Old School Gamer Magazine chats with “Where’s Samantha?” creator Denislav Georgiev, who breaks down the game’s creative process, development cycle and more.
About Where’s Samantha?:
Once upon a time, “The Tailor” created George and Samantha. It was love at first sight – a match made in heaven. Inseparable and bound by love, George and Samantha live happily ever after … until the day Samantha disappears. As the couple find themselves apart for the first time, George searches for Samantha across 45 levels filled with deadly hazards, bottomless pits, and ever more difficult puzzles …
To get past the toughest challenges, George realizes that he needs to work on himself. Literally. Through cloning, George can now flick that all important switch while the “original” strolls past a gate! Taller/heavier clones with a particular set of skills (and personalities) are the difference between getting stuck on a silly puzzle and living to tell the tale. However, all the cloning eventually becomes a huge problem – setting Samantha on a quest of her own …
Old School Gamer Magazine: How was Where’s Samantha? born?
Denislav Georgiev: Where’s Samantha? was partially inspired by an old PSP game called Loco Roco. Initially, the art consisted of cubes and obstacles made out of simple shapes – but eventually our graphic artist came up with some amazing designs and textures!
Old School Gamer Magazine: What is your role in the game?
Georgiev: I’m the game designer, lead developer, and programmer.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What has development been like?
Georgiev: There were a couple of challenges that I had to deal with – especially the fact that I wanted the game to be based on real physics. Every platform, every handle or button moves dynamically – and the weight of each character defines whether you can interact with certain in-game objects.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What makes Where’s Samantha? special?
Georgiev: Two words: art and story. Also, our narrator (Rufus Hound) is incredible and adds a ton of personality to the game – making the whole thing pretty unique!
Old School Gamer Magazine: What games influenced this one the most?
Georgiev: Loco Roco, Thomas Was Alone, Limbo, Inside, and Braid.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Any fun stories or wild moments during development?
Georgiev: We were thrilled to work with Rufus on this project. Due to the pandemic, we had to figure out a way to have him record the narration. We conducted a few tests with different mics – and we even created a mirror-image setup in Los Angeles, The Martian-style. In the end, we got lucky and were able to have one of his close friends help with the recording. (He had an awesome at-home setup.) But it’s always good to have a Plan B … and C … and D.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What were the major lessons learned?
Georgiev: Where’s Samantha? took about two years, including some pauses – and I learned a lot about game development as a whole during development. I think it’s critical to always keep polishing your game. Even when it seems like it’s a wrap, there’s always room for improvement to give players the best possible experience.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Do you think preserving older gameplay mechanics in new games is important?
Georgiev: In some cases, yes … because players often get used to (and enjoy) familiar gameplay mechanics. When doing something completely new, developers take a huge risk. Even if the game looks nice, it could be received poorly if the mechanics don’t work.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What’s your favorite memory as a gamer?
Georgiev: Sadly, I don’t have a lot of time to play games nowadays – a byproduct of eight years in the game industry. I enjoy games that invest time and effort in a story with the power to inspire you. Games like Firewatch offer a measure of inspiration that goes beyond the gaming experience itself. Even games like RimWorld can tell a great story without an overt narrative.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How have your previous experiences in the industry helped this game?
Georgiev: Like everything else, when you do something again and again, you get better – especially if you’re inspired for a long period of time! I believe my eight years making games have definitely helped me fine-tune Where’s Samantha?’s physics.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How do you want Where’s Samantha? to ultimately be remembered?
Georgiev: I hope Where’s Samantha? becomes known as a game for all ages. It seems cliché, but there’s something here for virtually everyone – fun gameplay, cute characters, lively narration, and a compelling narrative.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What’s next?
Georgiev: I want to make an AAA game! I’ve been thinking about it for a while now. Working with ROKiT Games has been incredible. I’d like to bring a new, unique game to players everywhere – taking the appropriate risks and once again bringing something great into the world. If we can do something like that together, that would be awesome!
Old School Gamer Magazine: Anything else you’d like to add?
Georgiev: I hope a lot of people get to play Where’s Samantha? – and I want players to take away something worthwhile from their experience, preferably something that applies to their own lives.