stealth elements, including guards that react surprised when they hear an unusual sound with included exclamations marks. This is an influence clearly taken from Metal Gear Solid. How has Hideo Kojima's design philosophy/theories influenced Rain of Reflections?
VL: Kojima definitely established the foundation for stealth gameplay through intuitive design and iconography. We wanted to stick to what a player would intuitively understand, so that grasping the game is immediate with every step.
There's so many layers to the gameplay in Rain of Reflections - stealth goes to shootouts with full destruction, units use senses to see and hear, and they're even affected as characters through their motivation by whatever is happening on the battlefield, and since we're constantly blending seamlessly between these elements, it's important that all of this is communicated clearly to the player.
Gamed: Rain of Reflections appears to be a dialogue-heavy title. What was the biggest challenge for the voice actors and actresses to give these dialogues impact?
VL: As a director, working with the actors was finding their natural tone and having them play as close to themselves as possible, without losing presence in the scenes. With a few more outlandish and comical exceptions that we enjoyed playing around with, it's all very "toned down", to match the mood and atmosphere of the world.
The biggest challenge was the huge story puzzle that every line fits into, since every single line spoken in a dialogue by the main character is actually actively chosen by the player. The other parties react accordingly, and finding a consistent tone in any outcome was a constant balance. Also, we of course wanted that input to directly affect the characters and the outcome of the scenes, so in the end I think we've recorded somewhere around 15 000 lines, where most of them fit into these huge node maps that required lots of creative design choices on the script side, since it's a smaller indie game production.
Gamed: Rain of Reflections appears on Steam in seperate episodes. At the same time we have the Epic Games Store existing today. What was the studio's decision to split the game into seperate episodes, and what do they think about the business strategy behind the Epic Games Store?
VL: The decision to go with Steam was made early in the process, before the Epic Store was even on the map, but we're not leaning towards any party as some kind of active stand-point or exclusivity-deal. In the end, as indie developers, we just want to get the game to the players, and we'll go wherever they are and wherever there's interest for the game.
Gamed: The game presents itself as a turn-based video game, but appears to be less strategic than say an X-Com game. How would Lionbite make RoR stand out within this genre? What is, basically, its unique selling point?
VL: To be honest, personally I don't agree with the presumption that it's "less strategic" than Xcom. It's just very different beyond its basic turn-based mechanics. There are so many layers at play during an encounter in Rain of Reflections, and having them come together as seamlessly as they now are has been a huge prototyping and design process for a tiny team such as ours.
In the end, the game seamlessly mixes stealth with unit sight and hearing, which transitions into shootouts, that in turn have full destruction on multi-level battlefields, and on top of that, all of it is centered around a motivation mechanic that affects the units in so many different ways as characters, allowing us to tell stories even on the battlefield.b There's just so much potential and possibilities in there that we've just started to explore with the first chapter.
Gamed: We like to thank you for answering these questions, and we wish you all the best with the title and it’s future!
Victor Leijonhufvud: Thanks for all your interesting questions - Cheers!