I talked to Jake Elliott at GDC 2013, in between the debut of acts one and 2, and I asked him about the game’s release schedule, its styles and its ending. 7 years later and on the eve of the final episode’s launch, I check out littles this interview back to the Cardboard Computer team.Here, Elliott and Kemenczy react to their 2013 objectives for Kentucky Route Zero, beginning with the promise to release all five episodes within one year: This puts the last episode of Kentucky Route Zero out
in January 2014, one year after the launch of episode one.”It’s quite aggressive, however I think we’ve got our workflow down so well now that we feel excellent about it still,”Elliott says.First, Elliott laughed. He stated,” I think a lot
of that was coming from a couple different things, one of which is undoubtedly lack of experience. I don’t understand if it would have been possible to have any experience that would have prepared us for the method the task took shape. Extremely early on, we had this idea about this platformer, and we had all these mechanical constraints, like about a fixed variety of levels and things. Even when that started to fall away and the game altered shape, I believe we held on to the concept of the scope somehow amazingly remaining the very same, although it was a various video game beneath it.”To strike this initial goal, the Cardboard Computer crew would’ve had to establish one episode every three to 5 months. Looking back, Elliott calls that strategy absurd. “We just physically couldn’t do it, “Elliott said. “We actually put ourselves through a great deal of discomfort there.
Like, Tamas developed repetitive stress injuries in his wrists and things from making all the art for act two in such a brief duration of time.” The only way the initial schedule might-have-maybe worked would’ve been with a sudden infusion of cash-driven focus.”Maybe if we had actually found a way to do it like that– I don’t know, maybe we would have taken on some financiers and hired some more individuals or something,”Elliott stated.”Or I do not know, we could have possibly found some options to hit that timeframe. It would’ve been a really different game, and I’m grateful we were able to slow down a little bit.”
Next, I asked Elliott about the message behind the video game. Back in 2013, he stated it was everything about our real-world capitalist dystopia:
At its heart, Kentucky Route Zero is a game about credit default swaps, payday loans, sub-prime home mortgages and health insurance coverage loopholes. Truly. “It’s in there,” Elliott states. “Those are the esoteric devices that reveal themselves in some of the scenarios that you do, these people who are handling all these credit issues, handling financial obligation. Those are these things that, by style, are too mystical and we can’t understand them. In financing, they do that on purpose.”
“I probably played it up and was too particular about that stuff, however I don’t know,” Elliott stated, pausing to consider the words of his ghost. “I still feel that way, through these strange mystical instruments that just immiserate us from the darkness. It is a sort of supernatural experience to be getting these strange expenses in the mail with all this magical writing on them that’s just going to screw up your life for a little while. It’s sort of the manner in which this odd– structures and physical power and how they feel, you understand?”
Game designers have a comparable power, with the capability to shape a player’s reality and after that impose concealed restrictions on it. Elliott continued,”I like tabletop games, too, however in video games, I like that you can have secret guidelines that the gamer does not learn about. Since the gamers are the ones responsible for adjudicating the rules, you can’t really do that in a tabletop game. But in a computer game,
you can do this odd, mysterious, mechanical things that the gamer maybe never ever comprehends. “And finally, we discussed the end. In 2013, I asked Elliott if he understood how Kentucky Route Zero was going to conclude, and he said yes:
“It’s a disaster,” Elliott says. “The story’s a catastrophe, it’s a tragic ending. Ideally it will not be too bleak, but it remains in that tradition.”
Tamas Kemenczy answered this one initially.
“There’s a tragic ending out of other endings, yeah,” he stated. “There’s an ensemble cast in the video game. You start with Conway as sort of the person that you are running with, but really deliberately completion, it’s just an ensemble cast. Even by act 4, you can get the sense that there’s an awful ending for some of the characters.”
Elliott agreed, and after that clarified that catastrophe doesn’t relate despondence, in his mind.
“It’s not cynical to me. Disaster is not pessimistic,” he said. “A lot of literary tragedies or dramatic disasters, at the end the character who has actually made all these terrible errors or who has these dreadful flaws … they normally have this minute where they sort of take responsibility for it, or in some other method transcend it. Spiritually, a minimum of. Like Oedipus has this awful disfiguration in the end, but he does it in order to sort of reconcile himself with fate, which was his error to start with.”
Tragedy is the rational conclusion to much of life’scourses, so it’s also infused in Kentucky Route Zero. In both locations– in reality and on-screen– it’s strangely stunning.
“Similarly in Kentucky Route Zero, the characters are put in these awful positions,” Elliott stated. “Conway gives himself over to this financial obligation circumstance. He’s also done something truly great, since this community has actually formed around him, and then he’s moved himself out of the method in order for this community to prosper. That sort of developed around him. Disaster can have an unfortunate ending, however it does not suggest that things are hopeless.”
Sometimes, they’re just genuine.
“It’s quite aggressive, but I think we’ve got our workflow down so well now that we feel excellent about it still,”Elliott says.First, Elliott chuckled. The only method the initial schedule might-have-maybe worked would’ve been with an abrupt infusion of cash-driven focus.”Maybe if we had discovered a way to do it like that– I don’t know, perhaps we would have taken on some financiers and employed some more individuals or something,”Elliott said. Game designers have a similar power, with the ability to form a gamer’s reality and then enforce concealed limitations on it. Elliott continued,”I like tabletop video games, too, however in video games, I like that you can have secret rules that the player doesn’t understand about.