Releasing in January 2019, Rainswept is a murder mystery set in a small town of Pineview. The town is full of beauty, mystery and a unique cast of characters. With this being developer Armaan Sandhu’s debut title, I was curious to learn more about him, his game and how he plans to move forward:
Travis: First, I want to know a little about you. What’s your history with video games? What got you into game development? Do you have any big influencers that shaped your storytelling style?
Armaan: My history with video games has mostly been through playing them, with a little bit of analysis through blogs and tributes as well. I started playing them in the late 90s on cheap NES knock-offs which were readily available in my country at the time, with games like Excitebike, Double Dragon and Contra being some of my favorites at the time.
I later got myself a decent PC and fell in love with RPGs such as Fable: The Lost Chapters, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and later Dragon Age, The Witcher and Mass Effect. These games had a big impact on me and I developed a passion for story and character driven experiences.
I was always searching for a medium to tell stories through, largely due to the above-mentioned games. Ideally, I wanted to tell similar stories through games but a lack of industry presence in my country forced me to look at films as a possible alternative. But as times changed and the indie industry flourished, and solo developers uploading their games on Steam started becoming a common sight, I got another chance to make a story driven game like I’d always wanted to.
As for the storytelling style, it’s mostly been influenced by TV shows and movies of the crime thriller genre. Within games, Life is Strange has also had some influence on the presentation – the combination of cutscene, music and title cards in the intro to Rainswept is one scene where this inspiration is most visible.
Travis: What have you worked on prior to Rainswept? Do you have any smaller projects that you’ve done along the way, or is Rainswept your first outing entirely?
Armaan: No, I haven’t worked on anything related to video games before Rainswept – this is my first project.
Travis: How would you say that Rainswept is unique from other games that share the same genre?
Armaan: I can’t say there are many drastic differences in Rainswept from other adventure games. It is more of a modern take on the genre, less point-and-click and more Telltale/Night in the Woods in terms of the gameplay experience. It puts [the] story on top of the priority list, as many games do, and the activities in the game become a way of unlocking that story piece by piece.
I guess what works specifically in trying to do that with Rainswept is that it’s a murder mystery, which fits in neatly with the idea of unlocking a story piece by piece.
Other than that, there is also a focus on atmosphere, of trying to make the in-game location named Pineview feel like a pleasant place to inhabit and play around in.
Travis: What made you want to make Rainswept? I saw a mention that this game is inspired by the likes of Twin Peaks and unnamed South Korean crime thrillers. What can you tell me about those?
Armaan: Rainswept came to be as a combination of multiple ideas and tropes that I love, such as an emotionally burdened detective and rainy locations, and even specific scenes that had been floating around in my head for years.
I’m also a big fan of murder mysteries, mostly thanks to Twin Peaks, as you mentioned. I’m in love with South Korean crime thriller films, with my all-time favorite being a film called Memories of Murder. I love the way that story is told, its mood and the acting. It also has some of my favorite clichés and tropes – a moody, brooding detective that’s an outsider to a small-town investigation, a lazy local police force, a case that begins to take its toll on the investigation team, melodramatic music and moments etc. This being my first real story, I just wanted to play around with ideas that I loved so I brought them all together into one story and began to make connections, leading to Rainswept.
Travis: What has been one of the biggest challenges of putting this game together?
Armaan: Probably the area that I’ve had the most trouble with is writing dialogues. It’s very easy for beginners, such as me, to end up creating dialogues that sound stilted and cheesy. This has slowly improved over time with practice. Not just that, but it takes a lot more energy for me to write a conversation than it does to create other parts of the game, and so I make very slow progress when it comes to those parts.
But otherwise, it’s been smoother than I’d expected. There are some days every so often where I can’t get myself to work for long, and I waste time making no progress. But fortunately, those days are infrequent, and often a sign that I either need to take a break or work on something different. I’ve also found that those unmotivated times often happen when I don’t have a clear idea of the tasks I’m supposed to be tackling during that day.
Travis: I’ve played through the demo, and it feels like there’s a lot going on with both the investigation and Detective Anderson’s personal demons. This creates an extra layer of depth in the narrative. How do you keep the two narratives from getting in each other’s way?
Armaan: The two storylines are mostly separated by their sequence and order of occurrence – The detective is the main source of both the stories, as his investigations lead to the flashbacks. It is when he’s not caught up with the investigation, when he has time to himself and his thoughts, that his own problems take center stage. So most of the game is spent gathering clues/ investigating, which leads to experiencing the couple’s story, which is later followed by the detective’s storyline.
Travis: At the time of this interview, your IndieGoGo campaign has about 25% of its goal covered. Since it’s flexible you will be getting the funding regardless of whether or not you reach the goal. If you don’t reach your goal, what’s the next move?
Armaan: Not reaching my goal will mean that I’ll have to make changes to my place of accommodation and control expenses until release date and tasks like localization will be moved to post-release. I’ll also depend heavily on post-release income and as such will have to get the game out without any delay. The remaining funds from the campaign will be used for QA/testing and for acquiring additional assets for the sake of polishing the game
Travis: What is something you want to see come out of Rainswept? What is your ultimate end goal?
Armaan: I want to create a story or an experience that moves people emotionally, and in some way affects their lives. I’d love to see players joining in discussions about the game online, on forums or on Youtube comment sections, for instance, discussing their theories or just sharing their experiences. This is something I do for my favorite games – listen to their soundtracks and get nostalgic about my time with a game – and I’d love to see players have the same reaction to Rainswept.