Xsolla met with Damjan Mravunac from Croteam (developers of Serious Sam franchise) and talked about the new game The Talos Principle. Damjan acts as the chief marketing officer of the company and also as an established composer, who contributed music to various games including Ghost: Elisa Cameron, Serious Sam: BFE and Secrets of the Titanic 1912 – 2012. During our short interview at the Gamescom Indie Megabooth, we’ve mostly covered modern ways of game monetization, peculiarities of middleware and ways to build new games from old franchises.
Hello Damjan, could you tell us how long have you been developing The Talos Principle?
It actually started while we were developing Serious Sam 4. And during the development we wanted to do something about the traditional mechanics “red key opens red door”. We thought it was boring and tried to think of something else. This way we invented the jammer (this is a special device that eliminates some electronic doors in the game). Once we did that in a Serious Sam game, we’ve placed a few of those doors and a few of the jammers. It was actually fun. So we thought if we could do this, we can probably think of some more mechanics to add to Serious Sam and suddenly it started to feel like another game. We made a decision to break away from Serious Sam franchise and try to do something totally different. That was more than a year ago.
So your project is only a year old?
Well, almost. I think in total it’s going to be a year and a half if you count the 2 month for release and two month during the Serious Sam 4 project.
Would you be able to keep the development time to a minimum without the engine that you’ve already had?
No, never. We do have all the tools ready and some of the assets were already ready. When you’re using somebody else’s technology there’s always a learning curve, sometimes a really steep one. The Talos Principle is built on our proprietary engine. This is Serious Engine, revision 4. The same technology powers our latest Serious Sam 4 game. We do have the tools. We have the engine and we know how to work with it. We’re actually using some of the assets from the Serious Sam in this demo. Some of our fans even said that the game looks a little like a Serious Sam shooter. We had the technology and we knew how to use it. It didn’t take us a lot of time to make the game to look as sleek as it does today.
What are the most important tools for the developers of video games?
For the building of this game we’ve created our own tools: converters, importers, a level editor. Of course, we’ve also used, like everyone else in the industry, the Photoshop, some 3D tools. The latest one we’ve used is called Agisoft PhotoScan. This software is actually made in Russia. It imports pictures of an object made like in circle and renders a 3D model out of those images. We’re a small team, we’re about 15 to 20 people, so we don’t have enough manpower to do everything from the scratch. It takes ages to do a model from the scratch. Instead we’ve been using photogrammetry, scanning real time objects and putting them into our virtual world. This is the breakthrough technology that is making the development of this game so fast. We just need to send guys to Italy and they can make all those fantastic 3D statues in no time.
How are you going to distribute The Talos Principle?
We do have a publisher — Devolver Digital. We’re present on Steam with the Windows, Linux and Mac version. And we are also present at PlayStation 4. NVIDIA will also be featuring us on their latest Shield gaming tablet. We’ve announced this version a couple of weeks ago. You can already check it out at our booth but it will run even better when we optimize it.
When are you planning to release the game?
This fall. We are hoping for October or November.
You didn’t get any additional funding for the project?
No, we’re completely independent. This is our own IP, our own engine and our own money.
And what about the publisher?
We have revenue share. They are doing the marketing and the distribution, but they are not investing in the development. This is why we’re here at the mega booth.
The Talos Principle is a cool fist-person puzzle game. It tells an intricate story written by Tom Jubert, who also worked with FTL, The Swapper, and Jonas Kyratzes (Infinite Ocean). Players are required to solve a number of various puzzles and explore a vast and incredibly detailed virtual world. Croteam developed over 120 immersive puzzles for the game. This puzzle is built on Croteam’s Serious Engine 4 technology. The project is planned for release in fall 2014. The game is not available in Early Access program.