Square Mountain – No Trace Interview

No Trace

While I was in university, I worked with other students who have now taken a placement year and are working on their own original game called No Trace. Working in a 6-man team, they’ve created a student-run company from the comfort of their own living room. They’ve recently hit a rise in recognition after being featured on Kotaku and becoming a top voted game on Steam’s Greenlight Concept page. I had the chance to sit down and chat with them about their early successes and future plans for No Trace.

Dom: Hey guys, how’re things going? I can see you’ve been quite busy as of late. Tell me how everything is working out for you.

Lewis (3D Artist): Everything is going well. We’re happy with development and the recognition we’ve been getting from industry professionals has been incredible.

Dom: Industry professionals? That’s awesome–sounds like you’ve hit the ground running!

Ryan (Programmer): We have, it’s been really intense.

Dom: So tell me a little bit about No Trace–what kind of game are we going to be expecting from you guys?

Luke (Lead Programmer): We’re creating a stylized, top-down shooter for PC. It’s mainly focused on the stealth mechanics, rather than storyline.

Dom: So is it purely stealth based or is there more ways you can play?

George (Lead Artist): You can choose from playing in a stealth way, or you can go through and cause chaos–it’s your choice.

Lewis: We thought it was really important that the player chooses how to play the game. You’ll gain rewards for playing however you want.

Dom: So you’re aiming it at a wider audience as they can choose how to play, rather than sticking to one demographic?

Lewis: Kind of. We don’t have an exact audience range in mind. I guess it would be for people who like being stealthy and have a range of choices to make that will affect the way you play. It all depends on how you feel while playing it I guess.

Dom: How did you all come up with the idea for No Trace?

Luke: We started by creating a list of mechanics that we wanted to be included in No Trace that we felt other stealth games lacked. We developed the idea of the game from that.

Dom: So you built the game around the mechanics rather than starting with a story?

Luke: Yeah, we chose mechanics that we thought would work.

George: We used the ones we knew we could create in the amount of time we had.

Dom: Was No Trace your first idea you had as a company?

Lewis: We had other ideas, like a dungeon-crawler, but we had to think realistically about making it. With this being the first game we’ve created as a team, starting smaller was the best idea for us.

Dom: That’s sensible. Let’s chat about the company a little bit. How did you all fit into your roles as a team? Did you all have ideas about the roles you wanted before you started?

George: We were evenly split, so we have 3 programmers and 3 artists, which worked out perfectly for us.

Luke: It fell into place because of the course we’re studying. We all took routes we were interested in and decided to form a company.

Lewis: Yeah, I came into the company quite late on in the process. The idea of placement year started in January, and from there we developed a team and started preparing.

Dom: It sounds like you had ideas in your mind before you even started the company. Kind of like you know what you were all looking for.

George: We had a few ideas that came up, but there was nothing that took our fancy as much as No Trace.

Lewis: We actually started working on a platform game at first.

Ryan: Oh yeah! But we thought that it was boring to create and it got frustrating to play really fast.

Lewis: But that’s the best kind of fun! It gives you a sense of achievement once you’ve completed the level I think.

Dom: Are you going to carry on with the studio after your placement year? After the success you guys have had recently, is it spurring you to carry on making games?

George: It all depends on how it plays out.

Ryan: Yeah I agree. If it goes well I think we’ll carry on. The release for No Trace is hopefully going to be this Autumn, so fingers crossed.

Dom: As you’re having a lot of interest in No Trace, have you thought about porting it to consoles?

George: If it does well enough and there’s a demand for it, we can think about it. It all depends on how it would transition over.

Lewis: It would probably work well on a console because of the way it’s played, but again, we’ll have to wait and see what happens in the future.

Dom: Can you tell me a little bit about the storyline without giving too much detail away?

Ryan: We don’t actually have a storyline yet. That’s coming later.

Lewis: I feel like we don’t need one too much right now. It’s mostly about the agent going on missions. There’s no set storyline just yet.

Ryan: It’s being worked on at the moment but there’s nothing set in stone yet.

Dom: So what about the art style–it’s really unique. How did you decide on that specific style?

Lewis: We looked at things like Sin City for inspiration, but we found that it was quite boring to implement.

George: Yeah. We really had to think about the time we have and work with that. Low poly seemed a lot better for us to use. It’s worked out quite well for us as it’s given a certain look that you can recognize straight off the bat.

Dom: So playing it safe is the way to go really! If you could give advice to anyone thinking of starting a company or doing a year out of university to create a company like you have done, what advice would you give them?

Lewis: I think a lot of people think that their aim is to create a AAA game, when you need to remember that is isn’t going to happen. It depends on budget, and as we have no budget whatsoever, we had to start really small and create what we could with the resources we have.

George:  The best advice I could say is to just create what you can and do your best.

You can find Square Mountain on Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook. Be sure to head over to Steam and check out their concept page for an insight into No Trace!


[Source:- n4g]