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Interview – Marian Cerman Creator of A Little Less Desperation

How do you set your new adventure game apart from the hundreds of other similar games? One way is the story and that is where A Little Less Desperation stands quite tall against the competition. I won’t ruin the fun for you. Suffice to say, if you have not secured your copy of A Little Less Desperation yet, you still have time to pledge on the Kickstarter. Interview after the jump.

Retro Gaming Magazine) Please introduce yourself.
Marian Cerman) I’m Marian, 39 years old and I live in Germany. I have a daytime job in health care and in my spare time I like doing artwork on my computer. When I studied, I got a side job as an illustrator for a popular German computer magazine, this is where I could make a lot of experience in the field of computer generated artwork. Apart from that, I love watching movies and TV serials, pretty normal I’d say. Ah, no, wait! I’m also boring! I don’t like going to discotheques and parties too much.

RGM) What inspired A Little Less Desperation?
MC) I guess this also sounds like the story of most who have ever enjoyed playing classic adventure games. When I was a lot younger and when I played my first few adventure games, I was so fascinated that I really wanted to make one of my own. Of course, this never happened, because as a kid I didn’t have any idea about how to do it. Nor did I have an idea what it should be about. Also, as school began to get more challenging, I didn’t even have much time to care about the topic and it got even worse when I went to university. But after collecting quite a bit experience on making computer artwork while I studied and after finding the great software, “Visionaire Studio”, an adventure game editor, I decided to give it a try, this was three years ago. Apart from classic adventure games, great inspiration, especially on the humor came from various authors, actors, directors, movies and TV shows. Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams and the old Lucas Games. Also very important: Star Trek, Star Wars, Galaxy Quest, The Addams Family, “Sledge Hammer”, Tim Burton, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, Ethan and Joel Coen, Steve Oedekerk and Blake Edwards are just a few important ones I’d like to mention.

The story itself, you could say, was made up coincidentally. At first I knew I wanted to have a puzzle about escaping a room in my adventure, mostly something to try out whether I’d manage to get that working. In fact, it was a dungeon cell, before I decided to make it a prison cell on a spaceship. Next question was “who would be the protagonist?” After some tries with some heroic figures, I tried something with someone who’d absolutely not fit in space and this is when Jacob was born. I found an Amish would probably be the last one to perform any heroism on an interstellar vessel. The rest of the story was “reverse engineered”. I tried to make up an absurd reason for Jacob being in that cell and I found that a farmer being abducted by aliens would be a nice explanation and also a common urban legend with some legs to be pulled. The next steps were making up why he was abducted and so on, I think you get the idea of how I came up with the story. In the meantime, it became quite a nice, absurd, yet solid story; I think it’s something to be looking forward to play!

RGM) What are your biggest challenges at this stage of development?
MC) The biggest challenge while developing a game, beside your daytime job, is long term motivation. At the beginning it was just trying out techniques for the artwork and collecting funny ideas for the story, jotting down dialogs and so on. But after a while the whole thing began to shape and instead of trying out, the work was more goal driven, because the story required various locations, characters and so on. Or put it differently: it became quite a big pile of work and I asked three friends of mine to help me with the music and the engine. This was three years ago. You can imagine, when you come home from work, tired and exhausted, it’s not always easy to switch on the computer for another few hours to get some work on the game done, especially if there’s no real benefit from it. On the other hand, at some point, so much of the game was finished that it would have been stupid to dump it all, so I and my friends just kept on going on.

RGM) The Kickstarter is funded and still has days left. Is there anything you would like to say to potential backers who haven’t taken the plunge yet?
MC) The thing that makes me the happiest while we’re running the campaign isn’t really the money; the money is just the necessary part. But the actual reward is the interest people show in our project. It’s just so great to see that there are people appreciating what we’ve been doing so intensively for the past three years. That’s very motivating and inspiring; I come up with new ideas, new puzzles, et cetera for the game almost every day now. So if you like our project, but can’t afford to pledge much money, go with the 1€ tier. We’ll be very happy for every single Euro that comes in, since this means another adventure fan liked our game.

RGM) Anything you would like to say to your fans that are reading this?
MC) There’s just a big thank you to all our backers. When the idea and the artwork began to shape, we began to write emails to game magazines and game blogs; many, many, many emails for a long period. It must have been hundreds. But there was hardly any resonance, just very few bothered answering or even putting a bit of news on their websites. It was so incredibly hard to get just a bit of attention that we didn’t really expect our campaign to be successful. So now we’re quite surprised and overwhelmed. We have still got some days to go and it would be really great if everybody could tell their friends about our game and our campaign. Also, running the campaign is a lot more stressful than I expected it to be, so I and the rest of the team are quite looking forward to finding the time to work on the game again after the campaign.

A Little Less Desperation is currently on Kickstarter. Secure your copy today.

Carl Williams

It is time gaming journalism takes its rightful place as proper sources and not fanboys giving free advertising. If you wish to support writers like Carl please use the links below.

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