Interview: Skobbejak On Vapour, A Hell Lord-Infested South African Indie Horror
Welcome to another eGamer exclusive indie interview, this time with South African developers Skobbejak Games on their exciting horror game, Vapour. This game has spread around the internet really quickly and attracted quite a lot of attention, rightfully so as it certainly has quite a bit of potential. It’s currently in its prototype stage and is a free download, so you should definitely check it out on their official website. I got in contact with two-man team Tiaan Gerber and Alex for an interview to learn more about them and their game, and if you’re interested you can read it all down below.
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eGamer: Thank you, Skobbejak Games, for taking the time to do this interview with us. We always love getting to know our indie developers, and it’s definitely exciting when they’re South African. So, to start off with, would you like to introduce yourselves? Tell us a little about yourself and Skobbejak Games!
Tiaan: Hi, Tiaan Gerber here, 23 years old, and I recently graduated from AFDA Cape Town majoring Visual Effects. I always knew I would get into games in some or other way, ever since I picked up that first NES controller when I was 5 years old. If I’m not making games, I’m either researching them or playing them for inspiration or comparison.
Alex: Hey, I am Alex, 23, and I like to stalk Facebook profiles, especially married women. My love for game development started from an early age when my older brother realized he can make his own Duke 3D levels, I was just fascinated by game design (art, music, sfx) since and never looked back.
Skobbejak: We’ve known each other since pre-school, so we aren’t just business partners, we’re lifelong friends. We already started talking about creating games (and consoles, hahaha) since grade1. We started making custom Duke Nukem 3D Build maps at the age of 8, probably why we have such twisted minds now, haha that game had some screwed up stuff in it.
We made some little personal mods to a bunch of other games later on but we started gravitating more towards game makers and other middleware. We made some Klik ’n Play games in our late primary school years and then actually bought a game producing middleware called 3D Game Studio in High School and started tinkering with more serious game development. Sadly due to school taking up a lot of work and our parents pressuring us to further our studying we never got to a point where we could sit down and just make games. After 3 years of honing our artistic skills, we discovered the Unity engine and realised that together with the experience and skills we have learnt over the years it provided us with a legitimate chance to go into game development
eGamer: Your first game is currently a free prototype called Vapour, which I’ve done two Let’s Plays on for eGamer’s YouTube channel. For those who are new, can you tell us what the game is about?
Skobbejak: Vapour is an experimental horror game which takes inspiration from old school survival horrors (like Silent Hill) as well and modern horror title (such as Slender and Amnesia) and it fuses it with the fast and hectic gameplay of 90’s First Person Run & Gunners (like Doom and Duke Nukem 3D)
In Vapour you play as a deceased Warlock stuck in Purgatory. You have to fight against horrible foes to survive and ultimately find a way to defeat the 3 Hell Lords that stand in your way between salvation and damnation.
eGamer: As a little sidestep and fun point of interest for fans, how we came to know about Vapour was of course through your first email contact to us and our indie team. Tell us, where did you hear about eGamer? We always love us some references, since we’re overly attached and stalkerish and all that.
Skobbejak: We always try and keep a look out on the local gaming scene. We’ve read a few of eGamer’s articles and always find them entertaining as well as encouraging in regards to the local game journalism industry.
eGamer: What would you say is the biggest reason to play Vapour?
Skobbejak: That’s a tough one. We developed the game to be unique in a few different ways and judging from the responses that we receive it seems that different people get attracted to different aspects of the game. If we had to pick one, judging by what most fans say, it would be the unique and intense jump scares.
eGamer: Tell us, how did this project first come to life? What was your vision for Vapour in the beginning?
Skobbejak: Well we both wanted to just create a game. We were searching for a genre and theme in which we thought we could create something simple, but entertaining. We also wanted something impacting and something that could instantly get a reaction out of someone and show other people what makes the game great. We then noticed the effect that horror games such as Amnesia and Slender had and just knew that horror was the perfect genre to get peoples’ attention.
eGamer: Building on from that, what inspired this project? And its concept?
Skobbejak: While we looked at games such as Slender and Amnesia originally, we also wanted to add our own flavour to the genre. Our ambition was to change the level of interaction, so that the player could have more of a fighting chance and by adding different obstacles the player would have varying levels of being scared and feeling a sense of accomplishment. This is where we turned to 90’s shooters for inspiration, especially Doom, Heretic and Blood in order to keep the horror essence.
We also wanted to have an environment that didn’t rely on darkness to be scary, this also helped with making the fast paced nature of the game as well as experiencing the level design more enjoyable.
eGamer: Considering that Vapour is a prototype, what would you like it to be one day? You’ve listed some features you’d love to bring to the game if you acquire the right funding, such as better level design and tons of weapons, but what experience do you imagine it to be were it to be completed?
Skobbejak: The return of classic shooters, pretty much. We want to take those classic shooters and just bring them to a modern level in terms of technical aspects (graphics, physics, animation). Obviously as a small team we won’t be able to produce so many levels such as those old-school shooters, however we will be producing much larger levels than those older games, each still with its own respective theme and location. What we also want to build on in the full version is creating and developing a proper character. This will also make the game more engaging and unsettling, we really think it can add to the horror experience. Of course were going to have to see at least some part of the character on screen and we need to give him a voice as well.
Ultimately though, in terms of feeling and emotion, we want to build on that tension the player feels between being scared and feeling that sense of accomplishment. It’s pretty much the same struggle you got during those 90’s shooters: Yes your character is a bad ass, but you need to step up in order to be worthy of the character. That’s also why the game is designed to be so difficult, however we definitely want to include varying difficulty levels in the full version.
eGamer: Right now, what are you most proud of with Vapour? Which aspect of the game do you feel represents what Skobbejak Games is all about?
