There are three things in this world that I love more than anything else, and that would be video games, metal/rock music and females (read babes).
That’s also why I decided to reach out to Capricia Productions for an interview, since I like what I’ve seen from “Of Bird and Cage” so far =)
Long story short, Capricia Productions picked up on our interview request. So we ended up talking about everything from “Of Bird and Cage”, game development, rock n roll to Metal.
Right off the bat, thank you very much for taking your time doing this interview with us =) And with that said, please go right ahead and introduce yourself to our readers.
Happy to do this! We are “Capricia Productions”, currently working on “Of Bird and Cage” (previously “The Birdcage”) – a 3D music based story-driven game. At the base of it, it’s a music (rock/metal) album that is fully presented as a story-driven video game.
Imagine a great music video you can fully control and immerse yourself in, while the events and the environment are in a perfect sync with the music and you are able to influence the outcome.
We are all imagining while listening to music and we want to bring this imagination to life. Another cool thing is that the album is performed by artists from some of today’s leading rock and metal bands including (ex)Guns N’ Roses, (ex) Evanescence, Epica, Within Temptation, Kamelot and many others.
Where did everything start off for Capricia Productions? I mean, when did you decide that you should start to develop video games? And was it something of a life-long dream that you always wanted to do?
Actually Capricia was originally a metal band and not a game studio. We were doing mostly what we called “theatrical metal” which meant all our songs were actually telling stories and the music was based on what was right for the story. At the same time, I was (and still am) working as a composer for video games. At the base of it, my passion was always telling stories though music – as a film, game, lyrics… whatever I can do to musically support a good story.
When Capricia begun working on the 2nd album, we were looking for a more interesting way to present it and not “just” to another album. So… being a composer for games, I suggested we make an album which will have a game to support it and show the story.
I remember I told the guys “You know the fire we are describing in that song? Imagine being able to play it! Like actually see the wall of fire and being able to run away from it and the guy chasing Gitta in that scene”. We made a prototype and… we thought it turned out pretty bad-ass. So… we decided to go for it.
Truth be told we didn’t even begin to imagine what we were getting ourselves into… but that’s how it all started. A lot happened since then, but eventually, we turned into an actual games studio and were able to get an investment and recently a publisher (All in! Games) but also had a few mental breakdowns on the way :p… and I honestly expect us to have a few more before this project is out.
How exactly did the original name “The Birdcage” come to be? And what’s the story behind the name?
The story behind the game is a modern, dark and fucked up version of “Beauty and the Beast” – it tells the story of Gitta – a young girl (or rather a young woman) who’s being kidnapped by a mysterious guy, develops a Stockholm Syndrome and falls in love with him.
At some point (depending on player choices) she is no longer really imprisoned by him, but mostly by her mind. Her cage turns from an actual cage to a mental one… a fragile cage which can easily be broke, just not by her. We thought playing on a birdcage idea in this case is pretty perfect.
Building on that: So why did you recently decide to change the name to “Of Bird and Cage”?
Well.. this is actually an interesting story I sadly just can’t tell! As our development went forward, the story became deeper and deeper. With time, we added some very important new elements to it that we wanted the name to have a hint of.
I can’t say much more about it but I will say that the metal-head readers who know Metallica’s songs well might find a connection and a hint there ;). Anything else I’m gonna say is going to be a bit of a spoiler though.
Also… some people were confused about the connecting between this game and the movie from the 90s and since there is no connection we wanted to avoid the confusion.
What could you tell us about the “Of Bird and Cage” project so far? For starter, what is the game all about? (its story and so on) And what has the development process been like for everyone involved?
As for the story, I think I already answered when talking about the name. As far as the development process.. wow.. I don’t know where to begin. It’s been one hell of a crazy journey which only gets crazier and crazier.
Back when we started, we just wanted to make an album for a relatively small and unknown metal band (ourselves) and a very basic game to go with it.
With time, we found ourselves working with rock starts and our childhood idols, some of who have now become friends and colleagues. We have been to dozens of countries and conferences, met thousands of people, made live shows with symphonic orchestras and choirs, built a world-wide team of developers and grew the company to about 10-20 people working full-time.
