Guru Games CEO Daniel Ström talks the upcoming indie first person puzzler.
Guru Games’ Magnetic: Cage Closed is one of many downloadable PS4 games incoming for the current gen console. However, it’s looking to introduce some first person puzzle mechanics. And while it may come across as a Portal clone, Guru Games has shaped Magnetic: Cage Closed to be a sci-fi, alternate world with death row prisoners treated as experimental material. Our attention is already piqued and we can’t wait to see how these combustible elements combine together in gameplay.
CEO of Guru Games Daniel Ström spoke to GamingBolt about the game, sharing details on the story, various game mechanics, what’s up with the Magnet Gun and much more.
"Magnetic is different in a few significant ways. First and foremost we have Replayability as a key feature, we want to make sure that players have more than one way to solve the puzzles, and that each choice in the game will affect how it progresses from that point on."
Rashid K. Sayed: Magnetic: Cage Closed is a first person indie puzzle game, of which there are many. What can you tell us about Magnetic: Cage Closed that makes it unique?
Daniel Ström: Magnetic is different in a few significant ways. First and foremost we have Replayability as a key feature, we want to make sure that players have more than one way to solve the puzzles, and that each choice in the game will affect how it progresses from that point on. The Choice Cubes are a big part of this, for example.
This means that players will discover new things on a second playthrough, and on a third and so on. There are more than eight endings in total, so if you want to see it all you have some work cut out for you. Other cool features that makes us stand out, besides the branching storyline are the Magnet gun itself, are that the game has a strong focus on physics-based puzzles and that the story and environment are a lot darker than most games within the genre.
Rashid K. Sayed: The game’s Magnet Gun is similar to the iconic Gravity Gun from the Half Life games. How can players use the Magnet Gun to influence the game world?
Daniel Ström: It’s one of those tools that seems really simple at first glance. What you can do with it is push or pull on objects in the environment. That’s it. But the gun has been designed to simulate an actual electromagnetic field, which means that it will affect multiple objects at once, and the forces will also affect you. So if you try to pull on an object that is heavier than you, you will be pulled towards the object instead.
This feedback, or pushback is a key aspect of the guns design and it means that you can push away from magnetic plates on the floor to jump up to ledges along the walls, or pull objects from the other side of the room towards you. There are a myriad of ways to use the magnet gun, and it also has several different power settings that the player can use. So even if it seems very simple at first glance the myriad of ways to use it takes some time to fully master.
Rashid K. Sayed: Can the Magnet Gun be used to influence player actions such as movement?
Daniel Ström: Absolutely, the Magnet Gun will push or pull on the player character as well, so it is a key component when it comes to navigating the game world. You can soar through the air, or accelerate a fall with the assistance of the gun. There are a lot of ways to use the device, so hopefully fans of speed running and trick jumping will find things to explore.
Rashid K. Sayed: Set in Facility 7, what can you tell us about the game world of Magnetic: Cage Closed?
Daniel Ström: Wow, there is a lot of detail I could go into, but I don’t want to spoil too much of the game. Suffice to say that the game is set in an alternate version of the Cold War, were the US Government has allowed private companies to buy “execution rights” for prisoners on death row, effectively giving them expendable human resources.
The Curiatis Corporation is one of the companies that has bought these rights, and are currently using these inmates for different high-risk science projects. Facility 7 has been built underground in Alaska and contains mostly super-soldier research, as well as their Experimental Weapons Program, all contracts from the US Military in an effort to gain an edge over the Russians. The Magnet gun, or the D-27 prototype, is one of these weapons, and the plans were stolen from the Russians.
"Each choice you make will have an impact on the game, and these chambers are our primary branching points. In the narrative the choice cubes are not so much about testing the weapon, but more about testing the wielder of said weapon."
Rashid K. Sayed: You’ve said that no two play-throughs of the game will be the same because of shifting chambers. Are these procedurally generated environments or are they a sequence of predetermined chambers simply laid out differently?
Daniel Ström: I haven’t seen or heard of a first person puzzle that is procedurally generated but there might be some out there. It seems really tricky though, and it’s not the route we went with. Each puzzle is handcrafted and fine-tuned to fit the escalating difficulty. What we do is that there is an element of randomization to which levels appear, and the choices that you make during play will also determine which chambers show up on one playthrough and which will remain untested for that particular run.
