Interview with Georges Paz from Psychoz Interactive
PS Vita has quite big library of games but we have to admit that few genres are missing or have only few representatives. Horror games are one of those types, which we would like to have more, especially in 3D environment. Luckily, to our rescue comes Psychoz Interactive with their fresh IP called Forgotten Memories! This title will be very important for our handheld and we wanted to closer it to you. But who will do it better than one of the creators? Please welcome Georges Paz from Psychoz!
MyPSVita.pl: Hi Georges. We are very happy that you agreed on this interview. Do you want to say something before we start?
Georges Paz: First and foremost, I would like to thank you guys for your time and interest in our game.
Psychoz announced first 3D survival horror for Vita, we just had to know more directly from the source! OK, in the beginning I would like to ask you about your adventure with video games. How it started?
It started more than 25 years ago, I’m an 80s guy who grew up with Comodore, Amiga, Atari, Nintendo, Sega, Playstation gaming systems!
And when you decided to create them, were you influenced by something?
I think it was when I started high school. A friend of mine asked me to join him in a computer class session. So I went there, and got hooked the first time I saw a Comodore and a bunch of people programming sounds and small programs.
Did you studied in this direction or you are self-taught man?
Back in my time there was no “game programming” specific course, I studied Analyst programming and Computer Science but nothing really game specific. Even my first job after graduating was in a software company. I was a researcher in Aerospace software market. Everything related to game was self-taught. I should point out that advanced maths and programming learned in school really helps, a lot!
Could you name productions on which you worked and were published?
Some of the games our crew worked: Game of Thrones, TV Show King, Red Orchestra: Rising Storm, Babel Rising, Wargame European Escalation, Farming Simulator, The Testament of Sherkock Holmes, Orcs and Men, Realm of Ancient War to name a few.
Why did you decided to leave Gameloft and to start working on your own?
I wanted to create my own games, with my own stories, nothing to do with Gameloft, they are great people there.
When and how came to live conception of creating Psyzchoz Interactive? I’m betting that studio came up into existence for Forgotten Memories purposes.
That’s correct, it was around summer 2007 that I decided I wanted to create a survival horror game. Two years later I left Gameloft to fund Psychoz Interactive with other ex-industry talents and friends.
Since 2009 six years elapsed and you still didn’t published the game. Of course founds are the biggest problem, so why didn’t you started Kickstarter campaign although it was announced?
We actually co-developed Dead Strike, a small zombie shooter game for iOS, published in 2009, now held by a British company (which still being sold in Android platforms btw). We also developed others projects for clients that I can’t mention due to strick NDAs. I’ve also invested tons of money in the production of the game and technology behind it. All our developers also invested money in the project. Back in 2013 we got this idea of a Kickstarter but we let it down because it wasn’t that necessary for us. We still have plans for a future KS but this time is not about money, we want to rise even more visibility. To be confirmed.
When you do, we will be happy to support it. I’m also surprised that you choose for starting platforms less popular systems, that is PS Vita and WiiU, and next in line are real money makers, like iOS or PS3. Or something had change in that matter?
PS Vita and Wii U are systems with almost no survival horror games on it. We got approached by Nintendo and Sony for that matter but Forgotten Memories was first an iOS started project, that’s why it’s going to be published first on iOS and the rest of platforms will follow.
We also share love to Vita. What in particular you like in it?
Vita it’s a powerful handled gaming device and we like it. Hopefully Sony will continue making powerful handled devices.
And which Vita’s special functions will you use in Forgotten Memories?
Besides the back touchpad, we use everything on the vita. You can even play with physical controls and touch simultaneously. You can also move your character with the left physical stick and rotate the camera with your touch screen. You can also go full physical or full touch screen.
Steering with physical buttons sounds great, rest too. And did you come across on any technical issues preparing Vita’s version?
Not really, we’ve developed Forgotten Memories on desktop every day, so we had to implement physical controls support as making iOS builds takes quite a lot. Forgotten Memories works well with gamepads and touch controls. There’s some stuff that need to be tweaked for a complete Vita version such as minor UI, few shaders and game save stuff. The rest already works fine.
So can we expect native resolution and 60 frame per second?
That will depends if people want to trade graphics fidelity vs smoother frame rates. It’s hard to have both as Forgotten Memories is a very graphic intense game. But we are analyzing that now.
And how working with Sony looks like, are they helpful?
They are very helpful and kind, but nothing beat Nintendo support.
So you didn’t have to wait long for project acceptation and quick certification process is expected?
I can’t comment on that, it’s under strick NDA.
I asked for certification because I remember few games that waited months for it. In that case summer premiere is still realistic idea and 2-3 episodes will be available? Also why you decided on episodic form?
It always comes to Sony priorities. They of course cannot prioritize everyone. Keep in mind that Forgotten Memories is not an episodic game. It was, Forgotten Memories it’ a short-game series where every game is a self-contained game with a beginning and ending thus related to the whole universe. Every release is expected yearly and should top around 5hours of gameplay time with tons of replayabilities and unlockables. Same goes for Alternate Realities (the first game of the series to be released soon).
Can you determine at this moment price of one episode and availability of season pass? Also, what is more important, premiere in North America and Europe will be in this same week?
It would be priced between 5-10$ per game. Releases should be expected worldwide.
I have to ask, on principle – is there any chance for box version?
As of now, we maybe got a deal with a Japanese publisher to distribute a special boxed version on Japan (to be confirmed). We would be interested to publish a boxed version globally and I welcome anyone interested in to contact me personally.
Hope it works, collectors of boxes will be thrilled! Do you have number of sold copies that will satisfy you? If yes, did you split it for individual platforms?
Yes, our goal is to sell around 1 million (at least) units in the coming months. Can be iOS only, or throughout multiple platforms.
OK, I think that clears curiosity in basic issues. Now let’s focus on Forgotten Memories. Can you tell us about story line, place of action and main character of the game?
On Forgotten Memories: Alternate realities, you’ll play Rose Hawkins, a woman who is searching for a missing young girl named Eden. Rose wakes up wounded and in a strange place she doesn’t recognize. While exploring the hallways of an old abandoned asylum to save a lost soul, Rose will find herself locked in a never ending tragedy; frozen in time. She will have to confront her deepest fears to unveil the mystery behind her terrifying investigation.
Trailers clearly show that we will be in control of Rose. Are you planning to reel of range of playable characters with other inspectors or someone else? Or maybe they will be just NPC’s?
In the first game you’ll play as Rose only, upcoming ones you’ll play as Nathan, Eden and others characters. Guy Cihi (James Sunderland in Silent Hill 2) is behind Nathan Barnes, Rose partner and inspector in Boston Police’s Juvenile division.
These variety sounds very good. What we will come up against? Ghosts, zombies, others supernatural creatures?
Ghosts, possessions, shadows, humanoid creepy creatures. A bit of everything but not zombies.
Could you describe a typical combat with them? Will there be a varied arsenal or maybe other methods to deal with those creatures
Combats in Forgotten Memories are not forced. Sometimes you’ll have the choice to run but it have consequences as the game adapts to both styles, people who like to gun out enemies or those like me who prefer to run away and save some ammo. Besides, you got a huge verities of fire guns and melees, from shotguns, revolvers to pipes and knifes. Although, weaponry and ammunition is very rare in the game.
Can’t be too easy right? What else, besides dealing with monsters, gameplay will offer? Hard puzzles, races against time, collecting special items or maybe something else?
Exploration, hard puzzles and riddles (2D and 3D), unpredictability, dynamic events, real-time dialogues and cut-scenes but the real heart of Forgotten Memories is exploration. It showcases a huge in-door non-linear progression.
And that all will be included in main storyline? So can we expect subplots and extra challenges, for example in form of DLCs?
Main storyline is about finding the missing girl, while trying to look for Eden you’ll end up being trapped in a never-ending tragedy that you need to solve in order to move forward with your investigation.
