In this dev story, we are interviewing the guys from Camel 101 studio an Indie team who have just realized their last title Those Who Remain. But let’s dive into the interview and fond more about the effort behind this game.
Those Who Remain the game
Tell us more about your game, what is it about?
Those Who Remain is a first-person psychological thriller built upon two main premises: one is that the player can’t go into the dark. There are deadly creatures roaming in the darkness, and a light source is always needed to scare these creatures away.
The other is that the player has to travel through an alternate reality, something like a twisted version of our world.
It’s a tragic story about choices and consequences, with three different endings based on the player’s actions.
Which platforms did you target?
PC, PS4 and Xbox One at first. Nintendo Switch a few months later.
The original plan was to release everything simultaneously, but it was too much work for a small team.
How many copies did you sell?
I’m afraid I can’t go into detail. But I can say that during the first month on Steam alone, we sold 3 times more copies than our previous game, Syndrome.
How much did it cost to make the game?
Around $200k, give or take.
What kind of skills did you already have when you started working on the project?
We’re a small team, which means that we need to have skills outside our comfort zone.
I’m a software engineer myself, but I didn’t do much coding in the game.
Most of my work was done on excel sheets, word documents and on Unity itself.
Although I’m not an artist, I helped our 3d artist in the creation of the levels, mostly by placing props, posters or decals – anything that could make the scenes feel more natural.
So I’d say coding (although I didn’t write much code, I need to understand it), 3d knowledge, Photoshop or any other similar tool, writing and planning.
Do you have any past experience in the game dev industries?
Our team has been working together since 2006.
When we first started, none of us had any experience in the game dev business.
We started small, with puzzle casual games, and over time we grew to bigger and more complex projects, like Those Who Remain.
We’ve released a number of games over the years, for different platforms and different targets, so I’d say we have some experience by now.
Which software tools did you use to make this game?
The game is built with Unity. The scenes and models were created with 3d Studio, Maya and Substance painter. Photoshop for the 2d art.
Word and Excel for the documentation and planning, and Notepad++ for coding.
Have you found out any plugins or tools absolutely amazing to speed up your workflow?
We extensively used a plugin called HX Volumetric Lighting made by the HitBox Team.
Most of the lighting in the game comes alive with their plugin:
FMOD was also incredibly useful. It was the first time we used it – I can’t imagine not using it in the next project. Not only does it add much more control over the sounds, it also helps organize everything and quickly update any sound effect.
Tell us more about your studio, when was founded and how many people are working in the studio?
It was founded in 2006 by me, my brother Bruno, and Boris, the artist.
This has been the core team from the start, but we always have the help from a number of outsourcers that work on specific tasks: art, audio, localizations, etc.
I would say the team can temporarily grow from 3 to 8/10.
When did you start to develop your game?
We started this game in 2017. We had just released ‘Syndrome’, a sci-fi survival horror game that took place inside a spaceship, and we wanted to do something different, with different settings and gameplay rules.
How long did it take?
I’d say two years until we had a solid beta build, and one more until release. This included the Xbox One and PS4 versions.
What was the most difficult part you faced during the development time and how did you overcome these difficulties?
I wouldn’t call it difficult, but it was a challenge: the Xbox One port.
It was the first time that we ported a game to this platform, so it was an interesting experience.
Do you receive any external help? If yes, how do you find collaborators and which criteria do you use to find the best ones?
We had external help, yeah. It wouldn’t have been possible to build this game only by the three of us. At least with the quality level that we were aiming for.
We relied mostly on professionals that we already knew from other projects that we worked on. Specifically, for the audio design and 2d art.
For the voice acting, we used voice123. It’s a really good platform where you can find / hire or post any kind of jobs that require VO.
Then later in development, we got the help of a publisher, Wired Productions. They have a very balanced and talented team that helped us finish production, and handled most of the publishing side of things.
How did you organize your work/daily tasks?
With a lot of communication between the team. Each one of us handles specific parts of the project, but since everything is interconnected, we need to constantly update the others about how the work is progressing.
We plan everything so that no one has to stop waiting for the output (a graphical asset, a piece of code) from a team mate.
There’s a weekly meeting where we discuss what we’re currently doing or what we’re about to do, so that this interconnected flow is never broken.
Each one of us is then responsible about these tasks.
There are a lot of online tools that can help manage the team workflow.
Did you have other jobs or did you work full time on the game?
We all work full time on the game, but we do some small contract work here and there.
I also help out in a community center near the place I live. Computer related stuff.
Do you have any tools, software, or books you want to recommend?
Our artist would recommend ZBrush and Substance painter to work on the details of the 3d objects.
We’ve also been using Audacity for years, to cut and edit any sound files. It’s awesome, simple and free.
SketchUp is very useful to quickly create 3d sketches of something. Especially useful if you’re not exactly a 3d wizard.
Which marketing strategy did you use and do you have any special tips to share?
Don’t be shy. Start showing your project as soon as possible.
This is good in two ways: you get people to know about your game, and you start collecting precious feedback early on.
Don’t limit your social presence to Facebook and Twitter. There are a lot of social platforms out there that can be really good to show your game, or work-in-progress videos / screenshots.
Each platform has its own rules, and you’ll need to find your own tone and message, but if you succeed in this, you’ll be able to grow a decent following before release.
We had a really good engagement with Imgur.
Although everything’s online now, attending shows is also recommended.
It’s also important to save some bullets for the release. You want folks engaged, but you don’t watch to show everything during development.
Save interesting stuff and announcements for the last 3 months just before release.
Going back to day one of the development, is there anything you would have done differently?
The development process was really fluid, so I have no complaints there.
About the design of the game itself, I’d probably have more branching differences when the player makes a choice.
It’s really cool that choices affect the ending, but it’s even cooler if other things inside the game are also affected or changed.
Now you have launched this game, what do you think about the future, would you continue to make games or “you’ve had enough?”
I’ll never have enough 😊
This is much more than work, it’s a passion. Not only for me, but for the whole team.
We’re already starting pre-production of our next game.
We always want to do bigger and better from one project to the next.
Feel free to add whatever you think is relevant or important for our readers.
It’s important to find a genre that suits you.
We’re working on horror / scary games because it’s something that we’ve always enjoyed, in different media like books, movies, tv shows and immersive experiences.
When you’re working on something that you really like, it gets much easier to come up with new ideas.
Of course, the game must also be sellable and marketable, so if you can find a sweet spot between a passion of yours and a sellable idea, you have a lot more chances to nail it.