TRAUMA Developer Interview - Krystian Majewski
Last month we had the pleasure of reviewing TRAUMA - an eerie adventure title that spans over a number of HD scenes. We recently caught up with developer Krystian Majewski to talk about the development process that went into making the project.
TRAUMA is an assault on the senses - it almost feels like a car wreck of the mind which only adds weight to the character's plight. Did you do any specific research into recovery of accident victims when writing the plot?
I didn't research accident victims specifically. I haven't been in one. But in my childhood, I spent a great deal of time in hospitals. This is where the initial inspiration came from. I was also influenced by different theories and ideas of how the human mind works I picked up over the time.
Anja Jazeschann, the main character's voice actress actually survived a severe car accident. This is why she was interested in the project in the fist place. I think she brought a lot of this experience with her as well.
Check out our video review of TRAUMA
Can you tell us a little about the process that went into taking the HD snap shots and then relaying them into a playable game?
It was very improvised. I basically went out with a camera at night looking for good places. I had to consider multiple variables at once. The place needed to be well-lit. It needed to be fairly secluded. And of course, it needed to be interesting - and not only interesting from one perspective. So it was very different from taking just one photo. I had to consider an entire space.
Once I started shooting at a location, I had to think on my feet. I pretty much designed the level in my head as I was taking the photos. Of course, I could always add some elements in post, but the changes I made couldn't been too dramatic.
Once I had the photos, it was a more technical thing. I loaded the photos as textures in a 3D package and manually arranged them into these elaborate 3D collages. I exported that into my engine and defined how the photos connect with each other. Finally, I created the special effects.
It's easy to describe it in hindsight but there were a lot of unknowns every step of the way. I had a vague idea I was working toward but had to work out a lot of the details as I went. So it was actually very scary. To me, it's a small miracle that everything came together in the end.
What was it like to work with great voice actors? They really seemed to bring the story to life
I had some experience with voice-overs from the animation projects I did during studies. So I knew how to prepare. Technically, it was very low-fi. I had a USB Mic. We went to a sound-proof booth at my former university and simply laid the USB cable through a crack in the door to my notebook. Luckiy, Anja and Steve were very experienced and incredibly talented. So there was not much work for me to do. I just let them do their job. They completely exceeded my expectations.
Being a developer who relies entirely on digital distribution, do you think that retail sector is starting to become less relevant to the gaming industry?
Yes. Retail distribution is laughably expensive and inefficient for small developers like me. I was talking to some publishers but they weren't interested in TRAUMA. Seems like it's too niche too them.
Is this the first game you have made?
I have been working on indie projects since I was 12. That was in 1993. Indie games looked very different back then. I got some games on cover CD-ROMs of computer magazines. I published some on the early Internet. At some point I even had my own, small JRPG editor running with a community around it . But they were all very unpolished and unfocused projects. Recently, I have been working as a contractor on some Flash games. I realized a small puzzle game I made called Excit had an enormous number of players. That's when it occurred to me that this could be a sustainable way of releasing my own games. TRAUMA is my biggest project so far.
Do you have any advice for aspiring developers out there?
Start small - smaller than you think. Never abandon a project that you think you could finish. But most importantly - dare to be different. Don't try to copy what others made before you. If you don't have any competition, you win by default.
By Stephen Heller
TRAUMA is available now via STEAM and you can discuss the title in our discussion thread