It all sounds awesome, I know, but it’s a lot more complicated than that in reality – alongside all those things, we really did have mental breakdowns, we experienced how it is running a company that is headed into financial difficulties (as well as successes), we had to sacrifice a lot and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
At the end of the day, I’d say that it’s been insane. It was nothing like anyone of us had imagined. We came into this not knowing how to make a game, how to run a company, what does a publisher do and had to learn all that on the fly.
I honestly don’t know how to sum it up but the best way to describe it would be something like: Insane, amazing, terrifying, one of the hardest things a person can go through, incredible and mostly… an experience of a life time.
What’s it been like working with Unreal Engine 4? Because from my point of view, “Of Bird and Cage” looks freaking awesome on the visuals front.
Ha ha – thanks! We actually feel there is still a LOT to improve and a long way to go before it looks like we plan it to, but it’s awesome to hear J. Working with UE4 is amazing.
I have to say that I’m not sure I’m the right person to ask this because I’m a total UE4 fan-boy but this engine has influenced the project so much and allowed us to even get started…
Again, bear in mind we were a music band knowing nothing about games and UE4 allowed us to get this first feeling of “you know what… we can actually do it!”.
Obviously, with time we brought people on board who were professional game developers/artists but before that, we were actually planning to get money somehow and hire a work-for-hire studio to do the game for us while we just take care of the music side.
Working with Unreal made us flip the decision to “you know what? screw that! let’s just do it ourselves”.
So.. I will probably regret saying this the next time the damn thing crashes but… Unreal Engine is truly amazing – there is nothing else like it and I don’t expect us working with it to ever change.
There is a whole bunch of really famous artists that’s been working on the “Of Bird and Cage” (such as Ron “Bumblefoot” from (ex) Guns N’ Roses, for example).
So perhaps you could tell us a bit about who’s been working on the soundtrack and sound effects/remixing for the game, and how it all came to be?
At the moment, We have Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal (ex-Guns N Roses) as you mentioned, Rob van der Loo (Epica) Ruud Jolie (Within Temptation), Casey Grillo (former Kamelot and now touring with Queensryche(, Vidi Dovel and many others! We also have some surprise announcements coming on that front soon ;).
I always get asked this question and the sad truth is that there is no “cool” story behind how we found ourselves working with those musicians. I talked with Ruud a long time ago about something else and remembered he was a gamer, so when we started the project I contacted him and he agreed to jump on board.
From there, it was just finding more and more people who thought this was a cool idea. At the base of it, it was just me thinking “who are my favorite musicians” and contacting them (which was not easy).
To my amazement, almost all the musicians I wanted ended up joining the project. I must say I’m still shocked. Listening to music I composed being performed by them still make me excited like a little kid.
I think no matter how many “big and impressive things” I’ll do in my life and how good of friends me and those musicians will become, the 16-year-old me would still always yell “FUCK YEAH!!” when getting a recording of my music from one of those guys or hearing them playing my music on stage. I think they will always stay musical idols for me.
Like the music, the rest of the sound is currently also done by myself. As I mentioned, I was working as a composer/sound designer for games the past 7-8 years or so it only makes sense that I do it.
This is getting harder and harder to do so many things though, so maybe we will end up having another sound designer on board (I enjoy making sound much less than music) but making the music for this is pretty much my drive for the whole thing so I don’t think this will ever change J.
You know, in my opinion, “Of Bird and Cage” looks like a mix of “Silent Hill”, “Alice in Wonderland”, “Amnesia: Dark Descent”, “Outlast” and “Soma”. So that makes me wonder what games, books and movies that have inspired “The Birdcage”?
WOW, that’s a nice list to be on! I have to admit I would take “Silent Hill” out of the list but the rest is spot on… even more than you realize, I think.
I have to say though it’s definitely not a horror game. A lot of people got that impression because of an early footage we released, but it’s really not a horror game – but more of a “dark, modern fairy tale”.
If I were to name a few games as inspirations, I’d say “Life is Strange” is a huge one as well as all TellTale games.
