The Artful Escape: Johnny Galvatron talks about the game, the Game Pass and today's indie market

The Artful Escape: Johnny Galvatron talks about the game, the Game Pass and today's indie market

The Artful Escape

A simple room in the background, a young guy, a poorly groomed beard combined with a medium length wavy hair, with that brown-blond that immediately makes you imagine a past as a surfer rocker. So Johnny Galvatron introduced himself to the chat with us: smiling and amused. And above all relaxed and even euphoric in some passages, to strongly highlight that moment of relief that frames the end of the long work that kept him busy for years, in an attempt to bring the musical adventure The Artful Escape to our screens. br>
A game that we will describe in detail in 24 hours, as soon as the embargo for the review expires, and that you can try starting from 9 September on PC and Xbox, both on Steam and on the Game Pass, paying for it 19 , € 99 or free if you subscribe to Microsoft's service.

A chat that was not easy to organize considering the countless time zones that separate us from the location where Galvatron currently resides: Melbourne, Australia. The continent is also home to all the members of its development team, the Beethoven & Dinosaurs. An interview that allowed us to deepen some aspects of his videogame project, but above all to know something more about its creator including a couple of really interesting points of view on the state of today's indie market and on the value of the Game Pass for children. developers.

So follow us through this hopefully interesting interview of The Artful Escape.

Who is Johnny Galvatron

Johnny Galvatron, the creative mind behind The Artful Escape A stage name that says it all, Johnny Galvatron is the founder of Beethoven & Dinosaurs, as well as the visionary behind The Artful Escape, an original graphic adventure with platform elements and deep musical roots.| creativity and his desire to tell exciting stories overflowing with emotions.

"I had my past as a musician in the late 2000s. At that time I was wandering around Australia with my band, The Galvatrons, and it was a continuous alternation of stages and parties. It was above all what surrounded the exhibition that attracted me more than the actual show. Or the music ", begins Galvatron in the first minutes of our interview, as if to break the ice and blast us in the face , without filters, the genesis of The Artful Escape. "And after 5 years of busy life and traveling across Australia, massed with my group in small hotels between one night and another where we played our music to people who didn't even know who we were, I went back home with the idea of ​​never moving again, but of continuing to feed my ideas, to express creativity in another way. "

Francis Vendetti, the protagonist of The Artful Escape, with his guitar And in a moment, here he is ready to tell the story of him in the videogame market. Galvatron has always been passionate about video games, he is keen to let us know on several occasions, and has had a pad in his hand since the days of the SEGA Master System. For this reason, he confesses to us candidly, once back home "I downloaded the Unreal Engine, I learned how to use it by reading online and watching the tutorials on YouTube and I put my ideas and my passion for music in a trailer that I sent to the guys at Epic hoping to be selected for a cash prize. " And Johnny did it: he took home $ 20,000 with which he bundled his inspiration, set up a Kickstarter dedicated to his first work and waited patiently for the crowdfunding to end positively.

In reality it did not go quite like that since the Kickstarter did not go through but it was enough for Galvatron to get noticed by the talent scouts of Annapurna Interactive who tried to contact him to find out more about his debut project and to see it working. The developer lied shamelessly, but he also rolled up his sleeves: "I pretended I had something ready but clearly it wasn't and after contacting a couple of friends, I went to work non-stop for 3 months to come up with a working demo. At that point I showed it to the Annapurna team who came to visit me here in Australia, they took me out to lunch and ... victory! I got my first publishing contract. "

This is exactly how The Artful Escape was born, a title that, as Galvatron is keen to summarize to our microphones, "tells the exact opposite of my experience with music: super cool and crazy stuff that leads you to travel through space to aboard a musical spaceship, where my life was playing Australian folk songs from near-perfect strangers in places all the same for 5 years. " Honest and ruthless!

The writer remembers perfectly having tried the game for the first time even 4 years ago, in an Xbox event in Los Angeles (there is even the very old video preview that you find above) and, since then, the nothing more absolute until a few weeks ago, when the game returned to the scene with a trailer, release date and some media coverage. That demo there, Galvatron confirms it, was exactly the one prepared to stimulate Annapurna to produce the game and actually convinced us too for its originality and artistic cut. At that time the big Australian boy had done almost everything by himself: from animations to illustrations, to music, getting help only for the programming part. But over the years Beethoven & Dinosaurs has become a more traditional team, made up of about 8 people.

As Galvatron tells us during the interview, in addition to him, Sean Slevin and Justin Blackwell, two technical figures, c 'is an illustrator found on a portfolio site of Australian illustrators, Arden Beckwith, a guy specializing in 3D objects, Mikey Mccusker initially hired with the promise that he would only make trees and rocks, but who actually built most of the liveliest environments in the game, including Calypso, the hometown of the protagonist. And then there is a developer specializing in modeling the characters, Tessa Monash, who worked on the models to make them more alive, more three-dimensional, managing better the shadows and lights in the animations and illustrations.

The music of The Artful Escape

A scene from the game The Artful Escape with Francis Vendetti being interviewed by a character "If that wasn't clear enough, the real protagonist of The Artful Escape, even before Francis Vendetti, by Calypso, of his colorful artistic cut and his teenage history, is the music. I wrote the soundtrack together with my musical partner Josh Abrahams, but I only recorded one riff on my guitar. Playing is another person, Eden Altman, while the folk music of Johnson Vendetti, Francis's uncle, is written, played and sung by Luke Legs, a talented Australian artist ", Galvatron reveals.

