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Brothers In Arms – An Interview With Fictiorama Studios

Brothers In Arms – An Interview With Fictiorama Studios

If you haven’t heard of Fictiorama Studios yet then I don’t blame you. They are a very discreet and hard working literal band of brothers based in Madrid, who’s debut adventure game Dead Synchronicity has just been successfully funded via Kickstarter. If you’ve played their already released demo (found here) you’ll notice a unique art style coupled with an old school adventure feel and a dark, gritty and modernised story.

Delving deeper into their official website things start getting interesting. It’s here where you’ll find their developer blog, portions of which dissect a whole range of classic and modern adventure games, bullet pointing the best bits and showing where some of the inspiration for their development of Dead Synchronicity has come from. On top of this the site also reveals that Kovalski, the band behind all of Dead Synchronicity’s music contains two of the very same brothers from Fictiorama. The passion behind this small team is almost immeasurable and I recently had some of their drive directed my way when I was lucky enough to ask them a few questions.

Kevin McLennan – Some of our readers might not have heard of you, is this your first game?

Fictiorama Studios – Yes, this is our first game! Some of the members of Fictiorama have previously worked in video games and iOS apps, and others come from different artistic areas (music and media). We are really excited!

Kevin – So where does the name Fictiorama Studios come from?

Fictiorama – Our goal was to get a name for the studio that sounded like entertainment and fantasy. So we started with “fiction”, and then the Greek suffix “horama”, which means “view” (such as in “cinerama”, the spectacular 3-cameras process from the 70’s). In fact, “Fictiorama” reminds us of some mysterious storytelling device you turn to when you are in need of amusement. We really like it!

Kevin – Give us a run down of what Dead Synchronicity is all about.

Fictiorama – Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow comes Today is the first instalment of the Dead Synchronicity series, a 2D point and click graphic adventure game featuring “old school” mechanics and a mature, bloodstained plot.

The game takes place in a world that has been devastated by “The Great Wave”, an inexplicable chain of natural disasters. Besides, there’s a pandemic spreading all over the world: the “dissolved” illness that, although gives sick people strange cognitive powers… finally kills them, dissolving them into blood.

Michael, the main character, wakes up to this merry “New World” after having been in a kind of a coma that has wiped his memory. He must try to recover his identity, find the origin of “the Great Wave” and a cure for the “dissolved” pandemic, as both things seem to be connected.

And he’d better hurry, if he wants to avoid the impending moment of “dead synchronicity”, when Time itself dissolves…

Kevin – Where do the ideas and inspiration behind Dead Synchronicity come from?

Fictiorama – The idea for the Dead Synchronicity saga came from Alberto, our writer. On the one hand, he was influenced by books like “Synchronicity” by F. David Peat; or by movies like “12 monkeys” by Terry Gilliam, or the short cult film “La Jéttee” by Chris Marker, that inspired Gilliam’s film. We are as well really keen on the 70’s Italian giallo films, the terror and action movies from the 70’s and 80’s…

On the other hand, we love dark, psychological plots, like those in works by Joseph Conrad or Andrei Tarkovski. In fact, one of our biggest influences is Cormac McCarthys “The Road”: we really like the depiction of the post-apocalyptic scenario, since it is is used as a metaphor both for the “physical” degradation of the world… and for the “moral” degradation of the new society.

Regarding mechanics, our biggest influences are the classic point and click adventures by Lucasarts… though featuring a mature twist; games like I have no mouth and I must scream or The Cat Lady are clear references for us.

The team at Fictiorama seem surprisingly happy for working in such an enclosed space. It must be Friday.
The team seem surprisingly happy for working in such an enclosed space. It must be Friday.

Kevin – It’s clear that the team at Fictiorama are passionate about creating Dead Synchronicity. As a small indie company have you found it a struggle producing your first game?

Fictiorama – To be honest, the biggest difficulty we have faced is getting funds. In Spain, it’s quite difficult to get funds for such a project like ours. So, we had to fight hard to get the funds we needed to launch the studios and start developing the game.

Of course there are day to day issues a studio has to deal with… that are of bigger importance when you are as tiny as we are. But we all are really engaged to our project, and we deal with them as challenges to overcome (ok, let’s even say “achievements” using gamers jargon).

Kevin – Aside from core gameplay development and mechanics, your four man team also create the unique music and art stylings for Dead Synchonicity. Are you scared to let anyone else have input in your game or are you all naturally artistic and hard working?

Fictiorama – Well, as we work on a budget (we are not a AAA company) we have always tried to keep expenses under control. That’s why we decided we needed to form a multidisciplinary crew: art, music, writing, media, programming… in a tiny team. In fact, thanks to the Kickstarter campaign, we will probably count on a second artist’s collaboration for a few months.

But we really love to have input. In fact, from the very beginning we have been sharing with the community the progress of Dead Synchronicity: the music, the art, our influences… Some great ideas come from that feedback all the time!

Kevin – You recently funded a successful Kickstarter campaign. What does this injection of money mean for the company and the game?

Fictiorama – The funds we got on Kickstarter will allow us to finish the game! We initially had some funds to launch the company, to start the project… but we needed some extra funds to finish the game. So, it essentially means we can now release Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow comes Today!

Kevin – Is there an estimated release date for the game?

Our goal is to release PC & Mac versions in December 2014 and the Linux and iPad versions in 2015. Fingers crossed!

The Reticule would like to thank the team at Fictiorama Studios for taking the time to answer our many questions.

Gaming Crowdfunding Weekly – Dead Synchronicity, Duelyst, Chaos Reborn, The Red Solstice, Bizenghast

Gaming Crowdfunding Weekly – Dead Synchronicity, Duelyst, Chaos Reborn, The Red Solstice, Bizenghast

Steph wont be here again this week so it’s fallen on me to take the reigns for this instalment of crowdfunding round-ups. With so many indie developers and so much opportunity these days to fund your project in various ways, it’s important to stick out amongst the crowd, have some individuality and above all provide a pitch that shows quality and professionalism (at least that’s what I would look for), so for this weeks pick I have been looking for just that. Admittedly I have already been following three of these games through development but the others show just as much promise.

In Progress

Dead Synchronicity

Dead Synchronicity Screenshot Fictiorama Studios PC Steam Kickstarter

Goal: $45,000
Deadline: April 12th
Outlook: Will need a strong second half if it’s to reach the funding goal.

Dead Synchronicity developers Fictiorama Studios certainly know their stuff when it comes to adventure games. Their developer blog frequently mentions classics of the genre and well known modern games when talking about influences and reasons for making the choices that affect their game. Dead Synchronicity has a strong art style and mature and interesting theme, coupled with old school 2D style visuals.

Fictiorama Studios are comprised only four members, three of which are brothers and two of those brothers whom play in the band Kovalski that provide the music for the game, the fourth member of the team providing all the art for the game. It’s clear that these guys have a passion for their creation and it’s great to see that they hold all the control and can develop freely. There’s currently a demo available for the game here, it’s worth checking out for yourself.

Chaos Reborn

Chaos Reborn Screenshot Kickstarter Crowdfunding

Goal: $180,000
Deadline: April 17th
Outlook: Optimistic. Although it’s a high target, there are big names behind an impressive pitch.

I’m sure many of the people who contributed to this Kickstarter stopped the pitch video around the sixteen second mark (where you may recognise a certain someone) and instantly offered wads of their cash for Julian Gollop to make this game as fast as possible. If the fact that Ken Levein is a fan of this game is not enough for you then you may notice that the game resembles another recently released turn-based rpg by the name of Blackguards. Julian Gollop, the original creator of X-COM has been working with strategy and RPG games for many years and while Blackguards was a valiant first attempt at a genre, it missed out on certain aspects that Julian and his team would no doubt be able to implement.

