Questions & Answers: Sam Abbott from Compulsion Games talks about Contrast


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This an original english version of our interview with Sam Abbott about Contrast, new game from Compulsion Games. Check out the russian translation here.

Contrast Official Teaser Trailer

There has been a lot of controversy around the balance between plot and gameplay recently. Your game seems to offer both an interesting story and nontrivial gameplay. What did you put special emphasis on, which of the two is more important to you?

That’s a good question, and it’s a bit hard to answer!  We started with gameplay – a mechanic – that we built a world around. Gameplay was king, initially. But then we decided to make it more than that, so focused on developing the story for some time. So, while gameplay came first, I’d say that the game attempts to balance of gameplay and narrative, rather than prioritise one over the other.

The game is likely to absorb a lot from other mediums. What was the source of your inspiration? Movies, books, comics, real stories?

Movies were a big part of our inspiration – Pan’s Labyrinth, The City of Lost Children, Tim Burton’s movies and characters all played a big part. But telling a story about a little girl is also personal – both our creative director and narrative director are fathers to young girls. They wanted to explore what adult stories that they were interested in might be like from their kid’s point of view.

"While gameplay came first, I’d say that the game attempts to balance of gameplay and narrative".

Is Dawn the only character under player's control? Or will Didi participate in gameplay as well?

Yes, you only control Dawn. Didi does participate in gameplay though – sometimes she helps, and sometimes she hinders, but mostly she acts as your guide and confidant throughout the game. You are her imaginary friend, after all.

How intensive is the interaction of "the real world" and "the shadow world"? Different gameplay in each dimension?

The interaction is really the key part of the gameplay of Contrast. You can’t get very far in game being only in the shadow, or being only in the light. It’s that ability to choose which world to be in that forms the core of each puzzle, so the interaction is constant.

Will you shed some light on the development technology? What engine is used in a game? Is it an existing one or yours, specifically designed for the game?

Absolutely – we’re using a modified version of Unreal Engine 3.  We rewrote the rendering and physics parts of the engine, to achieve the look that we wanted and to enable the shadow physics/collisions that we use.  

"We do have a plan, but we’re keeping fairly quiet on it for now".

The list of platforms is impressive. Will there be any visible distinction between the consoles of different generations, for example? Which platform was primary for you?

We developed the game on PC, but always planned to have it on consoles if we could. The PS4 runs at 1080p, while the PS3 and Xbox 360 run at 720p. The PC naturally runs in those modes (plus a few others), depending on the quality of your machine.

What is the reason for Xbox One being absent in the list of platforms? Is the game version for this console included into your future plans?

Purely pragmatic – we don’t have enough programmers to work on another port as well.  We chose PS4 due to Sony’s early announcement of self-publishing. However, we do plan to bring Contrast to Xbox One, and we should be getting started fairly soon.

Contrast Didi's trailer

Your company has quite an extraordinary website. Can we take it as a hint on your future project? You've got a plan on what to create after Contrast, haven't you?

Thank you, but it’s actually a few years old!  All of the hints on that site are about Contrast (or rather, what Contrast was three years ago).  We do have a plan, but we’re keeping fairly quiet on it for now. We want to see how the Contrast launch goes first – we don’t want to count our chickens before they’ve hatched.

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