Rainswept is a really interesting game, made by only one man! After finding out more about this indie title, we just had to talk to the creator of this awesome murder mystery! Even though Rainswept isn’t released yet, you can check out the demo on itch.io. We hope that you’ll enjoy this interview!
Please introduce us to Frostwood Interactive!
Frostwood Interactive is, at present, a one-man studio run by me – Armaan Sandhu. The studio was created in 2017 for the development of Rainswept. I’ve always been a big fan of single player games that focus on storytelling, characters, and atmosphere, and the studio has been created with these aspects in mind. The goal is to create works that can emotionally move, affect and maybe even influence and change people. The best works of art have had the power to change my thought process and even my course of life. They’ve influenced my dreams and ambitions, and hopefully, one day works created by this studio can do the same for someone out there. Depending on how Rainswept is received, I’d like to see Frostwood Interactive grow from a one-man studio to something bigger!
How did you get started?
Ordinarily, the answer to this question would lead to a very long story, but I’ll try to keep it short! I’d always been interested in game development, but the lack of skills and the absence of a local game industry scene led me to give up on this dream, as it was just too impractical. I then spent five years majoring in Architecture (with zero intentions of actually practicing as an Architect!) while at the same time got interested in filmmaking. For those five years in Architecture, I taught myself the related skills, and learned the art of filmmaking and storytelling, while also shooting a couple of short films. Once I graduated, I tried breaking into the film industry and spent a couple of months working on the set of a TV show. This was a valuable experience, as I learned that I didn’t enjoy the process of working on a set and making full-blown films, and neither was I fan of the local industry in my country. Disillusioned, I returned to my hometown in 2016 and took up a temporary job as a junior architect in a firm (despite my intentions of never practicing!) This is when a friend of mine suggested I make a game, something I’d given up on years ago. By then, the boom in the indie scene had completely democratized game making. This has made getting noticed harder, but you don’t need a job in a company or backing from a big publisher to make and publish a game. The landscape had completely changed in those past 5-6 years. So in 2017, after working on the game for a few months after work hours, I quit that job and returned to my once abandoned dream!
How is the local indie scene where you are based?
I’m based in Goa – a small coastal state on the west coast of India. It’s a peaceful, beautiful location and is a popular tourist spot, but the indie scene? It’s close to non – existent. There are maybe only a couple of companies that have mostly focused on casual, browser-based or mobile games. Outside Goa, there are companies that take on outsourcing work for bigger companies from abroad. But this is slowly changing, as a lot of people are now beginning to take the video game industry seriously. This is mostly due to the explosion of popularity of mobile games during the past couple of years. Speaking purely as a gamer, and not a developer, I’d like to see more local indies take on single player games for PC and consoles. There are a few currently in development (Raji: An Ancient Epic by Nodding Heads Games and Alter Army by Vague Pixels) Here’s hoping this trend continues!
Tell us about the upcoming Rainswept!
Rainswept is basically a murder mystery adventure game with a focus on atmosphere, storytelling and characters. The gameplay consists of dialogues, a few light puzzles, and exploration. You play as Detective Anderson, who’s been called in to investigate a double murder that’s taken place in the usually quiet town of Pineview. The victims were a couple – Chris and Diane – that was new to the town, and the residents of Pineview never really warmed up to them. Considering the rumors of their turbulent and toxic relationship, the locals feel that this was only a matter of time and that the case is cut and dry: A murder-suicide, with one of them having killed the other. As Detective Anderson, you’ll dive into their past to learn the truth, and uncover the mysteries that hide within the town of Pineview. At the same time, the Detective is plagued by a darkness from his past that he has kept buried away, which is now beginning to come back to haunt him. Can he handle it, or will this case drive him to the edge of his sanity? That’s up to you!
What inspired you to make the game?
I’d always been interested in writing a story that could follow and document the journey of a relationship, including the start, the good, bad and confusing parts, and the eventual end. There’s a bit of that in this story. I’m also very passionate about traveling to, taking pictures of or painting locations that are foggy, lush, green and rainy. That majorly inspired the setting and feeling of this game. And (as it must be obvious) I love murder mysteries, especially character-focused ones. There’s a type of beauty that only shows itself when held in front of something dark, depressing or hopeless, and murder mysteries are perfect for that.
As I previously mentioned, I’ve always wanted to create something that could emotionally move and affect people, something that could maybe be inspirational to some players, or even cathartic to others. Video games are a great medium for this, as they bring together the powers of film, books, music all together into one package, with the added super weapon called interactivity. Another thing that video games do, that no other medium can, evoke nostalgia. All of us have memories of playing a certain favorite game years ago, and just listening to that game’s soundtrack can bring back a flood of memories of those days, of our childhood (if that’s when you’d played it) and specifically how our room was arranged, lit or felt at that time. How many other mediums can do that? I’d love to see people come back years later to, say, listen to the game’s soundtrack on Youtube and reminisce about their experience with the game (as that’s one of my favorite things to do!) That vision is something that inspires me to work on the game every day!
