Old School Gamer Magazine chats with Johannes Knop, Randwerk Games, Game Design / Sound / Production, who breaks down the brand’s new game, ABRISS – Build to Destroy.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How was this game born?
Johannes Knop: In the summer of 2020, when everyone was staying inside during the first lockdowns of th pandemic, Friedrich and Till, two of my yearmates from university, approached me about a project. They wante to try to make a game they had worked on as a uni project a couple years before into a commercial, releasable game. The name of the project was “Antitect”, it was a game where you would build things to destroy things, gain parts back and points. A couple months later, we had the first prototype for the game now known as ABRISS.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What is your role in the game?
Knop: I did a lot of programming, most of the UI, music and sound design. I’m also chairman of the cooperative, so I have to take care of a lot of business tasks. Design is always something we talk a lot about together.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What has development been like?
Knop: We’ve worked for a year, then released into early access last year and just had our full release. We started out with an internal vertical slice, we tested that mainly with our friends and to show around to get funding. We then made a public demo, that changed how we thought about many things, because we saw strangers react to the game for the first time and found out what they expected. We made a couple versions of the demo, then early access release, then a couple major updates, then full release. So we really took a lot of small steps to check with the players often.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What makes this game special?
Knop: I think the style, the art direction is quite unique, and usually, puzzle games are not known for good visuals, so that’s a combination that you don’t see that often.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What games influenced this one the most?
Knop: We thought about this a lot, an older game since this is a retro game magazine: it might be the crazy machines games. But also everything with physics since, so Besiege comes to mind, Instruments of Destruction, Bridge Builder.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Any fun stories or wild moments during development?
Knop: One time, me and Friedrich were working from home and in a Discord call, he complained about his neighbours being so loud, then vanished, then returned for a second saying “FIRE” and ended the call. When I reached him again, he told me his neighbours had been yelling because their flat was burning, and Friedrich showed the firemen where to go and all that and was a proper hero. Nobody was hurt, but the flat burned to the ground.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What were the major lessons learned?
Knop: I think we mostly learned that an early access phase can be quite exhausting, and that making content takes a lot of time.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Do you think preserving older gameplay mechanics in new games is important?
Knop: Yes. Very important. I think a lot of modern games are doing too much, the limitations of old games kept them simple and thus, simple to understand.
Old School Gamer Magazine: The marketplace is crowded. How do you think you stand out?
Knop: I think we have a special look. But yes, it’s very hard, especially as an indie.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How have your previous experiences in industry helped this game?
Knop: None of us really had any experience, we were all studying game design of course so we knew how it’s done, but it was our first game.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How do you want this game to ultimately be remembered?
Knop: I want this to be remembered as the first game of many of the Randwerk cooperative.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What’s next?
Knop: We’re prototyping and we’ll try to finance our next game.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Anything else you’d like to add?
Knop: If you’re thinking about founding a games company, maybe think about founding a worker cooperative, wherever you are.