IGM Interviews – Fictiorama Studios (Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today)

Point-and-click adventure games are of a genre that fell vacant in the mainstream scene on the cusp of the new millennium, but seems to be having a second wind of popularity in recent years. Amongst a few independent developers leading the genre’s new found renaissance, Fictiorama Studios is at the forefront, coming closer to finishing their dark, bloody, dystopian adventure game, Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today.


Commonly, point-and-click games have featured more comical tones, focusing primarily on witty, fun dialogue. Instead of taking a safer more traditional route in the genre, Fitiorama Studios took to their darker, more serious inspirations in the genre from titles like I Have No Mouth And I must Scream, and Sanitarium.


Indie Game Magazine was anxious to learn not only more about this bleak new adventure title, but also to learn about Fitiorama Studios, and what it’s like working day-to-day with a studio compiled of brothers. We spoke with Luis Oliván about his talented studio and their Kickstarter success:


Indie Game Magazine: What would you do if the Kickstarter was a failure? What was at stake?

Fictiorama Studios: We really needed the Kickstarter funds to finish the game. We had funds to start the game, so we did, but we knew we would need extra funds, so the crowd-funding campaign was in our plans from the very beginning. In fact, we made our calculations as accurately as we could, so that our Kickstarter goal was the right amount to finish “Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow comes Today”.


If the campaign had not succeeded, of course we would have had to look for other ways to fund the game. I guess we would have tried every (legal) alternative….


Luckily, thanks to our backers, media that spread the word, and dev-mates who helped us… it succeeded! Thank you all!!!


IGM: What’s it like working with a studio of brothers?

FS: We spend a lot of time together now, so it’s really important that the three of us have a very good, respectful relationship. Bear in mind that families usually gather from time to time, mostly on weekends… but we spend dozens and dozens of hours in the studio during the week, and then we gather on weekends as well!


Fictiorama Studios (left to right): Mario, Luis, Alberto Oliván, and Martín Martínez


Besides, we all want the best for Dead Synchronicity,  so sometimes we have different points of view on specific matters. The point is to keep those discussions in the studio, and never get them home.


Anyway, we still haven’t come to blows… And if it happens, we can always call our mom to discipline us!


IGM: It seems like point-and-click adventure games are sort of in a renaissance or revival recently, why do you think that is?

FS: I think there are several reasons. Firstly, tablets and smartphones (though we find regular smartphones too small for reading much) are perfect devices for playing point-and-click adventures, so there is a huge new market for the genre. Secondly, I think it’s a generational thing as well: A lot of us who are thirty-something… (well, almost 40) loved point and click adventures when we were teenagers and we want to keep playing them! Finally, digital distribution has changed it all. Of course adventure has always been a niche; the thing is that, now, niches might be big niches, as it’s easy for adventure lovers to spot new point-and-click’s. It has probably encouraged more indie developers to make more adventures.


IGM: What did you all do before Fictiorama Studios?

FS: Mario has been working as a programmer for years, and he is the lead guitar in the rock band Kovalski. Alberto has a Bachelor Degree in Art History and has always written short stories, besides being the main composer and lyricist of Kovalski. Martín, the main artist, who is not part of the family (…yet), has a degree in Fine Arts, and has worked in several video game projects. Finally, I have always worked in media: I have directed several short films and music videos, worked in institutional Press Offices…


IGM: You have such a clear vision of all the inspirations for Dead Synchronicity. Was that an easy process? 

FS: Most of those influences come from Alberto, the writer. It’s true that the three of us have grown up with the same influences, both in films, books, music… and, of course, video games. So, when he told us about his vision, it was really easy for us to see the big picture and to contribute ideas.


IGM: What has been the biggest challenge developing Dead Synchronicity, and how did you overcome it?

FS: One of the biggest challenges was to find the proper way to deploy the story. Of course, it is not linear at all and features dozens of complex conversation trees, so we spent quite a long time looking for tools to create them and display the story-flow in a way that we all had access to it, and it was easy to follow and to change.


We asked several writers for advice, and most of them told us they used no specific tool but doc files, spreadsheets, mind maps… We finally found articy:draft, a software that allows us to use a single application for most of what we need.


IGM: Where were you and what were you doing when the Kickstarter was successfully funded?

FS: We reached the goal the day before the campaign ended, so it was a really exciting month! It was Friday and it happened in the morning, so we all were at the studio. Of course we drank a toast, gave each other some hugs, laughed… and went back to work!


IGM: What do you think separates Dead Synchronicity from other adventure games (or other games in general)?

FS: From the very beginning, we have been trying to make the game we would enjoy as players. We love adventures, it’s our favorite genre, so we want to make an enjoyable one.


The game features a dark, mature mood, which is not the most usual mood in point-and-click games: It includes concentration camps, time-space distortions, pandemics… Of course there are a lot of “non-comedy” graphic adventures, but it’s also true that the genre is usually related to humorous plots. Our main goal is to move the players, and to make them feel involved in the “Dead Synchronicity”, black, ruthless realm.


In order to get it, we thought that implementing some dynamic features might make the gaming experience more exciting. This is not new either, but we have included several visuals, different shot-sizes (from introspective close ups to wide views) and so forth, to get a more enjoyable experience.


IGM: What made you settle on the story and feel for the game?

FS: The moment Alberto told Mario and me about the “Dead Synchronicity” story, we knew there was an exciting point-and-click game inside. In fact, the story itself contained all the elements that led to the game’s mood, so we created an art style and a music tone that fitted the plot.


We are doing our best to create a very compact product, so that art, plot, and music seem naturally, tightly connected.


IGM: It may be too early to ask, but any plans for whats next?

FS: “Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow comes Today” tells a part of the whole “Dead Synchronicity” story, so our next game will go on developing the plot. In fact, most of the next installment takes place in really intriguing, weird places… I can’t unveil more!


IGM: Why is Dead Synchronicity worth keeping an eye on?

FS: As I said before, we are making the game that we would love to play, so we are putting ourselves in the role of the players all the time.


The game features what we think is a distinctive 2D style; a dystopian sci-fi plot; a soundtrack written by a rock band; the chance to progressively interact with plenty of locations and characters, and even face different puzzles simultaneously…


Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow comes Today” is our little, moody creation, and we are fussing over it with all our strength so that players can enjoy it!

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