Framed was another fantastic Indie title at this years Eurogamer Expo. I was lucky enough to meet Adrian Moore Designer/Composer for Framed and got to ask him some questions about Framed and starting up an Indie studio.
How did you find Eurogamer? Is it difficult for Indie titles to go up against games like Call of Duty and Titanfall?
Eurogamer was wild. Very busy, lots of great games to see & play – especially interesting stuff in the Indie area I can’t speak for other developers but it’s been hard work for Loveshack. But I wouldn’t say it’s difficult to go up against the big games – it’s more that there is room for us all rather than a David & Goliath fight. The huge epic games such as Call of Duty or Beyond 2 Souls have their audience, and so do the smaller indie games. Many people enjoy both.
It can be difficult getting noticed. Everyone’s heard of Call of Duty, not many people have heard of Framed. But it’s exciting – trying to build awareness, get the game out there for people to experience. It must be the same for the other indies. It’s very exciting, never knowing how popular your game will become in the end, when it’s relatively unknown now.
Framed is described as a”narrative-puzzle game”. Can you explain the concept behind it and where the idea came from?
I always say ‘it’s Josh’s fault’. It’s my weird way of blaming Josh for something really brilliant. He had the original idea and it’s one that Ollie and I never questioned as the first game for Loveshack. Josh read Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics book and I think all the excellent insights into the way comics work – from that book, combined with Josh’s desire to tell a story in a new way – made something click in his brain and now we have Framed.
Each action, event or moment in a graphic novel plays it’s part in telling a story. The context of each action/even is really interesting and made even more interesting when you take a series of events and muddle around their order; the story changes completely. We’re making a puzzle game where multiple solutions are often possible, and the narrative on each page is chosen, designed, directed by the people playing the game.
Was the plan always to make a game that let the player choose the context or was that something that developed along with the game?
It was always the plan to have players choose the context but what we have discovered is that the game also works as a kind of platform game – where the character the story follows during the scene must overcome a series of physical obstacles. That’s a new development and now we have more than a couple of ways to approach each scene, each chapter.
Changing the context of a series of story moments was the original concept and it’s fascinating what can be done with it – it can be mind-bending.
The noir and graphic novel influences are clear in the art style and gameplay of Framed. Were there any specific works that influenced the style? Where did you take your influences from?
We’ve all been inspired by different things but it was always going to be a noir graphic novel style – that’s our foundation. We’ve been influenced by Cowboy Bebop, Saul Bass, Alfred Hitchcock, Sin City and Mad Men for example. But what Ollie’s done with the art style is try to create something unique – so that the game hopefully looks brand new.
What has the reception to Framed been like?
It tends to be that when someone picks it up and has a go, they really like it. It can take a few seconds to grasp the concept but during those few seconds you can see almost see their minds enveloping the idea and when the penny drops they just want to carry on playing – sometimes in groups.
My favourite thing about the reaction to Framed is the collaborative way in which people play. When couples come by the stand (Eurogamer Expo) they often work the puzzles out together, talk about them and reason their case for a specific order of panels. We had a whole group of film students playing it together the other day. If there’s ever a hardware shortage in the world, at least people can enjoy sharing their tablets/phones/computers over a game of Framed!
The studio, Loveshack, was formed after you left the studio you worked for was acquired by EA. How important is it for you to develop games independently of big studios?
It’s true that EA had been sold to Firemint before Loveshack Entertainment was formed but the EA factor is not that important, really. Personally I was done working full time for other studios after SPY mouse, anyway – I probably would have gone freelance (as I did) soon after SPY mouse was complete, anyway, regardless of the takeover. Firemint was a wonderful place to create games with some amazing people.
The EA factor may have been most important to Josh – simply because he’d experienced creative freedom working on SPY mouse, prior to the sale to EA, and wanted to always have that freedom and the ‘small team’ feel. It’s hard for me to speak for the other guys but I think Ollie was more just happy to follow his muse, being an incredibly creative individual. He had worked on Real Racing 3 before leaving there to do Loveshack and I gather there wasn’t too much room for creative expression with RR, despite its best-of-class status.
It’s important for Loveshack to develop what we want, how we want. We relish the freedom to make every decision ourselves – from the feel of Loveshack HQ to who we work with and what time of day/night our working hours are. Most importantly we strived to be free to make the games that we truly want to make.
What was it like setting up a studio from scratch and getting yourselves and your game out there?
It’s been an adventure. Josh led the way and got us registered as a company – he met with funding people & sold them on the game idea. We’ve all pitched in with different things to different degrees. We located some cool office space & renovated it, have been applying for funding, doing trade shows, and of course working on the game itself. Getting the game out there is really important to us – we work hard to promote Framed, to get it noticed.
And finally, how close to release ready is Framed?
Before Half-Life 3 We’re aiming for early 2014, on the first platforms iOS, PC & Mac – and we’re on track for that. But we won’t release Framed until we’re happy with it. We want to deliver something akin to a movie-length experience, to create a really captivating and give people a great value, really fun game.
Thank you for taking the time out to answer some questions
Thank you Charlie! It was a pleasure to meet you.
So that’s our Q&A with Adrian Moore from Loveshack Entertainment. I said in my hands on article that Framed really is something special and I personally cannot wait for it to be released.
And here’s another quick taster of Framed in action