Interview with Indie Developer Luminy Studios
Interview with Indie Developer Luminy Studios
JA's Karla Munger sits down with Juanjo Barceló and Andrea (Andy) Rinaldi, the developers of the upcoming point-and-click mystery/horror adventure Bloodwood: Reload
Posted: 02/24/15 | Category: Interview | Platform:

JA: Spain-based Luminy Studios is a two-man operation consisting of Juanjo Barceló and Andrea (Andy) Rinaldi. Thanks for agreeing to share some of your time with Just Adventure!

First off, congrats on Bloodwood: Reload being Greenlit! (I voted, so where’s my payment? Okay, I’m kidding.) Are you thrilled, or what?

Luminy Studios: Ha-ha, payment? Maybe we could give you a free copy of Bloodwood Reload ;-)

Seriously, we are totally surprised, as everything is going so very fast, we managed to get Greenlit in only 14 days! It's crazy! It's incredible to see everyone giving us encouragement and supporting the project, we could not imagine that such a modest, and free, project got this sort of reception.

We really want to thank everyone for their support.

JA: Could you tell us a little something about the studio and yourselves? How did you meet each other?

Luminy Studios: Luminy Studios was initially founded in 2006, just as a hobby with only one member: Juanjo. After a few years doing various collaborations and after some small developments (Devil's Sea, The Firstborn ...), Bloodwood arrived in 2008, as our first "serious" project. But after this game everything just slowed right down until Andy joined the team in 2014 and began redesigning Bloodwood.

 Juanjo is the lead artist, game designer, web designer and everything related to design or graphics. In my "real life" I am a designer specializing in web design, corporate identity and graphic design in general.

Andy has worked for 15 years as computer technician and web programmer before joining Luminy Studios and he now works in a Web Marketing company. He is our ninja game programmer and game designer. He is also the developer behind the game ASA: A Space Adventure - Remastered Edition, soon to be available on Steam.

JA: How would you describe the development process? Is any of it particularly vexing? Rewarding? Fun? Whatever?

Luminy Studios: This is our first serious project working as a team and it took quite a short time with Andy involved (only 2 months). It is difficult, therefore, to say what could really bother us but what we can say is that it is incredibly gratifying to see how people are supporting this project and that we are getting good reviews. And of course, to be Greenlit has given us a huge lift. These kinds of things can only motivate us to continue developing ideas because we can see that people like what we do.

JA: Your current project, Bloodwood: Reload, is a reworking of 2008's Bloodwood. What can you tell us about the history of the game? What made you decide to have a second go at it?

Luminy Studios: The first version of the game had a lot of classical graphic-style adventure, indeed the original game is a point & click adventure with pre-rendered images. But with Bloodwood Reload the gameplay has adapted more to current times, and not only that, but we have also improved all the graphics, music, story, puzzles... while still retaining the essence of the original.

We decided to redo Bloodwood for two very simple reasons: first because already we had the story and the second because we wanted to start with something that was not too complicated and so we were confident that we could finish it. We are very aware of our limitations and know that today it is often difficult to successfully complete any indie development, so we opted to redo Bloodwood.

JA: Will the current version have the same story as the original? Are there any noteworthy differences between the two?

Luminy Studios: The original story is about a group of Nazis that killed the children from a village in the forest, while leaving the remaining inhabitants alive. In the "new story" the Nazis and World War II no longer appear, as we both thought that it was a story that was too "recent" and had already been heavily exploited. We wanted the basis to be more ancient and mystical, so we adopted a new approach to the story while still retaining the essence of the original. Now the story is more dark and mysterious, with cults, rituals and ancient legends.

JA: If the completed game is as impressive as what I've seen so far, surely you'd have no problem selling it. Yet I understand it's to be freeware. What's behind this decision?

Luminy Studios: That’s a good question. Our main intention with this project is to learn from it and see how far we can get with very limited resources, in order to help us to be able to develop, in the future, potentially more commercial games. Bloodwood Reload is not a big adventure, it's a mini adventure, and we do not want to mislead anyone, so we decided to release it for free.

JA: The story of Bloodwood: Reload is quite intriguing (and creepy!). How did you come up with it?

Luminy Studios: Lovecraft created stories from his dreams, and we both like to sleep deeply :-) so we just close our eyes sometimes during the day. While the story of Bloodwood Reload is totally original it has many influences from the horror genre and from the classic mystery novel. Perhaps you cannot see it directly in the game but, for example, the village of Bloodwood Reload closely resembles that described by Stephen King in "Salem's Lot" or you can sense the parallels in the story of the "Lord of Illusions" by Clive Barker. The references are subtle but they are there, you just have to know how and where to look...

