Dylan Browne talks to JA's Karla Munger about Caffeine, a sci-fi horror game with elements of adventure and narrative driven gameplay
March 30, 2014
Incandescent Imaging/Dylan Browne
Caffeine is an upcoming sci-fi horror game that will employ a strong focus on adventure and narrative. Its sole developer, Dylan Browne (aka dylserx), has just launched an IndieGoGo Campaign. It will run until May 14, 2014.
Check out the Demo:
I recently sat down with Dylan Browne to discuss Caffeine and related topics.
Karla Munger: Hi Dylan, thanks for taking the time to provide us with more information on Caffeine. Can you give us an overview of the game?
Dylan Browne: So Caffeine is a Sci-Fi Horror game with elements of Adventure and narrative driven gameplay, where you awaken as a young boy on a space station.. a space station with a sole purpose of mining the materials needed to create caffeine. The only problem is that you seem to be the only person on board and there are cryptic notes and audio logs everywhere. So naturally you need to go and explore to find out what has gone wrong.
Karla: You stated on http://www.indiedb.com/games/caffeine/downloads/caffeine-pre-release-demo that Caffeine is to be a "Sci-Fi Horror Adventure Game which takes inspiration from Fear, Condemned and Doom 3." Can you talk about this a little more, and will the game include any puzzles?
Dylan: Yes, for me Fear (1 and 2), Condemned and Doom 3 are some of my fondest horror related gaming memories (specifically Condemned) because of their great presentation and fantastic sound design. The best example of how Condemned has been influencing Caffeine is that in condemned there were scripted sounds of footsteps and clangs that sounded like they were right on the floor above you, this let to me implementing a random noise generator that randomly plays from a collection of sounds with their sources changing every time always just outside of the players sight. As for puzzles, I haven’t specifically implemented any yet but I do plan to include them and have thought of some quite a bit in my head!
Karla: What made you decide to make Caffeine's protagonist a young boy? Was he inspired by a real-life person?
Dylan: Funny question that, before I had the story idea I made a concept level (that would eventually become the demo level) and when I went to play it I realized that all the models were the wrong scale, but that got me thinking.. About how scary it would be to a young boy maybe 8 or 9 years old to be all alone on a big scary space station and from then on it kind of stuck!
Karla: I found the demo to be visually stunning, and it's amazing that you've done it all yourself. Have you had any formal training in digital art, computer graphics and/or game development?
Dylan: Thank you! Before the beginning of this year I was a freelance digital artist (self-taught) doing mainly 3D artwork for myself and also managed VFX as VFX Supervisor on a short film, I think that’s where I get most of the visual flair from because I approach all the modelling as if I was going to render it, I have always been a proponent of high end game visuals and I would like to make something that I would not criticize myself. Back to the question though not much training, apart from the tutorial here and there and a game dev course I’m currently doing.
Karla: Do you find working on your own to be difficult? If so, how? If you reach your IndieGoGo campaign funding target, do you plan to add to the team?
Dylan: At times it is difficult but then again I enjoy having full creative freedom and if I need an opinion on something I’m usually open about it on twitter or my lovely fiancé. As for adding to the team, if I reach my funding target then I would like to keep the core team as just myself but possibly get some animators I know in to help with that side of things, however if the highly unlikely situation of getting a lot more than the goal I would consider expanding into a proper development team.
Karla: I have an abysmal sense of direction and get lost quite easily, and the demo's environment is a multi-level maze kind of thing. Will this continue throughout the game? If so, will there be a map or some other way of finding one's way around?
Dylan: Well up until a few weeks ago I was looking at fairly linear levels but with the move to Unreal 4 I think the possibility of creating large sections of the station in a single level is a lot closer now, so we will see how that turns out once I get more into development. For navigation I have been thinking about this for a while, including having neon holographic signs showing you where different areas are, I could definitely see a map coming into the game, or some kind of electronic device to guide you.
Karla: For me, the demo is also quite effective in establishing an atmosphere of apprehension and foreboding, not only with sights but with sounds. I love that sort of thing; it facilitates my getting scaring all by myself as I try to imagine what might be waiting down the hall or around the next corner. Please tell me you'll be continuing with this kind of thing during the rest of the game.
Dylan: Most definitely! The guys down at Bay Drive Sound Studios have been fantastic in getting the soundtrack done for the demo and will be staying on for the full game, I usually spend a lot of time testing the sound on friends to make sure it works and is scary.. one of them ended up on the ground last time so I guessed I had an adequate scare factor.
Karla: How long will Caffeine be, time-wise? Can you give us an estimate?
Dylan: My ideal release window for Caffeine would be early 2015, that is if I was fully funded and could work on it full time.
Karla: What kinds of games do you enjoy playing?
Dylan: I’m a fairly avid gamer most of the time, I like FPS, the sadly dying breed of older RTS games and pretty much any game with a well written story that can evoke an emotional response. At the moment I’ve been playing Battlefield, Beyond: Two Souls, finally the uncharted games and of course yesterday Goat Simulator.
Karla: Are you a fan of horror novels and/or movies? If so, what are your favorites? Did any of them have an influence on you?
Dylan: I’m a big fan of horror movies, even bad ones have their charm. Some of my favorite horror movies are Alien, Sunshine and The Grudge. Alien, Sunshine and the fantastic Moon definitely gave me a heap of influence in design for Caffeine.
Karla: What made you decide to become a game developer? Can you provide some information on your background, interests, and other projects you’ve worked on?
Dylan: I have wanted to create a game of my own for a long time, probably since I first played Crash Bandicoot on PlayStation but always thought it was out of reach, once I started a game dev course this year I realized that I could do it, I just didn’t realize how well my game would be received so far!
Karla: Do you have any advice for aspiring game developers?
Dylan: My advice for any aspiring game developers is to just give it a try, there is no harm in trying out an idea, also make an IndieDB page for your game! It helps A LOT! The only other advice I would give is to don’t be scared of contacting game journalists! A lot of the hype around Caffeine was partly because I went and contacted a heap of sites I frequented, the worst that can happen some people won’t reply to you!
Karla: I happen to love coffee. Playing Caffeine won't ruin that for me, will it? :)
Dylan: Haha no it won’t ruin it for you! I myself am a massive coffee drinker! I would never finish making the game without it!
Karla: Is there anything you'd like to say that we haven't covered?
Dylan: Not really, I think most things have been covered! Thanks a heap for contacting me and I look forward to hearing about how you guys like the game!
Thanks again Dylan. We wish you much success with Caffeine!