Interview With Black Chair Games’ Keith Curtis

When we saw the first preview footage for LAD, we just had to get in touch with Black Chair Games for commentary. Lo and behold, this isn’t our first encounter with the man behind the curtain!

Hey, I thought I recognized you from somewhere! So what’s the relationship between Black Chair Games and Kc8 Studios — is Black Chair a game development project that you’re running in parallel with Kc8, or would you describe it more as an evolution on your Kc8 work, one you’ll be focusing on from here on out?

Hello! Yes, Black Chair Games is an evolution from Kc8 and will be the focus from now on.

Your recently unveiled project, LAD, has garnered widespread attention pretty quickly. Why do you think that is, and after seeing the initial reception, do you feel you’ve learned anything about the iOS industry that you’d like to share with other devs who might read this?

It looks different to the games that currently dominate the App Store charts. Its graphics were inspired by Limbo — I absolutely fell in love with every aspect of that game. Due to the art style it’s gained a lot of comparisons to Limbo and that’s started lots of debates over the net.

What do you make of the many comparisons to Limbo, and how will LAD be different from the Xbox Live classic?

From the art point of view, the comparisons are there for all to see. That doesn’t make LAD a rip-off, the same way that any game using vector art isn’t a rip-off of Angry Birds. I think some people fail to realize as well that Limbo wasn’t the first monochromatic game and won’t be the last.

It’s a massive debate though, and you could argue on it for days with valid points being made all round and never have a definitive conclusion. Such is the nature of opinions. Limbo is something I would love to see on the App Store. There’s a reason why it hasn’t been done yet; maybe it’s just too much for what the phones can handle at the moment, but hopefully one day we’ll get to see it on iOS.

As for LAD, the gameplay is different. The levels are all one screen and it’s more about puzzle solving, a traditional style platformer as opposed to an adventure based on exploration.

What more can you tell us at this point about LAD’s gameplay and interface? And what role does the protagonist’s ghostly white doppelganger play in all this?

As I said, it’s more of a traditional style platformer. The aim is to figure out how to reach your ‘Exit’ door. The interface is simple; a game like this should have a lot of visual space and be very clear so controls are on hotspots.

As for the doppelganger, this remains secret — you’ll just have to play the game to see. It’s a vital part of the story throughout, and I hope that the user is constantly questioning throughout the game what is going on.

The first preview footage is admittedly from an early version of the game. What advantages – and perhaps risks – come with revealing gameplay footage at such an early stage of development? Have you typically waited until the final build to record preview footage for past titles, or is early footage pretty standard practice for you?

I don’t normally reveal early footage but decided to this time. I wanted to show off some work and get some feedback, as it can be very important going forward. You have to be careful not to reveal too much too soon though; if you’re showing off something new that has never been done before, there’s a chance your idea can be used by someone else who can bring it to market quicker than you.

Speaking of preview footage, your trailers for LAD and the recent Star Serum are really impressive in terms of production values. Who does your previews – or if you create them yourself, can you give some pointers to indies who are having a rough time with this all-important process?

I do my previews myself. I see trailers/promos as a very important part of marketing. It’s an area that shouldn’t be rushed — take your time and make something you’re happy with. If the trailer looks rushed then that’s the view the watcher will have of your game.

I have to ask – is that beautifully somber music track playing in the LAD preview video the kind of music we should expect in-game?

Absolutely yes, it’s the main track.

And finally, how much work remains to be done on LAD? Are you in a position to start thinking about release dates yet?

It’s not too far off now. I don’t want to give a time frame as that’s extra pressure; I don’t want to rush it. It’ll be ready when it’s ready. All I can say is that a very big part of the game is already done.

Big thanks to Keith for taking the time out to answer our questions about LAD. If you’re as intrigued as we are, check out the Black Chair Games website, Facebook page and Twitter feed for all the latest.