“Sometimes I just use a flashlight” Tomasz Ostafin (Petums) tells me as we chat about his upcoming adventure game, Papetura.
The point and click genre is full of imaginative worlds and Papetura looks like another stunning entry. The world feels organic, no doubt in part as a result of it being painstakingly crafted from paper by Tomasz, who goes by Petums when developing the game, before being lit and photographed. It’s then digitally transferred into the game, frame-by-frame, image by image. Even the residents of this magical place are shaped from paper.
It sounds like a cop-out from this writer, but you really need to see Papetura to appreciate.
The way the light filters through the incredible structures of this other-world is mesmerising; the warming orange glow fills each space in a way that can’t yet be replicated by even the latest ray-tracing technology.
“I try to predict where and how the light will penetrate the paper, and where to put LEDs and what kind of paper to use. Despite all that planning, the light behaves on it’s own. It always surprises me, revealing hidden details of the paper model” Tomasz continues.
“I take inspiration from small things that surround us, nature and microbiology. Often I would stare for hours watching bugs doing their strange stuff. I deconstruct the micro-world, simplify it and try to recreate it from paper. The inhabitants are worms, fishes, plants and everything that looks cute when we put eyes on it.” Petums said.
“In the case of Papetura I always wanted to use some physical creations and I settled on paper models. Back in the old flash-games era my first game was a motorcycle running away from a paper shredder, so even then I had some strong need to use paper in everything. I treat creating paper-models as if they were a sculpture. I try to have fun and experiment to achieve interesting form and shape. I’ll improvise a lot too and it mostly turns out alright. My architecture studies and working in 3d architectural visualisations have helped me a little along the way. That urge to make a game-world created in the physical world never left me since I played Neverhood (1996) for the first time.”
In Papetura, which is due for release 7 May 2021 you lead curmudgeon Pape on a quest to save his highly flammable world. Along the way Pape encounters Tura, a little magical creature, and the duo forge a bond. Petums explains more.
“The main characters are a complementary duo. Pape is a sad loner, and Tura is a little happy creature. Both of them emerged from drawing countless sketches, and are the result of many, many inspirations. I think every character in the game was somehow part of my life and is an emanation of various emotions.”
Our odd couple take us through this stunning (and I mean stunning!) environment, which is full of puzzles and monsters. The variety within those puzzles and their solutions is at the core of every adventure game. “Pape will use Tura in various different ways, depending on the situation – as a fishing rod or even a plunger!” Tomasz tells me.
In asking about the choice of genre for Papetura, Petums shares his love for this type of game.
“I think that adventure games give phenomenal opportunities to create fantastic worlds, characters and stories, the same way we write books. I can pour my soul into the game, and through a simple point-and-click format it gives players an opportunity to dive in. No matter the genre, my opinion is that players will enjoy games that tell the truth and have soul. That’s essential in adventure games. I’m very glad they’re still popular.” He goes on to say.
“I think that adventure games such as Neverhood, Machinarium, Grim Fandango and many more, had a great influence on Papetura’s creation. But I don’t know how much influence other games had, like Quake, Final Fantasy or Worms, cause I played anything that I could lay my hands on.”
The game will be an aural treat too thanks to an incredible soundtrack from Floex (Tomáš Dvořák).
The Czech composer created the soundtracks for Amanita Design’s award-winning adventure game Machinarium, as well as the Samorost series. He looks to have delivered again if the samples shared are anything to go by. “The collaboration with Floex is a dream come true and I still can’t believe that it came to be. I wrote to Floex as a fan, with a humble request asking if I can use his tracks for a game that I’m working on. That was years ago, the project has developed more, and when we exchanged more emails our collaboration came to existence, just like that. I’m really grateful that Tomáš Dvořák trusted me, especially since I was and still am a no-name creator. He gave me a chance just by looking at my work and passion.”
As if the challenge of physically making another world and recruiting superstar composers wasn’t enough, Petums has had to learn programming and game development too.
“I started my programming adventure with Action Script 2.0, the non-existent Macromedia Flash language. But with the amount of ideas I wanted to implement, there wasn’t any other way. I had to learn proper programming. This allowed me to slowly introduce various new gameplay elements. When I started working on the game, the first thing I wanted to implement was a node based Dijkstra path-finding algorithm – that was a huge task to overcome. That algorithm is being used to this day and it somehow still works, even though it has many flaws. All that learning was painful but worth it. Although it has been 6 years, I have not been involved in production all the time. Only for the last year the work got more intense – around 12 hours a day.”
When I ask Tomasz what fans can expect when they play the game next week he tells me this. “I really want players to submerge in the paper atmospheric world and experience something new. A long time ago, when I presented the story of Papetura to a group of people, they said it sounded like a tale or a myth. It’s short and simple, so I hope to tell it right even if this is my first game. The main goal is straightforward, a bad monster wants to burn down the world of paper, and we must stop him.”
Personally this writer cannot wait to jump into Papetura when it releases. I’m relishing the prospect of exploring this eye-wateringly beautiful place – and will stop at nothing to save it from burning to ash.
Papetura releases on Steam on 7 May 2021
For more information on the game visit the official site
For more great gaming content visit BG4GHub.com