As soon as you start strumming in the game, you will feel cont or that the magic of The Artful Escape is in its peculiar management of intonations and guitar solos that blend perfectly with the musical background of the scenario you are exploring and where, precisely, you can choose to play in total autonomy and according to your desire. We couldn't help but point out our appreciation to the game's creator who, at that point, literally became enlightened.

"First you write the soundtrack of that part of the game. The trick is to make it all in a single scale, usually starting from a major key and working closely with the illustrator to understand what the environment or art of that level will be in order to build around a themed soundtrack with a coherent tempo: a more rhythmic song or a more relaxed and orchestral one. Above this track, we recorded the guitar riff played by Francis. Everything works precisely because it respects the scale: staying inside it allows you to play with the audio track, to enter and come out with the riff smoothly and in tune ". Galvatron does not stop and explains this mental trick even better. "The fact that you hear it coherent and in tune has to do with your brain. It creates a kind of pattern that connects the background music with the main one in a harmonious way."

Seeing us half convinced, the Australian brings us a concrete example of this magic. "You know Dark Side of the Rainbows?" He asks us. We answer in the affirmative because the writer is passionate about pop and musical anecdotes. This is a particular experiment that requires you to watch The Wizard of Oz, the 1939 film, while playing the Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd music album in the background. Music and images often overlap perfectly, almost as if the band had made that album with the idea of ​​making it the official soundtrack of the film in mind. "It's the brain that finds points of contact and builds a sense around them. It makes everything coherent and believable. The exact same thing happens with The Artful Escape: it's a little mental trick that we used. Clearly it wasn't that simple: or at least on paper it had to work perfectly; then once we brought everything into play we realized that a lot of things had to be fixed by hand and took much longer than expected. Let's say that today we are finished and we have the game ready to launch , I'm very happy that the guitar works ". And at that point Galvatron laughs heartily, as if to hide a resounding sigh of relief.

The importance of being on the Game Pass

A musical battle of The Artful Escape The Artful Escape , like a good chunk of the indie titles arrived on the market during this summer, will land on Xbox directly within the Game Pass and should be the same also on PC, where the game will also be available for purchase on Steam for € 19.99. There is a great debate precisely regarding Microsoft's subscription service that continues to grow and support more and more platforms, however generating in consumers a concern, clearly not based on facts, about its sustainability and a medium and long-term trend. period of "ruining" and flattening video games. On the other hand, this is the assumption, if you no longer have to worry about sales and instead have to convince the buyer to stay a subscriber as long as possible, quantity takes precedence over quality. With all that this entails regarding the beauty of the exclusives and titles included in the Game Pass.

Given the great availability of Galvatron during this interview, we took the opportunity to ask him for an opinion on all this negative chatter against the Game Pass. In short: he is on the other side of the fence and will surely know a lot more than us avid bar readers. "I know what people say and I really struggle to understand who says it's bad to be on the Game Pass. You have someone who is willing to give you money to be on their platform. They pay you in advance, they help you with it. development, somehow it also helps you pay off your debts. And that's a good thing. It's absolutely great for independent and small developers. "

And the developer continues, leaving a window to other possibilities: "now I don't know how things can change when you are a big company or you already have several games on Game Pass. But for us, who are still in our first game, being on the service means that a lot more people will have the chance. to play it, many more people will hear about it and this will also help us depending on what we will do next. In my current situation I really can't see any negative sides. Maybe in a few years I will be able to think differently, but today it is cool and I'm super happy to be there. Entering the Game Pass, being selected by Microsoft, makes you feel special. "

An exploratory and platforming phase of The Artful Escape It is clear how much Johnny Galvatron wants to say something, to find a stage from which he can scream his creativity and tell his ideas. He is probably not yet so convinced that he has done well to give up his shaky musical career in favor of a rapidly evolving medium who could easily make him the success he deserves but, in a moment, slam yet another door in his face. And we take the opportunity to ask him yet another question, the last one. More a consideration than a real question, to chat together about the current state of the independent market: the times of Fez, Braid and Minecraft are long gone and today what remains?

"Once again I find myself making an analogy with the music market. Today's indie scene has to be compared with today's music scene. If you think about 15-20 years ago, to try to record your record or your demo you had to rent a recording room, spend some money ... slowly but surely this possibility is becoming within everyone's reach. You can easily create a recording studio at home, with a PC, and the consequences of this change have touched the trajectory of pop music which today is much more minimalist and electronic precisely because it is linked to what you can do, alone, at home. . And the same is happening with video games: today someone like me can take a look at YouTube and find out how it develops by investing very few resources. All those people who have not studied programming for years or followed specific paths to enter the world of development today can approach the market practically without knowledge. And this allows for fresh, different ideas, an innovative point of view on the medium ".

In short: as music has moved from large recording studios to garages and then to bedrooms, the videogame is following the same, identical process according to Galvatron and today, even more than in the past, it is easy to sit in your own room, alone, to try to build something that, at least in appearance, may seem the result of an efficient and Galvatron is insistent on this point: "today a complete neophyte can get his hands on the Unreal Engine, on Metahuman and start creating his own work. Out of nowhere, without having studied programming or art design for twenty years ".

It is a fascinating point of view and certainly different from the usual, original: if it is actually also true and sustainable we will only be able to say it in a few years.

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