In an interview, GRAY tells us how indie video games may be risking more

Nomada Studio is made up of only four members, and are currently in the final stage of the development of GREY, a video game platform that captivated all by his artistic style. The premise puts us in the dress of a young man who is overcoming a tragedy, and through an adventure peaceful without screens, game over or combat system whatsoever, we will follow the way of overcoming of the protagonist.

The co-founders, Adrian Cuevas and Roger Mendoza, they met the artist Conrad Roset in Barcelona, Spain, and decided to pool their experiences working in large studies such as Ubisoft with the vision of the artist, who had long wanted to venture into the games industry. Along with the association Berlinist behind the soundtrack, GREY took life a few years ago, finally revealed officially this year by the Return Digital, a distributor in charge of publishing the game, and with a release date for the PC, Mac, and Nintendo Switch the 13 of December.

Digital Trends in Spanish spoke with Roger Mendoza, programmer of GREY, on the creation of the artistic style hand made, how the search process was to balance the difficulty and to provide an experience suitable for all, and the main ideas that gave life to the game.


GRAY is part of almost a subgenre led by experiences as a Journey or the future a Saber, in which combat, the dialogues and even the instructions are omitted completely. The developers invite the player to set foot on an unknown world and discover everything on-the-fly, carried away by the artistic direction and the music along at a relaxing pace.

However, GRAY has sections a little more eventful, involving skills that the player will unlock, from able to perform the longest jumps up to change the shape of the dress of the protagonist. Therefore, the balance between moments of calm and encounter puzzles was a key during its creation.

“There were 3 concepts that we were very clear from the first day: 1) as the game progresses, you will unlock colors, 2) the character can not die, and 3) we wanted an experience accessible but that doesn’t prove boring and flat,” said Mendoza. “Of course, everything evolves and iterates through the different tests with all sorts of public. It is not easy to find the balance between the [rhythm] and difficulty, so when we saw that one section was too difficult, we remove or we leave it as optional.”

One of the main concerns we had is if at any time they thought to provide an experience more easy and bearable as an option for the player.

One of the main concerns we had is if at any time they thought to provide an experience more easy and bearable as an option for the player. Shadow of the Tomb Raider offers the possibility to customize the difficulty in ways that had not been seen before, like for example hide or highlight points of interest in the environment that Lara can climb. Independent developers tend to be aware of the demands of the community, and as is the example of Celeste, an assisted mode for the player.

To this question, Mendoza says that his goal “is that the game is accessible enough that you do not need an assisted mode”. And, she adds, “in addition, we did not want to complicate the game with menus (and different options), so I prefer to make a unique experience, but with the optional elements sufficient to satisfy the player to look for additional challenges or want to explore the levels”.

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A background, artistic background that encompasses graphic design, illustration, and painting is what gave him the life-style is so unique in GRAY. The importance of the colors and the feeling of being through drawings done in watercolor took a lot of work to achieve, in particular because everything you see in the game was hand drawn previously.

“The initial sketches (both of the levels as the characters) were done by hand, but the final elements are made directly to digital. This gave us the flexibility to be able to make changes without having to go through the paper,” he explained Mendoza. “In the games need to be able to iterate quickly, because it changes cameras, scene or feedback of the people may require that you change the art, so I do it in digital was the most optimal way of working.”

We note that the geometric forms are very present in the videos so far, but Mendoza said that the base geometry is found in only one of the phases of the game. Contrary to what one might think, this did not present any limitation. “For each zone, definíamos a few parameters aesthetic (whether in the form of fauna or colour range), and from there we create worlds”, added Mendoza. “Even so, it was pretty flexible. Those rules could be altered if the design or the narrative required it.”

The developers gave importance to the fact that each scenario has a tone very different from each other, both on an artistic level as at the level of mechanics. “Without a doubt the challenging parts are the initials. To be a game where you will unlock skills and colors, start with black-and-white and with mechanical very basic it was a challenge to keep the game entertaining and interesting visually,” he said. “On the contrary, the parties end were the most rewarding because we had no restrictions, chromatic and all the skills are unlocked, which makes it much easier to design the level.”

And although such a complexity of ideas and ways to implement them to the level of a video game sound almost to overwhelming, remember that all of this was carried out to provide a relaxing experience for any person that is expert or not in video games, you can enjoy it without problems.

Lately, you are beginning to arise more and more games that decide to leave the violence aside, but there seems to be a pre general concept about it. For example, in the recent Wandersong, the player takes control of a character that uses the chant to overcome puzzles and interact with the environment. But many people were referring to this mechanic as the combat system, something that the developer refuted it on Twitter, stressing that “only in the video game industry one might think that singing can be a weapon”.

It is essential to find the way to offer something different to make your game interesting for the public.

When we asked Mendoza if there is a place to experience peaceful in the space of the triple A (AAA), formed by exponents such as Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto or Assassin’s Creed. And although his answer was a yes, and told us that they tend to be independent developers that can encompass certain approaches with greater freedom without posing a negative impact on sales.

“The rise of the independent games allows you to take risks that publishers large can not afford, that is why we can find games that stand out either at the level of narrative, visual or mechanical. Today, there is a lot of variety in the industry, and it is evident that the small teams can’t compete with the budgets of the world AAA. So it is essential to find the way to offer something different to make your game interesting for the public,” explained Mendoza.

Finally, just a month of the launch of GRAY, ask if they are in the plans to continue with this philosophy into the future mode badge of the study, or if there is something in particular for the title debut, giving place to something different in years to come.

Mendoza answered us: “it’s a little soon to talk about the future, what we do know is that we will always try to find [a] different point of view that offers something new and attractive. Yes, we continue the line of GRAY in terms of who prefer to make experiences compact and highly polished games massive many hours”.

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