An interview with Stuck In Attic, the creators of Gibbous!

by on July 4, 2016

 

                A few
months back I wrote an article about my impressions after playing Gibbous Demo,
an adventure game developed by a Romanian studio that kicked off their
Kickstarter campaign just a few days earlier. Now I return with an interview
with one of the three developers from Stuck In Attic to find out more about
them and their work on creating Gibbous.
Your studio is new in
the industry and despite your recent crowdfunding success, I’m sure there are a
lot of people out there who don’t know much about you. So let’s kick this
interview off with a generic question. Who are Stuck In Attic?
Stuck In Attic are two
animators (Cami and Liviu) and a programmer (Nicu) who suddenly realized they
could actually make something cool if they somehow combined their skills, and
that something happened to be a point and click adventure game. So they set out
on the nerve-wracking quest of dreaming up a Lovecraft-inspired comical world,
building a demo and financing it via Kickstarter, and it seems to have actually
worked!
 
Gibbous was
crowdfunded through Kickstarter, raising over 50,000$ in 30 days from close to
2,000 people. Considering how controversial Kickstarter has been in the past
years and the little to no promotion Gibbous or your studio had, how difficult
was it to go through with this campaign? And were there any other means to
finance Gibbous in case the Kickstarter wasn’t a success?
“It was the most beautiful,
intense and scary month of our professional lives thus far.  We actually
started making Gibbous with crowdfunding in mind, because, being a small
unknown studio with no prior released games, and adventure games not necessarily
setting the world on fire as a genre right now, there’d probably be no other
way to fund it.  Sure, it was difficult, but more in the way of “a
lot of hard work” than anything else. All our Kickstarting days were 14
hour-long marathons of communicating with our backers, contacting  the
press and generally living and breathing crowdfunding. It was worth it, though,
and it kind of set the pace for us so far – we’ve moved from working super hard
on the campaign to working super hard on the game, and haven’t stopped since.
 
I think part of your
success with Gibbous’ Kickstarter campaign (besides the obvious charm and
appeal of the game
J)  comes from the fact that you came with a Demo
up front, a concept lost in the last decade of this shifting industry. Do you agree
with this premise?
Yeah, the demo was very
important, especially since we’re a virtually unknown developer, it pretty much
compensated for the lack of previously released games. It’s also a great way to
set the tone and give the players a taste of what’s to come, and hopefully
leave them wanting more.  Even if not all our backers downloaded and
played it, its mere existence probably meant people trusted us a lot more
than if the demo hadn’t existed.
 
You offered the
consumers what is called a vertical slice demo and I know for a fact that it
had as much content as possible from all the game’s features, including some
excessive 4th wall breakings. How different will the final product
be in terms of pacing, comedy, puzzles, etc.?
It’s hard to pace a demo for
a narrative-based game, so we probably crammed a little too much 4th-wall
breaking humor, for example, in it. As the game’s scope is much, much bigger,
it’ll allow for better pacing, for sure.  Other than that, the general
feel of the game will stay pretty much the same, including the fact that we’re
trying hard to make every puzzle make sense within the story, and not feel like
an arbitrary roadstop.
Gibbous is an old
school style adventure game inspired by the great classics. Can you talk a
little about your inspiration and what do you want to achieve with the game in
terms of story and gameplay?
“Sure! Gibbous is an
unabashed love letter to some of my favorite Lucas classics. Probably the
biggest influences on the game are The Curse of Monkey Island, Grim Fandango
and Day of the Tentacle. We’ve made a very conscious decision no to stray too
far from the tried and true path these classics have established decades ago.
Point and click adventures are one of the very few genres that have not really
changed a lot throughout the years, and, this being our first game, we knew
there was little chance of us turning the genre on its head or significantly
improving on the formula. That’s why Gibbous will probably feel like a blast
from the past gameplay-wise, with cool modern additions like hotspot
highlighting, autosave, smoother animations, HD graphics, etc.
The lovely animations
and the hilarious script are in-house work. What can you tell us about the
voice acting and the music?
We (Liviu and Cami) are also
creating the music ourselves, too, just like in the demo. We’re thrilled to
have reached the “real instruments” stretchgoal, and can’t wait to
hear our themes played by, well, real instruments.  Voice acting and
translations into languages other than English are the only things we won’t be
making in-house. We’re thrilled to have Don Thacker of Starr Mazer fame voicing
our Don R. Ketype – ’cause Don had to be Don, right? …And the rest of the
cast will be just as good as in the demo. Actually, no – better.
As a fan of H.P.
Lovecraft and the Lovecraftian Mythos I feel obligated to ask: Is it true
Cthulhu will make an appearance in the game? What about Dagon? And if that’s
the case, how comically scary will he/they be?
I can’t really disclose
that, but they probably should, one way or another, right? As to how we plan to
combine comedy and cosmic horror, here’s a small animated video in which I
explain exactly that:”
 
The future of Gibbous
is secured through the love and dedication of the fans of a half-living genre. Are
there any plans for Stuck In Attic after the release of the game? Will you
continue making adventure games or try other genres as well?
I’d love to make plenty of
other games in plenty of genres, but we have to wait and see how successful
Gibbous is,  since our fate as a studio will pretty much depend on that.
It would be awesome if we could expand the team and maybe work on several
projects. But, even as work has barely started on Gibbous, if you asked me now,
hell yeah I’d make another adventure game after this one! I think there’s no
better genre to tell a story in, and it’s a particularly good medium to be
Lovecraftian in. It’s been a dream of mine ever since I was a kid to make
adventure games, and it’s still hard to believe that, thanks to so many
generous enthusiasts of the genre from all across the globe, it’s come true.
This question has
nothing to do with Gibbous, but I’ve seen your
TEDx presentation from Targu
Mures and I thought it was inspiring. I learned a lot of things from your
speech, including that you are a (big?) fan of Star Wars. What are your
thoughts on the new movie or the latest Star Wars video games (don’t be afraid
to be critical J)?
I haven’t really played the
latest Star Wars video games, but I can tell you I liked The Force Awakens.
Sure, it’s not the classics, but it was way better than the prequels, and I
think making it feel a little oldschool again was a good call. I’m just sad
that Lucas Arts no longer exists. They’re probably my favorite ex-studio. RIP!
I’m going to end this
interview the way I started it, with a generic question. Any estimate release
date for Gibbous?
We’ve said “summer 2017”
from the start, and we’re working like crazy to be able to deliver on that, but
just like any other form of software development, it’s really hard to pinpoint.
This is not going to be a game you beat in 3 or 4 hours, and that will reflect
in the time we spend on it. Basically we’re trying to make a 50 person game in
3 persons, but thankfully it’s the kind of project we don’t mind spending our
almost every waking hour on. I hope the love and passion we have for Gibbous
will shine through in the game!
                I want
to thank Liviu for taking time off his busy schedule to answer my
questions. If you are curious about the game, you can download the Demo from
the studio’s official website and keep up with the game’s news on the Kickstarter
page
. You can also read my first impressions about it here.
I’m
wishing Stuck In Attic best of luck with their development of Gibbous and I
hope to hear back from them soon!
Nodrim