Cereal Games is a Portuguese indie studio that is currently looking for support through their Indiegogo campaign for their game Pecaminosa, a Pixel Art Noir game that offers lots of classic RPGs elements, with a unique aesthetics. We have been talking with them for a while, asking any question and doubt we may about about their campaign.
Si quieres leer esta entrevista en inglés, haz click en este enlace 🙂
But, BEWARE! Our collab with Cereal Games is not just about this interview. Stay tuned until the end of this article for a very special surprise.
Without further ado, here you have the questions and answers that create this interview.
Hope you like it!
1. So “Pecaminosa” has already reached the funding goal for your Indiegogo campaign. Congratulations! How has the experience been so far?
Thank you! The enthusiasm for having prematurely met our objectives is huge, I must say, but the fatigue to accomplish that is equally proportional. Crowdfunding is it’s own project within the project. It demanded, still demands, and most assuredly will demand much effort and many crunch time hours to keep things on track, seeing as the next stage will be Indiegogo’s Indemand phase and shipping.
2. You have presented your title as a Pixel Noir Game. However, we have already seen more elements to Pecaminosa than that! Details from classical RPG, action and adventure games… How would you describe it for someone who knows nothing about your game?
Pecaminosa is, in fact, an Action RPG title, with genre-defining mechanics, such as inventory management, leveling, spending points on attributes and NPC interactions. We use the L.I.F.E. system. For example: Leveling Luck and Intelligence will eventually unlock a special attack of molotov cocktail rain. In all, the player will only be able to max out 3 stats, which means he will have to choose carefully.
And all of this in a pixelized noir environment, hence our chosen title tag!
3. Pecaminosa has such a unique visual style, and we can find it in two different media: pixel art and vintage posters. How did you develop this style and make it yours?
The style mainly comes from the game’s premise. Older than its name, Pecaminosa‘s aesthetic was thought out to be this way from the very beginning: an environment inspired by the film noir genre, represented in pixel art form, with an adequately produced soundtrack.
4. The game’s OST is great and make the perfect ship with Pecaminosa’s aesthetics. We can see that you have had help from outside your team, precisely from Cristovão Ferreira (Nordela Studio). Since the style of your game is very personal, and Cristovão was an “outsider”, how difficult was it to coordinate everything? And were you looking for a fellow countryman or it was a coincidence working with him in the end?
The first thing I’d like to point out is that, although he is not a full-time member of the team, seeing as a small indie studio cannot afford such luxuries, Cristovão is, in fact, an element of our team. He currently works from his own recording studio (Nordela). Our style is very personal, but it is a thing with which I already related to directly, especially music. And that’s where I know Cristovão from: from playing jazz together! From then on, communication has been very easy to estabilish, seeing as there already exists a musical/professional relationship beforehand. So it was no coincidence this happened.
5. Pecaminosa brings a detailed world to the table, with a nice story and powerful elements to bring everything to life. And, apart from that, there is also a series of good-looking minigames. How are the story and those minigames going to be related? Are they independent from each other? And what about that side quest story if you reach the 28.000€ funding goal?
Envisioned as a gambling city with its casino mini-games, the junction of these with the game’s story ends up happening very organically, seeing as it is a viable way to obtain extra money… or lose it all, if you don’t know when to stop. The player will be able to bet the money he has acquired throughout the game, and may spend it on shops and estabilishments spread across the city. The game’s own currency are «chips», they are used to buy items for the protagonist and are also dropped by enemies when defeated. There is, in fact, a solid connection between all these elements. I enjoy mini-games. They are refreshing events in the midst of the «main experience», but I do not use them in games just because. I think of them as complementary experiences. And, by definition, they are complementary because… they complement other aspects of the game. It adds value.
6. Talking about funding goals, we have seen that the following one from now, at 15.000€, is going to be dedicated to voice acting. What plans do you have for that?
