March 13, 2014 6:15 PM | Staff
When Rickard Westman and Henrik Flink first decided to make a game together, it didn't go so well.
The duo had attended the same college focused on game development and digital art, and then both had gone off to work in separate game and movie industry roles for a couple of years, before coming back together to go the indie game dev route in 2011.
What the duo created in the latter half of 2011 was a prototype that just felt off, both in its feel and, well, its general presence really.
But there was just something, that little something, that could be pulled from the wreckage. Disappointed by what they'd cooked up, Westman and Flink decided to completely shift gears and focus on a new concept that was formed from the mechanics of that original game.
Months later, and the pair's new prototype was clearly turning heads, so much so that they were awarded 450,000 Danish Krone ($80,000) in grant money by the Nordic Game Program. The pair quickly founded Visiontrick Media, and was on its way.
So what was this mechanic that their game, Pavilion, would focus on? "Having a character which you only control indirectly was one of the more interesting concepts that sprung out of that first failed game, which later became the overall premise for designing Pavilion," Flink tells me.
"We have found inspiration from everywhere, but games like Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery, ICO and Shadow of the Colossus, all were inspirational in their underlying design philosophies.
Visiontrick has taken this mechanic and given it a name, labeling the game as a "fourth-person" title. The tag is sure to both baffle and intrigue onlookers in equal measures, and Flink says that he believes the label sums up the experience perfectly, and hints at what players can expect in the game.
"We had people coming up to us when demoing the game and being very skeptical about the concept of 'fourth person,'" Flink admits, "but after giving the game a go, most people somewhat understand why we refer to it as 'fourth person.' We are not claiming Pavilion to be the first or only fourth person game, but to us it has meaning both in relation to the mechanics and the narrative of the game."
Here's what the duo says makes the game "fourth person": You do not take direct control of the main character -- it is not your avatar. Instead, you guide the character by interacting with the environment.
"We are not claiming Pavilion to be the first or only 'fourth person' game, but to us it has meaning both in relation to the mechanics and the narrative of the game."
"There's other aspects that ties into it as well, but we don't want to give away too much at this point," he adds.
Apart from the intriguing gameplay mechanic, Pavilion has another striking feature going for it -- the gorgeous isometric artwork.
"Rickard comes from a background in animated movies and has done a lot of background and matte painting work ,so this is what he feels comfortable with and enjoys doing," notes Flink. "We also felt it would suit the laid back puzzle solving and enhance the atmosphere and the immersion of the experience."
Early into development, for example, the pair discussed how a painting by Arnold Bocklin would look it if were transferred into the isometric perspective. Westman then took this idea and ran with it.
"It looked pretty cool when we did our first tests," notes Flink. "So we went from there and are still happy with where we are going."
Pavilion is due to launch for PlayStation 4 and PS Vita later in 2014.
[Mike Rose wrote this article for sister site Gamasutra]