Interview Frédéric EURIOT

Interview of the handy-man (developer, graphist, chips eater, …) : Frédéric Euriot

1/ Who are you and what defines you ?

First of all, I want to point out that I find the interviewer very handsome and clever! Then, allow me to introduce myself: I am the interviewer!

I have developed (professionally, as a web developer) and done stuff with a drawing pad (less professionally) for a decade and I had the occasion to work on several casual projects : some little flash games, a few contributions to animate and help adding new contents in a browser based mmorpg (Temps-Radiés) and even a first Point&Click named “A la recherche de la banane d’or” [Quest for the golden banana] (less than 20 min from beginning to the end) and developed for friends and family.

And finally, for the last 2 years and 9 months : Subterraneus.

2/ What have you done for Subterraneus ?

Edouard has taken care of the musics, Océane of the French to English translation, and I, of the rest. The rest is composed of code, graphics and script. Plus other little things.

3/ Among these three disciplines, which one is your favorite ?

Programming is fascinating because it’s a permanent challenge to transform an idea into something concrete (or as concrete as possible a piece of code can be). But it requires a constant concentration. It exhausts you very fast.

Drawing, whether it is 3D modeling or drawing, is relaxing and allows you to listening to music, watching a documentary, …

And imagining a story, writing dialogues, envisioning (bad) jokes and puns, … it’s pretty fun! The only limit is our imagination! At least for this part, because after that, ideas must be realistically doable…

But what I prefer is to be able to switch discipline when a task starts to feel repetitive to me!

4/ What are the specificities of developing a videogame ?

There is one thing that I didn’t realize when I started this project: it’s that everything is closely connected! Way more than in a website, which each part (scripts, databases, images, …) is one room of a big house. Subterraneus is more like a big warehouse in where everything is jammed more or less carefully. And if you need to modify something … Well, it’s better to have time in case of accidental collision ! Planning what we are going to do is a huge time saver. And the earlier, the better!

It’s demanding, but satisfying when it works!

5/ Which functionality have been the most difficult to develop?

Maybe it’s the one for keeping the text above the hero in the screen limits.

It’s something which seems very easy at the first thought. But it was more challenging than expected. There were harder things to develop, but I was expecting them to be complex.

For this “simple” functionality, I thought 15 min would be enough, but it took me too many hours to find a satisfying solution.

6/ Last question before concluding, what is your favorite thing in Subterraneus ?

It’s all the little details in the decor and dialogue that open the mind to an imaginary land or reference to others creations (games, movies, books, …). Some are obvious, but many can be missed for the unattentive ones.

7/Thank me for answering my own questions! And you for reading this! A last word maybe ?

Thank you for your interest in Subterraneus! I worked a lot to make everything the most enjoyable for you within the limits of my means! I hope that the game experience will please you as much as it pleased me to develop!

Interview: Océane Müller

Interview of the woman behind the English version of the game: Océane Müller

1/ Who are you and what defines you ?

Hello, my name is Océane and I am fluent in both French and English (even though only French is my mother language). I also speak conversational Japanese and German. My experience with translation is mainly interviews translations for multiple fanbases (fr-eng, eng-fr, jp-eng, jp-fr).

I have simple hobbies: videogames, reading, bicycling around some nice places and observe the stars with my telescope. I love animals too! Cats and dogs mostly! My Freyja is the best doggo in the world!

As for videogames, I played a lot of RPGs. My favorite is probably “Secret of Mana”, on SNES, but I loved the Zelda games, “Golden Sun”, Fable, etc.

2/ What have you done for Subterraneus project ?

I mainly translated the game. There is some proofreading too, as I need to read the French version to translate it.

3/ Have you ever translated a videogame before ?

No, it is my very first time.

4/ What are the specificities of translating a videogame, if any ?

Well, for articles and interviews, we want to stay the most accurate possible. There is no place for interpretation.

For Subterraneus, I tried to be loyal to the spirit of the game. But the spirit is not always within words. I had to re-write some parts for them to be more English friendly.

5/ There must have been some things pretty hard to translate…

Some puns are untranslatable. A literal translation is impossible if the pun is based on the multiple meanings of a word or on a typical French idiom. So I had to come up with other puns that were faithful to the spirit of the game. And it’s not always easy to do!

For example, there is a NPC (Non Playable Character) named Crok. In French, the player can learn while talking to him that his name is related to his work as undertaker. Undertaker in French is “croque-mort”, or literally “crunch-dead”.

Aaaaand we see here the problem. There was no pun possible as the developer wants to keep the same name in every versions of the game. I couldn’t translate literally and it would have been a shame (developer’s note : unacceptable!) to forgo a “good” pun.

The developer and I have thought about it for a long time and were unable (until recently!) to find a good pun that would stay within the spirit without misrepresenting the NPC.

6/ You have mentioned the developer. How is it to work with him ?

He lets me do as I want and is open minded so I’d say it’s pretty easy to work with him. I think the only problem we sometimes have is the communication: he doesn’t want to pressure me and I learn after a while that this thing to do “when you have the time” was actually urgent…

7/ Last question before concluding, what is your favorite thing about Subterraneus ?

I love Crok (the NPC)! I want to strangle him whenever he talks in the game, but I love him at the same time! He is unbearably endearing. A little bit like the developer…

8/ Thank you for your time! A last word maybe?

