Exclusive interview with Tequila Works

Posted on Dec 23, 2013

Tequila Works is the Spanish videogame studio behind Rime, a videogame for PS4 that’s stirring up everyone’s interest. They talk to us about Rime’s creation, we look back in time and appreciate how videogames have evolved in the last few decades and, of course, we talk about music.

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– Thanks a lot for agreeing to give us an interview.
Thanks to all of you for your interest in Rime and the team.

– I first heard about your game Rime through Akira Yamaoka’s name. What does he mean to Tequila Works’ team?
A friend and a buddy… Well, and it was a great honor that he came to us with such great respect. When we met in San Francisco we were surprised at how friendly and humble he is. Being fans of his work, you can imagine how we felt (after the initial shock and astonishment)

– Akira Yamaoka is a very versatile musician. How has he influenced the creation of Rime? What is his role?
His sensitivity can’t be expressed with words. The team that he makes with David (Deadlight composer) is breathing life into a new and mysterious world. It is not only about music, but also about atmosphere. And sound is key in Rime…

– In what way does the soundtrack in Rime influence the game? Did you have to work with new techniques and sources?
David spend the whole summer doing field study. He had lots of fun (laughs). Sound and light mean everything in Rime.

– There are a handful of really short in-game videos on internet and we are all truly looking forward to the game. How did you come up with the idea of Rime?
It came from a personal ideal of José Luis Vaello, art director at Tequila Works. Raúl Rubio (creative director) gave shape to the vision and, together with the team, they could adapt that idea into a concept that would be easy to understand for everyone, yet deep for every one of us. The light of the Mediterranean Sea and the end as new beginning define Rime.

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– A lot of people, like me, wait for games that are worth it to go ahead and buy a next gen videogame system. Do you think that this game will be decisive in the mindset of users to go ahead and buy a PS4? Do you think it will truly convince people?
Judging from the reaction after Gamescom, I would say so. And we are absolutely amazed. Rime means a lot to us as creators. We hope that it will convince players, and overall that it will convince us.

–  Before, the battle for exclusivities was much “bloodier” than this past generation, where most games have been cross platform. Why is Rime a PS4 exclusive? Will it be cross platform one day?
Because Sony believed in the project and, where others saw only risk, they saw potential. Rime is a Sony XDev first party, none the less. So the chances are the same as seeing The Last of Us on other platforms…

– Rime is such a mysterious game, could you tell us something about it that hasn’t been told before?
Rime is a game to taste, not to devour. Not only because of the exploring and discovery facts. The very own monolithic concept of good and evil shatter into pieces in this game. All depends on the point of view.

– Lately, the videogame market has been saturated with shooters and war games, but at the same time, there’s a tendency to releasing more and more games which are based on the story. What kind of games do you find more interesting, as creators?
In my opinion, I am not attracted anymore to such kind of experiences. As creators, this medium gives us the freedom to transmit a message, express what we have inside and, not only bring it to others, but also make them take part of this all. Let people experience a feeling of their own, not something pre-fabricated. Our industry has matured like a body reaching puberty and we are beginning to question our world. And we are also exploring our ever changing body, no matter what it may mean.

– Both the aesthetics and sound of the game remind of other great games such as Flower or Journey. Games that stand out for being radically different to other games like the ones I mentioned before. What games have served of inspiration to create Rime?
Such great comparisons and great words. We hope to live up to the expectations! Our inspirations come mainly from other works of art, like the use of light of Joaquín Sorolla, the negative space of Salvador Dalí or the surrealist architecture of Giorgio de Chirico. The sensitivity of Hayao Miyazaki when it comes to writing stories, the philosophycal depth of The Little Prince… Journey is, without a doubt, a great reference in terms of art. Ico or Shadow of the Colossus are the giants on which shoulders everyone hopes we find a support. But we are going our own way in terms of personality and gameplay. It’s an honor that we are being compared to them, but we aren’t worth it.

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– Soundtracks are more and more in the limelight, since it’s not only about adding a OST to a videogame, but often you can get a special pack with a copy of this, and there are even music festivals dedicated to the music in videogames, like the Spanish Play Fest. Have you ever been to one of these events, as guests or spectators? Would you like to?
Part of the team went to Akira’s concert last year in Spain. We can hardly imagine a concert with a music but… why not?

– The gaming industry very often spends more than the movie industry, yet there’s still the stigma that videogames are bad and only for kids. What do you think about this?
Well, in all truth I believe that the inversion in the movie industry is way bigger than the one in the gaming one, by far. If we talk about business volume, then it’s completely different.
That belief is a stigma itself (laughs). Videogames are not something so weird anymore, since the adults of today grew up with them. Proof of this is the many references to them in every other media, like cinema and tv series, without the need of explaining them or falling into big stereotypes such as Space Invaders or Pacman (which, on the other hand, can’t be helped, stereotypes are also useful). If we talk about the pressure from (certain) media, that can’t be helped and in such cases that perception will not change; it is not a matter of “popularity”, but a matter of being stuck. As example, you only have to see what newspapers and books said once they became to be popular…
Obviously, this is about our global market. When talking about Spain, then it’s a different story. But it is not something isolated. We have always been several years delayed in certain topics.

– About the videogame industry in Spain, there are truly few studios that are known for working on big systems. Most of them seem more at home working for videogames for mobiles, which makes you think there’s something missing… medium, people, or maybe experience. Why do you think this happens?
Certainly, right now we are witnesses of a sprout of little videogame studios thanks to the global access to tools and distribution media (something like App Store couldn’t be imagined ten years ago). We tend to compare everything, and if we talk about AAA studios that make huge multimillionary 4-5 years projects, of course they are scarce. But maybe the thing is that we shouldn’t confront the giants that control the world. Maybe we should take advantage of the characteristics that make us unique and work them to the max to offer something different that nobody else could. Spain has a great artistic and cultural tradition, a crucible with astonishing results. For us, it is not a matter of size but of taste. That is why we are considered indies outside our country. This is not because of our size or money, but because of our sensitivity and independent creativity.
Right now there are studios with an amazing potential, like Deconstructeam. To transform them into an assembly line of sorts would only asphixiate them.

– When we used to play on an Atari or Master System, we had a lot of fun but there’s something, since then, that has changed a lot. This is, sound. People usually only look at the increase in quality of graphics, but the quality growth in the sound department is impossible to ignore. Do you think that the videogame industry has changed a lot in these last years, thanks to the much better sound techniques? How do you think this has influenced when creating games?
All of us have changed a lot (laughs). Our ears (not only our hearing skills, but our sensitivity), have evolved. We have grown more refined. It is not that we have mutated, but that the wide range of options available to creators is much bigger. We still have a lot yet to explore, and indeed, sometimes it’s good to go back to your roots and see that, what used to be technical limitations, today means free and conscious decisions.

– Another great influence in today’s videogame world are kickstarter projects, thanks to which many indie programmers are able to finance their projects, some of them like The Last Door, truly interesting. Do you think this is the future of the indie industry? Have you played to any of these games lately that you’ve truly enjoyed?
Many, many more than our wallets wish we had (laughs). Any new media that allows creators get closer to players, getting rid of intermediaries, is welcome. It’s another tool. But as social games or free2play don’t define this industry, but add diversity to it, these micro-paid games (which by the way, is not something new, but it was never seen in such a powerful, accesive and effective way), allows that many experimental ideas, also risky and out of commercial standards, have their chance too. This is, indeed, a good future for a creator 🙂

– A last message for our readers?
Hugs from the whole team and Happy Holidays!

– Elisa

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Tequila Works official site

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