During the indieweekend we have had the pleasure to talk to Alex Satori, a developer of “Life in bunker” available on steam the 25th FEB 2016 and “Frozen state” . He has given us some information about himself and his game and also answered a few questions for us.
My name is Alexander Prokhorov aka Satori. Born and raised in Russia, but currently I’m living in Bristol, England. I’m the artistic half of the Flox Studios.
Before getting into the game dev industry I used to work in a bank. I know it’s not the most logical transition, but I always wanted to work in a creative industry and banking sector was definitely not one of them.
Tell us something about “life in bunker” and “Frozen state”.
Life in Bunker.
It’s has been made by me (Alex) and Anton Pozdnyakov. It’s all started as a tiny side project, Anton had an idea for a game, where you’d dig underground tunnels. That was pretty much it. We wanted to make something simple and fun, to get our minds off Frozen State and to try new things.
But after some discussion we came up with an idea of an underground settlement. Right from the outset I didn’t want to make a very realistic and serious take on underground survival, I was slightly tired of the grim, colourless setting of Frozen State. But for long, I couldn’t find the right art style. I had made probably about 4 iterations : pixelated, hand painted, so called low-poly without textures and a few others, before I stumbled upon a Pablo Picasso’s painting Figure dans un Fauteuil . It’s rather dark and moody, but it captivated me and this is how the ground texture was born and then everything else.
Another funny thing is that before we started this project I didn’t know how to rig and make animations. So for me it was also a crash course into animation.
Frozen State is our first big project. The game is set in an alternative universe, where the mankind have discovered extraterrestrial technologies what inevitably affected the trajectory of the history. However due to its ignorance and lust for power, the experiments with the alien technologies have led to some dreadful consequences that brought the humanity on the brink of extinction.
It’s a very ambitious game and I think we’ve made every possible mistake new indie devs can possibly make. Nonetheless, this game has a life changing affect on us. Frozen State is the spark that motivated us to quit our day jobs and become serious (lol) game developers. If not this game, I wouldn’t be giving this interview right now.
The game is still in active development and we use a lot of players feedback in our iterations. It’s a great experience working with such a community like ours. And despite the fact that early accesses has recently gained some bad reputation, I do believe that it’s one of the best ways to make a great game, of course it may not work for all games and companies, but still it’s a great thing to have.
Question: When did you first think about starting this project (Life in Bunker)? What sparked the idea?( Submitted By Syntria )
It was Anton’s ( the programmer) idea he wanted to make a simple game about a miner who digs tunnels. The idea of the underground bunker came much later in a form of a joke. One evening we had a skype call and was just throwing some ideas at each other. He (Anton) recalled his old idea about the miner and then somehow it transformed into the bunker- building sim. We thought it was cool and decided to make a prototype.
Question: The uplifting approach to the post apocalypse in Life in Bunker is very interesting, what made you take that approach on such a grim subject? were you trying to take a different road from your other game “Frozen State”? ( Submitted By SharpKris )
Life in Bunker is our emotional escape from Frozen State. When you work on something dark and depressing for so long and so close, your life begins to get depressed too. I like Frozen State very much, I like its world and theme, but sometimes I just need a break to look at the bright side of the world.
That’s why Life in Bunker even though share the similar post apocalyptic theme looks so goofy and funny.
Question: What challenges did you face in development (of Life in Bunker) and getting the game on Steam? ( Submitted By Syntria )
As I said previously, Life in Bunker is a product of just two men, except the music and the sounds, they were made by our friends.
We’ve never done anything like this before and obviously there were some technical challenges. Especially for me, because back then I had only vague notion of how to make animations. But nowadays, if you have a strong desire to learn something and have access to the internet you can make virtually anything.
To get the game on Steam was relatively easy. I’ve heard many dread stories how some projects spend months in order to be greenlit. But LiB was greenlit in 9 or 10 days, we’ve got about 4.5k votes which came mostly from the greenlight community itself.
Question: How long do you expect to support the development of Life in Bunker? Is it in Early Access or is it fully completed? ( Submitted By Syntria )
This is a full release, but we want to gather some feedback from the players and make a few patches in the future. We already have some cool stuff prepared, just don’t want to add it right now to avoid bugs on the release date.
Question: Are there any plans for mod support for the game? and if not, are you planning on adding content in some other manner? ( Submitted By SharpKris )
We’re thinking about mod support, but it will depend on the community.
Yes, we do plan to add some more content, in a form of patches and updates. But we don’t plan any DLCs.
Question: Was there any hard decisions that had to be made? About what? (Submitted By Oxid)
There are always hard decisions when you run a company. For example should you delay an update or get it released because you promised it by a certain date, even though you know there are bugs in it. Can you explain your decision to your community and how it’s going bo accepted. However, for me the hardest decision is to fire a person. There have been a few moments when the revenue from Frozen State couldn’t support a bigger team and we had to fire a few people.
Question: How were you inspired to create this game? Was there any influences from other games that contributed to the design/development/story of this game?
Frozen State was inspired more by books and movies rather than video games. I was under a big influence of the book “I’m legend” when I started working on Frozen State, also I’m a big fan of the John Carpenter’s “The Thing” and another book called “Roadside Picnic”. Of course games like Fallout 1, 2 and old Resident Evil games also influenced the game quite significantly.
Life in Bunker is different in many ways. Unlike Frozen State it’s a very spontaneous, reckless project that just came to us .
Some people say it looks like Dungeon Keeper or Theme Hospital, but frankly speaking I haven’t played these games. Well, I played a little of Dungeon Keeper on my friends PC back in my school days, but I hardly can remember what it was like. At first we even didn’t think about the disaster that forced people to abandon the surface. It was like Ok, the surface is fucked, everybody just live underground, full stop. But during our greenlight, people started asking questions like what happened to the planet? What’s the back story? And so on. Only then we started thinking what could it be.
Question: Why Molemen? (SharpKris)
Because it sounds funny, Also like the Simpsons.
Question: do you plan on making a campaign or are you going for the sandbox approach? (SharpKris)
Well not at the moment. We’d like to gather some initial feedback from the community to understand in what direction we should continue our development.
Question: When did you start making games? (Oxid)
I guess when I was 21-22 years old.
Question: is it difficult to develop two games at the same time? (sharpkris)
It’s challenging. But I like working on several projects at the same time. I think we will continue this practise with our future games.
We would like to thank Alex for taking his time to answer our questions and being a part of our indieweekend stream.
There will be a video of his time with us streaming posted here later 🙂