Had a fantastic time talking with Thomas Gibert from Factor News about Ode to a Moon. The following is the interview translated from French:
- What did you retain from the development of 0°N 0°W and its reception?
0°N 0°W was a very interesting and defining adventure for me, I was not the same person when I started working on it, and luckily mostly for the better! The way the project turned out and how people reacted to it upon release was far beyond anything I'd ever expect, and that alone made all the effort worthwhile. Every day I log on to steam to check out the game's community hub and I'm always surprised by a fresh batch of pictures and I think 'Wow, I made this and there's people now from all over the world exploring this weird thing I made', it's a very surreal sensation.
The biggest lesson I learnt now after the release of 0°N 0°W is that while you can certainly make everything in a game by yourself it's also amazing to collaborate with like minded folks, there's something special when everybody surprises each other with great stuff. So for Ode to a Moon I'd very much like to bring in some people so we can all shine in our respective tasks and make something wonderful together in a fraction of the time it'd take to by myself (There's already a team I'm thinking of too!). This of course comes down to simple economics so hopefully I can secure funding from a publisher or investor to take Ode to a Moon where it really wants to be. - You spent a productive year on some interesting jam projects, can you tell us about this creative step?
Thank you! It was an interesting experiment for me in short term creation. Rather than letting a project expand exponentially I wanted to limit the focus to precise set time frames and see what could be realistically produced. 'Sands of Voltark' took a month, 'Nightline' a week, and 'Again' 72 hours. 0°N 0°W in contrast was four years in the making, so while I wanted to continue crafting games I wasn't physically or psychologically ready to embark in that long of an odyssey again haha. - With Ode to a Moon, you come back with a much less personal project since it is based on real events. What does it change for you?
It is a very different and exciting process which honestly grounds the work a lot. I know what and how something happened and therefore it is a finite creation, not something endless as was 0°N 0°W. So beyond changing the location of where these historical events occurred and some details to make them apply to the new location the whole tale is structured from the start. Nevertheless I do mention it is inspired by actual events because I'll be taking some creative liberties on how things unfold :)
- How did you come across this story and why did you decide to start working on this project?
Don't think I'm alone on this but one of my pastimes is getting lost in Wikipedia, just clicking link after link and seeing where that rabbit hole of information takes me. So whenever I find fascinating stories I bookmark them in topic related folders on my browser; Ode to a Moon is one of these folders that for some time now has been yelling for attention and is just saturated with wild historical wonders. Also recently watched a documentary that provided the final piece of the puzzle as to why the things in Ode to a Moon transpire, and how all those separate curiosities from history can now coexist in a story (sorry no spoilers yet haha).
- And it's a game without the traditional horror jumpscares that puts everything on the mood. With that goal in mind, you don't make it easy to work on, right?
It's definitely a challenge I'm imposing and mainly because I hate jump scares myself. Horror is more than a cheap 'fight or flight' reaction, it can be an all encompassing mood, an emotion. So I'm experimenting with a couple of new experiential techniques that hopefully work out :)
- Also, you keep this particular aesthetic made of roughly assembled polygons. A technical constraint on a project less abstract than your first game, isn't it?
Yes absolutely, not only do I enjoy the low poly aesthetic but it's also a technical means to construct everything as a solo developer within the one year timeline I'm imposing on the project. Low poly aesthetics enable the maps to be far larger, more varied and still, with some post-processing tricks, familiarly relatable as reality.
- What about the musical creation process around Ode to a Moon and the tension that it has to convey in this genre of games?
This is actually a very interesting aspect because while I've done some of the soundtrack so far this will be the first project where I'm bringing some people on board to help. Music and sound design will be the most important factor in creating the atmospheric horror that will make Ode to a Moon compelling. Many people treat sound and music as an afterthought but it plays (in my opinion) the biggest role in defining an experience. The aim musically is a blend of classical, retro Carpenter-esque cinematic synthesizers and sheer noise genres, the cosmic horror aspect of this adventure has to be heard as well as seen.