Interview: Bedtime Digital Games | Figment

We caught up with Bedtime Digital Games and found out more about their history, sources of inspiration and upcoming title, Figment.

By Woozie, Posted 18 Sep 2017

Earlier in August we had a look at Figment, an upcoming action-adventure title by Denmark-based studio Bedtime Digital Games, who’ve previously worked on Chronology and Back To Bed. With the launch of the mind-exploring title happening next Friday, we’ve also had the opportunity to throw some questions the studio’s way in hopes of finding out more about their history, sources of inspiration and philosophy when it comes to making that which represents our favorite way of spending time: videogames.

Bedtime Digital games|Interview|Feature|Figment

Bogdan Mateș: First of all, I’d like to thank you for dedicating some of your time to answering our questions. We know schedules can get pretty busy. Going back to days of yore, which games turned you into gamers and when did you know you wanted to be involved in making videogames?

Bedtime Digital Games: The team has a very mixed background when it comes to this question. For most of us it was something that came about either during our high school times, where some went to technical school and others spent more time with art. All of us have always loved games, but the trigger for wanting to work with them is different for each of us. For most of us, it was always a dream, but getting to actually work with tools such a Unity and meeting each other during university was what made it a reality.

For me personally, as the company’s creative lead, it started with combining my love for pen & paper with video games. I discovered that I was great at creating experiences for my friends around the table and loved seeing their reaction. It was natural taking this newfound love into the digital field. Both because I loved games, but also to be part of a new growing industry.

Bogdan Mateș: What’s the story behind your company’s name and/or logo?

Bedtime Digital Games: That stems from back during our university days, where most of the company founders met. During a game-centered semester under the DADIU programme we made the first version of our game Back to Bed. That game, that we later completed and published, had a strong theme about sleepwalking and dreams. That kinda morphed into us into the Bedtime team, a name we kept as a company, as it represents our love for making games with dreamlike worlds and stories.

The logo is a mixture of a game piece and an old school night candle, thereby symbolizing the fusion of game and fantastic game worlds that would fit in dreams. 

Bogdan Mateș: Which titles, present or past, do you look at with admiration (both from a gamer and a developer’s standpoint?)

Bedtime Digital Games: There are two games that always pop up in our discussions: Bastion by Supergiant and the Zelda games, both old ones but also new, such as Breath of the Wild.

When it comes to Bastion, it was a game that really showed you could create a beautiful and creative world, with a deep story, all the while still having solid game mechanics with some depth. It showed that the two do not have to compete all the time.

The Zelda games have a nice tradition of mixing gameplay elements in cool ways, so you both get puzzles and action during your adventures, without feeling schizophrenic in its design. We have been inspired by this gameplay more than once, as well the focus on aesthetics and smart effects, over graphic fidelity. 

In the end though, it would be too hard to mention all the games that inspired us, as we even look a boss battles in games like WoW for cool enemy mechanics. We keep our eyes open for cool ideas, but the two mentioned before often come up.

Bedtime Digital Games|Interview|Figment|Feature

Bogdan Mateș: How did Figment come to be? What was the thought process behind its creation?

Bedtime Digital Games: The big trigger was how people reacted to our previous game, Back to Bed. People liked the game and its world but wanted to explore the dreamlike setting and themes more freely. Back to Bed was a linear puzzle game, but it sounded like the players wanted to focus more on exploration, so we wanted to do an adventure game that gave the player the ability to explore at their own pace.

For the setting itself, we wanted to go deeper than Back to Bed, kinda taking the next step. Instead of just mixing reality and dream, we wanted to go where dreams are made, meaning inside the mind. So our world ended up being the subconscious mind and all the different areas in this part of the mind.

The story, it came after the setting, as we started discussing what could go wrong inside the mind. We ended up with the thought that you can be paralyzed by fear and unable to think straight. So, we then came up with the idea of the player trying to help the mind overcome fear. We decided to give different types of primal human fear the form of monstrous creatures. This also created our main character, Dusty, that represents the courage trying to overcome the fear and nightmares.

Bogdan Mateș:  It’s pretty clear surrealism is a source of inspiration for you guys. In Back to Bed, your previous game, we can see some Salvador Dali and M.C. Escher influence. Which artists (or works of art) influenced you when working on Figment?

Bedtime Digital Games: The two mentioned artists, alongside Magritte, are still a large inspiration for the art style in the game. But we also started to look at other sources for inspiration, such as Adventure Time and Miyazaki movies as they have created entire worlds to explore that had what we looked for. We also looked at different games, such as Zelda, for how to get an effect that looked painted and fit our style.

