hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

GDC: Interview with the indie team behind Nous

3:00 PM on 03.11.2012 // Chris Morris
  @Azereki

Awesome Shark Volcano, the team behind the IGF nominated Nous, was able to take some time with me after the Game Developers Conference was over to talk a bit about their game, Nous. We covered everything from the history behind Nous' development, to how they approached the art and audio design.

The team even admits to stumbling through a long road of multiple failures before finally arriving at their IGF worthy design. Check out the interview, and then play Nous for yourself.

Destructoid: What is Nous about?

Brett Cutler, Game Designer: Nous is a top-down action game inside an AI that’s going insane. Nous can’t figure out what it’s for, and it constantly switches personas -- incompetent shrink, abusive drill sergeant, suicidal robot -- on its spiral down. The player’s choices and playstyle shape the character that emerges.

What is the history behind the development of the game?

Jason Meisel, Graphics Programmer: We began in May 2010. We wanted to create the most “awesome” game we possibly could; we even went around asking people to name the most awesome things they could think of (spiders, bears, motorcycles, and bears riding motorcycles were all very common responses.) However, we soon realized that wasn’t working out.

We created tons of prototypes that involved different gravity-based mechanics and gameplay styles. We then shipped the first playable version of the game based on one of those prototypes. We kept creating prototypes, reaching even farther into things like sidescrollers and bullet hells. It wasn’t until Brett pitched Nous that we stopped focusing on gameplay and began focusing on the experience of the game.

What inspired the design?

BC: Failure. Every milestone we had a different game -- we kept prototyping and throwing it out. We went through so many desperate changes, searching for a great idea but we never found it. We did the only honest thing and poured that frustration and searching into the game itself.

How did you arrive at the final mechanics and theme?

BC: In the end, we took what was good enough and built up the narrative. The illusion of talking to and influencing this program drove the final design and the last few months of work.

How did you approach audio design?

BC: Nous needed to sound like a computer in pain -- the SFX are electronic screams. We wrote a lot of original music but in the end relied on a computer -- we used super-slow-mo versions of classical music tracks and ambient electronic tracks to build the world inside Nous.

What influenced the art direction?

Pohung Chen, Producer/Physics Programmer: A lot of it was due to the lack of art production power. We went with simple abstract shapes because that is within our artistic ability. We then just relied heavily on graphical effects to make the game look interesting and unique. I think it really helps that a lot of players feel very saturated with the super-realistic, high production value art style that many big titles go with today. So seeing a game stripped to bare minimum essentials and still have a visually interesting style is refreshing.

How did you achieve the visual aesthetic?

JM: When we switched our thematic direction to Nous, we knew we wanted to leverage our graphics technology (which had already been built up to a large number of effects at that point). However, it had to be in a way that we (as programmers) could accomplish ourselves. We decided to make the game more abstract, and I created simple 3D meshes that could be patterned, lit, and moved in interesting ways. We applied particle effects liberally, and iterated on the environmental art a ridiculous number of times. Finally, I created many different glitching and distortion effects that, in tandem, made the visuals much more interesting.

Why did you choose to go with a narrative driven game?

BC: Nous has a lot of text, and I didn't mean it to be that way. But it ended up being the best way to communicate. When the game wasn’t working, when we hated just not being good enough -- those are real feelings. Narrative ended up being the only clumsy tool I had to get through and reach people.

What challenges did this present and how did you tackle them?

JM: As the focus shifted towards narrative, it became more clear that a large portion of players just wouldn’t appreciate what the game was doing. We originally wanted Nous to come off as mocking the pretentiousness of “artistic games”, but to be effectively poignant, it had to become just as pretentious! We decided to focus on those who would enjoy the style of game it was becoming; the haters were a hopeless cause. We finished with something that people either love or hate, but the former seems like it’s a large enough group that we did what was best.

What did you take away from your IGF experience?

Treb Connell, Technical Director: I was incredibly impressed by all the indie games, especially the submissions for the Nuovo awards. They helped me reconsider what a game can be and what effects it can have on a player. I hope that these games motivate developers to think outside the box. I know that I’ll be trying to.

JM: IGF was incredible! It’s an incredible feeling to have developers you admire be impressed with your work. I’ve been becoming a bigger and bigger fan of the indie community over the past few years, and being in the same pavilion as all these truly awesome games and developers was an huge honor. I’ve never really felt like a part of the industry, but this week I’ve felt right at home.

Where is the game available to play?

TC: It’s available for free on WhatIsNous.com



Chris Morris,
 Follow Blog + disclosure Azereki

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.



 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
Just tried to explain the word BEAT to an ESL student. Reference.com has 58 variations of the definition. At the least, they can finally understand that Michael Jackson was not asking people to fight each other.
Mediamister avatarMediamister
Steven Hansen avatarSteven Hansen
DTOID PAX MEET UP DAY 1 WAS FIRE.EMOJI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Shinta avatarShinta
[youtube]https://youtu.be/JOXdORyTqVY[/youtube] I told you guys ... The Witcher 3 has more pirouettes than a ballet show. It's ridiculous!
Nathan D avatarNathan D
Are we really calling followers "fappers" on these quick posts? I knew I loved Dtoid.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
[youtube]https://youtu.be/z04MAOubUgM[/youtube] This might've been a fun show.
Cosmonstropolis avatarCosmonstropolis
Someone is trying to log into my Dtoid account. I keep getting emails notifying me of bad password attempts. What?
gajknight avatargajknight
If you spend 10 minutes trying to write a Quickpost...can it really be called Quickpost?
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
So I have enough coins to get a new character in Heroes of the Storm. I like big portly characters like the Butcher or Stitches, but I did enjoy my free week of Tychus. Crowd thoughts?
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
Today I learned that Bad Rats 2 is a thing that is happening. I don't know how to feel about this.
techsupport avatartechsupport
The temp agency that employs me had me work as a sign spinner today. As in, I held a six foot cardboard arrow-shaped sign and spun it and danced for six hours. It got interesting when a homeless couple confronted me about hogging their spot.
Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
V days until !
Snaveage avatarSnaveage
5ish hours into Phantom Pain and it is absolutely glorious. This is truly A Hideo Kojima game.
Robo Panda Z avatarRobo Panda Z
It looks like my job at PAX didn't work out (For a variety of reasons). Have fun at the convention, everyone! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdqoNKCCt7A
thelivinglegend avatarthelivinglegend
Witches of Crookback Bog from Witcher 3 is the best quest in the whole game and of any game I've played in recent memory.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
I was just accosted by the most gorgeous cosmetics saleswoman with an adorable Hatian-Creole accent. It's not often my attention gets that immersed in a total bullshit sales pitch. Well, that and I didn't want her to let go of my arm.
Cosmonstropolis avatarCosmonstropolis
My son just washed my Majora's Mask NEW 3DS because the screen was dirty. Bahahaha *cries uncontrollably*
Flegma avatarFlegma
Ever thought of skipping a console generation (and not upgrading PC for years, either) because of how big your pile of shame is? I'm doing that just now.
Tenzan  avatarTenzan
Apparently there are cancellations on the CE versions of MGSV:TTP from Europe and North America. People getting emails saying they are cancelled and such. On top of that is that there's been unboxings that don't have the extras for the Day One edition.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
I've been mad at myself all morning for missing the apostrophe in "I'll" on my Quickpost last night, but it turns out that apostrophes just don't show up on the feed! Isn't that the bee's knees?
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -