Interview with Mauricio García (The Last Door)

Interview with Mauricio García

First off, tell me about yourself?
Hi, I’m Mauricio García, producer of Blasphemous and CEO of the studio. I’m formerly a game programmer, I was actually the programmer behind The Last Door, our previous game.

Tell me about The Game Kitchen and about the team that works there?
The Game Kitchen is a relatively small team, of about 10 people in-house plus a bunch of the usual suspects we like to work with, like Carlos Viola the composer.

As I understand it, you are based in Seville, Spain. Do you feel the video game market/industry, indie or otherwise is different in Spain to the rest of Europe or America?
In our local city the game development scene is relatively young and small, except for the one big company (Genera Games, they make mobile games and make tons of cash). But this is changing rapidly, with a thrilling a growing scene comprised of new promising talent. Expect a lot of exciting games coming from Seville in the near future 😉

If you had to put it in words, what kind of games does The Game Kitchen make, and why?
Our motto is “we make meaningful games”, which to us means don’t work in a project unless it means something special to us, so at the end of the day, it could really mean something to our players. We really like to bring to the table the stuff that only we could bring.

What games do you remember most from your childhood, and do you feel they influence/influenced how you make games?
Back in the day, the original Castlevania for the NES really made an impact on us. Later on, Doom blew our minds. With Blasphemous, we’re trying to bring together what we loved about those two back in the day. Additionally, The Last Door is our love letter to both The Lucasarts classic point-and-click and the horror classics books, which were also tremendously impactful to make us what we are today.

While we are talking about other games, what other indie developers do you like, and can you recommend any games from them?
We are really fans of Deconstructeam’s Red Strings Club, and also Fictiorama’s Do not feed the Monkeys.

How many games have you developed, and how long does it typically take from the idea to the final product?
For both games we’ve made, we’ve totalled around three years per each. Also in both cases, we’ve tried to release stuff during the process, so you don’t have to wait until the end to play. The Last Door was (originally) released episodically, and with Blasphemous, we’ve been opening our prototypes to our backers in the meanwhile.

Speaking of which, how long did it take to make season 1 of the Last Door, and did it take more or less time to make season 2?
The first season took us less time, because we always tried to outdo ourselves with longer and longer episodes, which made the development time grow by the end of the cycle. Also we have to switch the technology (from Flash to Unity) for the second season, because Flash was becoming obsolete, so we needed to do a lot of stuff all over again for the second season.

Which of the games you’ve designed is your personal favourite, and is that reflected in the public reception of the game?

I think Blasphemous is becoming our favourite, because it has allowed us a greater amount of creative freedom. A big kickstarter campaign like the one we had enabled us with unprecedented creative freedom, we didn’t have to hold back when it came to add bizarre stuff to the game, we don’t have nobody to answer to accept our backers, and they’re here because they wanted us to go as crazy as possible, so we did.

I reached out for this Interview because I really enjoyed the The Last Door, if you could can you briefly summarise the series as a whole, and if you can a little bit about season 1 and 2 respectively?
The Last Door is a homage to classic horror writing, in the form a point-and-click adventure like the ones of the nineties. The crazy thing about the game is that we use a unique and distinctive super-low-res visual style, which invites your brain to fill-in all the details we’re not adding. This results in a one-of-a-kind immersive experience you don’t have anywhere else.

The Last Door is a very intricate and elaborate weird tale about a cult, seeking to open a door into  a different plane of existence, where lie the most terrible and unimaginable things.

Some of the influences are fairly clear but for my audience, what influences did you draw upon when creating The Last Door?
The good thing about the tv-show like structure that we have in The Last Door is that it enables us to use each episode as a particular homage to a different author of the genre. The first episode is the most Edgar Allan Poe-ish of them all. 

What made you go for the pixel graphics, and what were the pros and cons of the decision?
Enrique Cabeza, our creative director is a huge fan of the pixel-art discipline. New projects have usually come from him practicing a new form of pixel-art.

I found The Last Door to be rather suspenseful and engaging, do you have any tips for creating something that evokes that same reaction?
We believe the key lies in balancing the information you give the player, with the one that you intentionally hold back. That forces players to speculate and imagine they own version of the missing pieces, generating a very interesting engagement.

What made you go for a point and click style of gaming?
The Last Door was our first indie title, and we didn’t really have much money at the time to invest in a long, costly production. Between all the ideas for possible projects we have in the table back in the day, we chose the one that was actually feasible with the little resources we have.

Technically speaking, The Last Door is really simple, and that was helpful back in day, with our limited experience and small team. Choosing a technically simple game, enabled us to focus all of our efforts in delivering a really strong and compelling setting and mood for the game, by nailing the sound, the writing and the overall vibe.

Lastly, can we expect anything coming out in the near future/what are you working on right now?
Yes! The Last Door is coming to some new platforms really soon, and then a little bit later, but still in 2019, we’ll be releasing Blasphemous, our newest game! It’s a 2D action platformer that combines elements from metroidvania, classic arcades, combat and a cryptic souls-like narrative and exploration experience.


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