A major element was also the mind itself. In the game, it is never directly explained whose mind we are inside, only indirectly hinted through story and collectibles. But on the team we had a pretty detailed concept and story for this person, meaning we had a source of inspiration for what elements would be inside the mind. The result is that almost all elements have a thought behind them, which should be clearer when finding all the small hints in the game. 

Bogdan Mateș:  Where (or when) did your fascination with the subconscious start?

Bedtime Digital Games: As mentioned earlier, we really wanted to go deeper than just a dream, so we went inside the mind instead. But there are also two other major reasons for diving deep into the subconscious.

One is that it allows for a lot of creative freedom and mocking about with the rules of the world. We are inside the mind, so the rules of physics and time do not control everything, and we can do all manner of crazy stuff when it comes to events and mechanics.

Another is telling stories that we can all relate to at a very human level. We all have dreams and voices in our heads that relate to who we are as people and what we experience in our daily life. Sometimes stuff takes up too much of our mind, and other times we have forgotten something that used to mean a lot to us in the past. We hope that some players can relate to this concept while playing. Fear is also an element in this concept. All people have nightmares and fears at some point, so trying to fight off fear should be relatable for most people.

Figment|Feature|Bedtime Digital Games|Interview

Bogdan Mateș:  We’ve seen the (fairly crazy) video for The Plague’s Song and also experienced the theatrical side it brings to the boss encounter in-game. Was it your initial intention to make music play a larger role in Figment or was this a spark that came somewhere further down the road, during a sudden moment of inspiration?

Bedtime Digital Games: From the start of production, we always wanted a great soundtrack for the game and some nice sound effects, but were missing an audio designer. When we got the chance to hire the experienced Niels “Stöj Snak” Sørensen we didn’t hesitate.

From the start, he was totally onboard with the vision, but after a while he asked for some time to experiment, and we said yes. He started making the background music, layered and tied it to player placement and we loved it, as it gave a lot of charm and depth to the world. He also made the Plague nightmare sing during an event, doing the vocal work himself, and we simply fell in love with it. All proper cartoon villains sing their evil plots and so too shall ours. It gives a lot of character to the enemies and the music is great for setting the tone. 

Bogdan Mateș:  How did you pick Dusty and Piper, a fairly contrasting pair, as protagonists in Figment?

Bedtime Digital Games: I never really wanted to do a normal “hero’s journey” with this game. It felt a little stale. So, instead, I went for the grumpier main character and the idea of the “hero’s redemption”. This focuses more on the idea that the mind is not young anymore, so the voice that lives inside the head is not young either. Dusty has been kind of forgotten as the game starts, and courage has not been that needed as the mind might have become a bit dull. The result is that Dusty is a bit grumpy, feeling a bit betrayed, as his old friend Piper and the plot pushes him along.

This created a unique pairing that reminds a bit of other classic game duos, but at the same time their unique banter and relationship make them stand out.

Bogdan Mateș: Looking at Figment and considering its subject matter, you seem to want to move a step further from just making a videogame that’s fun, without forgetting that quality, of course. Could you give us a bit more insight into your philosophy when it comes to making games?What do you hope to evoke in players? Or, more simply put, why do you make videogames?

Bedtime Digital Games: Woah, a lot of big questions at once^^ But it can mostly be summed up with one concept, and that is that games as a medium are best when combining and making all aspects work together. The art, audio, narrative and gameplay must all collaborate so as to strengthen each other, instead of competing for the player’s attention. The combination of all these is better than the parts acting individually. That said, sometimes one element must take a bit more of the spotlight in a scene, or even for an entire game, if it focuses on something specific, such as an unique mechanic. But no matter what, none of the parts must be ignored and must work to support each other.

We think this approach is best for games, as it really utilizes what this medium does best, which is creating interactive experiences that can only be made by combining different types of media into a new one. A new one that allows for those unique experiences that we really like to create, and see the players experience, to exist.

Figment|Feature|Interview|Bedtime Digital Games

Bogdan Mateș: Lastly, perhaps the most serious (and obviously important) question of the bulk: how much of Denmark’s coffee reserves will you have consumed by the time Figment will be released?

Bedtime Digital Games: We did take out a good chunk of it. Luckily for us Denmark is a coffee loving nation, so we have massive hoards of it hidden away. Hopefully, enough to last for the next couple of projects.

We hope so too and thank Bedtime Digital Games for taking the time to answer our questions. Figment will be out on the 22nd of September on PC, Mac and Linux with console versions arriving at a later date. Head on over to the studio’s website for more info, check out their Twitter and Facebook and be on the lookout for our review closer to launch.

Bogdan Robert, NoobFeed
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General Information

Figment

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Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher(s): Bedtime Digital Games
Developer(s): Bedtime Digital Games
Genres: Action, Adventure
Themes: Surrealist, Indie
Release Date: 2017-09-22

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