While I may have just learned about Fathom two short weeks ago, I feel like I know quite a bit about it. When I first read the concepts discussed in various press releases, I was instantly hooked. This was greatly furthered when I got the chance to view some concept art as well as watch some gameplay footage. Fathom is a really great looking game, which is why I was very excited to get an interview with the director of Ironsun Studios, Fathom’s developers. Paul and I recently had a E-mail interview which ended with him answering a few questions I had about Fathom. Here’s how it went.
One of the first things that stood out to me was that Fathom was a “2.5d adventure game”. After watching some gameplay you have released, I am still wondering exactly what that means in terms of Fathom. Can you explain?
Paul – “We use the term 2.5D because although the engine etc. is 3D, giving a sense of depth, most of the gameplay is on a two dimensional plane. There is some interaction with objects in the background, such as puzzles etc., but the main gameplay is 2D. So it looks 3D, but plays 2D – hence the 2.5D.”
When I see Fathom, I see a lot of other games and influences in it. Maybe not directly, but I feel that these influences are there. Were there any specific influences you guys had when you were doing concept design or in the beginning levels of development?
Paul – “The visual and story influences came from the stories of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells and films like League of Extraordinary Gentleman. On the gameplay side, the biggest influence was an old retro game “Thrust” by Firebird. We all loved it and wanted to pay homage to it. It’s obviously morphed a lot since then.”
From what I have gathered, when it comes to level design you guys seem to be going for a scheme where you have less levels, but each level is larger with more exploration. Is this true? If it is, what made you choose this over a scheme with smaller more plentiful levels? You guys are on level 3 (from what I have gathered) when it comes to development. How many levels do you plan for the final game?
Paul – “The reason we have gone for larger levels is to give a sense of scale. There will be smaller, more compact levels, but the majority will be as large as or larger than the one you see in the main video. With this kind of scale of level, we can incorporate big structures, like underwater pyramids and temples. The whole idea behind the story is epic, so we wanted to make the game itself feel the same way. The final number of levels hasn’t been decided as in part it depends on funding.”
You guys said Fathom has been in development for around 9 months. At this point, you need funding, hence your kickstarted project. So far, this doesn’t seem to be helping so much (considering with 15 days left you only have only funded about 5% of your goal). If you cannot get this funding through Kickstarter, what are your plans on getting the funding you need? Will its failure halt development of Fathom?
Paul – “Funding from Kickstarter is not fundamental to the making of Fathom, but we would be lying if we said it’s not going to be harder to make without it. We have collectively invested a lot of time and money in Fathom, and are not going to stop finding a way to finish it.”
Why do you think that Fathom’s Kickstarter has not seen as much success as you might have wanted? Do you think it might not be getting enough coverage/dispersion?
Paul – “I think that coverage/dispersion is the main factor, yes. We do not have the resources to run a big media campaign, and that means awareness of the project is not as high as it could be. When people see the game footage everyone is blown away by it, so we have to get more people looking at it.”
Where is your timeframe at for Fathom? Do you plan on releasing a demo? If so, what is your projected timeframe on that?
Paul – “We have a demo nearly ready now, but we are offering it as a pledge reward so it’s staying in its locked box for the moment. As to the timeframe, we have every intention of finishing by the end of the year. At the moment, that looks feasible, so we are sticking with that.”
It was really great of Paul to get back to me in this interview, and I really appreciated him giving me a bit of his time. For those of you who haven’t heard of Fathom, please take a look at the video below. I’ll include some gameplay footage that Ironsun has released. It looks like Fathom is going to be a very interesting game, and I for one am very excited. You can also head over to their kickstarter page (which will be active for 7 more days) and donate if you feel so inclined.
Make sure you check back in few days to check out our opinions on the preview build of Fathom!