8 th July, 2015 – Folkestone (UK) – Four university graduates are looking to get support for the completion of Quern – Undying Thoughts video game on Kickstarter. The project is clearly well received, more than £17,000 (85% of the goal) has been raised so far with the help of 939 backers. The campaign’s deadline on Kickstarter is 19 th of July.
The developers have identified the space which was left behind by the great classics and further developed the well-known elements of the genre. The supporters emphasise the beauty of the graphics, the unique ideas and the special atmosphere of the game, based on the trailer and the pictures.
Quern is a first-person puzzle adventure game with captivating story, beautiful graphics and unique music.
The key to success is to understand the operating principles of the island.
The game is a constant dilemma between material and spiritual solutions.
The professionally designed Quern is the first game developed by the team.
If their Kickstarter campaign becomes a success, Quern will expectedly be released on Oculus Rift, PC, Mac and Linux in the spring of 2016.
WHAT IS QUERN?
Quern is a first person puzzle adventure with captivating story and beautiful graphics. The game is currently in early development by Folkestone (UK) based Zadbox Entertainment, established by four Hungarians in their early twenties.
Quern refreshes the genre with flexible gameplay and reuseable puzzle mechanics. The visuals and the music combine traditional and modern elements providing a unique mood for the game.
One of the specialities of Quern is that the tasks to be solved are not managed as separate, individual and sequential units, but as a complex entity, amongst which the players may wander and experiment freely. Often a bad or seemingly irrational result may bring the player closer to the final solution, if those are reconsidered and thought over again later, in the possession of the knowledge gained during the game.
THE STORY“Quern is but a little fragment of the World Chain, but it has quite an important role. Civilisations rise and fall due to this world.”
As huge fans of story-driven games and detailed narratives, the developers wrote and sketched the concepts of a complex and coherent world. The works of Jules Verne in particular, influenced them greatly. Their aim was to capture the mood and essence of his novels and combine that with magical, fantasy elements.
This universe is a structured system of worlds all connected to each other. The player assumes the role of a person, who has been trapped in one of these worlds which is a mysterious island surrounded by oceans as far as the eye could see. He finds himself in front of an entrance to a deserted ancient city.
The player receives guidance from two different sources, which are both mysterious in completely different ways. One of them is a scientist, who talks to the player through letters, which are factual, rational – written with a logical approach. The other one is an ancient spirit, who makes connection with us through visions, and gives us guidance about the spirituality of the island.
The player soon finds out that these two guides have conflicting opinions about the island’s mysteries. They both demand us to understand Quern, but while the professor wants us to experiment with the environment and manipulate it, the spirit asks us to observe and be part of it, without physically changing anything. The letters we find contain direct instructions and answers, whereas the visions raise questions, so we find out the answers ourselves. It is up to the players to decide which guide they want to follow, but sooner or later, they must make a permanent choice.
Before the developers created the story of the stranger (the player), they wrote a whole back-story for the island itself. There were three heroes of an ancient civilisation who have been trapped in Quern long before the stranger has. They managed to understand how the operating principles work in this world and experienced a whole new way of existence. Their presence here made great consequences in their home world. They left behind fragments and the wisdom of their culture in many different forms. Thousands of years after the three heroes managed to leave the island, an archaeologist came in search of their legacy.
He knew about the unrealistic nature of the island and he went there with a clear purpose, to understand it. The professor tamed the elements of the island and learned to use them for his own purposes, his knowledge has grown more powerful than he has ever imagined. However, unexpected events happened in Quern not long before the stranger arrived. As they delve deeper in the story, hints of the happenings of the past are found, and these aid the players to understand their
role and importance in the story.
The gameplay follows the main elements of classic puzzle adventure games. Many different objects can be picked up and stored in the inventory where they can be inspected and it is also possible to interact with them. These objects all have colourful and varied purposes. The players run into hints and clues that will be needed later on to solve riddles or complete puzzles. At first, the players face smaller, easier, independent challenges, and as the game progresses, it starts to get more complex and unpredictable.
WHAT IS DIFFERENT?
Quern is an open world, meaning that the players can freely explore and wander around the island. Simply putting an object in a slot and walking away doesn’t work in this game. Of course, there are keys opening gates, but in Quern most of the puzzle mechanics are reusable in some other way. As the story is progressing, the players face more and more complicated challenges that might lead them back to an earlier puzzle, forcing them to reimagine it with the extra items or knowledge which was gathered. This way the players need to think about the game as a whole, not just as a series of individual puzzles. Players are also allowed to mess with the game mechanics because they are not stopped when the interaction is incorrect. They have the chance to experience other outcomes which sometimes seem to be completely pointless. These results help them find out how to get to the solution.