Subterraneus is a great project and I’m happy to be a part of it. I have never translated so much! But it’s a thing I like to do, so it’s not a chore! I would like to keep translating after Subterraneus!

Interview : Edouard Feuvrier

Interview of the man behind the music: Edouard Feuvrier

1/ Who are you and what do you do for a living?

Hi, I’m Edouard: drummer for the past 25 years and contemporary music composer. My music is influenced (mainly, but not only) by jazz, rap, latin and Caribbean musics…

I have performed about 800 shows in France or foreign countries (like this one in Yemen, 2006) with various bands like:

To conclude with a videogame related anecdote, my favorite game is “Alex Kid” on master system. I played it way too much and I know each notes of each musics (not very difficult because there are only 3 tracks 🙂 )!

2/ What have you done for Subterraneus project?

I have composed the original sound track of the game: 12 tracks for a total length of 27min39s.

3/ Have you felt any specificity to compose for a videogame?

It’s my first experience but I quickly enjoyed it! Composing isn’t something new for me, but creating musics to fit graphics element is and it’s fascinating!

4/ There had to be some frustrating times…

Of course! Sometimes, we work for a long time on a track or a specific sound which will be judged inadequate or just doesn’t fit what the developer wants. But I don’t think it is a negative thing because there is always something to learn from these experiences!

And luckily, the opposite happens too! There are some key points that have came out very quickly.

5/ You mentioned the developer : how is it to work with him?

The important thing is to be frank in our relationship and communicate on a regular basis to avoid going in the wrong direction. There must be a coherent relation between music, image and story, but beyond that, my work as a band musician taught me that music is a matter of personal taste. So I had to compose musics with the developer’s preferences in mind.

6/ Last question before concluding : what is your favorite thing about Subterraneus?

For me, humor is an essential part of life. It brings softness into our everyday life. And in Subterraneus, humor is everywhere ! We can find it in drawings, characters, dialogues, … I tried to add a little bit of it in my musics too!

7/ Thank you for your time! One last word maybe?

Listen to musics! Explore new ones! Give a chance to styles of music to which you never listened! You could be surprised 🙂

It’s what make us keep moving forward!

Subterraneus – Making of a key moment artwork

Today is time-lapse day !

First, what’s a time-lapse ?

A time-lapse is a highly accelerated video with a static frame. A few seconds sum up a few minutes, a few hours, or even a few days. It is useful to show the growth of a seed becoming a plant, or like here, the making of an image.

Context

The image realized in this time-lapse is one of the close-up illustrating key moments of the story.

Rest assured (or be disappointed), there is no way to be spoiled about the story in this video ! (unless you are a soothsayer)

And now, video time !

 

Subterraneus: the basis

Warning: potential spoiler!

The idea

I have always loved Point&Click games, funny ones like Monkey Island or enigmatic ones like Myst and many others! Subterraneus was born due to my playthrough on the second episode of Deponia : Chaos on Deponia. I had an idea the very night I finished my adventure in this game. What if, on an earth-like planet, the government of surfacian inhabitants were urging their citizens to “recycle” their garbage by throwing into a huge pit leading to an alleged recycling factory?

What if Clodomir, clumsy hero (slightly helped by his destiny), fell into this pit? What if, right after an eternity-like fall, he discovered a large maze of caves and galleries where some medievalish people live? What if these people discovered every day new garbage on specific spots? Maybe this garbage came from the all-mighty gods ?

This was the beginning of Subterraneus’s Story.

The objectives

I wanted to create a game like the big ones, which meant :

  • a visible hero with free movement and interaction with interest point,
  • collectible and usable items,
  • a choice of topics with NPCs,
  • famous or infamous allusions,
  • and of course, a lot of bad jokes!

About the game itself, I wanted to create a dozen of scenes at first planning to reach 2 or 3h of gameplay. In my mind, few months should suffice.  What an optimistic one! Obviously, things had to take way more time than that! So, I decided to add some content to reach 4 to 5h of gameplay, intending to attain 20 scenes.

Why adding content if it already took longer than expected ?

Well, adding more scenes and story extend a little the development time. But the big part is building the core mechanics : moving the hero, shrinking or expanding him with the perspective, making him pass in front of or behind scene objects according to the depth of both elements… and other mechanisms like handling data-saving or dialogue tree. All of these things are necessary and require the same amount of time to be developed, whether for an 1h or a 10h game.

The means

For programming:

Unity.

+ Thanks to its large community, every encounterable problem has already been resolved.

+ Free at the beginning and affordable when you need to subscribe to it.

+ Easy exportation to multiple platforms (computer, tablet, smartphone, console, …).

Unity has been developed as a 3D engine and even if each update brings new functionalities for the 2D engine, there are some situations that need some serious twisting of a 3D functionality.

For graphics:

Pen and paper for organic things (characters and natural scenes) as sketches. Then, these sketches have been scanned, edited and colorized (with Gimp, an open source photoshop-like).

3D modelization (with SketchUp) for hand-crafted things (houses, facilities, furnitures, objects, …) to help keeping coherent perspective and proportions.

Exterior scenes have been composed by mixing these two techniques.

For scripts:

Blank paper, a dull pen and insomnia for the outlines, then a good old notepad.

 

These are the basis that support Subterraneus.