Interview with Eva Navratilova about the Scarlet Deer Inn

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A fairly traditional Game Access conference took place on Friday and Saturday at the Brno exhibition grounds. It included not only lectures by Czech and foreign developers, but also demos of dozens of indie games from small teams and individuals who presented their projects here. One of them was Scarlet Deer Inn, an embroidered game from husband and wife team Eva and Lukasz Navratilov of Attu Games, who are also behind the metroidvania Feudal Alloy. Even their novelty at the end of the event she won prize for the best art page, but even before that I had the opportunity to interview Eva, whom I asked about the development to date, inspiration, structure, and also, for example, about last year’s tweet that went viral all over the Internet.

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First, I would like to ask how you would describe Scarlet Deer Inn in a nutshell, in terms of gameplay and story.

We call it a story-driven platformer, which is a combination of part adventure and part platformer. The action takes place in the Middle Ages, inspired by Slavic folklore. And it tells the story of Eliška, a mother of two children, who, due to certain circumstances, is forced into situations and places where she would normally end up, and she is faced with exactly this challenge.

The idea to make an embroidered game is about eight years old.

Your previous game Feudal Alloy had a rather unique visual style, but here you went even further by using embroidery as a template, so how did you come up with something like that and how much more complex did it make the whole game? development?

The idea of ​​making an embroidered game is about eight years old, back when Feudal Alloy was being developed. However, it was just an idea, one of many ideas that came to our minds that maybe one day we could make such a game. Besides, we didn’t know much about it and didn’t even know there were machines that could embroider. So the original idea was that we would embroider by hand. This means that it should be easier for us to even achieve this. And we basically put the idea in a box, not knowing at all how to take it on, and let it go. As Feudal Alloy developed, we thought more about this. And after we released it, we focused more on it and discovered that there were machines. That you don’t have to do it by hand, but rather you cook on the computer and the machine does the embroidery. And because of this, we knew that we could afford to create more complex characters and animations and make them better than we expected.

One half of the game is adventure passages where you move around the village talking to the locals. And this is very reminiscent of Obsidian’s Pentiment, or rather the team led by Josh Sawyer. Was this an inspiration for you?

No no. We watched Pentiment, but that was later, we had this idea earlier. Rather, the game is inspired by the adventure game Night in the Woods. We played it, we liked it, we just skipped the part where we needed to walk more, because it’s like a platformer, actually the same type of game. And there were some passages where there were jumps, but there weren’t enough of them, so we wanted to develop that idea here.

And is the game purely linear, or can you make some decisions that will affect the story?

Yes, they will be there mainly from a gameplay perspective. Because we understand that this is a fusion of two different genres. That people who play adventure games may not want to play more complex platformers, and people who play platformers may not be interested in the story at all or not that deeply. So we want to put some extra detail in there. For those who want to enjoy the story to make the platforming easier to complete. And for those people who enjoy the challenge, there will be more twists and variations to make the challenge even more challenging. And the same goes for history. If someone is more interested in what is happening there, there will be different options.

The game will last about five to six hours.

And how long will the game last?

Well, the demo (which was available on Game Access, editor’s note) lasts about an hour and takes up about a fifth of the game, so we’re looking at about five to six hours.

You also mention Slavic folklore as an inspiration, so what exactly did you draw from that?

I don’t even know if I want to reveal this… But we were inspired in many ways by The Witcher, more by the sense of danger and Slavic creatures, and especially by the fact that the world is not black and white, and the biggest villains also have good qualities. But I guess I don’t want to give it all away.

Of course (laughs), cool. And does the game take place in a specific historical period or is it a fictional setting?

This is not entirely accurate. Our game is not historical, but historicizing. We don’t want this to be limiting, this is our version of the Middle Ages. But we try to make it seem like it is. In that sense it’s pretty close to Pentiment, although of course that’s what they had, but they also had a village there that doesn’t actually exist, but feels like it could exist. And we’re trying to go in that direction so that we don’t have to deal with, like, what color shoe leather someone had at the time, I don’t want to deal with that. (laughter)

Last year you managed to break into the world with one, actually quite simple, tweet. Today it already has 26 million views, 260 thousand likes. Were you able to retain your leads and how did they show up on Steam wishlists?

