1С on Renoir: “We Wanted to Create a Sad, Contemplative, Smart Game”

Denis Maltsev, Producer at 1C, told us why the Russian company had decided to publish a noir project Renoir that failed at Kickstarter.

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Renoir by a Czech studio Soulbound Games has had difficult times. The game was trying to attract sponsors at Kickstarter in 2015 but couldn’t muster enough money for the launch. Why did 1C believe in this project?

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Denis Maltsev

We saw some fabulous noir graphics, and it got to us. Moreover, a studio with profound experience in designing narrative games with puzzles (BWF) happened to be around. There are not many noir games, but they have many fans. We thought to make a game those fans would love to play: a high-quality project with sad, contemplative mood, smart puzzles and amazing story.

How come did 1C side with no-name developers from the Czech Republic? Is there some kind of a story behind it?

Not a unique one. The Czech team could not continue the development for a number of internal reasons. We offered them our terms, came to a mutually profitable agreement and got to work on the project.

You took the drafts but didn’t cooperate with the Czech team, preferring BWF. What’s the reason?

The Czech team was not planning to complete this game, so we transferred the developing process to BWF.

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And the Czech guys never complained?

No, I think our offer turned out perfectly for them.Based on the recently published data, the game has been pretty much redesigned. Did you know from the start that you would have to completely refurbish it (was it not easier to create a similar project from scrap)?

We didn’t redesign the game; rather, we logically developed it. You can redesign something that is complete or almost complete, but Renoir was, at that moment, just a concept with few artworks and a general script.

We added logically consistent gameplay mechanics, more various puzzles and locations inside buildings; in my view, that’s all development, not re-design. The plot, in its turn, was actually reworked pretty hard. We changed narration as we saw fit to make it more interesting (American script writers, hired by BWF, unanimously approved of these changes).

If you had an opportunity to go back in time, would you change any of your decisions on this project?

So far, we are content with what we have done. As of the future, the market will define the project’s destiny.

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By the way, what exactly did you alter in the game?

You can read about that in the very first post at the official site of the game.

To be specific, the graphics was initially pretty flat, and the camera was constantly zoomed far out. In the current version of the game, the position of the camera depends on the location. For example, elaborate puzzles are best viewed from a distance, in all their complexity, while in moments where the plot prevails over the gameplay, the camera zooms in to show the main character and the world around him in more detail.

We also opted out of CG cinematics in favor of comics, because they are more associated with the noir genre.

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The major gameplay improvement is that Renoir is no longer a passive observer in puzzles; he’s got a role of his own. A phantom can be locked between two fires, and only James’ actions can free him. Some of the puzzles demand that Renoir moves along the level step by step. This is way more interesting because it allows for designing really challenging combinations.

Honestly, I was a little bit surprised at the graphics in the trailer. I thought that the game would look more like This War of Mine (meaning that there will be silhouettes instead of three-dimensional detailed models). Did you discuss that, and if yes, why did you reject that approach to the imagery?

Renoir’s is the only detailed model, and that not really much. The phantoms were made three-dimensional, but still, they look to Renoir (and to players) as beings from another plane of existence.

Why did you choose to do three-dimensional models instead of flat shadows?

This is simply beautiful!

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And the last question: when is it due, and what expectations do you have for this project (for instance, how many copies are you planning to sell on Steam)?

The expectations are simple – we are a commercial organization, working to feed our families and pay our bills. We’re going to make a profitable project. If the game turns out to be good, the fans will show their acceptance by means of paying, be that in rubles, dollars or euros. If the first numbers indicate a positive tendency, we will most likely work on versions for consoles and mobile devices. At last, I hope we will further develop this brand and perhaps make a franchise out of it.

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