This monetary jump towards the first stretch goal is not that big, and why is that? Our intention is not to voice every single character in the game and every line of dialogue. The idea is to record circumstancial speech such as leveling up, indicating a full inventory, or informing the player he lacks L.I.F.E. stats to perform certain actions. Enemies will not be forgotten, regarding this. We are working hard to keep our boss battles interesting on every level!
7. One thing that caught our attention about your Pecaminosa is the items we are going to be able to find during our time playing. Apart from more guns and weapons (which are an obvious type of item), we found about the clothing and how important it is going to be. Is it that important to have a nice sense of fashion to play your game, or we can continue eating Doritos while wearing a tracksuit?
Cheese-dipped Doritos are always nice to have, no matter the clothes you’re wearing. It only changes the dry-cleaning bill 🙂
In the game, clothing has an active role on L.I.F.E. attributes, just like classic RPGs. The difference is that, instead of wearing a bascinet and plate armor, you get to wear a fedora and a nice italian-cut suit!
8. Your game is going to be released on PC, Mac, Linux and – wait for it – Nintendo. Creating a videogame is such a difficult task, but having the OK from Nintendo to publish your project on the Switch is another level. How was the process to achieve it? How do you feel the Japanese company has changed its perspective over the indie video game industry over the last years?
Using football as an analogy: there are players that train, players that are called to play, and there are players that are first-teamers. Nintendo’s O.K, is our calling to play. Now we gotta work to get that first-choice status. Right now, the Switch is the best platform for Indies. In that sense, Nintendo’s posture has been enviable. There hasn’t been much of that stigma anymore, that Indies only belong on Steam or, more recently, Epic. And the Switch has shown to have helped against that stigma.
9. As we can read in your Indiegogo campaign, Pecaminosa is not “a baby”. You have already been working on it for the past 2 years until half way, and your plan is to finish it within the following six months. Taking into account the difference between “times”, was the first half of the game that much more difficult to produce than the second one?
Ok, truly that phrase might look a bit misleading! But the campaign also mentions that this time has been running since the first line sketched on paper, on what would eventually become our game. The concept phase, business plan, the search for investment, all of that lasted for more than a year, while we we’re developing other projects. We’ve counted all this time aswell, and especially so, since it was during those early stages that ideas matured and we could understand if making the game was viable or not.
Relative to the development process proper, that only began in 2019, and I can confirm that this first stage was the hardest, given that we were fewer people. It was a phase of setting the groundwork and the pace, which has increased considerably in speed regarding development.
10. And your team is really, really small. Just 9 people! Plus, you came from, literally, the middle of the Atlantic Ocean: the islands of Azores. Was it difficult to assemble your team, because of the geographical location and other logistic problems? What does your current place bring to the table, in terms of positive add-ons?
Well, yes, I can’t exactly say that it is effectively easy to create a team of this sort here. We are talking about a very small environment, in which the probability of finding people with these skills is low. The closest biggest city is Lisbon that is 2 hours away… by airplane!
But it truly is a great place to live in, in my opinion. It is tranquil, and we end up have (almost) everything that exists in other big places, only on a smaller scale, of course. We’re from the island of S. Miguel (google it!) and it has no shortage of inspiring landscapes.
11. As you have established through your campaign, it has no “real purpose” of amassing funding (although it is a great help!) but amassing a community to enjoy your game and provide with feedback to improve it. In fact, most of the income from the Indiegogo campaign will go to promote Pecaminosa. So, we would like to ask you about the real, previous-to-Indiegogo funding of the game, how were you able to get it on the first hand? Was the process difficult? And how are you going to use that community’s feedback in the future development of your game?
We’ve had venture capital. This has allowed us to be involved in this project for 2 years. The fact that we’ve been making games since 2015 is the main factor we were able to obtain said investment. We’ve had clients and business volume. And most importantly, which most people ignore: we finalize projects! Starting a game is easy, finishing it is hard.
This speaks much more to investors than just ideas. Ideas are worthless. The realization of ideas, or the capacity to carry them fruition, that has actual worth. And that is what investors saw with Cereal Games, the capacity to create Pecaminosa. And even so, it was a long and hardy process.
