You are here
Home > Interviews > Stay Steam Game Developer Interview With Appnormals

Stay Steam Game Developer Interview With Appnormals

We recently came across a game titled ‘Stay’ that was launched on 16th May, 2018 on Steam platform and got in touch with the developer of this interesting game. Here is our interview with the developers of Stay game where they talk about this game along with some interesting aspects of game development:

1. Tell us a bit about your game and what was it that inspired you to make this game?

STAY is a conversational game where we talk with Quinn, a guy who has been abducted and trapped in a room where there is nothing but darkness… and a crappy computer connected to us via chat.
STAY
STAY
Developer: Appnormals Team
Price: $ 11.99

Bottom line is we, the users, can’t control the main character in the game. Instead, we need to build a relationship with him and gain his trust through dialog choices, so he starts relying on our words to perform different actions and try to escape from that place (and discover what happened). It was inspired by the concept of an imaginary friend constantly texting you and asking for advice, and that evolved to a darker premise of loneliness and isolation, with the intensity of a thriller and a very emotional and personal backstory that we wanted to share.

2. Naming a game is almost always one of the most difficult tasks since that’s what people identify it with. Was this name the first choice for the name? If not then what were some other options you were looking at?

STAY was the first name it came to our minds, and we kept it during all development until release. For us it was the perfect choice not only because it’s short and remarkable, but because it explains the core mechanic (you shouldn’t leave) while empowers a big subject related to the narrative and the personal backstory underneath the fiction.

Let me mention we adapted this one word in Chinese, Russian, Japanese and Korean (to similar meanings), but we kept it as ‘STAY’ in all the rest of localized versions.

3. What sort of thought process went behind the artwork of this game?

Well, we have always worked with pixel art since our first mobile games, so developing STAY in this style was not a difficult decision to make. It has become the trademark of our studio, we’re known for that, and as long as users accept it we will keep working with it. For us pixel art is strong for two reasons: it takes us back to our childhood (we grew up playing 80s computer games and 16 bit consoles) but also it gives the sprites enough abstraction so the user forgets about visuals a bit, and is able to fill the gaps with their own thoughts and imagination.
STAY started as a text-only game, but soon into development we decided something else was needed, so we decided to add visual content that could change rhythm and make the experience more appealing and interesting.

4. What was the major challenge in developing this game?

When you are an indie developer with limited resources, being able to finish the game is the biggest challenge. From an artistic perspective, we decided to make a narrative game with many visuals, including cutscenes and lots of 2D animations, in order to create a compelling atmosphere.

And of course it was our first narrative game, so dealing with multiple branches, consequences of choices and alternative endings was also a real challenge for the writer and for us in terms of designing a solid experience for users, giving them enough variations but keeping the project feasable and doable with our small team.

5. Any in-game secrets that could be easter eggs for players to discover?

There’s one specific easter egg that is needed to unlock one achievement. Is possible for Quinn to see the moon in the game, and the moon actually changes according to real lunar phases. So if you want to unlock the “Werewolf achievement”, Quinn needs to see a full moonlight… like you would do from your window. Also there’s something else to point out: this location is full of traps, so Quinn can die in +30 different ways… there’s probably more than you can think of after a first run (not that we are encouraging you to kill the guy, but just saying!)

6. Why do you consider Steam as a platform for your game and is there any other platform you look forward to get your game onto?

STAY is our first game for desktop computers and consoles and it has been a tremendous learning process. Nowadays Steam is quite crowded with games, although we think there is still room to find a decent audience if you are game is different enough or stands out in any field (artistic, gameplay, story, etc.).
Honestly we were expecting less downloads on Steam, and it has been a nice surprise to see the traction the project has had. Another important aspect to mention is the impact of Asian markets, in our particular case China and Korea has been the regions with most players clearly separated from the rest. We already released the game on Xbox One as well, and we are looking to bring it to other platforms during the summer (nothing officially confirmed yet, though).

7. How much time did it take to get this game developed and what can players expect in updates for this game?

Roughly it took us near 2 years to develop this game. The first version was text-only, but after the first months of development we realized the story needed visuals to become more sophisticated and interesting, so we started from scratch (and start re-building using Unity) with a more complex approach including live webcam, cutscenes and 2d animations of Quinn in the environment. We are planning to release some DLC soon that will show further details of Quinn’s backstory and extend the game experience. And besides that, other goodies that we’re eager to share such as an Artbook or the remaining outtakes from the soundtrack composed for the game.

