Without being a big fan of narrative adventures, Firewatch got to click my head. The one from Campo Santo has been one of those games that has marked me especially in this generation and, compared to In the Valley of Gods brakeThe fear of being orphaned from a similar experience was enormous. Fortunately, it seems that Call of the sea comes to fill that gap.
We spoke with Out of the blue, the Madrid studio that captured much of the gaze during the presentation of the first games for Xbox Series X thanks to his particular narrative adventure with puzzles and research. We talked with them about their proposal, their winks to Indiana Jones fans and what it's like to create a game today at the gates of the new generation.
The development of video games in a time like today
On the other side of the screen I have Tatiana Delgado, in charge of the playable and narrative design of Call of the sea, Manuel Fernández, producer and programmer, and Daniel Nombela, art director. The team's journey is enviable, not only for having been architects of the success of Red Matter in virtual reality a couple of years ago, also for having limited the ranks of Tequila, King or even having worked closely with the creators of Commandos.
The of Out of the blue It is one of those many cases in which getting to know people here and there ends up creating a small family. According to Tatiana, the idea of setting up the studio comes precisely from there, from the contacts created and the common intention of making narrative games oriented to the puzzles.
“We already know how we work, we know each other, we also work remotely. Already at Vertical Robot we worked this way and transferred it to Out of the Blue.
We like to work with people who have a good spirit and who can trust them. You are calm because you know that the person on the other side is doing his job. ”
With a total of 12 persons on the team, fortunately it has been one of those cases in which the habit of telecommuting
Daniel himself tells us that "I was a little reluctant to telework"Mainly for fear of that Human contact in a common space in which to exchange ideas, but recognizes that "not resented at all"And that they are always"in full communication"
They cannot be denied that they carry it great. Despite working on Unreal 4 and enjoying a framework that allows you to experiment, Call of the sea have a launch scheduled for the end of the year despite having started pre-production in July last year, gives a good account of the level and commitment of the team to his idea.
From live role-playing to narrative play
But what can we really expect from Call of the sea, Where does the idea come from and what is its objective? These are questions that anyone who has already peered into the particular proposal offered by their trailer will have. Tatiana explains how the love of the role derived in trying to virtualize her campaigns.
“We come from the role-playing world – tabletop role playing, live role playing – and we have always liked to transfer those stories that we told in games to the video game. I think it is a bit of there that the idea arises ”.
According to Manuel, that hobby was what pushed them to go a little further than what was done with Red Matter. Ensures that working in virtual reality offers you a series of new tools to tell stories "but it also limits you" In the search to create more conventional games, they get to the idea of this Call of the sea.
"The structure we have in Call of the Sea is more novel, by chapters, by episodes, and allows us to tell the evolution of the character so that the scenarios themselves will also tell you that story."
At that moment I can't help but interrupt Manuel a little. Seems reluctant to say the word linear in his speech, and I comment on how necessary and expected these kinds of adventures are. Tatiana goes a little deeper into the intention of the study when it comes to fleeing a more open experience.
“We like to prepare the experience in detail for the player. At the end we are going to prepare some scenarios with many details that we want you to enjoy and explore at your own pace, but to generate the story we like to design from the emotions. We want the player to feel this.
For this you need to be very thorough when creating the stage and in an open world it is very difficult, but here, since everything is more content, it is prepared so that the player has the experience that we intend to give him. ”
A story of love and adventures
At your service is the art team, fully focused on being the speaker of that history and evolution of the environments of Call of the sea. Daniel refers to how the use of a unique character forces you to pay even more attention to the settings and their evolution to bring variety.
"That it is a linear story makes that task easier, but it is also a bit of a challenge, trying to make the settings breathe somewhat differently from the previous and the following ones."
In Call of the sea we will follow in the footsteps of Nora, a woman who traveled to a remote southern Pacific island in the 1930s. She goes in search of an expedition that has disappeared and was led by her husband. The challenge, as Tatiana tells us, is to find the answers that her steps have left behind.
"We want to convey that feeling of adventure, the Indiana Jones part of exploring old civilizations, of finding a lost place, of finding out what happened there. Nora is going to follow the trails, she is going to find the remains of the expedition, you have to put the clues that you are finding like a puzzle to understand what has happened ”.
As in the case of Firewatch, a game that is reflected even in the voice of its protagonist with the participation of Cissy Jones, the plot will carry much more than mysteries and abandoned places, seeking to also tell an atypical love story that flees from conventionalisms.
“We want to tell a bit about the relationship between the two of them, between Nora and Harry. We want to tell love in a different way. They are a couple who have been married for a long time and love each other, respect each other, have a more mature, calmer love, and also tell their story through the letters and clues that you find. ”
What it's like to play Call of the Sea
Despite the clarity of the ideas, it is still a bit difficult to imagine what kind of game we are going to have before us, so I ask them for that very reason and ask them to explain what would 10 minutes be like in Call of the Sea.
"The player would come to an area where he would find the remains of that expedition, he would see objects. It would be a bit like a detective, we use what is known as enviromental storytelling a lot, examine those objects, see inscriptions, try to reconstruct what happened, for example, if there are remains of an explosion.
They will also be puzzles that at no time will prevent the advance of the story because they are very complicated, we are located halfway between Firewatch and Myst, and looking for those pieces and clues you will be able to solve the puzzles ”.
The fear of falling into a possible spoiler is palpable during the conversation, but Manuel goes a little deeper into what kind of puzzles can we expect. He affirms that they flee from everything that is messed with shoehorn, that the intention is to create challenges that are integrated within the story.
Come on, no mechanics in the style of "a chess board and you have to solve a move to advance", But we are before puzzles totally related to the plot and the environment that is unveiling.
“What we use a little is technology. On the island there is a tribal technology, technology from the 30s and a lost technology, and part of the puzzles what we are trying to convey is that you have to understand how that technology works and use it. Investigate, prove, see that this works for this and from there deduce what you must do to advance. "
Working for the new generation
Despite smelling the refusal, I can't help but ask them about the current situation of the game regarding the new generation. Call of the sea will come exclusively to Xbox One consoles and Xbox Series X as part of the catalog of Game pass, but it will also land in Steam sometime this year.
To my surprise, the team seems focused on continuing to polish the gameplay of the PC version and plans "start moving things to Series X starting next month", Which undoubtedly makes clear the ease in development with the console that has been rumored in recent months.
“The luck we have is that we work with Unreal 4 and it will make things much easier for us. You see that the finish of the game is very beautiful. The art team we have drives the motor very well ”.
I can not help agreeing with Tatiana and congratulating the team for what has been seen so far, who assure that the support of Raw Fury has been vital to reach a successful conclusion and are very excited by the reception of the public. Not for less.
“We saw the presentation together the other day and we were all like kids in new shoes. Very happy to see that after a lot of hard work you can show the results, see that people are seeing and appreciating it ”.