Call of the Sea was among my preferred video games of 2020. Even when I think of it now, I feel warmer. Partly that’s to do with the actual heat of the tropical island setting, however I believe more of it is to do with the mild nature of the video game. It’s a video game without fight, a video game about puzzles. A video game with a spooky secret pulling you further in. It’s an experience dipped into strolling speed, both metaphorically and actually. And I enjoy that. I enjoy an experience I can sink into like a comfortable armchair each night, one that does not rough me up and shake me around prior to I sleep. I want more video games resembled it.
And the more I check out Call of the Sea, the more amazing it appears. It is the launching video game by a Spanish studio called Out of the Blue Games (properly), and it was made in just a year-and-a-half. For a video game to be constructed so surely in such a brief area of time, by a brand-new studio, is extremely excellent. Intrigued, I located studio co-founder and Call of the Sea video game director, Tatiana Delgado, for a chat.
Hello! How are you? How are things over in Madrid?
Tatiana Delgado: Well, it’s nearly a year given that Covid is begun, so we are at house still and we’re excellent. We now are taking pleasure in the release of the video game and all the excellent reception we are getting.
I’m extremely keen on your video game. It was among my preferred video games of in 2015. And you have actually simply been chosen for a BAFTA-
Tatiana Delgado: Yeah! Wow, that was incredible. We cannot think it. It’s… wow. [laughs]
You’re chosen for Best Debut. So who are Out of the Blue Games? You established the studio, is that right?
Tatiana Delgado: Yes. I have a service partner that is Manuel Fernandez, [and] we have actually remained in the video games market for, I believe, eighteen years. The typical experience in this studio is more than 10 years, so we have actually been working a great deal of years in the video gaming market. And we have actually discovered how, mainly, not to do things. We have actually been seeing numerous errors being carried out in other business. That’s why we were truly extremely focused in production. We wished to do a strong pre-production. We set the objectives for the video game and we attempted to follow whatever till completion, so we didn’t include anything insane at the middle, or modification systems. […] Everybody understood what they needed to do.
We relied on a lot in the group. We wished to offer the group the possibility to do what they truly wished to: to put their soul in the video game. And I believe everyone was so purchased the video game that they put a lot enthusiasm [in], [and it] is something that you in fact can feel when you play. Everything has a level of polish that is incredible.
You state you discovered how you didn’t wish to do things. Does that consist of crunch? Did you handle to prevent it?
[Update: Tatiana Delgado got in touch to clarify her comment on crunch, and her updated comment follows.] Tatiana Delgado: We handle to prevent the majority of it. Sometimes, there are circumstances that run out control however our responsibility as supervisors is to prevent those circumstances impacting the group. And I believe we attained it, or a minimum of we attempted our finest. What is absolutely undesirable is to crunch the whole time the task. I believe that with appropriate preparation you can if not totally prevent it, a minimum of minimize crunch. Also you need to stay with your initial strategy, not altering vital parts of the video game throughout production.
[Original transcript:] Sometimes [it’s] extremely hard when you see another video game launching [while you’re developing] that has a function that you like, and you seem like, ‘Oh, we need to consist of that in our video game.’ And when whenever you do that you’re breaking the video game due to the fact that-
Was there one such function for Call of the Sea that you saw?
Tatiana Delgado: We didn’t see that, however there are things that we wished to do. We understood from the start that we could not, for instance, have other characters to connect with, since that would make… We understand how little we are, so we need to have fun with the tools we have. And with 3D characters and animations: it resembles the scope of the task increases a lot. So these are the examples that, for instance, if we choose [in] the middle of the task, ‘oh this will be extremely cool to have a 3D design to connect with’, then the production schedule is broken and this leads to crunch.
So your service was to have one character, Norah Everhart, and have her speak with herself and compose in a journal. A really stylish service! It eliminates the requirement for other characters while focusing the action more, and I likewise truly like the sensation of isolation and vulnerability that includes it.
Tatiana Delgado: Yeah. I think when you develop a video game, in fact having more constraints makes it more fantastic, the outcome. Because I believe constraints are excellent, in fact, when you develop something.
