Written by Whistler 8th October 2015
Successfully Steam greenlit in only 5 days, South African indie studio K Bros Games entered the gaming arena with their cinematic puzzle-
Whistler: So how did K Bros Games come about?
Nikola Kostic: To be perfectly honest, we just needed a name to put on the business cards. There was no big idea to set up a game development studio or anything like that. I made a demo for Albert & Otto and put it up on Steam Greenlight to see what people thought. I was floored to get greenlit in only five days, and then things just snowballed from there.
Whistler: Any particular reason you chose Unity for the game’s engine?
Nikola Kostic: I happened to have Unity installed on the computer I was working on when I decided to make the game, I haven’t used any other engine before, so it was a no-
Whistler: Without spoiling anything what is the tale of Albert and Otto?
Nikola Kostic: That’s really tricky without spoilers! I can tell you that it is set in pre-
Whistler: Any particular reason you felt this genre was best suited for the narrative you wanted to convey?
Nikola Kostic: Good question. I always liked the idea of a simplistic 2D game with a big story, where the simplicity magnifies the narrative. When the whole story is one big puzzle that the player must solve, it's appropriate that he comes to conclusions by solving puzzles.
Whistler: Is there any themes or an underlining message you aim to convey to the player?
Nikola Kostic: The main theme of the game is about making choices and how the circumstances we make them under can totally skew our morals. This is the main reason the idea for Albert & Otto manifested itself as a game as opposed to a film, which I also dabble in.
In A&O, there's a choice that the player needs to make at the very end. The outcome of the whole story hangs on it, and because it's a game, I can make the player get their hands dirty by actively making the choice themselves as opposed to watching it play out in a film.
Whistler: Has it been a challenge to work in this art style with little dialogue and still convey the intended story and emotions?
Nikola Kostic: An earlier version of the game contained some dialog, but I decided to get rid of it completely in favor of telling the story through animation and interaction. It was a big challenge for me coming from a film background. I instinctively wanted to show stuff to the audience, so I had to resist that and instead create conditions for the player to interact and discover for themselves.
Whistler: I noticed the title has a very distinct yet familiar style, are there any specific pieces of media that inspired Albert and Otto’s visual aesthetics?
Nikola Kostic: Tim Burton and some of his early stop motion films. Also, the red bunny against the monochromatic background was inspired by Schindler’s List.
Whistler: Our protagonist Albert happens to use a gun, do we unlock abilities as we progress, do you introduce variety through level design instead or do you utilize both?
Nikola Kostic: Variety is found in both, but mainly through level design. The game does introduce different ways to use the gun as the player progresses, but don’t expect to upgrade to a bazooka or anything. Despite that, the gun's abilities and ways of using it do progress as the game goes on.
Whistler: During the press build you show off that Otto the rabbit gives the ability to double jump and can be used to solve puzzles, but what role does he play in the narrative?
Nikola Kostic: He actually plays the most important role in the story. He is the only connection between Albert and Anna, the girl with the bunny ears. As you progress through the game you will start to get some ideas as to what the bunny represents.
Whistler: I noticed you’ve chosen to deliver Albert and Otto in an episodic format, why did you choose this method to present your story?
Nikola Kostic: The decision to release four chapters separately was made when I noticed that, being a one man team, I started to compromise on quality in order to get the game shipped in time. I didn’t want to do that, because I felt so strongly about keeping the puzzles unique and without filler.
With this new format, once all episodes are released, the entire package will add up to an epic adventure story told in parts. I also wanted to involve the community in the game and this is a great way to do it. We put the price at $4.99 so everyone can afford to play and be part of it. I can’t wait to start chatting with the community and involving them in the development of future episodes.
Whistler: When can we expect the first episode?
Nikola Kostic: 28th of October on Steam.