Graphic adventure games are one of those peculiar genres for video games. Once incredibly common on PC, they formed a large percentage of the games released. However, by the end of the '90s the graphic adventure became a much more niche title, subsumed by bleeding edge shooters reliant upon graphic accelerators. That hasn't stopped smaller developers, particularly in Europe, from putting out games of their own that appeal to those who enjoy methodical pacing and storytelling.
Pendulo is a studio based out of Madrid that's been keeping the graphic adventure spirit alive. Despite their past successes, their project Day One (seemingly inspired by both Breaking Bad and Transmetropolitan) was not able to receive the proper funding, so they're turning instead to the fans to make up the difference. They have very particular challenges in their journey, but the team at Pendulo were kind enough to take some time to answer some questions about their project.
[a]list: For those who may not be familiar with Runaway, The Next Big Thing and Yesterday, tell the world what Pendulo exactly is.
Pendulo: We're a Madrid-based development team that has been making adventure games for more than 18 years now. All of our games have been released on PC, but we have also released our titles for Nintendo DS, Wii and, more recently, Mac and iOS. We became popular thanks to our million-selling hit saga Runaway and some of our adventures have won many awards. Our last game, Yesterday, has been very highly rated by gamers in the App Store, getting 4.5 out of 5 stars almost everywhere.
[a]list: Why have you turned to crowdfunding for this project?
Pendulo: As we explain in our page lab.gamesplanet.com/dayone, when we created the Day One project, we shared it with many publishers, but perhaps due to the financial crisis, or the fact that the game’s content seemed outside of the mainstream, no publishers would agree to go with the game and advance money for its development. So our only hope to make the game was to turn to our fans and the game community and just go for it. For the last few years, we have been struggling with smaller and smaller budgets, which has meant shorter and shorter games, since we always thought the other option, lowering quality, would be a mistake. Our dream is to be able to make a game of the same quality that Pendulo always offers, and also to make it as long as Runaway: A Twist of Fate, which was the last game we made with a reasonable budget.
[a]list: Why are you using Games Planet Lab instead of Kickstarter?
Pendulo: The obvious choice in the beginning was Kickstarter, but when we approached them, we realized you had to be an American company or have a fiscal address in the U.S. to be accepted, so we started to look for other choices. Gamesplanet Lab/Ulule was our best chance, because it is a serious, well-established company, and especially because it would allow us to present our project in many different languages, which was very important to us.
[a]list: Why choose to tackle such a weighty subject like the protagonist having a terminal illness?
Pendulo: Well, most adventure games are not played by kids anymore, but rather by mature players from 25 to 45. Disease is a part of life, and it can be a very interesting part, in fact. His illness is just the starting point for telling a story which, despite its deep, dark shadows, also has touches of humor and totally crazy situations. Perhaps the best example for this might be the show Breaking Bad, which starts out with a similar situation, when a disease transforms a person, affecting his life and the lives of those around him.
[a]list: Tell me about the updates you've had so far to the project and what sort of reception you've had to it?
Pendulo: We have put out very different updates, from the usual free banners to help spread the word about Day One to hilarious videos talking about the work we do during development. We are also preparing more updates to answer questions about the crowdfunding, to show more of our previous games, to give away some cool music for free…
[a]list: Tell me about the interactivity that you're planning with the community with the VIP room.
Pendulo: Well, the VIP room is not open yet, but it will be if the project reaches its goal. When opened, those with access will be able to help us and add their contributions in so many ways, from deciding physical things about the characters to participating in polls about key features of the game (what city should this meeting be in?, and that type of question). People will also be able to participate in the game with their music, artwork, voice, etc. If you’ve got it, it’s a great way to show your talent off to the world.
[a]list: What sort of backer rewards have gotten the most traction so far?
Pendulo: The most highly sought out rewards are the ones that include all sorts of digital goodies. Not only the game itself, but also the soundtrack, a book of Pendulo’s artwork, a cool calendar, a selection of our previous soundtracks, and more. We have also had responses to a cool reward that lets you become a character in the game itself. You get 3D-modeled and play a role in the story as yourself (if you want). A Spanish writer, Ramon Cerda has already asked for that reward and will be one of the characters. I must say his personality really fits into the story!
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