Luis Diaz Peralta (Ludipe) > Game Designer > A Place for the Unwilling
Who are you and what are you working on?
I am a game designer working at AlPixel Games. We're currently developing A Place for the Unwilling, a narrative sandbox in which you'll spend three weeks living in a Victorian city creating your very own personal story.
What triggered you to make this video game and what was the very first practical step you took to start it?
We were looking for a concept that fitted a few requirements we had established previously. We were set to spend a whole month prototyping and trying out different ideas, but we then realized there was a game (one we had made a couple of months ago for the AdventureJam) that already fulfilled our needs.
So, we just jumped into pre-production, defining gameplay, trying different visual styles and trying to shape the whole concept into an actual project.
Who is in your team and how did you find these people?
There are five people working on the game at the moment. Rubén Calles (whom I met at a game jam), Celer Gutiérrez (we bumped into each other during a local meetup), Ángel Luis Sucasas (a common friend introduced us a long time ago), Miguel López (we met after he started working at a local game incubator) and myself. More people worked on the project in the past, Martín Pane (who entered as an intern) and a team of 15 professional writers that helped us with the game's lore (and who worked on the project thanks to Ángel).
Which programming language and game engine did you choose and why?
We're using Unity, which makes porting easier if we decide to release the game on consoles. It also enables us to use a wide set of middleware tools that make our jobs easier, like FMOD (to handle audio) and Ink (that takes care of all the dialogue logic).
Do you have a specific player’s mind in mind when working on this game or are you led by how you would respond yourself in gameplay? Could you give an example of one of these thoughts?
I'd say both. We don't enjoy playing our own games, so we're always thinking of the person that will go through this once it's out there. We tend to think of people who would play games like Sunless Sea, but we try to widen our audience making sure interfaces or over-complexity don't get in the way of creating your own story and exploring the city. That said, we also think of ourselves at some points, after all that's the creative vision and what sets your game apart from the rest.
If my copy of the game had a bug and I could only play your game backwards, so from end to beginning, what could be a reason for me to play it anyways?
You'd go through some major spoilers, but it's still an open-world game filled with lots of content. Sure, you'd see some plot-twists but you'd still enjoy exploring the city and all the things that are happening each day. I guess that, in this specific game, playing it backwards wouldn't destroy the whole experience, even if that's not the way it's meant to be played.
How did you explain your wishes for the music to the composer? Could you give an example of a particular scene/level/screen?
Oh, Celer Gutiérrez (the game's composer) has a lot of freedom. We gave him some references of things we thought could fit but he has always been involved in the development. He participates in meetings where new content is made and discussed. We sometimes suggest sounds or how they should play, but Celer decides pretty much everything. When you have people that know what they're doing, you should let them get involved in the project and make what they're good at. It's not a matter of "we have these wishes for the music" but "we want do this and convey this mood. Maybe this kind of music could be cool, what do you think?".
What did the very first sketch look like? (e.g. Was it on paper, digital, what style, was it a character or a background or an item?) Can I recognise this first draft in your current game design?
Well, we did a small jam game/prototype that would turn into A Place for the Unwilling several months later, but if we're talking about the first real sketch of the project, that'd be something I drew on a blackboard, and it was horrendous. Then Rubén Calles started doodling and making sketches on paper that already looked good and were on the right track.
We talked about a game where you lived in a city and you interacted with characters as they lived their lives, so I'd say it's still recognisable.
What surprised you in the game development process?
Everything? I mean, we already got a "not-so-small" game on Steam and I have participated in more game jams than I can count, but in this industry you're being surprised all the time, especially if you're starting out. There's just too many things that surprised us, if it were a list it'd be a couple pages long at least. If you're making games always try to make plans, but know that plans break down all the time and you need to constantly re-adapt.
How do you place yourself in the wider game community? Do you compare yourself to other game developers and their projects and if so, what elements do you compare?
I think every developer is comparing themselves to other devs. It's hard to avoid. You're going through your Twitter timeline, seeing great projects and thinking "wow, all these people are doing amazing stuff, I'm terrible". I'd say I compare everything and I should do my best to stop doing that.
Did you eat well yesterday and how do people from the ‘outside’ still recognise you?
I did eat pretty well yesterday, though frozen food I brought back from my hometown is to blame for that. I have quite a busy calendar, I'm involved in several things and I'm always running from one thing to the next; I still find time to meet friends who aren't involved in the games industry. I do my best to take time off and take care of myself. Deadlines, unexpected events and other issues push you toward crunch and get you down, it's important to be aware of this and take care of ourselves.
If you could choose to be given one thing to help you make this game, what would it be?
I guess money. This is gonna sound like the kind of answer a smartass kid would give, but money, even if it won't bring you happiness, it makes life way easier.
Is money a worry for you and why?
Yeah. Paying rent, buying food, travelling to events, fees, buying equipment, etc. I like all those things, they're necessary for the project. If I run out of money I can't afford them.
I wake up in the morning and it’s the day of your game release. How will I know that?
Maybe you're one of those people that we got to subscribe to our mailing list, Game Jolt profile, Twitter, Discord Server or any of the other services we use. In that case you'll hate us because of how much we'll spam you.
If you're not one of those lovely people that follow us, we'll try to get to you through every possible news site out there (those willing to talk about us), like we've always done.
Then hopefully, we'll also reach you through forums, communities or maybe a friend will tell you about the game.
And you still might miss all this because there's lot of great games out there going unnoticed.
Is there anything I haven’t asked that I should have asked? Now is a good time to let me know :)
Luis Diaz Peralta (Ludipe), Madrid, Spain, 17 November 2017
Game designer at AlPixel Games