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Interview: STASIS

STASIS is a 2D isometric, point-and-click adventure game for PC and Mac, set in the distant future on a desolate spacecraft. John Maracheck must interact and solve puzzles to save his family but – as if that wasn’t difficult enough – he’ll uncover horrific experimentation, illicit research and find himself drawn into an ever-deepening mystery.

Several chapters have been fully completed while the remaining areas have been technically-planned; you can experience the title for yourself by getting the alpha demo from the official website.

The Brotherhood consists of Chris (‘The Developer Guy’), Nic (‘The Business Guy’) and John (‘The PR Guy’) and they have big plans for further isometric adventures. But first STASIS needs to be successful, so the more support their Kickstarter project can get the better! We’re proud to call ourselves backers, and would like to say a big thank you to Chris Bischoff for taking the time to answer our questions about his amazing project.

How did The Brotherhood team meet and what made you decide to start making STASIS?

Chris:STASIS started long before The Brotherhood existed. Although, in a way, The Brotherhood has always been around in one form or another. Nic [Nicholas Bischoff] and I are brothers and have been building games and working together for a very long time. STASIS came about as a side project in late 2010, as an artistic distraction to keep me occupied during a December break. It naturally expanded as I grew more involved and fell in love with the world! Since then, not much time has passed where I haven’t worked on it on an almost daily basis.”

You mention some classic adventure games such as The Dig, Gabriel Knight and Broken Sword on your Kickstarter page. Are you a fan of the genre and how have these titles influenced your work?

Chris: “I’ve always loved adventure games. When I first started playing them, it was for the humour then the puzzles and the stories. The Space Quest series is one of my favourites, with many school days spent trying to figure out the homing beacon puzzle instead of doing homework!

“My passion has been for stories and trying to get the best way to tell them. In a large way, that is what drives my love of art. I found that adventure games, with their heavy focus on story and world building, are the perfect form of expression for me as an artist.

“I love The Dig for its beautiful art and its focus on a much more mature game world. The Gabriel Knight series and Broken Sword are great examples of games that have a firm basis in reality, but with a fantastic story-telling twist. STASIS borrows from this in that the world itself is grounded in a reality (well, as grounded as science-fiction can be), but places our character in an extraordinary situation in that world.”

STASIS tells the story of John Maracheck, who finds himself on a desolate spacecraft trying to save his family. Are you able to share any further details about the plot and this character?

Chris: “I’ve been careful not to divulge too much information about the story. I can say that there are more than a few surprises in store for the player!”

You mention that the title follows the gameplay mechanics of classics such as Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle, very different from STASIS sci-fi, horror storyline. Was it a conscious decision to go for something darker, and how well do you feel horror games lend themselves to the point-and-click genre?

Chris: “I love adventure games because it is such a versatile format. If you look at some of the more recent adventure game, like The Walking Dead, you can see just how easy it is to take the genre and mould it into something new and exciting.

“The world of STASIS stems from my passion for science-fiction and horror. It was certainly a conscious decision to make STASIS a reflection of that. If you’re going to be so intimately involved in a piece of artwork for such a long time, it must be something that you love.”

The ‘Suicide’ stretch goal is intriguing: this will see key items planted around the spacecraft that John can pick up and use on himself! Other than death, will this have any impact on the gameplay?

Chris: “There is death in STASIS, but it’s supported by a robust auto-saving function which ensures that the death doesn’t become an annoyance to the player. My hope is that it will drive home the severity of the situation that John finds himself in.

“The suicides will be an extension of the pre-existing death system, and while it won’t have an impact directly on the story, I’m hoping that it will have an impact of the players’ psyche!”

We were instantly reminded of Sanitarium when watching the Kickstarter video; the isometric view really lends itself to conveying a dark, abandoned atmosphere. What made you decide to do with this visual style?

Chris: “Simply, I like the isometric point of view. Fallout, Diablo, Commandos – these are games that shaped me as a young artist. To be able to create and then explore my own world from that point of view… it’s just a dream come true.

“The isometric view also has a way of making you feel small, I think. As if you are just a part of this larger world – a world that will carry on in existence with or without you. In a horror game, that can be a scary thought.”

You recently announced that the game will be scored by Mark Morgan, who has worked on some great titles such as Zork and Fallout. How did this collaboration come about?

Chris: “Before we went live with the Kickstarter, we knew that hiring a composer was a major aspect to get the game up to the level that we wanted it. Once the Alpha demo was released, I got a message from Mark Morgan on Twitter saying how much he enjoyed what he had seen. It was an incredible surprise and an honour.

“When he offered to score the game, I almost fell off my chair! The games he has worked on have been such an intricate part of my artistic life and in many cases their fingerprints can be felt in STASIS. To think that the game will have a Mark Morgan score… it’s just surreal.”

The Kickstarter campaign has been very successful so far, with 72% of the $100,000 target being received from 2,380 backers (at the time of writing). What challenges have you faced going down this route and were you prepared for them when starting out?

Chris: “I think you can only be prepared to a certain extent and then you may realize that none of your plans are working. We wanted to allow ourselves to remain flexible during the campaign, and that is something that has certainly made the experience a lot more fun.

“Initially, the biggest challenge was waiting. It took an extra few days for our campaign to make it through the approval process due to a heavy load on their side. I’m sure that anyone who has done a Kickstarter campaign can tell you that a few days can feel like weeks!

“We used this time to our advantage and polished the Alpha demo of the game into a fully playable state that could be released with the campaign.”

Is there any advice you’d give to someone who’s thinking of making an indie game?

Chris: “Love what you are doing, because you are going to be working at it tirelessly. I think there has to be a form of obsession for your project. Also, do something out of your comfort zone on the project because it will keep everything fresh and exciting.”

Can you tell us which component of STASIS you’re currently working on? How are you feeling about its release?

Chris: Currently I’m working through all of the feedback received from the demo and implementing many of the suggestions that have been offered.”

Once again, a big thank you to Chris for answering our questions! Help The Brotherhood out by heading over to their Kickstarter project to show your support by 07 December 2013, and by giving them a thumbs-up on Steam Greenlight. Further details and the demo download can be found on the official website.

Kim View All

Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.

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