Ten Questions With… Raúl Díez (The Game Kitchen)
The Last Door – Collector’s Edition might have had us almost jumping out of our skins a few times, but the compelling story kept us coming back for more. It is not often that a point & click adventure, especially one with intentionally low resolution visuals is able to pull this off so we were very grateful when Raúl Díez, PR and Community Manager for The Game Kitchen answered some of our questions about the game
Can you give our readers a quick introduction of yourself and the studio?
We are “The Game Kitchen”, a small indie studio located in Seville, Spain. We have been developing video games since 2009, but the important milestone in our trajectory was in 2012, when we decided to quit contracted work and we decided to begin working in our own projects.
Our team is made up of friends with a shared passion for videogames. We met each other a long time ago, when we used to hang out after work to create video games as a hobby. In the spur of the moment (as an amateur group of developers called “Nivel21 Entertainment”) we developed a game, Rotor’scope: The Secret of the Endless Energy, which was awarded with the second Prize on DreamBuildPlay 2009. Thus we decided that it might time for us to leave our regular jobs and start making videogames for a living, and to devote our professional skills to our passion.
Nowadays, our team consists of two artists, three programmers and our longtime friend Carlos Viola, web programmer and an outstanding award-winner music composer.
How did the idea for The Last Door come about?
At first, The Game Kitchen did contract work for third parties but that wasn’t what we wanted to do for a living, so when the recession arrived making it harder to find new clients and get paid, we made the decision to create something on our own. Just the kind of game we’d love to play. Thus, by that time (at the end of 2012), we decided to undertake an internal ideas contest: it had to be something different, something really groundbreaking… and then it popped up. Enrique, one of the team’s artists came up with a great idea. He introduced us to a simple game prototype made with PowerPoint. His concept was based in pursuing the same feelings caused by classic horror books, where you rely heavily on your imagination to depict the scenes and situations. We loved it.
Then came the tough task of research and immersing ourselves in the works of horror masters such as Poe, Lovecraft and many others. The game components started to flow: it had to be an adventure game, very immersive, with low visibility and dark scenarios, even more over-pixelated! The retro concept gained ground and the point-and-click mechanic was almost mandatory. The Last Door was born.
What are the games that influenced you and how?
Well, we have to take into account that we’re all around our thirties and we have lived during the golden age of adventure games. That’s an important starting point. But, when it comes to talking about inspiration derived from video games, the question is not that simple. From the outset we knew that the most important aspect in The Last Door had to be the atmosphere. Regardless of the great influences of adventure games from the eighties and nineties, it wouldn’t fit our game to use the verb command system of Monkey Island and similar games, so we decided to go with something which is more direct and fluid. In this sense, what was crystal clear was that the game had to be a point-and-click game, since we believe it is a completely legitimate system for this type of game.
As for the atmosphere, Alone in the Dark has been a huge influence because it is one of our favorite adventures. Although we make a big effort in The Last Door to create different environments for each chapter, we decided that the first episode had to have a classic horror atmosphere.
What features of The Last Door are you the most proud of?
That’s mean! That question is like asking someone who their favorite child is! We love them all! In all seriousness though, the truth is that there are three core features in The Last Door that make the game unique: The Story, The Music and The Visuals.
The compelling story of the game is one of our main strengths. As many of our fans have remarked, the game is like a Lovecraft novel turned into a video game, which is a really flattering compliment indeed. Additionally, the narrative elements are topped with a really personal retro look-and-feel, created with the pixel-art visual style which fosters a sense of dread and further immersing players in the gaming experience.
Lastly, we can’t neglect to mention the musical score and the sound effects which are out of this world. The Last Door soundtrack perfectly complements the strange and frightening atmosphere of the game. We had the good fortune of counting on our friend Carlos Viola, a master music composer with a long history in composing for video games. It has even been said that he is on the same the level as masters such as Chopin.
From our point of view, the most important thing is to mix all those different ingredients together wisely in order to accomplish our objective of creating a really psychological horror atmosphere.
What was the biggest challenge while creating The Last Door?
The survival of the project itself has been (and still is) the greatest challenge. The truth is that it has not been easy, since the beginning we’ve struggled to survive financially, running many different funding campaigns and business models. However, we’re quite happy to say that we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel as we expect the Collector’s Edition to boost our economic situation.
