Simon Karlsson's first major project, A Song for Viggo, has a brave and interesting proposition: a point and click adventure game built entirely out of paper about a man dealing with the aftermath of accidentally killing his own child. A one man force of creation, Simon is also writing the music, and orchestrating a kickstarter campaign make make his project reality. We took five minutes out of his busy schedule to get some more information about him and Viggo.
GoPlayThat: Why did you decide to go with an all-paper setup for ASFV?
Simon Karlsson: It started out as an experiment one night. Just figuring if I could make a sofa out of paper. And then I figured "well. that looks kinda nice". Also, I'm kinda lousy with 3D-programs, so working with real things kinda comes more natural to me. And the white, inexpensive material known as paper, is something many recognize, and can say "hey, this is art from real life, in a game about real life".
GPT: Do you draw on any musicians in particular for inspiration while writing the music for the game?
Simon: I do! I'm very inspired by Erik Satie and Yann Tiersen right now. Also a bit of Final Fantasy (not the game but the pop-artist).
GPT: Which games have influenced you or inspired you to create?
Simon: The Cat Lady was a good inspiration revolving around darker topics. Fragments of him was also a nice short experiment. The ones you remember, I guess, are the ones that inspire you in some way or another, even if you don't know it.
GPT: How do you feel about the Kickstarter process? Has it been a difficult ride?
Simon: It's been the ride of a lifetime. Emotional rollercoasters everyday. Without having a particular name out there, it's not like the project gets funded by itself so its very much work.
GPT: We noticed that in the stretch goals you would add more parts to the game, but not hire anyone to help you make the game. Would extra team-mates dilute the vision of the project?
Simon: No doubt. When you think of the game for two years 24/7 in your mind, another person involved with the actual creation would mean chaos. It's grown into a vision that I do want to complete as much myself as possible, and when something grows that big, it's nearly impossible to invite other teammembers. :)
GPT: How do you plan to spend the money that is pledged to the project (apart from living costs)?
Simon: Materials. The characters right now look kind of stiff. I hope to be able to buy nice armatures (skeletons) which are flexible and more human. Paper (obviously) and decent tripods and lights. Also licences for software.
GPT: Some of the rewards for Kickstarter backers seem to be quite time consuming to make. Do you have a timeframe for delivery, and will they get in the way of the work?
Simon: I think the will be able to get it when scheduled, but of course, there could always be delays if something inevitable happens. But for me, creating physical CD-covers are more on the fun side of it and something I'll do on my spare time. :)
GPT: You are definitely one of the most attentive developers that we’ve seen when it comes to Kickstarter updates. Will you continue to keep everyone in the loop so well after the project finishes, or will you need some downtime?
Simon: Some downtime will probably be needed for my brain but I promise updates often, maybe weekly. :). Just by saying "hi, this is whats done this week" is good for the followers, to know that something is happening.
GPT: You mentioned that you were advised to do something with your anxiety to help you cope. Has the project been cathartic for you so far?
Simon: Some times! It's all about sublimination. Anxiety countered with anxiety feels at first bad (all the alarms go off in the brain), but that gradually fades over time, with exposure. So its good for people with depression and ocd. :)
GPT: Obviously the game deals with a very dark theme; do you worry that there could be a backlash over the content from people who lived through difficult situations?
Simon: It is actually a very big concern of mine. What if the people actually got really depressed by the game? I'm not really sure how to answer that.
GPT: What are the hardest challenges you have faced while making the game?
Simon: Marketing, I think. Getting out there. Working on a campaign for, what it feels like, forever, and still to date not fully reaching its goal (however there are a couple of days left so I've definitely not given up hope), but being an unknown indie-developer, makes it SO much harder than being a known developer on Kickstarter.
GPT: From the gameplay videos that we’ve seen, there doesn’t appear to be any dialogue. How will the story be conveyed?
Simon: Oh, there are dialogues. :) you maybe missed it. ^^. However, it's not dialogues you choose but a scripted story. Although the choices you make change some conversations.
GPT: Finally, as owners of 7 cats between us, how does Klara the cat help you in your day to day activities? Our cats just sit on anything important!
Simon: Last week, she tried to sit on a miniature chair. I'm not sure what goes into her mind. But she's the helper, sitting there and purring when I use electric tools. Every evening she sits outside the workshop and screams, just because I don't sit there and work. :)