In Drawn to be Alive (a mod for Unreal Tournament 2004) let the player take control over a drawn boy who has to survive in a world of evil humans. We talked to two of the developers, Guillaume and Gaël.
First of all, I have to say: Drawn to be Alive looks really amazing! Okay, now, let’s start with some general stuff: How did you come up with the idea for the mod?
First, thanks for your appreciation about the mod. It’s our ambition to propose something new, fresh, and completely crazy. Guillaume (Game Designer and Programer) came first with the original concept. A flat boy in paper into the reality. At the very beginning, it was a well known character, extracted from a picture of Picasso. Then we’ve worked the concept in group, to make him more mature and fun. We tried to create a hero, not a super hero. He is fragile, non agressive, but has lots of possibilities to explore the reality, hide from humans and even animals… In Drawn to be alive, you are a simple childish sketch in paper lost in the real!
How long has Drawn to be Alive been in development and when is it going to be released?
It has been 7 months since the beginning of the production. It was our school project, and now we are trying to continue improving it with good ideas and more levels… We are trying to finish it for October 2006, but who knows… We are only 6 working on it, and we are currently searching for new members like graphists, programers… The more we are, the better it is for the mod !
Was there a specific reason to chose UT 2004 for Drawn to be Alive?
There were several reasons in fact. Supinfogame is a school where your learn how to be a game designer an how to manage a video game project. You won’t learn programming there. From the beginning we wanted a solution which could allow us to do a lot of things efficiently with good tools. And for the gameplay coding, we wanted it to be as easy as possible. And finally, it would be nice to have a strong graphic engine to have a nice rendering. The Unreal Engine and its tools had all that.
Has it been difficult programming the mod? I guess an engine like UE2 isn’t exactly made for characters which are flat as paper?
It’s not always been very easy. Some stuff like sticking against a wall aren’t really easy to program. We’ve had to deal with the Unreal Engine specific properties an try to change some of them. But we couldn’t change physics for instance. For instance, in Unreal, a character has got a collision cylinder around him. It’s a usual way to make collisions for a third person action game. But for our game… it was not the best solution, and we couldn’t do anything about it. One solution has been to change the colission box of the static meshes of the levels. We made them smaller at the top. It helped avoiding to have the character flying in the air because of his cylinder size.
How "big" is Drawn to be Alive?
For the moment, we have 3 levels proposing lots of differents situations. There is a scenario too, with in game cinematics, as it is shown in the trailer. We are actually thinking about a forth level, but as I said before, we need more people to do it. I can’t tell you how long it takes to be finished, because we are working on the different levels.
Is Drawn to be Alive singleplayer-only or does it have a multiplayer component?
Nope, only a singleplayer component. It’s why it is so hard to make him long and interesting.
I watched the trailer for Drawn to be Alive a few times, but I’m still not sure about a couple of things regarding the gameplay. For example, what kind of genre is it? Is it purely a stealth game or will it include stuff like fighting or solving adventure-style puzzles?
To sum up, it’s an adventure game, with 2 components: Exploration and discretion. You have to explore the real world, in order to retrieve your imaginary world. The player will find natural dangers like the fire ort he water. The hero can easely be wet or burnt. You don’t have any offensive actions, no violence… but lots of actions to do in order to avoïd dangers. It is not infiltration, but a new way of being quiet and invisible to humans and animals… You’ll have exploration puzzles too: Find the right way to continue, or helping others characters to progress…
What is the protagonist’s aim? Is he trying to free all the creatures that are like him? Or is he just trying to get away from the humans?
Thanks to a mysterious and very expensive ink, drawn characters can be extraced from their illustrations by humans. Prisonners of the reality, they are sad and despaired. One day, the creator of the ink try to give life to a simple childish sketch. Considering it „missed“, he decides to put it in the backroom of his laboratory, with others missed characters. But suddenly, the draft wakes up, and will try to escape the laboratory, and run away from his creator…
He will discover lots of dangers, he will meet others „refugees“ like him, and will create a community of imaginary characters lost in the reality. Together, they will try to save lots of prisonners, and finally find a way to retrieve their world of origin. But how… that’s the question. You have to wait for the answer.
Can you describe what a typical level from Drawn to be Alive looks like? What kind of things do you have to do except from hiding from humans?
I didn’t talk about that before, but exploration means also plateform sessions. Our heros is very nimble and has a lot of actions to explore our world. He can jump, run, but also plane in the air, or even become a paper ball on the ground. A typical level will regroup all these aspects: Avoid natural dangers like the fire ort he water, try to find a way jumping and planing, and also avoid living dangers like animals and humans, folding himself or hiding in illustrations…
From what I’ve seen in the trailer, Drawn to be Alive seems to be almost professionelly developed. Have you ever thought about finding a publisher and going to retail?
Yes, we thought about it …
Gaël and Guillaume, thanks for your time and our best wishes for Drawn to be Alive!