JA: I'm a great fan of all things horror. You’ve stated that among the inspirations for Bloodwood: Reload are Stephen King and Clive Barker, both of whom I love. Just out of curiosity, have you played Clive Barker's Undying? Have other horror authors (or films, games, etc) inspired you? Do you have any favorites?

Luminy Studios: Both Andy and I (Juanjo) love everything related to terror and mystery, but naturally everyone has their own preferences:

Juanjo: Ha-ha, Yeah, I have played Clive Barker's Undying and Jericho, though I have to admit that the latter is a little gory for me, I love the author's imagination, and also I love Stephen King’s way of telling stories. But of course there are other influences: Lovecraft and E.A. Poe (they are a reference for just about anyone who loves horror and occultism), I love all the classic horror films (Dracula with Bela Lugosi, Nosferatu by F.W. Murnau) and games like The 7th Guest or Sanitarium and more recent ones such as Alan Wake or The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.

Andy: I really like Lovecraft and Poe, but also other authors as A. Machen, R.L. Stevenson and C. Dickens. You should have noticed the Horla trailer introduction :-) My favorite movies are sci-fi and horror classic movies of the '50s and '60s, like Them, The Fly, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Thing from Another World, etc. About videogames, I particularly remember It Came From The Desert from Cinemaware and more recently Scratches (Nucleosys) and Asylum (Senscape), but also the Dark Fall Series from Jonathan Boakes. I also believe in the Ancient Astronauts Hypothesis and I’m very interested in the paranormal and UFO activity.

JA: You've said that Bloodwood: Reload is more about "creating an atmosphere of a clammy unease" than overt horror, and that there's no combat. So would you say that the game is primarily psychological in nature?

Luminy Studios: We don't particularly love the bloody horror genre, but Bloodwood Reload is also not a typically psychological horror. What we mean by that, is that the game does not have a psychological thriller as its underlying background but that the environment evolving around the player creates a dark and uncomfortable atmosphere. I repeat that this is not a big adventure, so the story is not too dense but is, perhaps, complicated.

JA: How much is left to do on the game? Is there a firm release date?

Luminy Studios: There is still a lot of work to do, and the game is currently only about 40% finished. This means that we have no exact release date at the present, but we can say that a likely date would be this summer (2015).

JA: Are you planning to do another game after this one, or is it too soon to ask?

Luminy Studios: We don’t feel that we can discuss our next game because, to be honest, we don't have a next game... for now. It depends on whether Bloodwood Reload gets good reviews, in which case we will maybe consider developing a commercial game, perhaps using crowdfunding platforms. Only time will tell...

JA: Are you full-time developers, or do you find it necessary to have day jobs? (Considering you don’t plan to charge anything for the game I’d say it’s the latter, unless you’re independently wealthy...)

Luminy Studios: You're right, both Andy and I (Juanjo) have to work and it’s in our free time that we develop Bloodwood Reload, usually in the evenings and over weekends. It is very difficult to live just by developing indie games but who has not ever dreamed of it?

JA: What is your relationship with The Ice House?

Luminy Studios: We became members only recently. The Icehouse is a recently formed group that is growing rapidly, I met one of its founders some time ago and Andy is an active partner of the group (he is developing ASA: A Space Adventure Remastered Edition – soon available on Steam), so when Andy joined Luminy Studios we decided to join The Icehouse as a studio.

We would encourage any small studios, or individual developers, that are starting up to consider getting in touch with this group. They bring together people from different disciplines and share their ideas with the other members. They have more information on their website: http://www.theicehouse.fr/

JA: Here's a question I ask almost everyone. Do you have any advice for aspiring game developers?

Luminy Studios: Two words: Patience and perseverance.

Patience because it is very difficult to be an indie, as there is much competition of very good quality and it is difficult to make a game that appeals to enough people.

Perseverance because the road is both long and steep and more than once you will feel tempted to leave. But we also say that all the good things will eventually arrive.

JA: Is there anything you’d like to say that hasn’t been covered?

Luminy Studios: We would like to briefly give our reflection on the international indie scene:

For years there appears to have been growth in the indie scene, so that anyone with a good idea and a little knowledge can now develop a game. To us this seems great and is also a way of telling the big producers that what really matters is the passion not the money. We are tired of seeing productions costing millions that are often not worthwhile while indie studios are increasingly developing real gems with very limited resources (as is our case).

We want to give our full support to these small studios who are starting from scratch.

JA: Thanks so much for the interview. I, on behalf of everyone at Just Adventure, wish you much luck with Bloodwood: Reload and any projects that may be in your future!

Luminy Studios: Thanks you for your interest in our project and also giving us the opportunity to let everyone know us a bit better.

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