Interview

Interview 1 of 2

“Witness our memories of communism”

Interview with Cristian Diaconescu
Creative Director on Black the Fall

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Before EGX Rezzed I did an extensive research of games that will be on display, and some have stood out more than others. One of these games was Black the Fall, an adventure puzzle side scroller set in an oppressive communist society, about Black, a working class factory worker that saw an opportunity and slipped through the cracks. I’ve managed to get an interview with Cristian Diaconescu, a Creative Director on the project, to find out a bit more about this promising game.

See also my Game Highlight of Black the Fall in Adventure Awaits article.

Meet super-friendly Andreea Vaduva (PR & Marketing Manager) and Cristian my interviewee.

Bernie

What’s your name and what’s your role in the company?

Cristian

My name is Cristian and my last name is hard to pronounce in English, so I’ll leave it at Cristian. I started the company and the game with my friend Nicole Iordanescu in 2014. I’m the Creative Director, but I’m really hands-on, I direct, program, design – I’m a proper indie.

Bernie

What’s the game about?

Cristian

It’s about our memories of Communism, it’s inspired by Romania’s Communist past, as we saw it, as we remember it. Back in the day we were small children, so we thought about making a game about what we remember. If you’re looking at it as a story, it’s our story. I think there’s a part of Europe that shares the same story.

Bernie

Yeah, I come from Poland.

Cristian

Then you get it! It’s a story about Romania, but also about that Ex-Communist Eastern Europe…

Bernie

Yep, that only people from that part of Europe can get it. So Black is just a factory worker, why is a working class hero relevant to the game?

Cristian

You lived in Poland, I’m sure you also have these tall buildings with small apartments, so I guess it also happened in Poland too: The communists were taking people from the villages and putting them in those flats to work in factories in the city. They were uprooted and it was a national drama, because they lost their identity. I remember as a child, we had this strange metamorphosis – people started growing vegetables in the buildings’ back gardens and they grew pigs and chickens. It was a weird juxtaposition, like being in the country side, but still in the city, it reminds me of childhood so much, it’s super crazy! When you tell this story to a guy in the west, it doesn’t make sense to him. So we thought we have something here, a nugget we can share with the world – a crazy lifestyle.

Bernie

So Black, is he going to experience that crazy lifestyle?

Cristian

Yes! He will go to the city. Black is not like the hero type, he’s not going to save the world and whatnot, because I don’t remember anyone back in the day saving the world from communism, everyone was just trying to survive, so he is a survivor. He will go to the city looking for his former life and at some point, as it happened back in the day, revolution will happen to him too. You, as a player, will be a witness to our memories of communism, you will play in our memories, but you will not be the trigger of the revolution, it will happen to the player, as the revolution happened to us.

Bernie

How did you start working on the game?

Cristian

The whole thing started as an art project. We studied at an art school and at one point we started a project of a game that talk about our past and that’s when things developed from, that was the starting point. The idea was to share our memories with our fellow student. It was an internal project, it wasn’t something that would go out, but then the feedback was so powerful, that we decided to do a full proper game.

Bernie

So how did you change from studying Art to Game Development?

Cristian

Actually my first degree was in IT, I started working in the game industry in 2002, then in 2012 I went to an Art School, where I studied Graphic Design. So the idea was to do something neo-expressionist with dark colours and shapes, that kind of stuff. And because I was already a game designer, we decided – ok, so let’s do a game about it, because it’s new, it’s fresh, it’s new media and we were able to use our experience as game designers.

Bernie

What were the development challenges you faced?

Cristian

My first challenge was to gather a team, find good programmers and such. For me it was a big challenge and I know it is a challenge for everyone in the world, not only in Romania. Fortunately a couple of my friends had their own studios, they were doing game middleware software for other companies, so I approached them and they said – ok let’s do it! Then there are technical aspects, like using Unity, developing your own plugins. We actually have a visual scripting tool that we developed ourselves, to make it smoother for level designers to implement puzzles, so we don’t use programmers to implement game logic, we do it ourselves. That’s a huge step forward. There are also animations problems. And there’s marketing.

Bernie

You’re part of Square Enix Collective, so how did that happen?

Cristian

We found out about the Collective site launching, we applied and we were in the second batch of developers. It was very cool, we liked the project, I think it’s great for indies to get that kind of exposure. So we went to Square, we where voted and then we did together a Kickstarter campaign and then thing developed from there.

Bernie

What’s the plan for the future? More games? Sequel? DLC?

Cristian

That’s a good question… This is our first title, so we are planning to launch this one first and if there will be a good public response, we will do some free stuff, DLCs, but I’m not sure yet. But we also have other emotional projects that we want to work on, one is on VR and the other one is survival on environmental themes, kind of like black vs green, nature vs pollution.

Bernie

Cool! Good luck with the game and thanks for the talk.

Interview 1 of 2

“Witness our memories of communism”

Interview with Cristian Diaconescu
Creative Director on Black the Fall

Like what you see?
Please, share it with the world