Paradise Lost: First Contact was successfully Kickstarted on December 1st, 2013 after it managed to raise $145,000, more than double the amount of its base goal. The premise is that players take control of an alien plant that has been hidden away in a top-secret bio-engineering facility. A security breach allows the plant to escape imprisonment and discover the secrets behind the research organization that put it in a jar to begin with.
The game features inspiration from the likes of Castlevania, Metal Gear, and Metroid, so there’s no doubt there was huge demand from fan’s to see this game launch on Wii U. The console version was added to the base goal platforms shortly after the campaign began and is one of the most anticipated Wii U eShop games on the horizon. Nintendo Enthusiast spoke with founder and project lead Enol Martinez from Asthree Works to find out more about this exciting project.
Who are Asthree Works and which video games did you grow up playing?
We are a studio of three friends located in Gijón, Asturias. Sigrid Chánobas does storytelling and design, Fran Blanco handles all the programming and maths behind Paradise Lost, and I’m Enol Martínez and I take charge of art and gameplay. Talking about the experience of the team, we developed little games individually when we were younger, but this is our first attempt at making an ambitious adventure.
That is a curious question, because we came from different platforms and had experience in diverse games and genres. For example, Fran came from the PC world, starting to play with it since he was a kid, I grew up astonished by the beautiful sprites of the arcades and the Nintendo classics, and Sigrid had a curious jump from the Atari to the PSX. We love a lot of styles of game, but the three of us are huge fans of the Metal Gear series, the Oddworld universe, and the Metroidvania genre in general — obvious influences of Paradise Lost.
What do you hope to achieve with Paradise Lost: First Contact and how long has it been in production?
Paradise Lost puts the player in the skin of an alien-plant that came to earth and has been captured in a biogenetic facility. During the getaway, you will discover the secrets and experiments that takes place inside. We took our first steps in April of last year, dedicating our free time outside our jobs to make it possible. At summer, we decided to quit our jobs and put all in the line with this odyssey.
About the visual style of Paradise Lost, the three agreed from the beginning that a pixel aesthetic would give the game a gritty and mysterious essence and started to work on that direction. From that point, I committed myself to make a pixel art look that focuses on realistic movements and fluid animations. Taking those elements as a start point, I worked on the actual graphics trying to show a balance between visual simplicity and animation complexity.
What kind of variety, scale, and difficulty can we expect?
We are working hard to keep a good pace and have a wide variety of situations in each chapter. Doing this task in a game of this genre, where you wander the same sections of the map several times, is quite difficult sometimes but we are striving to provide a fun and varied experience. Talking about scale, we can say that the map is quite large and had many areas of exploration and secret areas. We’ve received a lot of emails and messages in forums asking for a high degree of complication, demonstrating that the players expect that the game offers a great challenge, so we’re squeezing our brains to make it hard. Paradise Lost also has an RPG component where the player can evolve each ability in the way he wants through the adventure.
Do you plan to include a co-op mode or any multiplayer options?
Unfortunately, we will not include multiplayer in the game. It was one of the Kickstarter stretch goals and we couldn’t reach it. We had some interesting ideas on this matter, but we’ll have to leave it in the drawer — at least for now.
You’re putting a lot of focus on atmosphere in the game. Will this include the soundtrack?
Our fantastic composer, Pablo J. Garmón, is making an immersive and astonishing soundtrack that adapts to each situation and scene. I think players will love it.
Have you considered making use of any of the Wii U’s unique features such as the second screen or Miiverse?
Of course we want to include unique features for Wii U! A Metroid-inspired game like this can have a good use of the GamePad. The most obvious feature is to display the facility map on it and add tactile interaction, but we’re also looking to include more options to make the experience interesting. There’s no plans to include Miiverse in a critical way right now.
When can we expect to see the game at home on the eShop? Has there been any thought to the price point?
We were looking to release the game at the end of this year and the Nintendo version for the middle of 2015, but the PC one could have a little delay because we are improving a lot of graphics and animations right now. The game will have the average digital prices you are familiar with.
Your came was successfully Kickstarted. How did you find the crowd-funding process? What advice would you give another developer considering this option?
Extremely exhausting. Haha! It was a great challenge because you have to be aware of many things at once: mailing press, taking note of backers’ opinions, constant updates, and more. Anyway, it is a highly recommended experience and I urge everybody with a good idea to venture and make a campaign. My best advice is to create a varied video, displaying everything your game can offer and avoiding showing your face and talking for a long time. If you don’t have a name in the industry, it could be more of a problem than an advantage. Also, care about the overall look of the page and put some interesting rewards.
The feedback has been extremely positive! We’re very happy with all the support of the community and that was shown when we published our game on Steam Greenlight, getting accepted in just two weeks, thanks to the users’ votes.
How did you find the path to becoming an approved Nintendo developer?
That is a good question. The fact is that Nintendo contacted us about a week after we started the campaign with an email saying, “Want to sign up here and become an official Nintendo developer?” and we haven’t even reach the necessary funds to make the project possible yet! In my opinion, Nintendo is making a fantastic effort to bring a lot of indie projects to their consoles and that is laudable. Unity is a great and versatile tool to develop a game these days and has a wide range of consoles to port your project, too, so of course, it’s one of the reasons that push us to make the game on this platform.
Being honest, our first idea was to make the port for Wii U if we reached more funds on Kickstarter, but tons of people asked us for the game for Wii U on forums and emails, so we decided to bring the game to the console, even if we don’t reach that goal, so here we are.
Is there anything about the process you would like to see changed?
Probably some stuff about organization and timing. We are rookies and are learning a lot of stuff on the fly, but things are going well, so I don’t regret much things of the development process.
What’s next for Asthree Works? Would you consider more Nintendo development in the future?
We have another exciting project in mind and a lot of ideas floating around our heads, but I prefer to focus on Paradise Lost and see how this project works before fully defining the next thing. It depends on the needs of future gameplays or if the ideas fits good in the Nintendo platforms. I’m not going to predict anything at this moment. About the fact of making a sequel, we don’t want to be limited to a specific genre — and we really want to explore new ways of play to share our stories, so our next game will be a new IP, almost for sure.
Thanks to Enol and the team at Asthree Works for taking the time away from development to answer our questions. To keep up with the latest news from the team, follow them via their Facebook, their Twitter, or their website.