If I were to rank all the countries in the world based on their game development prowess, it would be a while before I got to Turkey. Nowhere Studios is looking to change that with their thematic puzzle-platformer, Monochroma. Founded in 2011 by Burak Tezateşer and Orçun Nişli, Nowhere Studios is a small team of people looking to make a big name for themselves in a hurry. Monochroma is their first game, and boy does it look like a great first effort.
Set in a chilling alternate history 1950s dystopia, Monochroma is the story of a boy and his brother who discover a terrible secret about a massive corporation, and then work to bring this evil company down. The game is absolutely gorgeous, with well-designed puzzles, a masterful use of tension, and music that fits the art style like a glove. I was deeply intrigued from the moment I first discovered it, and I recently got to sit down with Burak Tezateşer, who also works as the executive producer of Monochroma, to ask some questions about the game and the studio.
Gameverse: First off, tell me a little bit about the history of Nowhere Studios, and how you came to be in the position you’re in.
Burak Tezateşer: I was working on a small project when I met Orçun, our creative director. We had totally different experiences, but very common views about how a game should be. We both thought about games as a storytelling medium. We first worked on the theme and the story of Monochroma, and then gameplay evolved over it. We formed a drama curve of the story, added some magical moments, a dramatic ending, characters. Later on we decided about the gameplay and we gathered a team to build it.
GV: Monochroma is set in a unique 1950s dystopia. How did you decide on this setting?
BT: It’s during and after the world wars that we saw the negative effects of industrialism and where we became a society of consumers. We are looking to criticize the consumer society in the game. It’s up to the players to find out what we meant, but you can make many different readings on Monochroma.
GV: With the artistic and lighting style you have chosen for Monochroma, comparisons to critically acclaimed indie title Limbo are inevitable. Do you invite such comparisons, or would you rather the focus be on what Monochroma does differently?
BT: We’re of course open to all kind of comparisons and feedbacks. It’s our chance to make Monochroma a unique and better game. Limbo is my personal favorite puzzle platform game. It did almost everything perfectly. We wanted to choose a black and white, German expressionist, noir theme because it’s the best way to tell a silent dystopian tale in 1950’s. Gameplay is also inspired [by] Limbo, but we differentiated Monochroma with its original relation of brothers, the use of light, and unique puzzles.
GV: From what I can tell, your game development history involves a few Turkish Facebook games, and not much else. How did you decide to go from that to the much more serious and artistic multiplatform game that is Monochroma?
BT: Monochroma was the kind of game we always wanted to develop. We believe a new kind of gamer evolved that looks for more depth in games and that seeks a similar satisfaction of having read a good book or watched a beautiful movie when finishing a game. We’re targeting those people with Monochroma. We’re a generation that grew up with games but we don’t want to stop playing games because we’re grown, we just want better, deeper games.
GV: You mention on the Monochroma Kickstarter page that you are one of the few game development companies in Turkey. What’s it like being a developer in a country where you don’t really have many peers? Are there any studios, in Turkey or elsewhere, that inspire you or that you like to compare yourselves to?
BT: The most inspiring studio in Turkey for us is Taleworlds, they developed Mount & Blade where there are almost no game developers around. It’s really motivational to see them producing rocket science in a prehistoric era. Now there are more people in game development, a lot of talented guys, but not much specialized workforce. Most of them are like one man armies, great developers, but we want to bring in the team formation and build on that culture.
Worldwide, I’m inspired [by] Klei, I still can’t understand how it is possible to make each game great where they are all in different genres. Brilliant people.
GV: The Kickstarter page mentions some extra levels and game modes as stretch goals. Does this mean you would be open to releasing more maps and game modes as post-launch content? Are there any plans in the works for this sort of thing?
BT: There won’t be any downloadable content or Monochroma II with a similar gameplay (I won’t say we will stop telling stories in the setting though). We are thinking about adding some exploration taste to the game if we can reach those stretch goals.
GV: Are there any plans for an open beta of any kind? How about a Steam Early Access release?
BT: It’s possible, we can even make an update and add it as a reward. We’re also doing great on Steam Greenlight, possible that we might be Greenlit soon. We would put the game to Early Access if we can but now we’re focusing on achieving our goal on Kickstarter.
GV: What’s next for Nowhere Studios? Do you have plans for another game already in the works? Or are you just focusing on finishing Monochroma first?
BT: We’re currently very focused on Monochroma and Monochroma’s success will determine the scope and style of our new projects. We will continue to do what we’re doing as we will have an established fanbase with expectations. We’ll find new ways to satisfy their needs and bring in more people to experience the tastes we’re bringing to game design.
GV: Thanks for your time.
Monochroma is on Kickstarter, Steam Greenlight, and has a playable demo.