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Making video games in Spain is not an easy task. Unlike the US, Japan and Canada, the three cradles of game production worldwide, our country has very few studies that are able to catch international attention and cross borders.
One of these studies would be Tequila Works, based in Madrid and that have been able to break that barrier with titles such as Deadlight, The Sexy Brutale and, above all, RiME, a puzzle and adventure game that enjoyed much international recognition after its launch in 2017 .
The new video game of the Madrid studio is called Gylt and has a particularity: it will not be launched on consoles or computers or mobiles. It will arrive exclusively at Stadia, the new videogame streaming platform from Google. The great technology company was set in Tequila several years ago and they have worked the last two in this game.
Tequila Works and Gylt
"Gylt is the adventure or misadventure, as you see it, of a girl named Sally. Sally lives in a town in Maine and is a girl who lives tormented by two events: one of them is that she suffers bullying at school and that her cousin disappeared long ago and she keeps looking for her. This is how the game starts. "
Who presents the game is David Canela, director of Gylt and one of the designers of Tequila Works. The study employed around 35 people in the development of the game, which has taken them around two years from its first phase until its launch, on November 19, at the same time as Stadia.
Maine's choice as a scenario is not accidental. This US state may not enjoy the charisma of California or New York, but among its neighbors it has a fundamental name in the world of literature: Stephen King. "It is one of the references that the partner used when he raised the idea of the game."
You can imagine that Gylt is not a cheerful and colorful game like Fortnite, but dark and uncomfortable. Although Cinnamon wouldn't call it a horror game. "It is not a scare game. It is a more twisted and sinister game, but that does not become gore or show moments of pure terror." Although he acknowledges that "some of us have sneaked in" because it fit in certain moments.
Do not think that Tequila wants to make players torture a girl who, in itself, has a complicated life. "The monsters attack, but we don't recreate any of this. We don't cross any lines, but we do play with the feeling of helplessness. One of the things we said when designing the game is that we couldn't put up weapons and [...] the elements with which she defends herself are not violent, like a fire extinguisher or a flashlight. "
When Google knocks on the door
Before starting with the creation of Gylt, Google approached Tequila Works to tell them about its new technology, from Stadia, in this way of playing video games like who watches a Netflix series: without downloading anything, all by streaming, and from Almost any device, whether mobile, tablet, TV or computer.
"We didn't know anything about Stadia, but at a video game fair, I don't remember which one, Google approached Raúl (Raúl Rubio, founder, CEO and Creative Director of Tequila Works), taught them a game about how it worked and, although he is a bit skeptical at first, he convinced him. As a result, the conversations began and one day he told us that they were interested in a project. " This project was Gylt, of course.
This may seem like a great challenge for a study that is small. But according to Canela, it was not so much. "The truth is that the latency is something that you don't notice anything," that is, that possible delay between pressing a button, the signal is sent to the Internet, it reaches the Google servers where the game is running, this is the Interpret and return the signal with the answer. "We have not had to work anything on that. What we have achieved is that there is a stable rate of images per second, but removing that ..."
"Many times, we test on the cloud itself," he continues explaining how the relationship with Stadia works from the development side. "Instead of sending the game code to the little machine you have here, it is sent to the cloud. And you play and play. It's a change that is, at least, curious. And at the project level, it is true that in the face of the user, Google servers will be better and the game will look better. This is something that the user will notice without noticing anything, really.
This is a Stadia defense that can convince many users. If a game has a bug, an error that causes it to play poorly, the studio, in this case Tequila, can solve it and the user will not have noticed anything: the game has not been downloaded again, its game has not been interrupted for download anything. "Forget about updates, installations, downloads ..."
But Stadia can also have her bad things. It is well known that Netflix orders the series with a certain duration, with certain chapters, and this can make the story lengthen more than it should, perhaps making the filler abound. Won't something like this happen with a streaming video game that needs the user to spend a certain amount of hours, the more the better, stuck to Stadia?
"Yes and no. I explain myself. Google asked us for a more narrative, content and personal type of project. On the way out, there are other games in Stadia that are very long, but what I think they were looking for with us is to have a diversity. As player, I take a six-hour game and hallelujah! I think they want to reach the widest possible spectrum. "
Spain is not a country for video games
We said at the beginning of this text that making video games in Spain is hard.
Q: There are those who say that in Spain there is no video game industry, that you are Mercury Steam, Socialpoint, Tequila Works, the studies opened by some multinational companies and ... now. The rest are very small study games that struggle to survive year after year. As you see it?
A: It is true in part. It is true that the feeling of instability is great. Here in Tequila we feel relatively stable, [...] but it is not possible to absorb people. We have a thousand people every year who leave the universities and videogame development schools that can have a place in three companies or build their own. We do not have the economy or the industrial reinforcement that we should have. In countries like Canada they have tremendous help and a friend who has gone to live there tells me: "You leave one job and have another because there are many companies. [...] In Spain there is no such fabric that allows professionals or move or absorb new professionals.
Q : Is it a matter of public aid?
A : This already escapes me a little, but I suspect that the problem is going around. Setting up a company in the UK is faster and easier. And I would swear that there, if you don't have benefits of more than certain money, you don't pay some taxes. "
And this is not the only problem to make video games in Spain. It is useless to do a good job and an original title if nobody knows it. And a five-person study founded in Soria does not have the marketing muscle to attract youtubers, media or other pieces of promotional gear.
The "high" of being the first
When RiME, the previous Tequila videogame, was the cover of EDGE, the British videogame magazine and one of the most veteran and prestigious in the world, it was celebrated in a big way in the Spanish videogame industry. So hard to be part of the players' word of mouth?
"We are small in a very large world, and I think that games like RiME have given us a lot of depth. There are people who do levels of RiME with clay or inside Minecraft. It still resonates. Getting that mark is very difficult. In a world full from Call of Duty, FIFA or the new Kojima video game, a studio like Tequila has to fight a lot to get the head out. But I think it is getting, I think that little by little we are a study that is giving talk. "
David Canela, however, does not have the key to success to make a video game succeed. But it is normal for it to be available on as many more platforms as possible, PC, PS4, Xbox One and Switch. Gylt, however, is currently only available on Stadia. What is an important risk.
"It may somehow seem like a risk, but we are also like a launch game." Stadia will have 12 titles in its first weeks, and Gylt will be the only exclusive. "In the whole life of the platform, we will be there. Being from the moment one is a very important point. Yes, it is a risk because there are fewer users, but for us, it is a high."
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