Ten Questions With… Fabian Rastorfer & Ben Miller (Fabraz)
Planet Diver, a very fast paced action title from Fabraz recently hit Steam and impressed us with its addictive gameplay. After the adrenaline rush from diving through planets wore off a bit we got in touch with the creators to find out more about the game and studio behind it.
Can you give our readers a quick introduction of yourself and the studio?
Fabian: My name’s Fabian Rastorfer and I’m a Swiss who has moved to New York and founded the company Fabraz with my friend Ben Miller. The way Fabraz came to be is a rather interesting story, actually. Fabraz used to my personal username that I used when I was uploading art to the internet over 8 years ago. At one point I created a webcomic with Songwut Ouppakarndee called “Tale of Aeria” and that was the first step of the name Fabraz representing more than one person. Shortly after that I created my first video game, “Cannon Crasha” with Markus Jost followed by “Wild Wild Pixel” where I first started working with Ben Miller. Only a year ago did Fabraz become an official LLC company in the US and now it represents dozens of people all across the globe! Switzerland, Germany, Thailand and the US to be exact! Though Planet Diver was only made by the core three members in New York over the course of a year.
Ben: My name’s Ben Miller, and I’m originally from Boston, but have lived in New York for the past couple years, first for college and now for grad school and Fabraz. I originally studied music in undergrad, but taught myself programming after graduation and started collaborating with Fabian on “Wild Wild Pixel”. This past year, we formed Fabraz as an official LLC and started development on Planet Diver.
How did the idea for Planet Diver come about?
When we first conceptualized Planet Diver we had essentially one goal: Can we create a game that is equally good on mobile and pc? Can the game be easy enough to play and learn that one can play it one handed on the subway? While still having enough content and remaining complex enough to master that it will be enjoyable to play on pc? Based on those questions we came up with the concept of Planet Diver, which we believe is a little arcade title that manages exactly what we were hoping to achieve.
Can you tell us more about the unique art style chosen for the game?
Fabian: When choosing an art style for a video game, there are always two primary things to consider: What’s the art style going to be and how is it going to work with the theme? I’ve been doing pixel art for a while now and even had the chance to teach it occasionally, so that art style was a natural choice for me. The theme that we picked was essentially a futuristic, sci-fi world where nostalgia for the 1940’s is rampant. This meant I had to adapt the pixel art style to work with that odd future-retro approach. To achieve that effect I decided to forgo outlines of any kind and define shapes by stark colors and shadowing alone. That created a smoother, more painteresque look which was perfectly complemented with a scanline filter to make it appear a little like a nostalgic art nouveau piece. Talking of art nouveau, our promotional art by Frei is clearly heavily influenced by that too. Almost every illustration of Diver is an homage to the phenomenal artist Alphonse Mucha.
Ben: In addition to the anachronic visuals that Fabian achieved, we worked toward a similar aesthetic in the sound and music. For the soundtrack we were influenced by a lot of the music of the time, but wanted to maintain hints of the futuristic setting as well, creating a kind of scifi-swing. We worked with my brother Michael Miller to compose the dive tracks, and achieved a similar blending of these two disparate themes of futuristic 1940s nostalgia.
What are the games that influenced you and how?
What was the biggest challenge while creating Planet Diver?
What is it that sets Planet Diver apart from other titles in the genre?
What are the future plans for Planet Diver/Fabraz?
What is the most unusual thing on your desk right now?
Ben: Well, not directly on my desk but next to it on a mantle, I have a lot of weird junk. Probably the weirdest would be a Pac-Man plushie with a spooky mask on it from the theater show Sleep No More You get the mask when you got to the show, and I couldn’t think of a better place to keep it than on Pacman’s cheerful mug.
Do you have any advice for other developers who want to go the indie route?
Anything else you would like to add?
Ben: Just to second what Fabian said, please feel free to reach out, we love chatting about games, whether it’s one of ours or some other awesome game out there in the world (especially Bloodborne!)! Thanks for the interview, and for everyone playing, I hope you’re having as much fun as Diver is!
We want to thank both Fabian and Ben for taking the time to answer our questions and wish them all the best with their new secret title. Check out our REVIEW for Planet Diver and remember the game has a 15% launch discount on Steam until 7 December, so don’t hesitate to grab a copy.