Bound Community Q&A with the Developer, Plastic
The beautiful world of Bound is now updated to be experienced in a new light with PS VR and PS Pro. The game’s Creative Director, Michal Staniszewski, is here to answer your questions about these new ways to play and offer insights into Bound’s development.
With so many stereotypical formulas for blockbuster games like AAA FPSs, RPGs and so on, what motivated you to work on something completely different and as artistic as Bound? — Anonymous
Currently, you need to have a strong contour to be visible in the vast noise of games released every day. Everything you will design in your game that is different from any other game that you have played will immediately catch the attention of press and players. That’s why it is so important to be unique, especially for such small teams like Plastic.
How did you get inspired to create the plot of the game, which seems to take place in three dimensions simultaneously (that of the mother-to-be in present day, that of the child from her past, and that of the battle for the imaginary inner-world of the ballerina)? — @Neochaos and @GeoKos4
The three worlds idea has took some time to develop, but the basic plot was there from the start. We wanted to show the problem of fragility of the family in current times. The biggest inspiration came to me when my boy was born. It was a revelation for me how the life of an individual changes when babies are born. These are the most important and hardest times for families, and sometimes, there is no explanation why something goes wrong. We wanted to create the game about it and in time, we decided that we need three realms — the real, the unreal and the memories.
What was the inspiration for the ballerina character? Did it come from a real-life encounter or is it purely fictional? — Anonymous and @dark_james
Our main character was designed as a runner at start. When we implemented it, we received feedback that our character looks like a typical game character. There was nothing special about her. This was quite a frustrating moment, and we had to act quickly. Fortunately, my friend sent me a movie with a contemporary dancer, and I discovered that mentally, the dancer from the movie perfectly matches our game character.
Why did you decide to disclose so little about the plot of the game prior to its release? — Anonymous
We decided to do this because we were afraid that the game would not work emotionally if some of the plot elements were disclosed. We didn’t want players to be biased in any direction, especially those who shared similar life experiences with our game character.
The biggest challenge was to design the platforming movement using the dance and ballet glossary — trying to match dancing moves to ones known from platforming games. Fortunately, our choreographer and dancer have resolved all of these problems in no time.
What is the reason behind deciding to hide the Princess’ facial expressions? Despite the touching and emotional narrative, the character’s emotions remain hidden behind a mask, so to speak. What was your reasoning for that when creating the character? — @Medo24795
We didn’t want to reveal the true emotions of characters. At first, we were thinking in a more pragmatic way. But as a small studio, we would probably fail in doing nice facial expressions, and players could be disappointed with those.
How challenging was it to develop for PS VR? Would you consider developing a VR project from the ground up? — @SteveOneder
It was very challenging but we had a good proven prototype from the start. We were working on the VR version of Bound since PSVR was announced, so in actuality, we were doing this project as a VR game from the ground up. It’s hard to say what we will do next. It depends how VR will adapt. We can now check to see how players react to certain things in VR, and it’s very surprising for us how much they like it.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when developing a third-person platformer in VR? How do you think the perspective of the player affects the experience in VR, and do you think it’s misleading to say that first-person games are more suitable for VR(which judging by the number of first-person titles, developed for VR, seems to be the status quo for now)? — @Neochaos
The biggest challenge was to design the camera. We wanted to create a nausea free game, and I think that we succeed. The thing that we didn’t expect is that people can stand a lot more nauseous moments in VR. I believe that a lot of different traditional games genres can be ported to VR without too much hassle. This also spreads to board, strategy, TPP games, and also, sports games like soccer and basketball. It’s the premise of presence that pushed so many developers to make TPP games as it is most intuitive.
Did you have to make big changes half way through the development process in order to transform the experience into a more VR-focused one, or did you set out to create the game with VR in mind from day one? — @Geokos4
The big change was the camera because it’s completely different that the 2D one. We had to maintain both paths throughout the production process. The cutscenes were also challenging. We had to animate the characters that were originally not seen in 2D mode because of camera cuts.
Photo mode in Bound is a wonderful option and it gives players so much scope to creatively fiddle with colours, textures, filters, lighting etc. Do you also plan on including the option to make 360-degree photos in high resolution, compatible with PS VR? — @Rafa_Ello
If the format for such images become a standard and handled by the PSVR share button functionality, then we will be glad to implement it. Unfortunately, currently, there is no industry standard format for 360-degree 3D images suitable for VR
The soundtrack for Bound has a remarkable unity with the plot, the dance sequences and the visuals of the game. Was it difficult to find the right composer? — @Rafa_ello
We organized a contest for all composers that we worked in the past. The process took some time, and we tried samples of 7 different composers. We liked Oleg’s work the most, especially because of his specializations which were electroacoustic and piano music. (You can pre-order the vinyl soundtrack via iam8bit here.)
This is your third game, developed for PlayStation. How has the success of your titles affected the work process, if at all? Have you for example ever contemplated on expanding the size of your studio? And if so, do you think that a change in scale must also mean a change in principles as well? — Polish forum
I must say that I feel very proud that during the past 8 years with PlayStation. We didn’t change our principles, and it seems that we will continue to pursue the art, emotional games way. For Bound, we have grown twice as big, and currently, there are 9 people in our team. It seems that our history defines us as a team interested mostly in digital art, and we enjoy it. We believe that this trend will continue, and we will encounter much more mature, emotional, art-oriented games in the future.