Rashid K. Sayed: The game is to feature a branching story, is there anything you can tell us about the game’s narrative?
Daniel Ström: Well what we hoped to accomplish is that the player feels that the characters react to what they do, and how they play, not only that they manage to clear a certain chamber. The warden will always try to put you down and discourage you, but as the game progresses you will learn more about his motivations and background.
Karen, the prison psychologist, also has her own motivations and they are rarely in line with what the warden thinks is the best way to do things. In the end it’s not only about your fate, but these characters are in there with you too in a way, and as they follow you through the cameras, you will also follow them.
Rashid K. Sayed: With the player taking control of an inmate attempting to escape from the puzzling Facility 7, can you tell us about the character we control or the reason they’re imprisoned?
Daniel Ström: Rachel is in no way innocent, there are good reasons she was sent to prison. Her criminal record includes armed robbery, assault and resisting arrest. At least that’s what her papers say, but who knows if that is the whole story? The severity of the punishment could also be called in to question, so something might be a little fishy.
Jokingly named Bird by the warden, she gets to try out her wings throughout the game, but it’s really up to you as a player to decide who and what she aspires to be. Is she innocent? Is she willing to sacrifice others to gain her freedom? Is she trusting or suspicious, vengeful or forgiving? These things are not something we decide as developers, it’s all up to the player.
Rashid K. Sayed: How long has Magnetic: Cage Closed been in development?
Daniel Ström: Well the game started out as a school project back in 2013 and after a short break over the summer we have been working on it constantly. So it’s almost two years now (wow, has it really been that long?)
" Magnetic is something we are looking forward to launching to fans everywhere, we really think we have something special here!"
Rashid K. Sayed: The Lead Designer, Robin Holm, grabbed our interested with a dev blog about “Choice Cubes”. Can you elaborate on these cubes and their importance, if there is any, in the game?
Daniel Ström: Making Choice Cubes for Magnetic was one of the most interesting parts of the design process. The idea of these chambers was to contribute to the narrative progress of the game, to branch out the story and to give the player a feeling of control in where he, or she, is heading. In order to make this effective, you both had to work with the story for the particular chamber, but also with the level design and the atmosphere in order to make sure that it felt like a break from the ordinary chambers and that you actually understood what the choice is all about before moving on.
Basically a choice cube is a non-mechanical chamber that, instead of presenting you with a puzzle, asks you a single question and gives you a limited time to answer that question. Some are of a moral nature, while others test your cognitive abilities. Each choice you make will have an impact on the game, and these chambers are our primary branching points. In the narrative the choice cubes are not so much about testing the weapon, but more about testing the wielder of said weapon. That is the reason why it is Karen that has control of these chambers, as the warden could not care less about what your moral compass points towards.
Rashid K. Sayed: The game is due for the PS4 and Xbox One. Will it run at 1080p and 60 frames per second on both consoles?
Daniel Ström: Frame rate is always a hot topic these days, and naturally we have optimized the game to run as well as it can on consoles. We are not fans of the whole “cinematic experience”-thing that has been going around, so we aim for a smooth 60 fps throughout the game. We are most likely staying at 720p for this reason.
Rashid K. Sayed: As someone who is developing on PC, what are your thoughts about the recent announcement regarding DX12 exclusivity for Windows 10?
Daniel Ström: I have no thoughts about it whatsoever, but our lead programmer has the following to say on the matter: It’s usually how it works, the latest DX is locked to the latest version of Windows and above. So seems pretty standard to me. It’s a lot easier for them, not having to worry about legacy issues etc., so it’s understandable.
Rashid K. Sayed: When the Xbox One launched, a lot of developers were facing due to the Xbox One’s eSRAM but it seems that developers are getting used to it. How are you tackling the eSRAM for Magnetic?
Daniel Ström: The eSRAM is not something we have worked specifically with. We are using the Unity 3D game engine, which might internally use the eSRAM, but it’s hard to say without access to the source code.
Rashid K. Sayed: Is there anything else you want to tell us before we let you go?
Daniel Ström: Magnetic is something we are looking forward to launching to fans everywhere, we really think we have something special here!