Stay Dead is not your normal type of game, it doesn’t feature Pre-rendered CGI footage but uses real life video footage in an interactive movie. We caught up with one of the leading man at Brucefilms who was nice enough to answer some questions and offer you guys an awesome deal! Check out the interview and a couple of surprises at the bottom. To find out what we thought of Stay Dead and learn a little more about the game then check out our review here.
What was your inspiration to develop a game like Stay Dead?
When I was 14 (now I’m 36) I saw on zzap! magazine an image of a baseball video game compared to a baseball tv show, and since then I started to figure out a way to play the latter.
So generally speaking Stay Dead wasn’t born as a stand-alone project, but as our first ‘Motion Picture Game’. My hope is to create a genre that has one thing as a trade mark: real-time interaction in a movie. But this has to be real: ‘real-time interaction’ (the player has to have liberty of movement) and real ‘movie’ (with its grammar and well-edited scenes). And worst of all I never like 3D real-time graphics in today’s videogames; it’s still too poor to be compared to pre-rendered graphics. If you compare the movie avatar with the game avatar, the gap is still too huge to let me invest in the videogame character. Of course there are plenty of great games out there in 3d, but I always thought that the real life footage can work in the interactive field as well.
How long did it take to create?
Tough question. If we start counting from the very beginning it took more or less 22 years. But only 11 years from the real first prototype that I made in 2001. The prototype was great (at least to my eyes), but it was REALLY unplayable. The interaction was in real-time, but it wasn’t fun to play. So I started to experiment with different gameplay and 4 years ago (2008) I made the first demo of a motion picture game in the beat-up realm. Finally, after spending another three years in fine tune and research (research in funding too), the green light for Stay Dead arrived in July 2011. After a whole year of production, here is the game! So maybe the answer to the question should be between 1 to 22 years…
Did you learn allot in development; can you share a few experiences?
Sure…basing on the previous answer maybe the most important thing I learned was never surrender…but from tech point of view I had to write from scratch the grammar rules in order to be able to shoot a sequence that could be cut…in real-time. This is something that no one can tell me because I’m not sure its been tried before; or maybe yes but I think that anyone found these rules doesn’t share them so easily. By experimenting for 4 years I found a lot of curious things; there are particular cuts, for example, that give the player a headache, a physical nausea, when using them in an interactive project. It’s strange because the same kind of montage in a non interactive movie is really normal and has no side effects. So there are a lot of this subtle things to pay attention and learn.
When developing an interactive movie where do you start?
My idea was not to make an interactive movie, but to let the player interact in real-time in an action scene. So my focus is not on the story or the puzzles, but on the interaction and how to give the player the sensation that he is controlling the main character of a movie. I started from there with the gameplay, but i guess that people more focused on the story will start from the plot.
What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome?
Multi-layered direction (as I call it), without a shadow of a doubt. Here the task was very hard; the final effect of a motion picture game MUST be a believable movie, not a jigsaw of little chunks of video put one after the other. Movie with poor montage or (sigh) interactive movie of the 80s were only a collection of shots, not a real edited movie. You can immediately see the difference. My vision is different. I really want someone to think there watching a movie when they see someone else playing a motion picture game. So the challenge is; I have to make believable cuts but in real-time, without knowing the player moves in advance. So I shot and edited back and forth for more than four years (not every day!) before I could write down the new grammar rules that were needed in order to shoot a sequence that can be cut as a normal movie sequence, but with real time montage decision.
What reaction have you had from gamers who’ve played Stay Dead?
Basically everyone said; “I’ve never seen something like that before”, but for someone (really few, luckily for me) the sentence could finish with a great ‘”thankfully’”. From these few months of selling, I noticed that this game takes no prisoners. You love it or you hate it. For now we are talking about 90% love, 10% hate. For me, of course it’s a great victory. For two reasons; in first place because the vast majority of the players who try it said that it’s really cool. And then because the other part hate it. Hating this game it’s not bad for me (if the percentage remains so low, of course), because it’s a visceral emotion. Someone once said “You could hate a masterpiece, but you can’t really hate a mediocre work”.
What’s your favourite FMV game?
Dragon’s lair apart (I still play this game from time to time on my 3DS), if we can include in the category the games that use FMV as a background scenario, I spent load of time playing with these great games on my PC:
Star Wars – Rebel Assault
But oddly enough, I’m not a real big fun of the classic FMV game. No offence, but I’ve always thought that they were not so much interactive to be a game and not so much interesting to be a movie. The basic idea was good, but the market never gave them the chance to grow up, to develop themselves in something more evolved. They were crushed in the hardware issues for one side, production costs and 3d graphics to the other. But today things could be different, triple A games cost as much as a movie and we have no more tech issues.
I’m a huge fan of FMV games and would love to see more of them, especially when we have the hardware to run this. Can we see another interactive movie from Bruce Studios?
Yes, absolutly. My idea is to make a brand, motion picture games. With my concept you can make sport games, arcade games, racing games and so on. it all depends on how the market reacts to stay dead. I need to understand if the gamers like the idea, which gamers like the idea (casual, handheld, hardcore, etc…) and then adjusting my plan accordingly. I really hope that the fan of the FMV games supports my idea (and by supporting I mean: buy Stay Dead) even if the game is far from perfection. Only in this way we can hope that the majors will wake up and start to consider the genre something in which they could invest on. Without the money of the majors I doubt that the FMV will come back and I’ll become the lone wolf of the genre.
What’s your next project? Can you share any exclusive details with us?
I have always in mind something new to experiment with. both in video and videogame fields. But now I’m focused on marketing for stay dead and in developing further ‘real course golf’(another Brucefilm project). But I’d like to make the breakeven with stay dead pretty fast, because in this way I can start the development of my next motion picture game, that I hope could be about skate or boxing. I keep my fingers crossed…
We want to thank Fabrizio for taking some time out and answering our questions, we also want to thank him for providing us a special deal just for you!!! You can receive 30% off the PC version of Stay Dead when you use the code ASIB. You submit the code in the coupon field when checking out. Click here to buy Stay Dead and make sure you use the code!
To celebrate our exclusive review 16bits are also giving away 2 copies of Stay Dead for your iPad. Find out how to enter and win yourself a copy below:
1. Follow us on @16bitsgames and see our “Retweet and Follow” Competition
2. Leave us a comment below telling us what Interactive Movie Game you would like to see. Competition will close Wednesday 12th September