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Closure Q&A: In a Black-and-White World, Shades of Grey

Sid Shuman's Avatar + Posted by Sid Shuman on Mar 16, 2012 // Senior Manager, Social Media

Closure for PS3 (PSN)

Journey’s much-celebrated launch on PSN this week served as a powerful reminder of the importance of fresh perspectives and bold risk-taking in video game design. But it also begged the question “what’s next?” Enter Closure, the grand-prize winner of the DICE 2012 Indie Game Challenge and the climactic final release in this year’s Spring Fever PSN showcase.

Much like its starkly rendered characters, Closure stands out in an indie game development field dominated by esoteric art styles and quirky gameplay choices. The game merges elements both old and new, fusing puzzle-based platforming with a light-and-dark twist. If you want to learn more about Closure’s gameplay (and why you’ll want to collect as many Silver Moths as possible), read Jeff’s in-depth hands-on report.

During Game Developers Conference last week, I spoke with the lead designer of Closure, Tyler Glaiel, to learn more about the game’s influences, level design, and characters.

Sid Shuman, PlayStation.Blog: Another game that used stark monochromatic visuals to huge effect was Limbo. How is Closure different?
Tyler Glaiel, Lead Designer and Programmer, Closure: I’ve played Limbo for a grand total of about two minutes, years ago at the Independent Games Festival (LINK: http://www.igf.com/), That was on purpose because I didn’t want any influence from Limbo in this game. Limbo is mostly silhouettes, black characters on a brighter greyish noisy background. Closure’s characters are white on a black background, so it’s very high contrast. The graphics are crisp, there’s no blur or noise on top of it. We’ve got a completely distinct visual flavor from Limbo, despite the similar color palette.

PSB: Light and dark is more than an aesthetic in Closure, it’s the core gameplay mechanic. How does it work?
TG: If you can’t see something in the game, it doesn’t exist: you can jump through walls and fall through floors, or push boxes through walls, and a lot of other interesting twists. There are a lot of commonly seen game mechanics that suddenly gain new meaning when interpreted in Closure. Even a locked door here is different because in most games you’d pick up a key and walk over to the door to unlock it. In Closure, you might have to drop the key through floors and walls to get it to the door.

PSB: Where did the idea for Closure come from?
TG: Portal and Braid were my main influences. They’re completely different games, but they follow a similar formula: the developers found one interesting core mechanic and built as many puzzles as they could around it. You don’t want to strip away everything else, but as a designer I wanted to make sure we were heavily focused on our core mechanic: the lighting. We did everything we could to add to that.

PSB: You begin the game by controlling a demonic-looking character — what’s that about?
TG: There’s more than one protagonist. The game begins in this mysterious world made out of “nothingness” that we internally refer to as Purgatory. The opening level is simple so that players can learn the basics of the gameplay, and at the end of the level, the demon character puts on a mask and transforms into a human. Closure ultimately splits into three distinct stories, each with its own story following a different human character and featuring different gameplay mechanics.

Closure for PS3 (PSN)

PSB: How do the three main level sets differ from one another?
TG: All the levels are eerie, but they all have their own distinct flavor of eerie, and the mechanics and level design philosophy is quite different for each level set. The Factory level set feels very mechanical, with a lot of push-button puzzles, physics, and distinct binary choices….The Forest has a lot of organic-looking levels that don’t feel like they belong in a puzzle game. You have to almost abuse the game mechanics to find your way through, positioning lights to create platforms that allow you to move forward. The puzzles in The Forest are a little less cut-and-dried, there’s more freedom. Then there’s the Carnival, the weirdest set of levels. It has its own distinct feeling that’s tough to describe, and it’s heavy on attitude and atmosphere…and a lot of Easter eggs to uncover.

PSB: Does Closure have a story? How deep does it go?
TG: The story isn’t something I can really explain. You have to play through their level set and explore the levels to find hints and clues as to their story. It’s very open to interpretation.

PSB: What do you hope players take away from Closure when they finish it?
TG: I’m just hoping they enjoy it as a puzzle game. I played a lot of Portal and Braid during development and tried to figure out what I didn’t like, what they could have done better. My problem with Portal was that after it teaches you all the mechanics, it sort of just ends. That’s not the case with Closure, we have a large number of extremely challenging puzzles towards the end of the game…though they’re all pretty fair!

With Closure, I’m hoping people see how puzzle games can be: really challenging, replayable, and fun while at the same time being artistic and interesting to explore.



//Add Your Own

18 Comments   7 Replies

1

+ Surfaced on March 16th, 2012 at 1:45 pm said:

Long live the PubFund!


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    + Tyler Glaiel on March 16th, 2012 at 2:06 pm said:

    The Pub Fund is great but we weren’t part of that. We got our funding from the Gold Egg Project (http://www.goldeggproject.com), which is a funding initiative recently created by the guys at The Behemoth to help indies like ourselves make the games we want to make the way we want to make them. It’s been pretty great.


2

+ Go_Buddie_Go on March 16th, 2012 at 2:12 pm said:

I feel somewhat bad, because there is an abundance of PSN exclusives I have yet to purchase due to money issues. You can be darn sure you have my support with this game! We need more 2D games, MOAR I TELL YOU!


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    + Tyler Glaiel on March 16th, 2012 at 2:20 pm said:

    2D FTW.

