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80.lv had a chance to talk to game designer Benjamin Anseaume from a small French game studio Sushee. We discussed the development of the upcoming adventure title Goetia, and the use of Unity for untraditional games.
Sushee from France
Sushee is a French studio. The company is 6 years old but we have been making video games since 2012. We have 6 people in the team. Samuel is my associate & CTO in charge of our developments. He works with Julien and Benoit. Térence and Emilie are our artists, they worked at Ankama (Dofus, Wakfu) before. And I’m in charge of the game designs, concepts, project direction, etc. We are a gaming agency, not really a classical game studio. We develop advergames & serious games for our clients. We work for big companies like Orange (phone and internet), Red Bull, Oasis (a soft drink). Our company made a number of funny games, like Battle for Paris or Oasis Fruit Fighters & another for Emma Beatson, a french singer.
Goetia is our next big project. It’s a point & click adventure. Very old school in its approach but we’re trying to provide a modern touch. It’s agame we always wanted to do, a game those for who wants to turns things on their heads, explore, be immersed in the story. Exploration is the keyword here.
Goetia’s project was born of a meeting between Moeity, a french artist, and Sushee, our studio. We wanted to mix our universes in a game we all wanted to play. Moeity is the spiritual father of the game, he created the story, all graphical assets, most of the puzzles & we support him with our game development skills, especially in creating a real game experience, with a difficulty curve, balance & general improvements.
What makes Goetia special is the “ghost gameplay”. As a ghost, you can cross the walls & go behind closed doors, you can possess objects & move them.
The main character in the game is not visualized. We discussed that a lot, but as we don’t know what a ghost really looks like, so we decided to trust the player’s imagination. Many big games work on realism, but creativity takes many other shapes. Our main hero Abigail might be a young ghost, but she has a strong personality and a lot to say.
Working with a creative partner
Moeity is a senior photograph artist & artistic director. The game is partially based on his previous work like Muireal and Ith. He’s the story-writer and he also creates puzzles. At Sushee we really put all our efforts to provide him with a great working environment. He has a story to tell, and we try to help him to tell it the best possible way.
Our partnership with Moeity is not really that similar to Mi-Clos Studio and FibreTigre. Mi-Clos and FibreTigre (we are big fans of their work) are just two people. We have a big team & Moeity is not alone. Lucie, his girlfriend, is working a lot with us. Our relationship is balanced and not really confrontational. It’s more like “I want to remake this room for the 6th time”, “No, sorry we don’t have the time, if we want to release the game in less than a decade” (globally, he wins) or “Scenes are too dark!”, “Not on my screen!”, “It is!”(we won).
Usually we work in the office but sometimes we like to get a work session in Abigail’s refuge. We can’t really say where this mansion is. Let’s say that we’re lucky French people living in a beautiful region full of old houses & great antiques, that are inspiring artists like Moeity.
Unity is a great tool. One year and a half ago, we had a working Flash demo of Goetia and we decided to throw it out. We were not satisfied with the render, image compression and full-screen details. I think we made the right choice. Unity is becoming more and more powerful, and especially in 2D domain, with a great community and the fact that we can port the game in (almost) one click. It’s great. We’re still using Flash for the animations. I can import the Flash animations easily with GAF Converters. The rest is done by Unity base engine.
Producing the graphical assets is challenging. We were a little bit too ambitious. The amount of content we are going to provide is closer to a game released by a big regular studio than by a small indie team. We did the right thing to develop the engine first. It took a lot of time, but now adding more content is not really that difficult. I guess the toughest thing to do is telling a good story and balancing the game.
Disadvantages of Kickstarter
Greed is bad. Kickstarter doesn’t like greedy people. Game studious are much more likely to raise the smaller amounts of money, so we decided to ask for $30,000. As a French company, we couldn’t make the campaign alone. We had to find a US-based company to collect the fund and it’s not very comfortable. Another disadvantage is the gap between perception and reality. If the campaign is a success, everyone will think that we won $30,000, but it’s far from the truth! We earn less than a half of this amount, because of taxes and intermediates. But anyway it’s so cool to finally talk with the players, to see that 500 people want to pay for our game.
Games from France
There are a lot of young interesting studious in France. Amplitude Studious is probably a role model for me. French video games always had something unique about them. Just like Japanese video game is not the same as US video game. French studios have made history in the 80’s and 90’s but we’ve lost a lot of talented people & creativity, sometimes because of political decisions. During that time the rest of the world was realizing how game industry was potentially lucrative. That’s why Canada, and Korea took strong decisions to encourage video games companies. It’s changing gradually. Several good decisions have been made in Europe and especially in France recently. The French creativity is coming back. I think small studio size is perfect for the type of games that French companies enjoy creating.
Author: Michel Kim