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Talking about After Us, narrative-driven games, and the future with Piccolo Studio

Co-Game Director Alexis Corominas was in Barcelona for Gamelab 2023 and in this interview we talk about the recently-released After Us and its global warming dystopia, about the current lifespam of indie narrative games, and even about what the studio will release next.

Audio transcription

"We are at Gamelab 2023 in Barcelona, and it's so nice to be back after the pandemic and after so many Gamelabs that we did in the past.
And we are here with Alexis, and it's very warm in the outside."

"So let's talk about, you know, global hitting and how you guys just released a month ago a game that is about what is coming after us.
So what is the feedback that you got from the community that have been playing After Us for a month now?
Well, it has been very rewarding because people is very sensitive with the topic."

"We have had many emails from people that say that it's one of the most strange, deep, and original experiences that they have played.
And it seems that people that it's touched by the game and that links emotionally with it, really the topic resonates with them and they can get to the deeper levels in the narrative in the game, which is not very conventional, actually."

"So we are very satisfied with the response from people so far.
I wanted to ask you about just that.
How do you make a sort of a platforming adventure to strike a chord in people's hearts and minds and to resonate with them in terms of it's not a narrative, completely narrative driven game."

"So it's more, you know, gameplay based.
So how do you design that for it to work and for people to actually, because we got that from our reviewers, our viewers, et cetera, that they actually got moved by the game?
Well, we invested a ton of effort in creating a world."

"And I will say, even if we have a main character that we call Gaia, it's not important her name.
It's just like a small name.
The real main character of the game is the world and what you find in it.
And there are several layers of content that you can find there."

"And we spent most of the time designing the world, the size.
It's a huge world. It's epic.
It makes you feel vulnerable.
It's a big world."

"It's I will say it's a museum of disasters.
But on the other hand, you need to give someone to the players. Right.
So it's your impact in this world.
Even if it's small, this impact is what really makes you keep going forward."

"And I mean, it's not a traditional narrative in the sense that there's practically no story.
There are no dialogues.
To us, it's not a story.
To us, it's like an opera and it's a museum of feelings and experiences that you have on your travels."

"And if I'm correct, the game released on PlayStation, Xbox and PC.
Are you still working on the game?
Did you move on already?
Can we expect it to release on the Switch, for example?
There are no plans for a Switch release because actually in terms of technology, this huge world that we created will be hard to put inside the hardware of a Switch, even if we would like it."

"But we are working on a patch that will hit the market today or tomorrow.
So there are some small performance problems that some people found.
But we have moved on as a company.
We are working on something new, something way bigger."

"We are doing something completely different.
Our first game, Arise, a simple story, was also a melancholic game about love and feelings.
The second game after us, it's about our relationship with the world as a race and the idea of legacy.
We want to have fun now."

"It's our time to have fun.
So we are working on something completely different.
And we are very hyped with the new game because it's something that, even if it will be a piccolo game, it will be recognizable."

"It will be, from the gameplay and narrative perspective, a completely new turn.
When can we expect to learn more about that game?
I don't know. I can't speak about it.
Before this interview, we were talking about how After Arts released among very heavy hitters, AAA, Zelda, Diablo, etc. in those days."

"But also, perhaps compensating that, you guys had a spot at the Game Awards.
I loved that reveal.
What can you tell us about that?
Because, of course, you had been working on the game for a long time before it was revealed in December."

"And then the build-up until release in May.
I think, first of all, it was great being there because we went to LA.
The publisher brought us there and we were at the theater.
We could see our trailer live in a giant stadium, a giant theater."

"And we knew millions of people were watching.
So it's very exciting to experience that.
And, of course, we lived all the heat up and build-up to the release.
It's also an interesting..."

"It's probably the most fun part of a video game.
When it releases, not so much because it always happens.
But I will say that these kind of games, which are narrative games, have changed a lot in the market.
The market has changed a lot."

"Back in the day, it was like you had to sell everything in your first two, three months.
It has changed now.
These kind of games are long-tailed games, as they say.
Actually, our first game, Arise, is selling now double what it sold when it was launched."

"So you never know.
It's three years and a half later.
So, of course, it has some impact to launch five days after Zelda, which is a big bomb.
But you have to think in the full cycle of the title."

"And the full cycle can be three, four years easily.
And perhaps Arise selling now more than it sold before has to do with us putting you guys on the map.
Of course, you've been running for 20 years, if I'm correct.
But did this release really put Piccolo Studios on the map?
Actually, and to be honest, we don't think so."

"Because it started selling a lot way before the announcement of After Us, right?
And it has been progressive, right?
It has to do with, you know, After Us or Arise are games that it doesn't matter if you play them now or in a year.
It's not like, you know, Zelda, you have to play it now."

"It's a new thing that everyone is talking about.
So the fact that they have not, you know, they are not a product of a trend, you know, give them more of a long tail.
And a lot of people has a lot of wish lists in Steam or, you know, pre-order the game or put it in any list.
And at some point they say, oh, that's the game I wanted to play, right?
And actually another truth of the market, it's when games are on sales, then they start selling, right?
Which is, it's how the market works now, right?
I mean, only very, very, very big games or a select group of games sell at full price a lot without being AAA."

"Exactly.
All right, looking forward to learning more about what's next by Piccolo Studio.
Let's enjoy the global warming.
Yeah, thank you very much."

"Okay."

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