Rime Game Tequila Works 2017
Artwork for Rime released in early August. Tequila Works

Gorgeous indie adventure game Rime recently emerged from a lengthy period of uncertainty, roughly two years on from its last public appearance at Gamescom 2014. The last time anyone had heard about the game, Tequila Works had reacquired the IP from Sony – who were once set to publish it as a PS4 exclusive.

In early August, Tequila Works announced a publishing deal had been struck with Grey Box and Six Foot. They also stated that Rime would be revealed in early 2017 and finally released later that year. Questions remained, however.

What happened between the developer and Sony? What led to that apparent rift? IBTimes UK posed these questions and more to Tequila Works CEO and Creative Director Raúl Rubio Munárriz, and Grey Box COO Christian Svensson at Gamescom 2016.

IBTimes UK: How did Tequila Works and Rime arrive at where we are today? What happened with Sony?

Raúl: When we started Rime, we wanted to create something very personal. We wanted something very evocative in the sense that we wanted to make the player feel like a kid. It's about this feeling of being in this world that feels new to you, of not being aware of the rules and how you have to learn that sometimes you are not aware of the dangers lying in the world. The development of Rime has been an extrapolation of that.

We started in 2013 and we had a very clear idea of what the vision was. When we started adding more content and people started to play more and more, the thing is that we thought that the game should be one thing and we shouldn't compromise on that vision. I think it was late 2015, we had this opportunity to take back the IP rights for Rime and we thought that this was the best decision.

The reason we haven't shown anything in two years is a very practical one. We announced the game after working on it for a few months. We haven't shown anything in two years because it was probably too early. We shouldn't have shown the trailer at Gamescom 2013.

I can understand why people say like, 'Oh, the game is alive? That's nice.' I think for us as developers, we are always willing to show what we are working on and where we are, but this game is so personal that maybe, and this is what we are doing now, we are only going to allow people to play the game when it's fully ready. We have no bulls**t excuse of 'Oh, it's a work in progress, don't worry, it will look better.'

Christian: We decided at the outset when we started working together last year that we're just going to keep a low profile. We're going to show, not tell. The only reason we put out the [press] release about our relationship is frankly... we have a lot of work to do over the course of preparing it for sale. We have meetings with partners, agencies and the like and we need to be able to talk to them openly and honestly and not worry about leaks. We'll get into a lot more of the detail on what is the game, and when it is coming and how are we bringing it to market. That's all early next year.

Rime
A screenshot from Rime's Gamescom 2014 trailer. Tequila Works

How did that first meeting with Six Foot and Grey Box go?

Raúl: Basically we had the very long presentation ready, then 30 seconds into the presentation, they said: 'Stop, let me play the game.' And they played the game, and I think it spoke for itself. That's why we liked them as partners. They don't behave like a classic publisher where you feel like you are on a different level. They are always trying to help us to push that vision. Again, remember, this is a personal project. It's something that we really think it needs to be one thing – it's not Shadow of the Colossus, it's not the Windwaker, it's not The Last Guardian, it's Rime.

One thing that we are really thankful for is that Grey Box didn't try to make us change the game to be something that was a travesty in all honesty.

Did Sony want changes?

Raúl: I cannot elaborate on that. It's something more about our relationship with Six Foot. It was more a general comment on how publishers sometimes get involved on creative decisions and sometimes they don't. Six Foot and Grey Box are not that way. They give feedback, but they understand what the vision is. They won't be like, 'Oh, you know, when I was a kid, my backyard, we played with a rocket launcher. Could you add a rocket launcher to the game?' It doesn't work like that. It's more like, 'Okay, how can we help you to shape and build a world that feels really unique?' That's the only thing.

About your question about Sony, we are under an NDA, but the relationship with them is good. It's not about trying to make the game something different, this is more about what the vision for Rime was. That's it.

How difficult have the last couple of years been on the team? Is morale an issue?

Raúl: Yes, remember the Matt Groening comic strip Life in Hell? Making games is literally living in a continuous hell. The last two years have been like the two before. When we finish Rime, we will be a four-year production. Most of us are coming from triple A, so that means five, seven-year productions. It's something that you don't enjoy, it's something that you suffer, but again, you are doing it for a clear purpose and it's creating the best product you can. In the future, we are trying to enjoy more indie-ness. Shorter periods. But Rime was going to be short, it's very long, so you never know. The last two years have been interesting. Maybe at GDC we should talk about that, that would be a good idea.

Raoul Rubio
Tequila Works CEO Raúl Rubio. Tequila Works

Was Rime ever in danger of being cancelled?

Raúl: Every project is in danger of being cancelled, even if it's going perfectly. Was it in danger? Yes. Is it in danger now? No.

Christian: It is not in danger. I've shipped probably hundreds of products in my career now. This has been one of the least drama-filled development scenarios. The team just does what they're supposed to do, the product is great, we're happy with what's coming in.

Raúl: The lack of prima donnas is quite alarming. We are very proud of that.

How much has the game been changed since we last saw it?

Raúl: I would say it has improved a lot. It's not about downgrading in terms of graphics, it's quite the opposite. In terms of game mechanics, again, it's the same. We presented the world, the island and the rules. We have very physical mechanics, so you are going to explore the island, you are going to climb, you are going to jump, you are going to interact with the inhabitants. You can do stuff with your shadows and the shadows have an effect on the world. As a player, you need to learn that things like light and sound have different effects here, so you need to learn about it. Everything in the trailer is in the game. Maybe now it's prettier, but the game mechanics are there.

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