We recently had the chance to put some questions to Marek Zeman, Game Designer for RENOIR, which is currently running on both Kickstarter and Steam’s Greenlight.
PA2J: RENOIR looks like a very interesting and intriguing game, how did you come up with the idea?
Right after we decided to create a more ambitious game for PC and consoles, we spent weeks brainstorming various ideas together with our core programmer Martin. Since I am a huge fan of puzzle platformers I was focusing my ideas in that direction, also a platformer is one of the best genres to stick to for a small studio like ours. We put together my ideas for the game mechanic (by that time it looked a lot different than it does today) with Martin’s idea of making a game in film noir style (which came from his deep love for the Sin City comics) and we started to think about how we can join all this together for it to make sense. Many things have changed since then, but this was the real beginning.
PA2J: Can you tell me a little about the character James Renoir?
I don’t want to reveal much right now, since discovering James‘ story will be important part of the overall gameplay experience. You can find few clues in our campaign’s official texts though, but connecting those parts will be possible only in the game itself.
PA2J: The game is made in 2.5 was there any particular reason for that?
We had planned right from the beginning to combine detailed 2D environment together with smooth 3D animations of the main character. That was quite a task. We had to deal with many problems that came with it, but we are convinced that the result is worth and offers something more and different than what players are used to in other platformers.
PA2J: Can you tell me a little about the environment in the game, what players are likely to encounter?
The entire game is set in an urban environment which itself can be quite variable. So Renoir will oscillate between the physical dirt of slums and hidden filth and corruptness of the elites, which are very well known from noir movies.
PA2J: While investigating, James can use Victims ‘Souls’ to assist him in avoiding light, etc can you explain how the puzzles in RENOIR work?
Our main puzzle mechanic is based on James‘ ability to control the victims of preceding crimes in particular areas, to record their actions and then replay them all at once in order to solve some riddles that for example need you to be at more places at once. So basically it’s a matter of good planning, right timing and logical thinking. I wrote more about the mechanics in one of our KS updates: HERE
And we have much more to come! This particular mechanic will be more complex as the players go on in the game and we have some very nice surprises prepared for them. We certainly want to avoid any stereotyping and keep bringing something new during the whole game. My personal favourite variation of this principle is something I call “re-recording” – making a recording of one victim more than just once. This means you must perform a recording of one victim, multiple times, so you can get yourself a little further because of the changed environment after you’ve used other victims. So even imagination will be a great tool for solving the puzzles in Renoir.
PA2J: RENOIR reminds me of great games like LIMBO and The Misadventures of P.B Winterbottom, are there any games that you drew inspiration from when making it?
Yes, for me personally Limbo is a great role model especially in terms of game design. As well as other awesome puzzle platformers like Braid or Swapper which we mention in the campaign text.
Everyone in the team has different tastes, favourite games and inspirations that influence our work. For me particularly, besides the mentioned puzzle platformers, the inspiration comes from any well narrated and presented story-oriented game.
PA2J: The backdrop/scenery of RENOIR is pretty breathtaking to look at, how much fun was it to create that kind of era, feel?
Insanely fun! Our graphic designer Tobias is a huge perfectionist with an amazing eye for detail and composition. We discuss a lot how to interpret certain scenes and what to involve to make it support the proper noir atmosphere. The same goes with effects, movie procedures and methods, for example the contrast of lights and shadows. In my favourite trailer scene where James is waking up next to a burning car and then passing by a rock, you can notice that he is illuminated unrealistically by lights that shouldn’t be there at all, just like in old noir movies, where this method and many others were used. It’s these details that help in creating the overall feeling.
PA2J: RENOIR is set somewhere between the 1940s and 50’s, how important do you feel it is to have a sound that fits the theme a game of this kind?
As I said before, we want to bring players the noir feeling and that consists mainly of storytelling, visuals and sound with music. All of these are key elements that we are focusing on quite heavily. But we don’t want to just copy something that has already been done before. That’s also why the game is called RE NOIR. We want to “revive” the genre, but also adjust it for modern players as well. It’s been quite a challenge so far, but that’s the most exciting part on creating this game.
PA2J: You’re using the Unreal Engine 4 to help make RENOIR, would you recommend it to developers looking to make a game?
Definitely! UE4 is an excellent tool and many great games are developed in it. Besides it’s completely free now, what more can a developer want?
Previously unseen image
PA2J: With both a Kickstarter Campaign running simultaneously with the Greenlight Campaign for RENOIR, how do you feel they are both doing and was that always the plan?
Running both campaigns simultaneously was the plan, mainly due to increased potential spread of awareness of Renoir in the gaming community and to increase our chances on Kickstarter. Feedback from Greenlight is absolutely amazing. After 5 days we are 10th best rated game on entire Greenlight with over 70 % „YES“ votes. Unbelievable.
We had a very good start on Kickstarter, but the growth in number of backers has slowed down and it looks like it will be a tough fight right until the end. But we are doing all we can to let as much players as possible know about our game and campaign. If Renoir has your attention and you want to play it in the future, support us please as soon as possible.
PA2J: Have you made any contact with either Sony or Microsoft about bringing your game to the consoles?
Yes, we already contacted them and we will inform our fans as soon as we know more.
PA2J: Thank you Marek for taking the time to chat with us
Thank you for having us!
Massive thanks to Marek Zeman of Soulbound Games for taking the time to speak with us, You can help support RENOIR on Kickstarter HERE and check out the latest trailer below!