So are these methods of working – a year-and-a-half advancement with a strong pre-production – going to be functions of your studio in years to come?
Tatiana Delgado: Yeah, due to the fact that we have actually seen it has actually worked truly well. So, we wish to concentrate on video games with puzzles and story-
Tatiana Delgado: [laughs]. Perhaps we will check out various things, however we still wish to keep those 2 core things, due to the fact that we like to make [them]. We believe we are discovering a lot and we can do it much better, so we wish to keep doing that.
I believe that strong pre-production is essential for the task. You require to end up pre-production with all the responses that you require, so you make production – recreation, in fact, [and] not examine things. Just produce and fill the spaces you have.
Where did the concept for Call of the Sea originated from?
Tatiana Delgado: We – Manuel [Fernandez, co-founder] and me – we have actually understood each other for a long time. We satisfied each other at a tabletop role-playing association.
What were you playing – Dungeons & Dragons?
Tatiana Delgado: No. Well, in the beginning yes, however we truly like Call of Cthulhu.
Tatiana Delgado: [laughs]. So you can discover motivation for this video game in 2 things. One is these role-playing video game stories. When we began playing, they utilized to have more action, beasts, things like that, however we progressed them more into examination, and more like Call of the Sea: more mental [and] focusing far more on the story than the action. So we wished to narrate comparable to the ones we were playing.
And on the other side, we have actually matured with video games like Myst, Riven (the 2nd part). We like those video games. So we wished to bring something that might advise [us of], or was influenced [by], those video games, however bringing it to the contemporary audience. So that’s why the puzzles are a bit more… simple.
One wasn’t! (I describe the language puzzle at the end of Chapter 4, the outright rotter.)
Tatiana Delgado: Oh yes! [laughs]. I understand which one! I concur.
Did great deals of individuals battle on that puzzle?
Yeah! Actually, [in] among the spots, we enhanced among the hints to attempt to make it a bit more available.
So yeah, we were attempting to make a type of Myst video game with a heavy narrative part.
So where does Norah Everhart originated from? Where is she born in all of this?
Tatiana Delgado: So this is a tough concern, due to the fact that I do not wish to ruin excessive about the story, however we were influenced by among the HP Lovecraft stories. We wished to alter the focus, offer a twist to it; we desired a female lead character. But likewise, the vital part is Norah is a lady that hasn’t done anything dangerous in her life. This is the very first time she exits her house. She’s in her 40s, and now she discovers herself in the middle of the Pacific and this island. So we wished to reveal the development of this female from being somebody living a typical life, into the traveler, and see how she faces the scenario.
In the majority of the Lovecraft stories you discover that individuals, their scenarios overwhelm them, which’s why they fall under insanity. But here it resembles, ‘Okay, what takes place if individuals accept what is beyond their control?’ So we wished to attempt to address that.
I check out a quote by you where you stated “Call of the Sea isn’t a descent into insanity, it’s an increase to peace of mind”, and it truly struck me. It’s an ideal method of explaining her journey. Which Lovecraft story is it that influenced you?
Tatiana Delgado: This is possibly excessive of a spoiler however The Shadow Over Innsmouth.
Is that where the tropical island originates from too?
Tatiana Delgado: So there is a sailor that narrates about these tropical islands. And we stated it might be so cool, due to the fact that the majority of the Lovecraft video games occur in New England, Massachusetts – these locations in the United States – [to go] to these tropical islands. And likewise due to the fact that I’ve been studying Polynesian culture for 3 years now.
Oh have you!
Tatiana Delgado: I have a friend that was studying Ora Tahiti: that’s a dance they do in Tahiti. And I said, “OK let’s go and see how it is.” But actually what they have is a school about culture, so they don’t only teach you how to dance, they teach you […] everything about the culture: the language, the gods, how they live. It was so good. I always had it in my mind [that] I need to make a game that includes all this knowledge. And we were really lucky because my teacher, he’s from New Caledonia, and I told him, “Okay, can you come to the studio with us and make us a workshop about the culture?” So we spent four hours, the whole team, learning about how the villages were built, what kind of plants there are in the Pacific, how they display the things, what a marae is – these stone structures I define at the beginning of the game. And I think it was super-cool because we could put actual culture into the game that was from the Pacific.