Alice in Wonderland and Amnesia are also great references no doubt. What Remains of Edith Finch is also a nice one to look at. At least that’s the general area of the games I would be looking at.
Did you decide very early on in the game development process that you would make a game that’s a mix of action, adventure, horror, music and puzzling?
Or was that something that came later on? Because I have to say that it’s a rather unique mix with no doubt.
We actually never asked ourselves what genre we want to go with.. I think from day one we knew we were actually trying to create a new genre. It might sound ambitious and it might fail completely, but that’s what we are trying to do.
For us, the only question we ever ask ourselves is “which mechanic here would be best for the story we are trying to tell” and whatever the answer is… go with it. If it’s 2 minute of driving which never repeats in the game again… so be it.
This really IS a unique mix, and we still have no idea how people will react to this approach. For many, it will probably feel weird (having a lot of basic mechanics which change all the time), but from our point of view they aren’t really “mechanics” as much as they are means to tell the story – that’s our one TRUE “core mechanic” – anything else is just “technicalities”.
Do you have a rough idea of how many hours of gameplay that “Of Bird and Cage” will offer on release?
Yes. It’s going to be exactly 02:15 from start to finish. The music in the game is just like any album – it does not change and always keeps going so.. it’s a 02:15 long concept album you get to play.
That being said, it’s a story-driven game and there are a lot of branches you can explore and different choices you can make which can change the story (and there are a lot of different endings), so we expect most people will try and re-play the game, or at least some of the levels to see how they can change things.
What are your own personal goals and aims with “Of Bird and Cage”? And what do you hope to achieve with the game?
Changing the world. It must sound ambitious and stupid, but it’s the honest truth. I am not saying that it is likely to happen or it’s realistic to expect that, but that is the hope – creating a new gaming genre, and a new way to experience music altogether.
At the end of the day, I hope “Of Bird and Cage” will do for the music the exact same thing the video-clip did for it – create a whole new way of experiencing music by combining it with TV (video games in our case).
Could you describe with a few words why gamers should pick up and give “Of Bird and Cage” a go? And to whom would you recommend the game?
Because I truly think it’s something you haven’t experienced before. I’m not even saying it’s great (that’s for other people to judge) but I sure “give my word” it’s like nothing you have played before.
I would definitely recommend it to anyone who’s into rock and metal and people who are into story-driven games and concept albums.
From what I understand it, “Of Bird and Cage” is currently only in development for PC right? Well, is there any plans at all to bring the game to other formats in the future? (console and mobile?)
We actually already have deals with some console platforms to bring the game to them as well.
From our point of view, we’d like to see it on any platform that we can, and I can say for a fact that it will have a console version – but I can’t say more at the moment ;).
I think it’s quite obvious that “Of Bird and Cage” wasn’t released in Q2 of 2018 (that’s the old Steam release date). So, do you have any idea when the game might get released?
Ha ha, thanks for pointing that out – we’ll fix the steam date soon ;). We do… but the exact date will depend on the publisher’s decision now that we have a publisher.
I will say that it’s not too far away – the development is in pretty advanced stages so… the best I can do is say that it’s not going to be too long from now but that we are also strong believers in the CD Projekt RED well-known ‘When it’s ready’ approach. It will be out as soon as we feel it’s good enough.
I got one last question for you before I let you off the hook. So, what are your plans, hopes and expectations for the rest of the year? And is there anything else that you would like to say to our readers?
I have learned not to make too many plans when it comes to game development. As the famous phrase goes… “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face”.
If there is one thing the past years have taught me is that no matter what we think or plan.. the following year is always going to be a lot crazier, insane and unpredictable with new highs and new lows.
Speaking with all honesty… my hope for the year is to sit in our studio, in a quiet corner, a comfortable chair and a relaxing atmosphere while working on the game and the music and nothing more.
However, knowing the team and myself it’s more likely we’ll spend the year avoiding fire balls being thrown on us while riding a horse dragon and shooting guitars at Satan…
Robin “V-Act” Ek
Editor in chief
The Gaming Ground
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