When we started inbetweengames after leaving YAGER and going indie, we decided that we wanted to make a game that we could stand behind as both a game and a piece of art. After about six months of pre-production, concepting and prototyping, we’re super excited to share with you what we’ve been working on.
All Walls Must Fall is a tech-noir spy thriller set in a Berlin of 2089 where the Cold War never ended. A game in the isometric action tactics genre, you command secret agents using time travel, social stealth and combat. Prevent nuclear annihilation. Bring down the Wall. Love, kill, and remix reality to explore the meaning of freedom in a parable reflecting upon current global issues in the mirror of a fantastic future past.
After the break there are some handy links and another of our self-interviews! Let us know what you think on Twitter and Facebook!
What is this?! You guys are doing another self interview?
David: People liked it last time so we’re doing it again! It’s also good practice for us to try to talk about the game and gather our thoughts a bit. Catharsis for us, hopefully entertainment for you, everybody wins!
Isaac: Yeah we also wrote a press release but this is a much better format for getting across our thoughts in our own words.
I really liked the The Mammoth: A Cave Painting.
David: Thank you. But that’s not even a question.
Isaac: Yeah it was great! The inescapability of loss and all that. But now we’re moving on to something else.
David: And we are finally starting to talk about it too!
So what’s your new game then? All Walls Must Fall. What is that about?
David: All Walls Must Fall is a tech-noir spy thriller set in Berlin 2089 where the Cold War never ended. It’s also an isometric action tactics game, in which you command secret agents using time travel, social stealth and combat.
Isaac: It’s a love letter to Berlin, cyberpunk and sci-fi! I’ve always thought Berlin was an underused setting in video games. There’s been a few games set here, but I’ve never really felt they captured the city too well – or at least, the city that we live in today. You might think setting a game in the future also has that problem, but we actually want the place to feel somewhat plausibly contemporary despite the sci-fi angle.
David: It is also going back to classic games that came with the 90s PC wave like Syndicate, XCOM, Fallout, Planescape, and too many others to name them all here. For me personally that was the time when I decided that I really wanted to make video games. But by the time I arrived there games had moved on. The graphical arms race was and still is in full swing with all the consequences of what makes up AAA games today. So with us going indie we are jumping off that bandwagon, that is currently headed to VR and even more photorealism, and go back to the roots of where it all started for us.
What are your main inspirations for All Walls Must Fall?
Isaac: Well saying “XCOM meets Braid” is definitely the easiest way to pitch the gameplay concept. Though of course those aren’t the only inspirations, or the only games that have tactical combat or time-travel mechanics. Initially we came up with mechanics relating to how the music and the gameplay work together first, and after we had all that working we realised we’d basically made a mechanic out of time travel. Then we rolled with it.
David: Besides video games the city of Berlin itself is a huge inspiration for us. We make a point of seeking out things that we have access to here and research them thoroughly so we can recreate an impression of them in the game. Like the current club culture which really started with the wall coming down and historic sites and museums covering the time period of when the city was divided. Noir movies and especially tech-noir movies and sci-fi stories are also something that we look at a lot.
What does the name All Walls Must Fall mean?
Isaac: It’s a call to action! Of course it references a pretty famous wall that Berlin had a few years back that you might’ve heard about, but walls still seem to be being built across imaginary lines on maps today. The Berlin Wall in our game is one that’s stood for over a hundred years so people are taking it for granted, but nothing stands forever.
David: The name is also a reference to the game as a video game itself. All the environment in the game is destructible which is important to enable player agency within the simulation so players can come up with solutions we didn’t think of. But at the same time we also want to challenge players’ preconceptions about their own role in the game.
So how far along are you with the project?
David: We are a couple of months in so we have a gameplay prototype that includes procedural level generation, combat and some social mechanics. It basically is one mission of the game that plays a little different each time you play it and already has multiple outcomes. But it also very much still looks like an early prototype. Besides that we made one example dancefloor showing more how we imagine the game to look like in the end. This is the one we’re currently showing to give people a better impression of what we’re aiming for.
Isaac: We spent quite a bit of time last year working on some pretty out-there stuff regarding prototypes for what wound up being our core set of tactical time-manipulation mechanics. We broke down a few conceptual walls along the way and think we have found a way to wrap it all into a coherent package. Since then we’ve spent quite a bit of time nailing down the design for the whole thing and now we’re back into the most exciting part: working full-time on development!