Lovecraft is obviously an enormously influential creator of fiction, but the problem is that as a person, he was a bit of a monster. He was racist, he was a misogynist. How did you deal with that side of his legacy while being inspired by him?
Tatiana Delgado: The same way that we did with the twist with the ‘rise to sanity’: we wanted to do ‘Lovecraft but different’; everything is the opposite. That’s why we wanted to have a female protagonist. Also, The Shadow Over Innsmouth is racist so we wanted to change [it] so the game is the opposite. So we [use] his work as a starting point and then adapt it to our point of view.
Do you have any data about what decision people made at the end of the game? Do you know which choice was more popular?
Tatiana Delgado: We don’t. The only data I have is from what’s in the streams, and I think it’s fifty-fifty. I really love seeing this trial because every time we see a streamer reach the question, they are like, “Nooo!” It’s so cool to see that moment.
What has the reception been like to the game? Has anything people said surprised you?
Tatiana Delgado: Yeah, one thing that is not related to the story but one thing I really like is, we receive a lot of comments about people playing together with their partners.
Tatiana Delgado: I really love that, because it’s amazing that we can read [about], say, mostly women that never played before, or didn’t like games too much, and they play together as a couple. Because after all, this is a love story too. And likewise, it reminds me of when I used to play games like Riven and Myst. I used to play with my friends, because there was no internet at that moment, seeing people trying to solve puzzles together. For me, that was really cool.
Looking back, would you have done anything differently in the game?
Tatiana Delgado: The Journal. Not how it looks because it’s very useful, but the logic inside has been crazy for the design team, creating all the information, every text, every image, and then making sure it triggers at the proper time. It was very-
Oh I really liked the journal, the dual-aspects of it, and how it helped you both recap the story and tell a bit more story, as well as be a functional place to store and give clues.
Tatiana Delgado: No, no, I think that’s why we didn’t cut it because we believed… I was the kind of player who used to play with a notepad beside me and write everything, so that’s what we wanted to bring the players and we knew it was important.
When the game began, I got quite excited at the prospect of controlling Norah, a character with disabilities, because we rarely if ever get the opportunity to do that. Away from the island, Norah has to walk with a stick. But when she gets to the island, she’s cured in some way and able to walk unaided. I’d almost rather she hadn’t been. Did you ever consider keeping her disability?
Tatiana Delgado: This is a thing that a lot of people have given feedback to us [about], because the walking speed of Nora is never too fast. We didn’t want her to run a lot so we got a lot of feedback saying she could have been running more. We were struggling with this because some puzzles you have to go back and forth a lot, so there is a speed that we cannot go below. We go below that, it will be boring. So I think we are in this sweet spot where she’s running but not as a very healthy person.
I followed this up with Deglado over email because I felt there was a fuller answer to be given here.
Tatiana Delgado: Without spoiling the story too much, the disease that Norah has been suffering with for some time, which has affected her both physically (she relies on a cane to walk) and emotionally, is connected to her disconnection of self. When she gets to the island and slowly starts to find her true self (and all that it entails – again I don’t want to spoil anything), she starts to feel better and better, and that is reflected both in the story and in her movement. Norah’s story is a tale of self-discovery and the freedom that comes from that, and the profound effect that it has on her.
So, Call of the Sea was a Game Pass game. Do you have any idea how many people played it?
Tatiana Delgado: We cannot share that data. I’m sorry. I can say I am happy!
Okay, and is there a chance at some point in the future, when the Game Pass deal fades, we could see Call of Sea on other platforms?
Tatiana Delgado: Sorry! I cannot speak about that.
So finally, and thank you very much for your time today, what are you doing next? What is the studio up to now?
Tatiana Delgado: Well, we are starting a new game now, and as I stated, it has puzzles, it has a powerful story again. We want to continue making these kinds of games, so I truly look forward to telling the individuals what we are doing next.