We talked with Luis Oliván, Producer of Do Not Feed The Monkeys
The amazing Do Not Feed The Monkeysis now available in digital format forPlayStation 4, from Alawar Premium and Badland Publishing, as well in physical format, both standard and in a spectacular Collector’s Edition. This peculiar adventure is the new jewel of Fictiorama, the creators of the memorable Dead Synchronicity. In Do Not Feed The Monkeys we will join the Primate Observation Club, an underground organization that spies on people through hacked security cameras.
Through our computer monitor we will have access to different cameras from which we will witness dozens of stories, each one more delirious, in which there is space for everything: from humor to science fiction and even social criticism. Although the club’s rules prohibit interaction with “the primates”, it will be difficult to resist the temptation to stop a thief, solve the mystery of a run over or alert the agent of a well-known actress about certain photos being taken by a paparazzi.
Each round of Do Not Feed The Monkeys will be completely different from the previous one, since the cameras you will have access to at the beginning will be different, and you will have to add more and more cameras to your monitor if you don’t want to be kicked out of the club, which will give you access to new and exciting plots. To learn more about the creation of this gem, entirely developed in Spain, we have interviewed Luis Oliván, Producer and PR Manager of Fictiorama Studios, who has also been one of the creators of the concept of the game, along with his brothers Alberto and Mario.
How long did it take you to develop the game?
The development took us almost 3 years, an important part of which was dedicated to turning the concept from which we started (a game based on “looking” at others) into a fun playable experience that would allow us to tell everything we wanted.
It was a very long process during which we experimented over and over again until we came up with what we thought was an interesting mix of multi-layered narrative with resource management mechanics.
Of all the “cases” in the game, which is your favorite and why?
It’s very difficult to choose, they are stories and characters we have lived with for many months! In general, we have more links with the more complex plots, not only because we have been able to develop more the narrative in them, but because the players can go back to them again and again to try different things and see how the facts are triggered depending on their decisions.
We warn you that some interaction can even lead to a “game over”!
Is there a “case” that you had to drop, and if so, why?
Usually there are always things that are left out of developments, almost always due to lack of time and resources. In the case of Do Not Feed the Monkeys, there were some stories that fell out, when they were in different states of completion.One of the key aspects of the development, besides creating and implementing the elements of the “cages”, was the process of testing them, which was very, very complex, so we had to leave out content that would have lengthened the development too much… without substantially improving the game.
The best ones, though, are the Do Not Feed the Monkeys!
There are parts of the game that are reminiscent of Night Trap, because of having to watch from different monitors several situations at once. Was this an influence when creating the game?
The truth is that, although we knew Night Trap, it was not a direct influence. However, the re-edition of the game for its 25th anniversary confirmed that the themes we dealt with in the game are part of a current of reflection very present in today’s society. Throughout the development of Do Not Feed the Monkeys, in fact, games like Beholder or Orwell were published, which deal with similar themes, and whose central ideas were probably conceived at the same time as our game.
The most direct influence has been that of Papers Please, above all in terms of the conception of the game itself, in the sense of turning something that, a priori, does not fit in with the conventions of the medium into a playful experience. As for other references, we look much further back for inspiration, mainly in films like The Rear Window or games like Little Computer People, which was based almost exclusively on observing how the protagonist lived.
Is it possible to finish the game in the first few games? Because the world fell upon us from the third level on, controlling so many cameras…
Although the main mechanics are very straightforward and easy to approach, learning to master Do Not Feed the Monkeys is almost a game in itself. There are players that finish the game in the first game; but there are others that, in fact, dedicate some time to it and, when they consider that they have already played the game, they start a new game that is “the good one”.
They can also load a state of the previous game, to continue from that point. In fact, one of the reasons why the game has a periodic saving system (at the beginning of each day), is so that the players can try crazy things, “to see what happens”, having the security that they can always return to a previous state, in which they have not yet messed up.
To what extent does randomness affect the events that appear in each game?
The game combines random events with some other events that are more programmed than some players may believe. From the beginning, the idea was to create a playable game, which meant creating more content than can appear in a single game, and leaving some of them to chance.
But, on the other hand, it was very important that the elements of each new game, especially the difficulty and complexity of the plots the players are facing, were balanced: not only in each game itself, but also along the players’ own progression, since the player’s experience is not the same when he has just started the game for the first time… than when he has already played three games.
Could you give some advice to the players not to succumb to hunger, sleep or get evicted?
Sure! To begin with, activating the “Peeper Mode”, in the main menu, makes it easier to manage health, hunger, sleep and money. Then, of course, it is essential to buy cages constantly: not doing so is a “game over”… but cages can also be a good source of income!
It is good to check the mail periodically: food offers, especially those that are healthier, can save a lot of money… and also the orders from the Primate Observation Club come in that way too, although you never know what the Club will use the information they ask for.