Regarding our community, we’ve got it all, from channels for everyone to give their opinion, to specific rooms for some of the backers to have early access to the game and be part of the QA of the game during a pre-Beta phase.
12. Your studio had a quite odd, yet interesting, beginning, doing software for museums and expositions, plus educational games at the same time. And, then, you switched to making Pecaminosa. Why did you make it? When did you agree to do it? How was the process of adaptation?
If you know how to make soup for 2 people, you know how to make it for 20. It’s all about portion adjustment. That is what happened. Cereal Games was founded to create «a Pecaminosa«. But before we could feed 20 people, we’ve had to learn the recipe for just 2. We’ve always been closely connected to videogames, this museum software, as you put it, were also games, some in AR (Augmented Reality), which is what paved the road that we now walk on.
Not only was that a phase that served as a basis to grow and learn, it was the phase that convinced investors that we were truly capable.
13. At the end of your Indiegogo campaign, we read about the Risks you may encounter until the release of Pecaminosa. One of those was about the little development of the video game industry in your country of origin, Portugal. We don’t know much about it, so we would love for you to tell us about how it is, how difficult it is developing your own video game in Portugal and the possible future you could see in the following years over there.
A country that has a good history on that area, really helps with qualifying projects made in said country. This helps build credibility beyond the borders. That are good projects in Portugal, really good projects. But how is Portugal looked at from outside? Whether you like it or not, that has an impact.
Seeing as we do not posess a truly strong industry, we lack big internacional events, we lack publishers, but we do have a woven fabric of some developers that share war stories and learn from each other.
14. Talking about the development of the video game industry in your country, we thought about your geographical location. Is it living in the islands of Azores, in a way, a difficulty for you to get in touch with the Portuguese and European community of game devs? Is living in a remote location different than in Lisbon, Madrid, Paris, Berlin, London, etc.?
Absolutely. On London alone, you can find more development studios than you can find in the entirety of Portugal. Not even mentioning indies, otherwise the list would take too long to go over.
This means that anyone living in London is just one car or train trip away from a publisher or game development studio.
Around here, I have to board a plane, at the very least. If I have to meet a publisher, I’ve got to whip out the passport!
15. And just to finish with this interview, we can’t avoid asking about the horrible, current situation everybody is living around the world. COVID-19 is delaying games all over the world, creating lots of difficulties in the distribution of some and the development from home for others. Do you think this could also affect Pecaminosa? And do you think this would have long-term effect in the video game industry?
Not only will it affect Pecaminosa, it already has. We’ve felt it on the campaign itself. We could’ve been reaching our first stretch goal by now, if things were different.
We are currently on remote work, so the development process is simply not the same. We’re missing the personal contact, the odd anti-stress ball flying through the office and the back-and-forth of discussing ideas in person and not behind a screen.
It will have an effect on the world’s economy from a medium to long-term, and , therefore, on the videogame industry as well. That much is guaranteed. It already had a huge impact, if you look at the amount of events that have been canceled, which for many indies, were their big chance to showcase their projects!
We hope you have enjoyed our interview with such a promising indie studio. We would love to read your comments about Pecaminosa and the amazing work they are doing at Cereal Games. We would like to encourage you to go and support their Indiegogo campaign before it ends next April 14th, while reading all the information about the game and writing down all your doubts and questions you may have because…
A double collab is coming + a very special surprise.
Pacotes’ first (official and coordinated) AMA ever is coming!
Tomorrow, April 17th, you have a meeting with Cereal Games at 19:00h (UTC/GMT +2 – Spanish standard time zone). You can follow it through this thread that we have created in honour of this AMA, so we are already waiting for all your questions for these guys.
We want to deeply thank Cereal Games for all they have done for this collab so far, being ready for anything and everything. Thank you so much!
If you want to read more interviews like this one, here you have the link to similar posts that we already have on the Magazine.