Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Spotlight: Stasis Interview with Christopher Bischoff

Last week Marc caught up with Christopher Bischoff, the creator of the horror adventure game STASIS, which is now taking donations via Kickstarter. A few days still remain in the kickstarter and a demo is available for the curious via http://www.stasisgame.com/getstasis/. Be sure to read our interview and check out the game! .

TFN: How would you describe Stasis to someone who doesn’t know anything about it?  

Christopher: STASIS is set on a seemingly abandoned research facility. The player takes on the identity of John Maracheck to explore and solve puzzles in a 2D isometric environment. Essentially, it's an horror, adventure game in the same vein as Monkey Island and The Dig. To help John find his family, you're required to interact with your surroundings, collect and use items all while uncovering the deepening mystery.

 TFN: One of the things that drew me to your project was the idea of using the adventure genre as the framework for a modern Sci-Fi horror game. Can you tell us some of the ways the genre has enabled you to explore your story in a way other genres could not?  

Christopher:The adventure game genre is perfectly suited to a horror game, in that it almost goes directly against the grain of needing to explore. It forces you along a path, that goes against human nature and almost creates an 'uncomfortable feel' in the environment. You don't want to go through that door, but you have to... You don't want to know what's under that hospital bed, but it could be an integral part of the game... Science Fiction is also a wonderful tool in adventure games, from a story point of view. I found that many of my favorite adventure game experiences were reflections on who I was as a person as the time of playing them. Through Space Quest I got to live out my time as an awkward kid, trying to see where I fit into the world. Day of the Tentacle was am exploration of friendship, reflecting many things that a young child was looking for in the world. As an older gamer, I am looking for experiences that speak to me and to my role in society. The best Science Fiction is the type that holds up a mirror to the feelings and emotions that society is going through at that moment.

 TFN: During my play time I found puzzles which seemed well grounded in reality and followed logically. Is there anything you can tell us about your design philosophy?

 Christopher:John is very much a part of me. I'm not an engineer, so if I was trying to get through a locked door, there is very little chance of me rewiring the lock! I'd most likely try to lever the door open with a crowbar. The design philosophy is really, "What Would John Do?" He isn't a marine or a scientist. He is a normal, untrained man, in search of his family - and that's constantly in the forefront of my mind when designing the game, the puzzles and the situations that John finds himself in. But that's not to say that there aren't instances where he'll need to move far from his comfort zone to get through the ship.  

TFN: Groomlake is a reference to the dried up lake north of Area 51, would you say that American cult mythology has influenced this game?  

Christopher:The world is a very small place and the influences in STASIS range from American Cult Mythology to Japanese political cover-ups, post World War II. STASIS is an amalgamation of ALL of my interests; some are obscure (like conspiracy theories and black holes) and many are more direct like film and games and you'll find these references throughout the game. Did you know that John's name is a good example of a truly obscure Aliens reference?  

TFN: In a recent kickstarter update you expounded on the influence Alien has had on you over the years and in particular with Stasis. What I have always found remarkable about that movie was Ridley Scott’s courage to pose deep, disturbing questions and offer no clean answers. Beyond subject matter, have Ridley Scott’s works had an impact on your approach to narrative and exposition?  

Christopher:Ridley Scott's ability to give a lot of information without relying on dialogue (or any focused written word) is something I've tried to emulate. Things like small signs on the sides of doors, a bloody hand print, a sound that echoes through the scene at just the right time... Every piece of information in a Ridley Scott film is carefully given to the viewer, allowing them to piece together the puzzle without being overt about it. It's an incredible skill. I'm trying to pull this thread through into STASIS.  

TFN: Kicktraq expects you to exceed your Kickstarter goal by a healthy margin. What has your experience been with the kickstarting process and is there any advice you’d offer to aspiring game designers looking at the platform?  

Christopher:It really has been an intense few months - counting the four months of preparation for the Kickstarter campaign. My two cents: Treat the time leading up to your campaign as importantly, as the time during your campaign. A strong build up and strong start is the best thing I could've hoped for, because it gives supporters confidence in your project, if the campaign slows down a little.  

TFN: Our podcast is known for doing Top 5 lists every week, you have mentioned your love for adventure games. What are your Top 5 adventure games?

Christopher: The Dig Space Quest 5 Day Of The Tentacle Broken Sword Beneath a Steel Sky  

TFN: Thank you again for giving us a bit of your time! Is there anything else that you'd like to mention? About Stasis or any other projects you're working on?

 Christopher:STASIS has been my focus and my life for three years now! The future is going to be interesting for The Brotherhood and for fans of isometric games...  

You can check out Christopher Bischoff's game, STASIS, via his Kickstarter page located here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bischoff/stasis-2d-isometric-scifi-horror-adventure-game

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