8. What are your future plans as a game developer?

Being an indie developer our main focus is to stay developing and creating games. Is not an easy task to complete and release a game while making it profitable, and even with the discreet metrics we have had compared to successful indie titles, STAY has been our best selling game so far. Our plans include to share another stories using the same engine built for STAY on one side, while jump into more sophisticated developments on the other.
We want to keep working with 2D games and retro aesthetics, but our next challenge is to make a game with full character control, making a more interactive (and traditional) approach gameplay-wise. One thing is for sure: we will keep exploring different mechanics and particular ways for users to experience our stories, as we will always aim for unique premises. We don’t want to play safe, and we will take more risks to make projects out of the box.

9. How long have you been developing games and what is the most enjoyable aspect of game development according to you?

We started back in 2011, so it is been a while already. To me the most enjoyable part is the design. In a challenging heavy-narrative game such as STAY, it was specially fun to interact with our screenwriter and discuss how the story such unfold, which puzzle could be a nice addition (although they have became very controversial due to its complexity and deliberate lack of instructions) and thinking about game design aspects at the same time.
STAY
STAY
Developer: Appnormals Team
Price: $ 11.99
  • STAY Screenshot
  • STAY Screenshot
  • STAY Screenshot
  • STAY Screenshot
  • STAY Screenshot
  • STAY Screenshot
  • STAY Screenshot
  • STAY Screenshot
  • STAY Screenshot
  • STAY Screenshot

Last but not least, I need to say that I come from an artistic background, so working as an Art Director and working on pixel art and 2D animation as well it is something that I always enjoy.

10. What are your personal favourite games?

Very tough question to answer, as I’ve playing since I was very young, around 5 years old. I grew up seeing my older brother play with a ZX Spectrum, but we I really start playing a lot was when he acquired an Atari ST. From that era I remember playing Bomb Jack, Space Harrier, Speedball or Super R-Type and two adventures titles that made a huge impact on me: Another World and Monkey Island. Shortly after that I was lucky enough to have a Super Nintendo when I was around ten years old, and that changed forever my relationship with videogames.
STAY
STAY
Developer: Appnormals Team
Price: $ 11.99
  • STAY Screenshot
  • STAY Screenshot
  • STAY Screenshot
  • STAY Screenshot
  • STAY Screenshot
  • STAY Screenshot
  • STAY Screenshot
  • STAY Screenshot
  • STAY Screenshot
  • STAY Screenshot

If I need to pick a few games from then, I would choose Super Mario Kart, Street Fighter II and any good platformers, as I believe that was the golden age of that genre: Earthworm Jim and Aladdin were two of my favourites back then, but there so were so many that is really hard to pick just a couple.

11. Have you developed the game solo or you have a team working with you?

Appnormals Team is a two-man studio, but we have a flexible structure and we surround ourselves with other freelancers depending on the project. In the case of STAY, we worked very intensively with external screenwriter, musician and concept artist, from the inception, and other extra artists, developers and third parties (localization, sound design, console port) joined us down the road as well.

Without all them it would have been impossible to create STAY as we see it today, and we are very grateful and proud of the team involved in this project. Needless to say, we are expecting to keep working with them in upcoming new projects.

12. Any message for our readers?

STAY is a very unique game, and we know it might be frustrating some times. But it is that way for a reason, and is a game very personal and full of soul. Nothing has been designed randomly here, and when the user feels lost or frustrated is because we wanted to suggest the same emotions Quinn is going through during his journey. This game has been made with very limited resources and by a very small team.
STAY
STAY
Developer: Appnormals Team
Price: $ 11.99

We put a lot of effort and work trying to build something unique and emotional, and we believe we managed to make it a memorable experience for most of users. We hope you give STAY a chance. Chatting with Quinn won’t be always easy, but we promise the process will be special for you and the ending will be worth it. And we need your support to keep working on this and further projects! 🙂

 

Steam Download:

STAY
STAY
Developer: Appnormals Team
Price: $ 11.99
  • STAY Screenshot
  • STAY Screenshot
  • STAY Screenshot
  • STAY Screenshot
  • STAY Screenshot
  • STAY Screenshot
  • STAY Screenshot
  • STAY Screenshot
  • STAY Screenshot
  • STAY Screenshot
 
Top