    No promises, but if you still have money issues when the game comes out feel free to shoot me an email and I’ll see if there’s anything we can do to help.


3

+ plaztiksyke on March 16th, 2012 at 2:28 pm said:

Extremely excited for this and the other indie games on the way.

Are the visuals rendered natively in 1080p? are the art assets natively optimized for 1080p?

who’s doing the music (if there is any)? is the audio 24-bit and/or losslessly-compressed?


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    + Tyler Glaiel on March 16th, 2012 at 2:39 pm said:

    It’s 720p, 60 FPS (1080p was a bit too much for us to handle since we’re just 1 programmer (myself) and 1 artist (Jon Schubbe), and 2D games tend to eat up a lot of memory when trying to go higher resolution [all graphics are hand painted, not tiled, and all the animations are hand animated, not skeletal). It still looks really beautiful in motion though!

    Music is done by Christopher Rhyne, it’s not losslessy compressed (but you’ll be able to buy a lossless 24-bit version of the soundtrack when that goes live from our site), but we use very high quality Ogg Vorbis files for the music (which are better quality than MP3). There’s also some dynamic music in the game, where tracks of the same song have their volume adjusted dynamically as you play to give some variety and progression to the songs as you progress in the game. It sounds amazing.


4

+ TinyTim2301 on March 16th, 2012 at 2:34 pm said:

Aw man, I always kicked myself for never finishing the original version of this… Can’t wait to see how crazy you guys went with a full retail version.


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    + Tyler Glaiel on March 16th, 2012 at 2:42 pm said:

    my comment below was meant to be a reply to this
    v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v v


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5

+ Tyler Glaiel on March 16th, 2012 at 2:41 pm said:

You’re forgiven! I can barely play our original version anymore after getting used to how much better the new one is. The good news is the Forest set of the new one is a retelling of the flash version’s story (levels, art, music, and gameplay completely redone of course, but the story is almost the same there), so you aren’t missing anything by not having completed it.


6

+ Bloodios on March 16th, 2012 at 3:10 pm said:

Hey, Tyler, have you considered releasing some avatars and dynamic themes for this game? I personally would love to have some (preferably free, but I wouldn’t mind paying for them either.)
Can never have enough of that intriguing art style!


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    + Tyler Glaiel on March 16th, 2012 at 3:30 pm said:

    We’re looking into it. We still have a lot of work to do to get the game ready for a Europe release too, so if there’s time and the process is simple enough we’d love to get some avatars and themes out.


7

+ Toxic156 on March 16th, 2012 at 3:32 pm said:

@Bloodios
I concur! They could do what was done with Outland and have an avatar/theme free with a purchase of the game.

This looks intriguing to say the least. I’ll be watching out for this one…

A little off topic, but does anyone know when the PS forums will be back up? They have been down since yesterday…if I missed some sort of notice, then I apologize for diverging from this article. However; if not, I would like to know if they will be up again in the near future.


8

+ G-Force08 on March 16th, 2012 at 3:43 pm said:

Looks great! Hopefully I’ll get a chance to check it out and give it a review. I love indie titles, so many hidden gems.


9

+ sachal_k on March 16th, 2012 at 9:39 pm said:

Closure + Dyad + Papo & Yo are games that I’m more looking forward to than other retail titles. The art style is too damn awesome. Great job!


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    + Jon Schubbe on March 17th, 2012 at 2:00 am said:

    Thanks a lot, very appreciated :)


10

+ Mattsta001 on March 17th, 2012 at 2:36 am said:

Looks great and I’m looking forward to playing it. When do reviews go up? Hope you guys put a demo/trial out too because a lot of people won’t buy a game without a demo.

Sid, please do a blog post on the PSN indie games coming out this year. So far I know about:

Journey (amazing game)
Closure
Dyad???
Papo and Yo

And that’s it. : (

Any news on Machinarium? What happened to Retro/Grade?


11

+ feri2011 on March 17th, 2012 at 6:26 am said:

Very good


12

+ Matrix_Lion on March 17th, 2012 at 3:26 pm said:

I really liked the presentation of this video. The art design and music was really cool.


13

+ xTJ-13x on March 18th, 2012 at 5:56 am said:

Looks interesting.


14

+ plaztiksyke on March 18th, 2012 at 2:09 pm said:

Thanks for the detailed answers! I’m glad to hear you’ve got max bitrate Ogg; maybe you can have the “HD” soundtrack you mention as an in-game PSN purchase? Was there some technical reason you didn’t just ship with at least some 24-bit FLAC assets?

As for the 1080p native assets, it was amazing in Critter Crunch and they pulled it off quite nicely. Maybe Nathan @ Capy can give you some tips for your next game :)


15

+ MonsieurLeblanc on March 18th, 2012 at 4:59 pm said:

How much will it cost? I will buy it anyway but I still want to know. ;)


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    + Jon Schubbe on March 18th, 2012 at 6:01 pm said:

    $14.99, but 20% off of that for PlayStation Plus Subscribers :)


16

+ Rytteren on March 21st, 2012 at 12:00 pm said:

eu date?


17

+ jazzyrider on March 28th, 2012 at 9:14 pm said:

Is there a Vita version of this? would love to play this on the go!


18

+ TheImmortalReese on April 8th, 2012 at 10:29 am said:

Having troubles with this game, it freezes alot on me.


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