To be honest, I don’t know how the number came out in the end, the numbers were completely abstract for me and I didn’t understand what was happening at all, and didn’t even compare what others had, but it must have been a real massacre. We probably retained the interested parties. Those people who were interested in the end, yes. But of course it became mainstream, so these were people who maybe weren’t even gamers. And then we got to people who don’t play games at all, and these were artists or people who do some kind of manual work. But I think we’ve reached out to a lot of people who are potential players and might be interested. And it showed up on wish lists. The peak wasn’t as big as we thought, but it’s true that this is still an indie game and not exactly a “mainstream indie genre.” If it was an RPG, something in the action genre, I think it would attract more people, or maybe it would be some kind of management game. It’s a really niche area, so I think we’re pretty happy with what we have.

I didn’t understand what was happening at all, but it must have been a real massacre.

You presented the game on Game Access last year, how has it changed since then and how has the overall vision changed?

Well… we redesigned it a little. We modified the platform part a lot, but last year we didn’t have time to finish it at all, so it was very preliminary. Now we prepared it in advance, somehow we were able to assemble it so that it could be played from start to finish. And then we exchanged schedules there. So we tested it again, I think it looks better, but it’s definitely not the final version of the demo. This is the version for the developers, for people who are ready to accept it and know that it is part of the game. The graphics are mostly done, but sometimes they’re just black and white where they haven’t been done yet, so they haven’t been released to the public yet.

A third member, Kuba Spirzyk, recently joined you. What led to this and what areas of development does he oversee?

We initially did not want, and indeed do not want to add anyone to the team. But we got to know each other and it was more like we were sitting together as people. He’s also the kind of person who’s into everything: music, art, and maybe programming. So we thought it would be cool to work with him. And we found that there was really a lot of overlap between those interests, so we approached him if he wanted to, and he agreed. This is probably also due to the fact that he has been working in large companies for several years now, and has probably reached a stage in his life when he wants to try himself in a smaller team. Now he writes music for us because he has a band and that’s what he’s interested in and he makes art. I believe that in the future he will also be involved in design, but we haven’t gotten to that point yet, because we’ve only been working together for the second month. It took us a while to learn how to communicate and work with each other because most of what we do is in our heads. Or we know, but to imagine it to another person… We had to find out what it was like to do it with someone else.

You’ve probably already partially answered this because you say that the demo isn’t quite presentable yet, but do you plan to release a demo in the future, for example as part of Steam Next Fest?

Yes, I would really like that. We’ll see how it goes. We would prefer to release it sometime ahead of time, but we’ll see. We’ve wanted to sign up so many times, saying it might work now or next time, but we can’t seem to do it. There are still so many things to work through. And like I said, it’s great for the developers here because these people know it and count on it. But there are many things that still need to be finalized.

This year we are running out of issues. Perhaps next year, in the first half.

And do you have any idea when the final version of the game might be released? And what platforms are you planning to do this for?

Well, it won’t be this year, unfortunately we won’t be able to come. Well, maybe next year it should be, say, in the first half. And it will be released on PC, basically we have some Steam, then Switch and Xbox. This is what we have officially announced for now. If there is something further, we are not against it, but we have not dealt with it yet.

I saw that you also have a Steam Deck there (at the Attu Games stand, editor’s note), so does it work on the Steam Deck?

Yes of course. I think of it as Steam, but sure. Plus we have ROG Ally, it works there too.

I think this is exactly the game that is suitable for such devices.

Yes, I think for sure. It looks even better on these small displays. I think this is generally a game for the couch or somewhere you can curl up under a blanket and play.

And finally, the question is outside of development. Do you have time to play any games yourself, and if so, which ones have you enjoyed lately?

Probably not that much at all. We don’t have any time, but right now it’s mostly Steam Next Fest, we’re mostly playing demos, and it sounds great to me. Then, of course, we tried Manor Lords because it’s a medieval and Slavic film, so that setting really inspired us. I really liked it. And now the demo version of Tiny Glade has come out, it’s such a cozy, management, construction game. They build fortifications and castles there, but it’s so relaxing, that’s why we liked it.

Thank you for your time and good luck in your development.

Please and thank you.

Source :Indian TV

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