When you see a mystery that may be in your favorite movie, series, books, or games, do you already have an idea of who the person responsible is or do you take the time and try to figure out the motives behind the moves or the reasons behind the thoughts? It could be someone that we expected all along or there could be some twist that we didn’t expect. There is something interesting about the mystery that keeps us intrigued as we try to solve what happened and the possible reasons why and by whom. So, when I heard that developer, Peanut Button on on the trail again to make a follow-up to their successful VR mystery game, The Secret of Retroplis, I had to know more. So I reached out and the director and writer, Eyal Geva, was happy to give us a closer look at the sequel, Retropolis 2: Never Say Goodbye, as well as talking about Virtual Reality.
Interview with the director and writer of Retroplis 2: Never Say Goodbye, Eyal Geva
Hi again, Eyal. For those that may not be aware, would you please introduce yourself and what you do at Peanut Button?
“Hi Brandon, it’s really great to be back and have the chance to chat with you again. My name is Eyal Geva, and I’m the director and writer of Retropolis. Over here at Peanut Button, we’re a super small team so everyone is doing many things, so in addition to the roles of directing and writing, which I’m most proud of, I also wear many other hats, such as handling production, sound engineering, and marketing. I even had the opportunity to create a small animation that made its way into our new game. Oh, and sometimes I wash the dishes and take out the trash. You can say I’m living the indie dev dream. “
Growing up, what was some of your most influential gaming moments, and what was that one VR moment that made you want to work more with Virtual Reality?
“As a child, I loved playing with anything that had an interesting narrative, whether it was playing Monkey Island or Half-Life. I always enjoyed the way gameplay blended with storytelling and world-building.
My journey into the realm of Virtual Reality was initiated by my older brother, Asaf Geva. He started playing around with a dev kit and I instantly wanted to create something unique. At that time, the options for VR experiences were limited, there were barely any games to try out, and we had no choice but to build games ourselves, which sparked my fascination with building prototypes and exploring the boundless possibilities offered by this incredible medium.”
Your last game was a success with the adventure-mystery game, The Secret of Retropolis. What have you found to be the most surprising about the success of the game and what have you learned from it?
“The success of the first Retropolis game was beyond what we imagined, it was a small game we wanted to put out there and show the world the type of VR narrative games we want to see. Initially, we believed that creating a short yet immersive experience, akin to watching a movie, would be something that players would thoroughly enjoy. However, many players were hungry for longer gameplay experiences. They didn’t really care that we’re a small team and it’s our first game, THEY JUST WANTED MORE OF RETROPOLIS. It was evident in every review and many emails I received from fans that asked for a sequel.
This has influenced our development approach, encouraging us to strike a balance between captivating storytelling and providing substantial gameplay time in our future projects. By incorporating this insight, we aim to create more expansive and fulfilling gaming experiences for our players.”
Your newest game, Retropolis 2: Never Say Goodbye, is set a year after the events of The Secret of Retropolis. What can you tell us about the game and what players can expect?
“Honestly? I don’t want to say anything, so nothing is spoiled. I want players to jump into the experience and just immerse themselves in the story without knowing what is about to happen.
I’ll only say this – Retropolis 2 is built so new players can join the ride and get it all, but there are some layers of meaning in the story that only people who played the first game will be able to understand.”
Players will be playing as the hard-boiled robot detective, Philip Log, what has been up to over the last year, and what can you tell us about some of the new characters that will be introduced?
“I don’t want to spoil anything, but it wasn’t an easy year for poor Philip… And as for the new characters – sometimes even people you thought you knew can turn out to be complete strangers. Yeah, it’s a pretty pessimistic thought, but it is a film noir adventure. Don’t expect a fluffy tale about the power of friendship.”
Part of the fun is the puzzles. Are the puzzles more challenging this time or are there more of them for the player to try and solve?”
“Oh, the puzzles are much harder. We already got a review from someone that’s mad about us because he couldn’t crack a puzzle while the story is intriguing. It’s good that the game is in early access so we can get some feedback to balance between the challenge of the puzzles and the flow of the story.
By the way, if someone reads this and loved the more challenging puzzles of Retropolis 2 – please leave a review so we know that and take it into account when we gather feedback.”
In the trailer, there is a part where it says to confront your past and uncover the truth. Without spoiling too much, what can you say about Philip Log’s past?
