What is Past Cure?
“PAST CURE follows the submerged Elites-soldier, Ian, who with all his might chases the men who once betrayed and transformed him. For years, Ian was the object of secret human trials, held in a dark prison somewhere in Europe.
The experiments left him changed. Ian developed powerful skills such as thought manipulation and telekinesis. He paid the price with his sanity. Each time he uses his powers the madness grows in him. This is fully revealed in his dreams – and now stretches its claws to reality.
With the help of his brother Markus and the opaque double-agent Sophia, Ian pursues the men in the shadow. He takes on Eastern European cartels, secret lodges and unscrupulous scientists. And he encounters an adversary who does not seem to be of this world.”
It’s put out by the indie game studio Phantom 8 and it’s their first offering. If you’ve been following indie games you’ve probably heard of Past Cure already. They’ve won several awards and gotten a good amount of press. They released on Feb 23rd and just released a patch yesterday (March 13th) in response to user feedback. If you haven’t heard of the game yet they used some serious technology to bring it to life.
To tell you more about that let’s hear from Simon:
First of all, congratulations on your release! I know it’s taken a huge amount of work to get to this point. How are you feeling now that Past Cure has been released? Are you relieved? Nervous? Excited? All of the above?
Somehow relieved but also a little bit stressed.
There’s been some mixed reviews in the first couple days of release on Steam. I know in talking with other indie teams that reviews can be challenging to deal with. Do you have any strategies for dealing with negative feedback?
Yes some of the feedback has been a bit mixed but also quite constructive, there are a lot of conflicting opinions and we can’t please everybody but we are certainly listening to the community and trying to address some of the viewpoints that
You used some technology that a lot of indies maybe don’t have access to (or can’t afford) like motion capture and face scanning. How difficult was it for you to access these tools? Why did you choose to go that route?
Making use of technology was part of our business plan. Integrating that technology within our pipeline ensured that we could get the game to high production values.
When you decided to do the facial scans for the game how did you choose who to scan? Are they members of the studio?
Yes. They are members of the studio. To save costs we worked with our team and a friend of us.
The game has been in development for about 2 years now? How different from the original vision is the game we are seeing now?
Fairly different it was quite smaller in scope initially and and the script changed a couple of times in early development. But as the team grew, so did the possibilities and the amount of content we were able to deliver. As an inexperienced team we learnt a lot during testing and some ideas had to be scrapped and some had to be expanded. In short the game is very different to the initial vision although we always intended to make a cinematic, story driven experience.
What would you say has been the most challenging part of bringing Past Cure to life?
That’s a difficult one, I think every developer here would give a different answer.
The scale of the production was a little overwhelming at times as we aimed for a multiplatform global release translated into ten languages all at the same time.
What has been the most rewarding?
Again that a question everyone would answer differently. I think it’s fair to say seeing the release on disk on the store shelves in Berlin was quite a proud moment for everyone involved. Also some of the great reactions from streamers on twitch and youtube was fun to watch.
Do you have any updates or DLC planned for Past Cure at this point?
After assessing all the mixed reviews, we plan to improve the game. Fixing bugs but also rework some places to make it better. After that we might drop some nice free DLCs.
Phantom 8 is a 10 person studio including you and Roman. Am I correct that the name was inspired by the 8 team members?
At the time we renamed the studio, the team consisted out of 8 devs. In the end 8 devs worked on the game. So 8 has a big meaning to us.
Was there a time during development that you considered expanding the team?
No not really. We had to deal with some outflux due to different circumstances.
Have you hired out any freelance work?
[Nick Mallinder] Yes other than the core team we worked with a great recording studio in Berlin and our composer is also a freelancer. ????not sure who we class as freelance.
[Simon] On the art side we did everything in-house.
If you had it all to do over again is there any advice you would give your past self?
Yes there are definitely some parts we would have done different. Its not the time to blame anyone, but one single person can destroy the work of a whole team. So choosing the right people is key.
If you had to choose one quality that you think helped you the most in the past 2 years what would it be?
A strong team that developed and pushed boundaries.
There are some ‘special’ skills in Past Cure including astral projection (which by the way is really cool!) What inspired the dreamlike elements?
The game was heavily inspired by dreams but not all the powers we prototyped were necessarily dream inspired. We wanted powers that would create fun gameplay and be within the scope of our limitations. Astral projection was definitely inspired by dreams, I think everyone at some point has dreamt that they could fly.
The Past Cure site asks that visitors verify their birth-date before entering. Was it ever a concern that the games rating might impact sales?
No it was not the case. We aimed at 16 or 18 as the target group of our game is an audience above 18 years old.
In terms of the platforms you’ve released on which one do you expect will bring in the most sales?
PlayStation will probably be the best, but we have absolutely no idea.
Did you face any challenges in terms of the different platforms that other indie developers should be aware of?
Yeah for sure, probably an obvious one but beware of performance and engine limitations. Unreal are addressing bugs with console development very well but switching to newer versions of UE4 mid or late development is not always an option. Also the new Xbox one X and the Playstation Pro run incredibly well, but the standard Xbox one and Playstation 4 are not quite as powerful as the PC’s we develop on and it’s worthwhile to address optimization early on.
Were you interested in video games in your childhood? If so what was a memory that made you think “I want to do that!”
Not all of us are hardcore gamers, some are. So it was partially a childhood dream, partially a business endeavour that made us start the studio.
Phantom 8 is based out of Germany. I’ve been seeing a lot of great indie games being developed by studios in Germany. Do you feel that Germany is a hotbed for indie developers right now?
I think there is a certain trend and an emerging indie scene in Germany. I am not sure if we could call it a hotbed. But we hope that many will follow.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourselves or Past Cure that we may have missed?
We would like to emphasis that Past Cure is in the first line a unique story that we wanted to tell. It is a pure indie game, a creative product that cannot be compared to AA or AAA games. The protagonist is not the classic hero and the story might seem complex until you discover the truth at the end. The gameplay is varying to emphasis the story and the dualities of the two worlds in the game. It is for story lovers and art house movie fans.
We are very proud of what our 8 man dev team has achieved. We can need all the support that exists for our studio and for Past Cure 🙂