Interview with François, Creative Producer and Co-Founder by Peter Ward
About Strange Matter
We are a small start-up founded in 2016 in France. We make games specifically designed to work equally well on PC and mobile because we believe that is the future (or one of the futures) of gaming.
More information on Strange Matter, our logo & relevant media are available here.
Rise of the Elders – Cthulhu Credits
What is your first gaming experience?
Well our very first video gaming experience, for my brother and myself, was with the Philips Videopac. Quite a lousy console, but still a great experience! Pong, Duel… After that came the C64, Nintendo’s NES (only at our cousin’s) and many more after them!
As far as I remember we always played games, that is, not only video games: many board games, like Hero Quest or Warhammer, pen and paper RPGs…
What got you into programming games?
I myself don’t do much programming. I leave that to my two associates and co-founders. But I always wanted to go into the gaming industry, so I entered through the marketing door. After graduating my business school in China, I got my first job at Take 2 in Shanghai, a great editor. I never left the gaming industry. When I came back to France, I worked as Associate Producer for Ubisoft on Assassin’s Creed’s Multiplayer feature… I saw what it’s like to work for the big industry… And I wanted to make games of my own!
What development tools or coding did you use?
We’re working on Unity, a very powerful tool! We use a couple of asset packs from the Unity Store. Coding is done in C#.
What hurdles did you have making your current game?
Making a game is a long and complicated road… And we’re far from being finished. Our main issues are/were the User Experience and User Interface : it’s hard to make something that works perfectly for mobile and PC. But I believe we finally got there and we’re already very proud of our production! That’s what convinced us to go on Kickstarter: we want to show what we achieved, and now we need all the support we can get!
It will help us with our next challenge : to create the tons of data (items, spells, skills, etc) the game requires to be really deep & challenging.
After the completion of the game what game will you make?
First of all, I think it will be very difficult to declare our “baby” finished. Since “Fez”, we all know that is one of the major problems for independent developers… To admit that the job is done, to stop fine tuning it! But we already have got tons of projects waiting! We are confident that our turn-by-turn game system is good, so what we want to re-use it to adapt more RPG universes to PC and mobile. We’re also interested in publishing indie games for developers who don’t want to bother with creating their own company. And secretly we also dream of some board game editing. But that’s another chapter!
What other games have you made you made?
Rise of the Elders – Cthulhu is our first game as indie developpers. But before that, our team worked on many AAA titles like XCOM: EU, Assassin’s Creed, GTA, Red Dead Redemption
My favorite computer was my Amiga and console the Megadrive do you have a favorite?
Definitely our Amiga 500! And the Super Nintendo!
What is your favorite retro game?
There are too many to pick one. I can remember spending a lot of time playing Ghouls & Ghosts, Betrayal at Crondor, Turrican, Dune II…
Do you still game on the current consoles if so whats your favourite game?
On PC I play Company of Heroes 2 a lot, and on console I try to keep up-to-date with the best adventure games (The Witcher, Uncharted, The Last of Us, etc).
But honestly: I think we play less and less, because it’s too time consuming. We grow older, we got kids, a wife… To play a game on console you need to have at least 2 or 3 hours ahead of you, which becomes very rare. That’s why we created our studio : to make games that are more accessible, playable at any time, anywhere… We want a game in which you can immerse immediately, a game you can play for a few minutes or as long as you want, for the time that you can spare!
Whats the worst game you have ever played?
LOL, I can’t remember playing any bad game… When I was young I probably played some very poor games, but there was always some kind of magic / excitement to it.
That being said, I hated Quake because it literally made me nauseous.
Finally what game or feature would you like to see on Retrogamesmaster in the future?
It’s really cool as it is! It’s awesome that you’re talking about indie games on your website, because lots of indie devs are indeed nostalgic of retro gaming. At the end of the day retro gaming and indie gaming have one thing in common : we place gameplay mechanics before visuals.
Typically for Rise of the Elders we could have made an isometric game with animated characters, but we wanted the action to be perfectly clear and readable – particularly on mobile – which is why we went for our topdown pawn-style art direction.