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[Entrevista] Sam Barlow on IMMORTALITY and its incredible narrative games

Today we come to talk to you about a game that although it does not appear on Nintendo Switch, it’s very worth it. After receiving a perfect score in EDGE magazine (something very difficult to achieve), IMMORTALITY It has just landed as a narrative adventure that knows how to surprise due to the originality of its premise. We have had the opportunity to play it early and, although we will not offer spoilers of its plot, we do bring you something very special: a interview with its creator, Sam Barlowwhom many of you will know for having been the creator of other games like Her Story either telling lies (The latter did reach the hybrid console, also enjoying a warm welcome). Are you ready to discover more about this new opus? Well, do not hesitate to continue reading!

About IMMORTALITY

The immortality story leads us to investigate the life of the mysterious Marisa Marcel through the footage of his missing films: tapes that never made it to theatrical release and remained lost in time.

Through the contents of those three works: Ambrose, Minsky and Two of everything It will be our job to investigate what happened to her life and what mysteries everything related to her holds. After playing Sam Barlow’s new play, we couldn’t help but be fascinated by it: the less you know about it before trying it, the better. For this reason, we have decided to interview him to learn a little more about, not only this new work, but also about your perspective as a game designer. You can find that interview below.

Interview with Sam Barlow

How would you say your passion for video game development was born?

The seed was planted when my parents bought me and my siblings an Amstrad CPC home computer. From that moment on, the computer screen was the most special and intimate in our house. There was a particularly good magazine that covered the machine, Amstrad Action, which had a “The Pilgrim” column covering adventure games and interactive fiction. I used to read and reread each issue until the pages were creased. Although I couldn’t buy and play all the adventure games, I read the solutions of the puzzles that appeared and imagined that I played them. In that age of home computers, you had to do a bit of programming to get anywhere, so inevitably I spent as much time making (small and weird) games as I did playing them. After that, I stuck to immersive sims during the glory days of Origin and Looking Glass, before moving on to Nintendo. When I discovered Nintendo, a little later, that’s when I really started to see what mastery of game development looked like.

When you create a new video game, what is the first thing you usually do?

I try to stay away from the computer as long as possible, I try to imagine the game in my head and develop the idea without being distracted by a game engine. I like to dive into the research, read about the areas I’m thinking about, soak in and absorb as much as I can. Then, before I go any further, I try to have a very clear idea of ​​what I want to achieve, usually a trio of: an idea (the theme of the piece), an emotion (what is the deepest and strongest thing I want to make the player feel? ) and a metaphor (really the main mechanic).

How did the idea of ​​creating IMMORTALITY come about?

After my games were described as interactive movies and being a huge fan of movies, I wanted to make something that lived up to that description. By deconstructing movies the way, for example, Her Story deconstructs the crime novel, it became clear that the questions here were about why we tell stories, how we tell them, the good and the bad of this being their purpose… and Marissa Marcel’s life seemed like the perfect way to get into those questions. With this in mind, we realized that the player’s point of view should be that of an editor or archivist, and that the moviola (machine designed for motion picture editing) should be their tool. We try to reduce that point of view and that tool to something pure. Just as Super Mario is an exploration of space through running and jumping, here we wanted to create an exploration of the movie through debugging and cutting. Just like how the jump in Super Mario is special, we wanted to find a way to make our “cut” magical.

What was the biggest difficulty that arose during the development of the game?

All. Probably the hardest part was keeping things simple for the player: there’s a lot of complexity in IMMORTALITY’s design, a lot of complexity in the layers of the story, but it was important not to complicate the gameplay. Beyond that, things get surprisingly difficult on the technical side the further you get away from “typical” game development, so there were always technical things that went off the field and required our programmers to flex their muscles.

You’ve made several games, but what do you consider to be your best work to date?

I don’t think I’m the right person to ask something like that. Though I know it probably wasn’t Crusty Demons on PlayStation 2 and Xbox…

If you could change something about any of your works, what would you change?

Once the game is done, I don’t want to tweak it. Although there are imperfections, they are part of the work. Except the typos. I made a text game called Aisle in 1999 and it became something of a cult game. Since then I’ve lost the source code and there’s a misspelled word that I can’t fix and that’s killing me!

What is the best advice you could give to someone who wants to make games with a strong narrative focus like yours?

Tell a story that you have to tell, a story that doesn’t exist but that you wish there did. And let the story live in your head (and on paper) until it’s strong enough to carry over into game development. In my experience, games are so complex and structural that you need a solid outline before you go too far: you can’t write to solve a problem in the moment in the same way you can in other media.

Thank you very much for your time, Sam Barlow!

And to you, we only have to remind you that IMMORTALITY is now available for both mobile devices (via the Netflix app) and computers as part of Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass. Although there are still no plans for its arrival on Nintendo Switch, if what you are looking for is a new narrative adventure that you will not forget, This one is more than recommended!

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