Skobbejak: The shocking and offensive parts, hehe. We are a bunch of Skobbejakke afterall. We want to make games that aren’t just plain offensive, but offensive for a reason and in a way that makes you laugh at least a bit and in a way that makes you think.
eGamer: Are you still working on the game at this point in time? And regarding funding, have you thought of a Kickstarter campaign as a possible option? Or Steam Greenlight to get more exposure?
Skobbejak: Yes, we are busy with some pretty sweet upgrades to the prototype for you guys which we plan on making available to everyone during our Indiegogo campaign.
We are using the funds that we have saved up already, along with the site donations, to get a hold of the Unity Pro engine with some awesome additional plugins as well as get a hold of a talented concept artist to draw us some sweet concept sketches for the Indiegogo campaign. This way our funding campaign will be able to show everyone a more accurate representation of the full version of the game.
We will definitely shoot for Steam Greenlight as soon as the full game is successfully funded and closer to completion.
eGamer: As a fun point of interest, how has it been for you to see all the Let’s Play videos, and the game reaching some extremely popular channels like Markiplier and Yamimash?
Skobbejak: Weird but wonderful. We got excited as soon as RaedWulf played it, as he had decent amount of subscribers and he was our first Let’s Play outside of South Africa. When it reached Yamimash and Markiplier we were ecstatic and thought it couldn’t do any better, until we noticed PewDiePie’s Let’s Play, that’s when we jumped through the damn moon.
eGamer: As South African developers, what can you say of the experience of making a game? Do you feel the challenges are perhaps more than if you were to have done this overseas?
Skobbejak: That’s a difficult question, we can’t say with certainty of course as we haven’t tried making games outside of SA, but we like to think that it is about equal. In other larger countries it would probably be easier to get help and information on the subject, however the local market is much more cluttered and it’s difficult getting proper recognition in those countries (if you don’t have the moola). While in South Africa game development is still a young and budding industry with a lot of room for growth, however there are no local institutions or organisations with proper help and information about the subject.
eGamer: We’d love to see our South African indie community grow, and I’ve personally started to get more invested in the local scene. With that said, what advice would you give to other South African would-be developers, or to anyone looking to make games?
Skobbejak: Well first of all, passion. Seriously if you are making games only to make money and you’re an indie developer you going to fall on your ass, trust us lack of passion can be noticed in a game.
There are so many ingredients to make it work, though. You need to have a good plan and a good game idea and then together with your passion and enough perseverance and experience you can produce something truly special.
That’s not all though, we have witnessed that there are so many games that are good that don’t get the recognition they deserve. So you got to be smart and if you don’t have the cash for it (like us, haha) you have to market your game until people know about it and care about it.
eGamer: eGamer is big on indie, as it’s a massive part of what we’re about, so I’m always over the moon to get SA indie games and developers on my radar. That said, is Vapour your primary focus, or do you have other game ideas or projects lined up for the future that we should be aware of?
Skobbejak: Well while we are mainly busy with the upgrades to Vapour in order to get it ready for the Indiegogo campaign, we also have a little joke Vapour mod in the works that we plan to release soon (just so we can keep all the fans entertained while they wait for the upgraded prototype and the crowdfunding campaign).
We also want to post more videos showing the fans more details about us as developers and as individuals, so that they can understand why our games are the way they are.
eGamer: I know that it’s early days for you guys, but you surely have plans and dreams. Is Skobbejak Games interested in making a diverse selection of games? Or would you prefer to be focused regarding genre and such?
Skobbejak: No we don’t have anything against other genres (except racing and sport, hehehe) and we would love to do a Platformer, Action/Adventure and even an RPG. All of them infused with the Skobbejak essence of course
eGamer: As another point of interest, what made you decide on the name Vapour?
Skobbejak: Well we wanted a simple one word name, something that anyone could remember quite easily. We got the idea for the name by combining the ideas of the fog, the fact that you came from the water (the boat that crashes) as well as the fact that you play as a spirit against other spirits.
eGamer: From your perspectives, what do you think we can all do to help grow the South African indie game community? We’d like to urge you to stay legal with these suggestions, since most of our eGamer team members can’t afford to go back to the joint.
Skobbejak: Hahaha, awww! Now we have leave out the best suggestions, ah well. Well, South Africans need to spread more local game related news more often. People need to actually know about it and it needs to be more present in mainstream and general media. It’s already happening slowly, as we saw Finweek doing a show about the game industry locally and how game retail is already raking in more cash than movies/series and music. We also saw BT Games opening their own local digital store, so we can see the local industry is definitely growing, people just need to be more informed about the situation, especially in terms of the local industry.
eGamer: Is there anything else you’d like to say about Vapour or your studio that our previous questions haven’t allowed for?
Skobbejak: Yes, at the moment we are still only a 2 man team and it is really fun, but we’d like to expand our studio eventually in the future and work with talented like minded individuals to ultimately create the fucking awesome games that we’ve always dreamed of.
eGamer: As a fan and player of the game, I have to say that the third and final Hell Lord makes me sad. He always kills me, preventing me from finishing. So I’d like to ask: why is he so mean?
Skobbejak: Hahaha, well we’re glad that he isn’t a push over at least. What we wanted to make clear with the Vapour prototype is that this game isn’t going to be a walk in the park. We want it to be challenging, so that when the player does complete the game that he/she feels truly satisfied and accomplished.
That concludes our interview with Skobbejak Games on Vapour. As always, we hope you enjoyed it. We’d like to thank them for their time and their game, and wish them all the best for their future projects, and of course Vapour. It’s great to see the South African indie scene thriving a bit, and we’ll be keeping an eye out for more titles and hopefully chat to more developers in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more indie exclusive interviews in future.