RIOT is a “riot simulator” for PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, and the OUYA. The development team is headed by Leonard Menchiari, previously a cinematographer at Valve (see: Half-Life – Singularity Collapse), who is acting as the game’s director. Game designer Mattia Traverso and programmer Ugur Ister work on the game, while Simon Michel composes RIOT’s brooding soundtrack, and Eric Wegener and Rolando Nadal are on the team as sound designers.
On IndieGoGo last March, the team pulled in $36,139, over double their original $15,000 goal, from nearly two-thousand supporters.
Recently I was able to chat with Mattia Traverso, and talk to him a bit about what the team has planned for RIOT, and what anxious fans can expect to find when the game launches, later this year.
IGM: Will players be the protestors, or the riot police?
Traverso: The player will be able to play both roles, the rioters and the policemen. The differences of the two factions will arise from gameplay, and not from the story. The idea is to give the player a sort of “playable documentary”, completely unbiased of the two groups.
IGM: What kind of gameplay elements will players find in RIOT?
Traverso: The rioters scenario will feature strategy, but also “action”, in the sense of “direct response”. The player will in fact have to deal with trying to dominate and control the chaos that the protesters will generate, in order to lead the protest/riot towards its apparent goal.
The policemen faction instead will play more as a strategy game, representing the order governing this side.
IGM: How many levels/scenarios are there planned? Will they be connected, or random events?
Traverso: RIOT will feature four main campaigns (Egypt, Italy, Greece, Spain) and, in addition, a huge number of bonus levels in several other locations around the world. We are constantly getting emails from fellow developers or gamers who want to help in the research aspect of the game!
IGM: So team members actually traveled around the world to document actual protests, for RIOT?
Traverso: Leonard went to Egypt, and the experience was quite a tough one. The game will try to portray it in the best possible way, but we would rather not unveil it now!
Leonard went to Egypt thanks to the BBC, and he also joined the No TAV protest in Italy. It was during the latter event that he had the idea for RIOT.
IGM: Are you using RIOT to highlight any protests in particular?
Traverso: We will try to focus on protests that we believe were/are important, but every recent event is being considered.
IGM: Why the decision for simplistic graphics, rather than gritty realism?
Traverso: The graphics are certainly pixelated, but definitely not simple. The amount of details, the post processing effects, the shadows, the lighting… We went for a pixel art approach so the player could “fill the missing holes” and use his imagination, but also because we are huge fan of that masterpiece that is Sword & Sworcery.
IGM: What sort of decisions will players have to make while playing the game? Is it simply “what a protestor would do/what a riot police unit would do”?
Traverso: Not really, the player will play as “the mass” for the rioters side, and as the head of the groups for the policemen side. The emotions and the setting will arise from the gameplay and the context, rather than the single individual.
IGM: Are you afraid that certain businesses might condemn or even ban your game?
Traverso: It is certainly a risk. We hope to pass Apple’s App Store submission, but we cannot be sure about it. Worst case scenario, there always other markets to rely on.
IGM: Alpha/Beta/Release dates?
Traverso: When it’s done! (But we are aiming for the end of the year to release the game).