Also trophies become common way to extend time with games. Do you want them to play this role or they will be set on clearing chapters, like in The Walking Dead? And, what is important for some owners of PlayStation systems, will there be platinum trophy?
We got 22 unique trophies and challenges, leaderboards and a classic ranking stat screen at the end of the game. Some of them are progression based, but most of them are exploration based and challenging.
All these answers suggest set for climate. Thanks to already published clips gamers could taste it. But can you tell us how it will be intensified? With sudden appearance of mysterious characters, monsters or maybe more like music, sounds?
All of that, unpredictable events, oppressing ambience, terrifying music, game changing dynamically to the player style. Well-crafted level design, ammunition is not randomly placed, you’ll have to strategically manage all that. Same goes for your flashlight. We actually use gameplay as the main element of fear.
So we have to prepare diapers in case of wetting ourselves from fear?
Forgotten Memories evokes a constant sense of dread, interrupted only by spikes of high terror. Feelings are induced through subtle manipulations of human psychological triggers, rather than predictable jump scares.
That’s even better! Where did you found inspiration for this game? Who first came up with an idea for Forgotten Memories and what mostly influenced on you all (movies, games, other thing)?
Silent Hill games, specially Silent Hill 2 and 3 but also the first Resident Evil game. You’ll find various movies references such as “Twin Peaks” and Stanley Kubrick and few Japanese horror movies too. If you are a good “cinephile”, you’ll spot them all around when playing the game. There’s also tons of funny references and easter eggs.
Who is responsible for design of locations, characters and monsters and who for music? Are their names know to gamers community and can inflict on bigger anticipation for the game or they are new, highly skilled talents?
We are all ex-industry experienced veterans, coming from big studios. Our crew have very talented artists and designers. Besides Guy Cihi and Dave Schaufele (both from Silent Hill 2 case) the rest of the crew is not known to the community. Guy Cihi have been providing writing input lately which is awesome.
That’s all sound awesome. Now we can only wait for first 3D survival horror on Vita. Oh, wait, Resident Evil: Revelations 2 can be first. Do you think that release of RE can help you get more attention or you rather missed your chance to do better on Vita?
I don’t think RE Revelations will help us. Forgotten Memories is not action oriented, it’s more exploration oriented while RE now has become pure action franchise.
So we will have two different types of survival horror, this is even more exciting! When can we expect more specific date? Or maybe you could tell us right now at least a moth of release?
Sometime this year, I can’t say exactly when, it all depends on when the port is finished and Sony slot availability. We’ll however make the release date announcement 2-3 months before release.
Does Psychoz have plans for new game or maybe you already started working on something?
We already started working on the next FM game. The one where Nathan (Guy Cihi) will be taking the main playable role. That one will be available sometime in 2016.
Hope the development go smoothly. OK, last question, but not related to Forgotten Memories and your firm. Which games are your favorite and why?
Silent Hill 2 is my all-time favorite game. Mostly because the story, it’s one (if not the only one) game that treats a really mature subject (a man confronting the dying of his beloved woman). The character development is also awesome. The openness of the gameplay, I like exploring empty places, learn about them. But SH2 Is not my only one, I got few of them from, 2D, 3D, even interactive stories such as TellTales Walking Dead series. On 2D, SuperMario All Stairs, Mario Worlds, Donkey Kong series, Mortal Kombat (SNES) Super Metroid (my fav 2D game). Others such as Halo series. Ultimately, Doom which was my very first FPS game and special mention to Hugo House of Horrors an over terrifying adventure game.
I always liked computers and programming but the game that really put me into making games was Silent Hill.
Thank you very much for this conversation. Now MyPSVITA.PL readers will be waiting for premiere of Forgotten Memories even more impatiently. Do you want say something for goodbye?
I would like to thank you for your time again and let your users know that they will fall in love once they get Forgotten Memories on their hands, later this year.
Regards from Psychoz Team!