Old School Gamer Magazine chats with Yeray Schwartz, CEO at Loco Players, who discusses the brand’s new game, Goner.
In Goner you will embark on a journey of primal terror starring Anthony Sunder, a son looking for his missing mother and her expedition crew. His search will lead him to the location of a ghost island inhabited by hostile members of a lost civilization and feral fauna you thought extinct.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How was this game born?
Yeray Schwartz: The idea of Goner was born out of a personal desire of building a video game around basic emotions and affects (reward (happiness), punishment (sadness), and stress (fear and anger).
A survival game was the way to go. It’s kind of an “open” genre in which you can fit adventure and horror without sacrificing the general tone and game mechanics. Then, I have had this fascination for dinosaurs since I was a kid. So, playing as a regular guy lost in a land inhabited by these creatures clicked in my mind as the perfect circle.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What is your role in the game?
Schwartz: We are a small team, and we all are wearing a lot of hats. In my case, I’m CEO of Loco Players, creative director, game designer, writer and level designer.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How did you get involved in the industry?
Schwartz: This was my dream since I was a little kid. Video games have always been part of my life, but playing them was never enough. I wanted to make them. So I started developing personal simple projects with any tools I could find. then Unity came along , for free. I spent six years using the engine until I could pay -and finish- myself a degree in game development. In this academy I met some awesome and skilled people along the way and finally, we team up.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What has development been like?
Schwartz: Hard, slow… but rewarding. We have learned a lot this year of working together. And we have seen ourselves thriving, growing…no matter the multiple obstacles we have found. We all have become best friends. We are loving it.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What makes this game special?
Schwartz: I would say that it is a game with a soul. The way we are making it, taking care of every detail and just pouring ourselves in it. That will be significant in the final product. In addition, there is no other dinosaur-themed game in first-person perspective in which you don’t play as a soldier, warrior or a skilled and heavy armed hero. You will be a regular guy against these huge and feral animals. And this is a special thing about our game: No guns, no super powers, just you…stranded and alone.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What games influenced this one the most?
Schwartz: I would say Subnautica. They did a great job. Almost every aspect of the game is done perfectly. We are taking concepts such as the non-linear story approach, but with a present main story line that drives you to an end goal. The emotions as main pillars approach… that thrill -and fear- of the unknown, rewarding exploration and discovery, the crafting and progression…we liked all this and it fit perfectly with our idea. Of course, we should name other games such as The Forest, The Long Dark and Alien: Isolation. They all have given us some insights on how to do this kind of game the right way.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Any fun stories or wild moments during development?
Schwartz: Fun? It’s been crazy! Just the Kickstarter alone has been so much work and stress…Oh, and making the trailers, we have no experience and it took a lot of research, trial and error. After a whole week working on the first promotional trailer, for the first we stood awake for 48 hours because rendering was just not coming right.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What were the major lessons learned?
Schwartz: It would be; We know nothing. Hehehehe Seriously, don’t make anything if you are not entirely sure, find the right people and just ask and learn. Being humble and self-aware of your capabilities is key to progress accordingly.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Do you think preserving older gameplay mechanics in new games is important?
Schwartz: Yes! In fact, we are bringing what could be considered “old” gameplay mechanics to the game. A couple of them, like the way you save your progress in the first Resident Evil games or an item combination/action mechanic from the classic Point&Click games.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What’s your favorite memory as a gamer?
Schwartz: The whole Playstation and Nintendo 64 era. I start “gaming” with an Atari 2600 and then a Sega Master System. But I was too little, my best memories come with the thrill of playing almost any game in the first PS or Nintendo 64…was just a strange, borderline magical feeling. Man, that’s unforgettable.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How do you want this game to ultimately be remembered?
Schwartz: I didn’t think about that…it’s our first big project. But it would be nice that Goner was remembered as the game that did the “Michael Crichton Jurassic Park feeling” right. You don’t hunt dinosaurs, they hunt you down.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What’s next?
Schwartz: Develop Goner! It’s going to be this kind of free content based project. We plan to launch an Early Access build on PC first, and just keep adding improvements and content until the retail version is ready.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Anything else you’d like to add?
Schwartz: Support us on Kickstarter! hahahaha For us, living in the Canary Islands is impossible to find investors nor funding. There is no gaming culture in this matter. And we want this project to be open to the public since the beginning, and community is super important to make this work.