You will typically find Jon building a website or helping someone with their website. In between web design he spends time with his wife and two dogs. Loves to watch movies, eat pizza and play video games. Currently playing through Destiny 2: Forsaken and Laser League.
Seenapsis Studio is a French indie developer creating a unique rogue-like game that features deck building and procedurally generated dungeons. The creative art style and the eerie world is definitely something that piqued our interest. The team is hard at work developing the game, but their CEO, Alexandre Martin, took a few moments out of their day to talk to us about their game, and their company.
Hello and thank you for taking the time to answer our questions! Let’s jump right into it! A Long Way Down, is a deck-building, rogue-like RPG set in a dark looking world. What was the inspiration behind it? Did you guys draw any direct influences from other games?
Hi! Yeah, we have few influences you should know. The first influence, the dungeon building mechanic, comes from the tabletop game “Labyrinthe” from Ravensburger”, you know, that tabletop game where you move walls in order to create a labyrinth to achieve an objective.
The dark and gloomy atmosphere comes from Darkest Dungeon; we’d loved that stressful and anxiety-inducing game.
And finally Slay the Spire, it’s not really an influence because we had already thought of the same concept before that game released. It was a good and a bad surprise. A good one, because the game sells well and a bad one because we’re not the first ?
The way this game looks is simply beautiful. How did you guys decide on that particular art style? Were there any other directions you wanted to go with in terms of the look of the game?
I’ll let our Art Director answers your question:
“Thanks for the compliment. The story and the feeling we wanted to give to this game guided us to this art direction. We needed something beneath the black without being too dark or too grey, colors and lights which seems to be born from black (inspired by the work of Pierre Soulages). We installed several lights in our scenes because in our view it can reveal the complexity of the protagonist’s feelings. We wanted the player to have the feeling that he’s at the edge of a place where he can fall into darkness or burn into the light. The shapes (characters, items, backgrounds…) are drawn in the same direction, sharp, broken. Everything has an energetic outline.
With that in mind, we didn’t want the look of the game to be too aggressive, too sophisticated; so we tried to find a balance by adding some cartoon stylizations. We had other directions in mind, of course. One of the most memorable ones was a really cartoony look to improve the fun aspect in this game, but we quickly felt that it was a tradeoff which didn’t really show our hero’s state of mind, Sam’s soul.”
How has the process been for developing A Long Way Down? What challenges have you guys overcome to get where you are today?
The first challenge is to make the best prototype ever, not the one which pleases us, but the one which pleases the player. This step is crucial. we think a game should be for a community of players.
Producing a video game is expensive; it’s difficult to find a financial balance to pay the team wages for two years of development. And of course, find and motivate a team of experienced people. I invite you to check our Facebook page, there’s a photograph of the team.
I am a huge sucker for any game with cards and deck building. Did you ever want to just have a normal turned-based combat system, or were cards an important element from the beginning?
Cards were an important element from the beginning. It comes from the dungeon building side; it was a fact that we must have a card styled combat to stay consistent. Obviously, cards work well in a turn-based rogue-lite. This point has been confirmed by the success of Slay the Spire.
In the trailer, it suggests that you can fight enemies with friends. Will the game feature any kind of co-op mode or multiplayer element?
Yeah, we’d love to implement multiplayer but this mechanic needs a lot of time to be properly done. It’s on our roadmap, maybe quickly after the release, it’s all depending on the community feedback. For the moment we’re focusing on NPCs to help the main character in his adventure.
Let’s shift focus over to Seenapsis Studio. After looking over your company website it seems that you have a pretty small team. But it looks like you guys have a solid amount of experience. What’s it like at the studio? Can you give us a day in the life of a Synopsis employee?
We have a core team that’s enthusiastic and skilled; it is fun to work in a relaxed atmosphere with competent people.
A day in the life of Synopsis?
We have objectives defined for 10 days. So daily tasks must fit into those objectives.
We all begin our journey by a short and written explanation of yesterday’s work and what you aim to do today. The goal is to inform the rest of the team about the priority and if teamwork is required. We are physically split into two different offices, so good communication is mandatory.
I also see you guys offer other services like web development, graphic design and things like that. Does that work ever hinder the progress of the game? Or do you guys have a good balance?
Currently, we are focused on the alpha. So, resources are put into the production process. As we have the money for that, we hurry up to reach the best playable demo. After that, we will have to find a partnership with a publisher to reach a final high level of polish. A lot of things can go wrong, so we hope not to be forced to provide services to others companies.
Okay, back over to A Long Way Down. I did notice in one of the screenshots that the big bad enemy guy is also holding cards. Can you guys give us any information on this big baddie? He looks menacing.
He should be the big bad guy … or not … no spoilers ☺
Thank you for answering our silly questions! Can you give us any sneak peek at the game or any teasers that we haven’t seen yet?
Stay tuned. A closed alpha is coming really soon (end of July).
We have a discord too. We will be pleased to welcome you here
We will show our game at the Gamescom too, come see us!