Regarding creation, the biggest challenge was to get a truly terrifying game with pixel-art. A priori everyone would say that “low-res” graphics diminish the atmosphere but, in our case, they actually helped us. We had to carefully mix all the elements together in order to convert the brains of our plaiers into our main allies. First (as said), an immersive plot, boosting the imagination. Second, take advantage of the psychoacoustic and psychological qualities of sounds and music to place the audience in a state of alertness and expectancy and, finally, let the brain fill the gaps (with dreadful suspicions) when senses don’t offer enough information. This is actually the secret of The Last Door experience since we use the same resources that horror literature masters like E.A Poe and H.P Lovecraft used to.
What aspect of creating the game was the most fun?
It was without a doubt, working together with our community. We were clear beforehand that we wanted to build and keep a staunch community and we wanted our players to get involved in the game project, and it worked out. In that sense, we have had a lot of fun working hand in hand with them. Not only because of the great ideas we get from them (through our forums or in-game texts suggestions) but all of the fan art, videos and cosplays we receive from them. Their level of involvement is really amazing.
We are also thankful for all the feedback we get. For instance, we are developing community translations, so the game is being localized into many languages with the help of our community, and thanks to this, we already have the first chapter available in 19 different languages. Most importantly, since no one in The Game Kitchen really has a thorough enough command of the English language, we got almost 100% of the draft re-written by our players, leaving their mark. Some of them are really promising writers which is amazing. They are also really helpful in finding and reporting bugs and suggesting improvements like new puzzles, Easter eggs, inspiring locations, etc. Every day we find new posts on our website with heaps of comments, ideas and so on, and believe me, that’s real fun!
The Last Door is your first Steam release. How did you find the experience?
To be truthful, the most difficult thing has been to be on time for the release date. Once the Collector’s Edition was finished, we faced a couple of technical issues with the Linux version, but in general terms it has been a very smooth release. Although, to be honest, most of the management has been done by our publisher (Phoenix Online Publishing) which means we’ve been lucky to avoid all the tedious work associated with that.
Once the game was released, not only in Steam but on all of the major digital stores such as GOG, Desura, Gamefly, etc we have had amazing response and feedback from old and new players. The community hub on is on fire with people uploading screenshots, commenting and writing reviews glowing with praise for our game. All of which is of course really satisfying!
What are the future plans for The Last Door/The Game Kitchen?
Future? We don’t really know. We will try our best to survive in this pure “indie mode” as long as possible. So far, we have been working for more than two years independently and we intend to keep on doing it for a while. It’s not easy, but we have the necessary tools to battle it out and, as said before, The Last Door is starting to become economically viable, so prospects are positive.
Apart from that, the plan is keep on moving The Last Door into the second season. As you probably know, the game is designed to be a webseries and, as such, we’ll keep on producing new chapters, provided that our community continues supporting us, and on the condition that the series makes sense from the point of view of the story. Actually, we’re in the pre-production stage for the fifth chapter which is scheduled to be release during the summer. Let’s see how it goes but as you can see, future seems to be heartening.
What is the most unusual thing on your desk right now?
Anything else you would like to add?
Not really, just to thank you for this opportunity and to tell everybody that, if they haven’t played the “The Last Door” yet, the collector’s edition could be the perfect starting point to go deep into this story of horror and mystery. It is a golden opportunity for adventurous souls to discover the blood curdling truth behind the last door. It is not just exclusively for fans of low resolution pixels and adventerous minds, but a real gem for those who love classic adventure games. So if you are a fan of jumping in fright, experiencing fear, solving puzzles or watching as great and mysterious story unfolds, this is your game.
That’s it. Thanks again and on behalf of the whole team behind “The Last Door” thanks to everybody who has helped us to make this dream come true. Cheers!
That might be it for our interview, but definitely not for The Last Door. As you can see from our review HERE we thoroughly enjoyed the game and as Raúl mentioned, the low resolution visuals is perfect for stimulating the imagination. You can grab the collectors edition of the game, containing all four episodes of the first season from Steam (as well as other online retailers) and then join the rest of us as we eagerly await future episodes.