So what’s going on in this scene?
Isaac: It’s a little snippet from our prototype, showing off our time manipulation. The player’s going into a room to look for a particular character. But turns out there’s some guys in there who didn’t want him crashing their party, whoops! But instead of fighting back somehow, you can just rewind time to before you went in the room. It’s like it never happened – but you, and your agent, know what’s in the room now. We’re hoping it gets across the core gameplay idea, that you’re playing a tactical game, that’s quite combat focussed, but with the ability to use time manipulation as a tool. Of course, you could stay in the room and fight your way through, but it might have some consequences: all those dudes in the big hall might get a bit freaked out. Or maybe they’re too juiced up to notice…
When are you going to show more gameplay?
Isaac: It is still early days, and in many ways parts of the game are still being prototyped. But the reason we want to announce now is so we can really get going with this whole open development thing. Until now, I’ve always worked for other people with their silly NDAs and so on so you have to keep what you’re doing for most of your working life a secret. But I love showing off! I’m really looking forward to talking about what I’m working on every week, probably more than is healthy.
David: Yeah, we’ll be working on getting those aspects we only have in rough prototype state presentable and then ask people for feedback as well. So expect more gameplay being shared on Twitter and Facebook pretty much every week from now on.
Cool. When can I see more of All Walls Must Fall?
Isaac: Straight away! We’re spending the rest of this week at the Berlin Games Week where we have a little booth at the A MAZE festival, but after that we’re back into full-time development and I will be showing what I’m working on as often as I can!
David: Yeah going forward we’ll be sharing updates on whatever we’re currently working on so you should get a pretty good impression of how things are going if you follow us on Twitter or Facebook.
What’s up with that painting of Obama and Putin kissing, what’s that got to do with anything?
Isaac: It’s inspired by a mural that was painted on the East Side of the Berlin Wall a few months before reunification, which shows Honecker and Brezhnev in a similar pose. It’s a hint regarding our alternate timeline history thing…
David: Which is also an attempt to take that iconic picture and update to something more current.
When is All Walls Must Fall coming out?
Isaac: We’re aiming for an Early Access release in the Fall of this year, and aim to have the game finished in 2017 for a final release.
David: Cross your fingers and press your thumbs! We’re still pretty early but yeah those are our current plans. Let’s hope it works out.
Are you going to make a Kickstarter at some point?
Isaac: It’s not currently planned: we’re hoping to secure funding from the Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, and we should know if we got that within a couple of months. If that doesn’t work out, we shall see.
David: Yeah I think if we would do a Kickstarter at some point it would be important to us to give something to people as quickly as possible so they can actually play it and give us feedback.
What about Early Access?
David: We’re really looking forward to it! The prospect of giving out an essential unfinished game to people to play with sounds really scary but also exciting. We’ve been working in these closed off spaces of AAA development for such a long time that interacting and getting feedback from a bigger group of players really early in the game’s development is really appealing to us.
Isaac: Perhaps some people aren’t really into buying Early Access games, and that’s totally fine. When you’re selling a product to the public, it has to be a state where it’s something that people are actually excited about and want to play. You shouldn’t be selling just the promises you’re making. The real successes are games that were fun from day one of them being on sale. That’s our goal for our Early Access release. And I really think you need to be able to make those promises with confidence: you need to be sure that even if you can’t fund more development from those early sales, you already have in the bank what you need to deliver on them. We want to use Early Access as a way of getting feedback on the game while it’s in development, rather than a way of funding that development. For us, this is one of the reasons behind going indie: it’s something you don’t get when working behind a restrictive NDA. There’s also the community that you can build, getting people who are really passionate about the game involved early. I think if you do it right, everybody wins.
Enough of this nerdy talk. I saw that you went into Berghain for a research trip, which is one of the coolest clubs in the world right? How do get in there? I tried to get in there once and didn’t. Please take me to Berghain.
David: Again. That’s not even a question. Who is even writing these?
Isaac: Hmm well, that’s a hard one. I’m pretty conscious of the fact that setting our game in Berlin nightclubs might seem awfully hipster. But at the end of the day, what I’ve always loved about this city and its nightlife is how unpretentious it can be. Just be comfortable with yourself, your skin, and who you love, and you’ll be very welcome here I’m sure.