Lately, there haven’t been a lot of detective or murder-mystery games. Why do you think that is?
I actually feel there have been a few detective games in recent years, at least in the indie scene – The Darkside Detective, Virginia and Kathy Rain come to mind. I’ve also enjoyed bigger games like Deadly Premonition, Heavy Rain, LA Noire and the last couple of Sherlock Holmes games. But you’re right, there aren’t as many full-blown murder mystery/ detective games as there should be, at least when compared to TV or movies where this is an extremely popular theme. I’m not sure why this is the case – maybe because a proper detective game is less action and combat oriented? But with the rising variety of games, many that don’t have any combat or action at all, we’ll hopefully see more detective games in the coming years!
Are we right to assume you’ve also taken inspiration from movies, TVs, and books? Any particular murder/mystery case that sets the tone for Rainswept?
You’re right, movies and TV shows have been a big source of inspiration for Rainswept! The obvious one is Twin Peaks, which many people have already identified. Korean murder mysteries and crime films are another huge source of inspiration, the biggest one being Memories of Murder, which also happens to be my favorite film of all time (please do yourselves a favor and watch it, especially if you’re a fan of murder mysteries) The Chaser and Montage are a few of the other Korean crime films that have been an inspiration. The influences of these films may not be directly visible in the game, but they have inspired the dark and rainy tone, mood, music and atmosphere at some level.
Another TV show that I’ve just gotten into is Broadchurch, as someone remarked that the game reminded them of the show! I was actually surprised to see the number of similarities the show has with Rainswept even though, somehow, I’d never even heard of it before. The movie Se7en, and the game Heavy Rain have also had an impact.
When will the game be done? Do you have a set release date?
The release is being aimed at mid-2018, preferably before August – September. But of course, this could change depending on the state of the game and the amount of polish that will need to be done during the later months.
Do you have any tips for those who really want to make a game, but doesn’t know where to start?
First of all, know yourself. We all enjoy playing games, but would you also enjoy making them too? Are you a creative person and love spending hours working hard on projects anyway, and on top of that do you love games as well? Game development is a creative process, and all creative processes tend to get laborious, frustrating and demotivating at times. And for any creative person, it’s all worth the pain. In fact, it’s more frustrating for them to not do that creative work. Understand yourself and figure out whether this is what you’d really like to do. If you’re not sure, give it a shot and see how it feels! As for actually starting out, I’d say identify your strengths, and build a game around that. Can you draw well? Make sure the game’s art style is eye-catching and newsworthy. Are you a good storyteller? Focus on the story and keep the art and gameplay simple. If programming is your strength… you get the point. Don’t stress too much about engines, tutorials, crash courses etc. What matters is the idea, can you see the game in your head? Would it be fun to play? Once you think up of something, then it’s time to map out how you’d get there. Once you have an idea that you think you’d enjoy working on for a couple of years, then it’s time to get practical. Map out how you’ll get there, make sure you can handle the scope, that you’ve got the ability, and prove it to yourself by making a prototype or a demo. Don’t be afraid to use engines like RPG maker, Game maker, Twine etc. The audience won’t care what the game was built on as long as the experience itself is enjoyable. It’s great if you can bring together a dedicated and skilled bunch of people to work together on a game so that they bring their strengths along with them for the benefit of the project. But if you can’t, don’t be afraid to go solo! Sometimes that turns out the be the better choice, as pulling dead weight consumes more energy than doing everything yourself. Once you have all that sorted, just start. It’ll be confusing and frustrating in the beginning, but with a few months of consistent and daily work under your belt, you’ll become comfortable with it, people will guide you, and you’ll learn a lot.
What’s your goal for this year?
This year is all about Rainswept, and the goal is to work on, finish and release the game. The remaining months after release will be focused on support, and hopefully I can squeeze in a vacation in there too!
We want to know, what are some of your favorite games? Old or new, doesn’t matter!
My all-time favorite game is The Witcher 1. The atmosphere, soundtrack, story and the moral choices in that game were unlike anything I’d seen from any game at that time, and it’s still one of the best today. The Mass Effect trilogy is also one of my all time favorites, for its storytelling and characters. Other games I have strong feelings for are TES IV: Oblivion, Dragon Age: Origins, and Fable: The Lost Chapters. In recent times I’ve enjoyed more story focused games such as Firewatch, Life is Strange and To the Moon. I’m currently loving Kingdom Come: Deliverance. The Oblivion nostalgia is strong in that one!
Anything else to add? A message to the people waiting to buy your game, perhaps?
I’d like to thank everyone that’s supported, played the demo or just shown interest in Rainswept! The amount of positive reception the demo has received was completely unexpected and is really, really encouraging. So again, thank you!
Please give us all the links to social media, homepage etc!
Thank you so much for taking your time, Armaan! Please give Rainswept some love!