Post Script

Kevin Sardà, lead de­signer and Raúl Ru­bio, CEO and cre­ative direc­tor, Te­quila Works


Rime has emerged from its pro­longed, fraught de­vel­op­ment – the story of which we charted in E305 – ev­ery bit as spe­cial as early glimpses sug­gested it would be. Here, lead de­signer Kevin Sardà (right, top) and Te­quila Works CEO and cre­ative direc­tor Raúl Ru­bio dis­cuss the re­lief of reach­ing the end of their jour­ney, and the re­mark­able at­ten­tion to de­tail lav­ished on Rime’s world. Spoil­ers fol­low. Af­ter every­thing you’ve been through, are you happy with the fin­ished game? Kevin Sardà It’s a re­ally personal project, and ev­ery­body has their own hopes and dreams for it. But Raúl is the per­son that is clos­est to it. Raúl Ru­bio I’m re­lieved we’ve fin­ished it and I’m very happy for my team and what we have achieved to­gether.

Do you have any re­grets?

RR The only re­gret is the cos­tumes; we wanted them to have ex­tra pow­ers – like let­ting you breathe un­der­wa­ter – but it broke the game. It wasn’t fun in the end.

With the kid’s toys, you’ve made col­lecta­bles feel worth­while. Was that your spe­cific in­ten­tion?

KS For us, adding col­lecta­bles was a way of re­ward­ing play­ers who want to ex­plore or try dif­fer­ent things. We didn’t want it to be like, ‘Col­lect 1,000 seashells’, just so you can get an achieve­ment. We also had a lot to ex­plain, be­cause there are no words at all in the game, and all of that is scat­tered among the col­lecta­bles. We had to be cre­ative, be­cause we couldn’t have any up­grades what­so­ever. We couldn’t have an econ­omy sys­tem or just scat­ter money around the game, be­cause play­ers aren’t go­ing to be able to buy weapons or a dou­ble jump. So all the dif­fer­ent tricks that are nor­mally used had no place in our game. In the end, we tried to use that as a strength, in­stead of a weak­ness.

RR Usu­ally col­lecta­bles are some­thing you need by de­sign, like Kevin says. But for us it was more like a dance be­tween nar­ra­tive and de­sign. You will have no­ticed that the whole game is ba­si­cally a nar­ra­tive that is be­ing played out – in the end it was some­thing that helped us a lot to be able to cre­ate more el­e­ments for the story, but we feel re­ally proud that the col­lecta­bles are some­thing that com­ple­ment the game.

The toys lend huge power to the game’s con­clu­sion.

RR Be­lieve it or not, we had peo­ple cry­ing in the stu­dio. It’s strange – that end­ing works be­cause you project your­self into the sit­u­a­tion. So it’s dif­fer­ent for many dif­fer­ent peo­ple.

KS We were all cry­ing, even when we were only watch­ing the an­i­matic! The way you play with ge­om­e­try and nav­i­ga­tion in Bar­gain­ing is in­trigu­ing. How did you ap­proach that? KS It was re­ally hard to turn all of that mys­tery, and the break­ing of rules, into me­chan­ics. But it was also re­ally im­por­tant we suc­ceeded. The game starts as one thing, but slowly trans­forms into some­thing else – and we had to do that grad­u­ally oth­er­wise the player would feel cheated. With ev­ery space we had a clear theme, and there are a bunch of ideas in there – in Bar­gain­ing, the player has to help other characters if they want their help in re­turn, but things aren’t what they look like. RR Some­times we went too far, though. At one point in Bar­gain­ing we had Escher-in­spired me­chan­ics where you were walk­ing on the ceil­ing and you could see your re­flec­tion and go to a par­al­lel uni­verse where every­thing wasn’t per­fect. But it was re­ally dif­fi­cult to play. All the playtesters got lost and couldn’t nav­i­gate it at all. It turns out that your mind can un­der­stand an Escher paint­ing, but you can’t be in an Escher world. So that’s why we de­cided to ap­ply non-Eu­clidean level de­sign. The way you change game­play and en­vi­ron­men­tal rules is a bold yet risky move. Did that worry you? KS Yes! Nor­mally when you start a game, you’re told what you have to do, and you have to do that for the rest of the game. You get it straight away, and the game just keeps get­ting harder. It’s a good way of mak­ing a game, but it wasn’t our way. Firstly be­cause of the na­ture of the story, ev­ery stage has its own theme and feel­ing. But also, we wanted the player to feel lost, which was the key to piquing cu­rios­ity. And that cu­rios­ity is what drives you for­ward, be­cause no one is telling you that you have to save the world, or res­cue a princess. It was a risky gam­ble, but it was our vi­sion from the be­gin­ning. There is re­mark­able at­ten­tion to de­tail in the level de­sign. How much of a chal­lenge was that? KS There are many things that are there for a rea­son, but most peo­ple are never go­ing to find. In the Anger stage, for ex­am­ple, there are three wind­mills: the wind­mill of the sea, which is flooded; the wind­mill of the boat, which is made of pieces of bro­ken ves­sels be­cause the boat was not good enough to pro­tect the kid; and the wind­mill of the kid, be­cause he was reck­less. In the cen­tre of every­thing, the bird’s nest is shaped like the fig­ure of the fa­ther. The bird rep­re­sents his anger, and as you pre­vent the bird from fly­ing near each wind­mill, that anger is redi­rected. Once you have noth­ing else left to blame, the anger can’t go any­where else – the whole is­land, and the storm, turns against the fa­ther and you have to blame your­self. It’s never ex­plained, but for us it’s im­por­tant to place this in­for­ma­tion ev­ery­where.

“We were all cry­ing, even when we were only watch­ing the an­i­matic”

Kevin Sardà

Raúl Ru­bio

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