Bizenghast

Bizenghast Screenshot Kickstarter

Goal: $125,000
Deadline: April 18th
Outlook: Things don’t look hopeful.

Despite the impressive team behind this game the vision of the game itself isn’t clearly portrayed in the pitch video with a quote from the funding page going so far as to say “Ten years after its start, Bizenghast is back… as a possible video game”. Perhaps this is why Bizenghast has been doing so poorly with it’s Kickstarter, or perhaps not enough people know that the game actually stems from a graphic novel series with a cult following and a novel spin off series. Either way developers Cosmic Forces are going to have to up their game in a big way in order to hit that lofty goal.

The Red Solstice

The Red Solstice Kickstarter Screenshot Crowdfunding

Goal: $50,000
Deadline: April 20th
Outlook: Poor start.

Despite already being greenlit on Steam (is that easy these days?) the Kickstarter campaign for The Red Solstice has gotten off to somewhat of a bad start. Almost all of the 230 backers have contributed at the second lowest bracket, which doesn’t shock me as the RTS genre is already packed with great games such as Star Craft and Total War. To succeed in this area you need to bring a game of immense quality and proficiency and while The Red Solstice may become this in the future, it seems people would rather leave it alone until that time comes.

Funded

Duelyst

Duelyst Kickstarter Crowdfunding Screenshot PC

Goal: $68,000
Deadline: April 10th
Outlook: 12 days left and already $27,000 over their target.

Deulyst is a turn-based strategy game in which two teams face off against each other on a grid based arena with the goal of killing each others General to win. There are multiple different types of units with varying abilities, different game play modes and a beautiful art style that make this game a very attractive prospect. Stretch goals includes more content and support for PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game, although the goals for these might be a little too high to be manageable in the given time frame.

The pitch video is simple but shows the basics of gameplay and some more of the beautiful art. From what I gather about Duelyst from the Kickstarter page and pitch video, it seems like the kind of game that would be easy and fun to pick up but would take a great deal of thought and time to master properly. It plays into the hands of the game that there are industry veterans behind it that have worked on such games as Diablo 3 and World of Warcraft. This is definitely a game to watch in the future.

Dead Synchronicity Asks ‘What Will You Do When Time Dissolves Itself?’

Dead Synchronicity Asks ‘What Will You Do When Time Dissolves Itself?’

Back in December Fictiorama Studios presented Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today at Adventure X London allowing attendees some hands on time with the game. Since then they have been hard at work and have just released the first gameplay footage.

The following video explains the ins and outs of basic gameplay as well as unique features “DS-backgrounds” and “Dynamic close-up dialogues”. There is also mention of a Kickstarter campaign due to launch around mid March for anyone who may be interested in backing the game.

To keep up to date on the latest Dead Synchronicity news you can find the developer blog here. It’s interesting to note that Fictiorama Studios mention a lot of other adventure games when talking about their inspirations. It’s clear to me that the developers have a passion for adventure gaming and a large knowledge and background in that area.

Get Hands On With ‘Dead Synchronicity’ At AdventureX London This Weekend

Get Hands On With ‘Dead Synchronicity’ At AdventureX London This Weekend

AdventureX 2013 is nearly upon us and among the attendees at this years event are Fictiorama Studios with their new game, Dead Synchronicity.

Dead Synchronicity tells the story of the ‘Great Wave’ a chain of natural disasters that have changed the course of mankind and caused chaos and destruction to the inhabitants of the world. The army and government have flexed their muscles and taken authority over the survivors willing or not. Mysteriously they also seem to be the cause of an illness, of which the sufferers are called ‘Dissolveds’. This illness advances the sufferers cognitive skills far beyond normal levels, but ultimately leads to their gruesome death.

Is the army carrying out experiments on the people it claims to be protecting or is there something even more sinister behind the mysterious circumstances? You the player take control of Michael, a man who has lost all memory of his past, as he tries to discover just what led to the collapse of human civilization and the world he once knew.

Dead Synchronicity is available to play at this years AdventureX London held on 7th/8th Dec.