THE MAP SYSTEM
The creators took influences from different game genres and implemented their map systems. Looking at the map provides the player with a better understanding of the place he is currently exploring. Different zones and locations are revealed on the map as the player wanders around the island.
Despite believing that FPS controls give the player the perfect freedom, they are working on another option for people who are more familiar with the classic, mouse-only controls.
To make the game more immersive the developers wanted the players to be themselves instead of playing a role. One of the main concepts was to give no information about the look or the back-story of the main character. This offers the possibility to easily connect with the stranger, regardless of age, gender or ethnicity. Being great fans of the Myst series, the visual style of these fantastic games had the strongest influence on them. The aim was to create a surreal mood to make players curious as to what the rules of this world are, and urge them into diving deeper and deeper into its secrets.
To further the surrealism, Quern was designed to be a world full of contrasts, yet still maintaining aspects of realism. There is a warm, sandy island in the middle of an endless ocean covered with pine trees, which are originally native to mountains. The sky is full of rain clouds but it never rains, so the ground is dry and cracked. The buildings are clearly ancient with relatively modern, mechanic additions. As the puzzles get more challenging, completing them becomes even more visual and directly rewarding in addition to the progression made in the game.
Though the island itself is highly detailed and well processed, the menu and interface design is elegant and minimalist, which fits well to the realistic graphics. When the development of the game was started, the free version of Unity 4 was used, but recently there was a transition to the brand new and more efficient Unity 5. This change provides a new level of freedom to the artist to further improve Quern’s graphics.
The game has many different areas with their own individual moods and atmosphere. The team wanted each zone to have its own unique music while still keeping the soundtrack consistent. One of the challenges was to find the right ambience for each area and to build interesting soundscapes around key scenes in the game. The music is an important factor in making the gameplay even more immersive, by having it react to interactions made by the players. The soundtrack of Quern works well both as background music and as an individual composition. It is very atmospheric, with a combination of textural sounds and traditional instruments with the addition of unique musical elements for each scene.
As for now, they work on the English texts and voice over, but they plan to translate the game to at least two other languages: German and Spanish. Currently, game is planned to be developed for Windows, Mac and Linux but – if Kickstarter stretch goals are reached -PlayStation and Xbox consoles shall also be available in the future. Oculus Rift is being tested with satisfactory results and the VR support has been confirmed during the campaign. The game, in its current state, works perfectly with 4:3, 16:9 and 21:9 aspect ratios and work is in progress on interface optimization for 4k to make it ready for future standards.
ABOUT THE DEVELOPERS
WHO ARE THEY?
Daniel M. Poszmik (24) – Game Designer, 2D/3D Artist
Gergely Gulyás (22) – Programmer, Web Developer
Marcell Kerepesi (21) – Composer, Business Director
Abel Szakács (23) – Sound Designer, PR Manager, VFX Artist
They have known each other before they started to work as a video game development team. They were a group of friends with completely different professions and interests, but one thing they all had in common – love for games. Soon they realised that their differences complement each other, and thus they started to work together on a test project years before Quern. It started out merely as a hobby but they turned out to be an efficient team and they all really enjoyed working together. At the time they were all university students and had no time to finish the project.
HOW DID QUERN START?
Quern was originally a 3D artwork for their designer’s, Daniel, dissertation. It was basically a non-interactive environment design demonstration for his thesis. People’s reactions to the project were far better than expected and they wanted to explore this yet unfinished world themselves. After getting his degree, Daniel started thinking about developing a game with the already created and beloved style and mood. Years have passed since the test project and they came together as a team again to create something bigger than any of them has ever done before.
WHAT IS ZADBOX?
Working on video games is their dream, and they are eager to do this as a full time job. After finishing Quern, they would like to continue working together on other video games and media related projects as an official studio. For this reason they founded a company called Zadbox Entertainment.
As indie game developers they don’t have a publisher to cover the expenses that come with creating a video game. This is their first major game and they would like to get feedback from as many sources as possible. Kickstarter is the best way to achieve this. Supporting them there gives them immediate feedback about the possible success of the game.
Their biggest hope is to get enough support to fund the game so they can dedicate all of their time to the project. The money goal they set would allow them to create Quern the way they imagined it. If you want to become part of the mystical world recreating the heritage of Jules Verne and Myst, support the Kickstarter
campaign of Quern – Undying Thoughts!
Robin “V-Act” Ek
The Gaming Ground
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