“Before becoming a private detective, Philip was a cop. He was made, as a robot, to serve the RPD (Retropolis Police Department) and follow orders. But Philip is not the kind of robot that doesn’t ask things, and after finding out the RPD is corrupt beyond repair he left it and tried to forget his days there. But there are some things you can never really forget.”
Are there multiple endings for this time around as well?
“Yes, and I won’t say anything more so there’s no spoilers about the end(ings) of the game.”
Last time you said that no robots were harmed in the making of the game. This time around, was there a change of heart or some jealousy that, at least, one of you, or maybe all of you have harmed some robots and would like to take this time to confess and your consciences cleared?
“In response to recent rumors circulating regarding alleged robot misconduct during the production of Retropolis 2, Peanut Button Studio Mega Corp would like to firmly state that these claims are entirely false. Our diligent team of professionals has thoroughly investigated the matter and found no evidence to support the allegations. We firmly stand by the quality and integrity of our production processes.
We want to assure our valued audience and stakeholders that the RoboRumba, which was at the center of the speculation, is completely safe and sound.”
There has always been something about the music in The Secret of Retroplis that just added to the experience. What have you done to make sure this carries over with Retropolis 2: Never Say Goodbye?
“Yuval Levi, the composer of the first Retropolis game, is also the composer of the new Retropolis game, so you can expect to enjoy once again an amazing soundtrack that blends Jazz, Electronic music, and classical violins that sounds like they’re from an old movie and much much more. It was a challenge to compose music that expands the world of Retropolis yet keeps the same vibe as in the first game, and I think Yuval did a terrific job. Listening to his new music when it’s ready is probably the most fun part of my job.”
I really do enjoy the art style that is used and I am glad that it has returned. Were there times that it seem to be a challenge because something didn’t look as it should?
“Thank you for loving the style of the game! I also think it may be one of the best things in the game, being inside a hand-drawn cartoon-like 3D world is so cool and something anyone can enjoy.
Our production process is similar to the one of any animation production, with time dedicated to concept art and character design, so as a director, I have much time to know in advance how things will look and the whole team can have a united vision. It’s super important in a game like Retropolis where the world-building and the atmosphere are so important.
Also, I’m super proud to say in this game you can expect a whole new level of art, there are a lot of small details and nuances that you can find. And the character animation is just amazing, even in the early access you’ll be able to see this immediately.”
Retropolis 2: Never Say Goodbye is out now for Quest/2, Oculus, and Steam VR. Do you see the game or maybe a package of both games coming to other platforms such as PlayStation VR2 or Viveport in the future?
“Sure, we think players on all platforms can enjoy Retropolis 2. We will post updates when we know any specific details.”
Since Never Say Goodbye is in the title, does that mean there will be a part 3 in the future?
“I do hope so! I already have the story for Retropolis 3 planned out, along with some game ideas that are not in the world of Retropolis. But let’s not jump ahead… There are still three more episodes for Retropolis 2 that we need to release and they need to be successful enough in order for us to make more games.
If you’re a fan of Retropolis and want to see us going for a trilogy please help us spread the word – get Retropolis 2, write a review, and tell your friends about it. We’re just a small studio so it’s only up to our fans if this game is successful or not.
The whole idea of Never Say Goodbye is a story not willing to end. We worked hard to make this game, now it’s up to the audience to decide if they’ll say goodbye or not.”
If you walked through the door into THE VR DIMENSION, but in Retropolis, and could pick anyone from any time period, who would you want your Philip Log and Jenny Motage to be and why?
“I’m a huge film noir fan so of course I’d go for the case of The Big Sleep, with Humphrey Bogart as Philip Log and Lauren Bacall as Jenny Montage.”
With the content for Virtual Reality increasing, what would you say to someone as to why they should experience Retropolis 2: Never Say Goodbye?
“Getting Retropolis 2 in early access is not only a huge support for our small studio but also something that shows the “big guys” that there is an audience for animated narrative-driven games. What you choose to play matters.”
I really want to thank Eyal for taking the time out of their day, confirming that the rumors that no robots were injured were false, and for giving us a closer look into Retropolis 2: Never Say Goodbye and Virtual Reality.
To learn more about the game, please visit the site and subscribe to the YouTube channel. To learn more about Peanut Button, please visit their site, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, follow them on Instagram, and join their Discord.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy.