Peter: How about the sponsorships you received. Do those suffice?
Zein: Not for the whole game. The sponsorship will suffice for the next episode. After that, we will have to look around – well, actually, we should look around now. As we said, the project grew significantly and that blew our budget just a little bit. We cannot and we will not just shorten our next episodes in the middle of the game. Not everyone would be thrilled about such a decision (laughs). You have to measure yourself by your own bar.
Kevin: We do not want to do such a thing. These are typical mistakes that we have heard about in the past.
Peter: You never wanted a publisher, did you?
Zein: We always wanted to keep our creative freedom.
Peter: And now?
Zein: Well, now it is hard because we have already released parts of our game. We already sell our game on Steam. Usually, that is kind of a deal-breaker for publishers. We would have to re-publish it with their name.
We will see. We have gathered a lot of feedback over the years, from many different channels. We have already made the decision that we will wait until every episode is released. To look for a publisher in between is not worthwhile. We want to pull through with our own resources right up to the finish line.
Peter: How about porting the game to other platforms? Tablets, for example, could be a great fit.
Zein: A touch interface for tablets or the Nintendo Switch or even a controller interface would definitely be possible. Then you have to assemble your commands by clicking through them. However, for consoles we probably want to search for a publisher. They are more experienced in how to release games on the console market. Still, that is a matter for after we have finished it.
Peter: Speaking of finishing the game, what is the ideal goal that you set for yourselves? When do you want to be finished?
Kevin: End of next year.
Zein: The end of next year is our highly optimistic goal. That is a goal towards which we can work. Maybe we will make it, maybe we will have to extend it. We will see. (breathes deeply) Anyway, it is possible to achieve.
Kevin: Well, that is our rough time frame when it should be finished. Whether it is the end of the year or January/February is not that important. Our goal is the end of 2019 or the year after.
The next episode will be in stores soon. Here we are very optimistic. After all, originally we thought that each episode would take about an hour to play. Then we killed off our first plan for one episode and extended the other episode instead. Of course, the other episodes aren’t just one hour but four hours.
Peter: That is quite a difference! Much respect that you did not shorten the game to fewer episodes.
Zein: That would have hurried the story way too much.
Kevin: After all, the story is one of our most important things in the game. We want it to be told the right way, with every character having enough time to be fleshed out. I always think that is one of our big points of the game – that you get to know every character really well.
Zein: We also did not kill off that one episode because it took too much effort. No, not at all. The episode did not propel the story far enough. It would have been a filler episode. We did not like or want that. That is why we split the story parts and incorporated them into the other episodes to balance them. We do not want one episode to be way shorter than the others or that another episode would have hours of side-questing.
Peter: How did you get such a cool office [co-working space in the Cologne Game House]?
Outside the friendly confines of Goodwolf's new office...
Zein: Johannes Brauchkamm of beepkultur and Thomas Rössig of Flying Sheep started that idea. They met people from Cologne or surrounding cities when they visited Boston for PAX, but they did not know them despite being neighbors! We should have a kind of atlas of game developers or a shared place together. That thought was the beginning of creating a co-working space. There are already other examples in Bayern, like the Saftladen or Werk 7. They proposed the idea to the city [Cologne], but they did not quite like it at first. After some re-thinking, they asked some firms to get some signed letters of preparedness. Thus, they declared their interest in the project. We were one of those companies.
I met with Johannes and he told me about the idea of a co-working space. On the spot, I declared my interest because at that time we had already given up our office in Bonn. That office was way too quiet for us. We could not work there – it had a kind of graveyard vibe. So, at that time we were both working from home. That can be quite exhausting, because you tend to get distracted a lot. Then Johannes came up with that idea of a shared office. I was like: by all means! Once again they proposed it to the city and this time it worked. The koelnmesse [Cologne trade fair] had two levels of a fairly big building which they wanted to scrap at some point. Thus, they even had a rather cheap lodging for the shared office. We reserved a small office and now the whole place is fully booked.
Peter: Do you get in touch with a lot of the other companies in your shared office? Is there any exchange?
... and then a glimpse of the inner sanctum itself
Kevin: Usually our door is open all the time. We meet each other in the corridor. Directly next to our office is Jörg from Ducks on the Water. They are also working on a text adventure. This door between us is usually open as well. Jörg is one of our best testers.
Zein: We also meet each other in the kitchen. There are even some former fellow students, like Massive Miniteam a few doors further down. When we fetch a coffee we walk into their offices and take one to each other. Sometimes they come to our office or we grab a meal together. There is always an exchange of some kind.
Recently Kevin put out our whiteboard and wrote on it that we had a new puzzle and asked whether anyone would like to test it. After a while some developers came and took the time. That is perfect! That is exactly what we wanted. Exchange knowledge. That is quite cool and provides a very fertile base. It even helps telling someone about things that do not work – even talking with them about our story. Asking some external person how a character should react is quite helpful. Sometimes they have ideas and we enthusiastically reply, “Yes, exactly. That is a good idea. That is how we are gonna do it.” That always works fine.
Peter: Maybe even some collaborations will come from that exchange.
Zein: Yeah, they have partly happened already. For example, on our Discord server we talk about a new proposal of a 3D project and whether anyone wants to do it. That is how you push projects or responsibilities towards each other. Even when somebody is looking for a new job and company X has a new job offer. That is really awesome in here.
Peter: Thanks for the interview!
This interview was originally published on the German site Adventure Corner. It has been translated by the author and reprinted with permission.