Ten Questions With… Maxim Ryadchik (Specialbit Studio)
When we checked out The Last Dream: Developer’s Edition we were expecting a typical hidden object game. Instead, we discovered a game that features a nice blend of classic point & click adventuring along with mini-games and fragmented object scenes. Even the story was a pleasant surprise as it focused more on love than supernatural monsters. To find out more about the team behind the game we were lucky enough to catch up with Maxim Ryadchik, one of the founders of Specialbit Studio.
Can you give our readers a quick introduction of yourself and the studio?
Hello! My name is Maxim Ryadchik and I’m one of the co-founders of Specialbit Studio. Nine years ago three friends decided they were born to create cool games. And this is how it begins. We’ve been dedicated to casual adventure games all that time. We are big fans of classic point and click adventure games. But there were only 3 of us at the beginning and we decided to create something simple at first (as we thought at that time:)). That is how Haunted Hotel appeared. It was very successful. Then we realized that casual doesn’t mean “simple” and that these games can have deep story. We continued making story heavy casual adventure games as we had fans after Haunted Hotel and people were asking us for more…
We grew to the size of 15 at some point. For the first 5 years we didn’t have an office and worked remotely. The core of the studio was in Lugansk, East Ukraine and we decided that we want an office for the core team. But it didn’t work long enough because of the war that came to our homes. Almost everyone had to leave their homes and move to other cities or even countries. So now we are all working remotely again.
How did the idea for The Last Dream come about?
One of our co-founders Konstantin is the creative mind behind the story concepts. He create lots of them and then the team chooses and develops the story in details. We wanted to move away from the monster stories and wanted to make something about love and passion. Something that can inspire people to follow their dream no matter what. And that is how The Last Dream appeared.
What are the games/media that influenced you and how?
Back in the days when we were only choosing what games our studio will be making the first Mystery Case Files game was released. At that moment we didn’t know that this game will be the predecessor for a whole new genre and thousands of hidden object games are to come. All three of us are artists, so we thought that it will be cool to make a game with simple gameplay, but heavy on the content side.
Why did you choose to use live action cut-scenes instead of more traditional animations or renders?
This is because we are all huge film fans. And Konstantin always wanted to be a writer-director:) We did use live action in our earlier game Haunted Hotel: Charles Dexter Ward. And the feedback was great, so we decided to develop this feature.
What was the biggest challenge while creating The Last Dream?
The biggest challenge was to actually finish and release this game. We were in the middle of development when the war crisis started in Ukraine. Getting back to work after we’ve left everything wasn’t an easy task.
What is it that sets The Last Dream apart from other titles in the genre?
The Last Dream, despite sharing some of the core casual mechanics, isn’t as simple and hand holding as other casual games. It actually makes people think and isn’t fitting for beginners, but it is not as mind blowing hard as classic point and click adventures. That is our step towards our original dream of making point and click adventure games.
What aspect of creating the game was the most fun?
Shooting all those live action scenes was super fun. As I was playing the main character Ben. And Julia who was playing Elizabeth is now my wife in real life 😀 This game is definitely a success for two of us already.
What are the future plans for Specialbit Studio?
I did mention that we are all classic point and click adventure games fans. And The Last Dream is our step from casual games to point and click games. Now we are working on a few games that will bring us closer to our dream. We are making one third person point and click game that will be a 100% hardcore adventure. And a first person point and click adventure that is another our step towards hardcore point and click games. We will announce these games quite soon, so make sure to subscribe to our Facebook page.
What is the most unusual thing on your desk right now?
Does PS4 controller and a tape-line counts? Typically I have a mess on the table, but luckily I’ve just cleaned it yesterday 😀
Anything else you would like to add?
We all share our passion for games. Playing or developing. I hope that 2016 will bring everyone more great games and ideas. Happy gaming everyone!