Rodrigo Roesler (Trapped series) Interview

Categories: Interviews

Trapped - The Dark

Trapped Chapter 2 – The Dark is expected to be released December 30. The Dark is the second installment in the Trapped trilogy created by Rodrigo Roesler.

The author was kind enough to answer a few questions for FreeGamesNews readers (thanks Rodrigo!)

Trapped - The DarkFreeGamesNews: Hi Rodrigo. Would you please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us more about your background?

Rodrigo: Well, I’m a front-end web developer since 2002, when I first started to work with HTML. From the beginning I started to focus on programming, that was my whole background and soon enough I specialized in javaScript and actionScript. I have that strange thing that makes me enjoy making things more than using them, such as games. I also have some cats and usually lie to people that I can play the piano.

FreeGamesNews: When did you start developing Flash games?

Rodrigo: Back in 2002, when I started to work with Flash and learn ActionScript, the first thing I thought of was an adventure game, but it didn’t work out because of my lack of experience. In these five years I made perhaps a dozen different games, most of them unfinished, just for the fun of it. I always enjoyed creating or adapting puzzle/board games. That’s probably because, apart from adventures and a few puzzles, my favorite games always involve boards, dice, cards, friends and beer, and a far distance from any computer available.

But I think computer games are the most demanding experience a programmer can have, because they’re always challenging in different ways, and deal with a much wider array of knowledge and details than software or web application. And, of course, they’re much more fun.

Trapped - The DarkFreeGamesNews: Could you introduce your latest creation, the Trapped series?

Rodrigo: Trapped starts with a very basic sequence when a man wakes up locked inside an unknown room and finds a dead man beside him. From that point, his main goal is to get out of the house he’s trapped in, but also figure out what’s going on. As the story goes, he finds out something happened in that house, and starts to link it with his own story.

The idea was always to make an escape game, but to work it in a way that sets it apart the traditional escapes and make it closer to classic adventures. I chose to do it in three ways: the perspective (I wasn’t the first one to try isometrics in these games, and since I never really enjoyed that first-person view and wanted to have people in it, it was a natural choice), the puzzle style (that demands more improvisation and nonlinear thinking than most escapes) and the story.

So in the first part, The White Rabbit, I chose to start as a common escape: a small intro, you’re in a locked room, no idea what’s going on. After that the house starts to unfold and by the half of the game the story starts to develop as a background, with more characters and a side story about the house and its inhabitants. I thought this was the best way to create the movement to set the game apart: start simple and easy to refer to, and then slowly grow to something bigger and more complex.

FreeGamesNews: Why and when did you decide to create a multi-chaptered story?

Rodrigo: When I first started to create and develop Trapped, I was building a big house. Actually, I was building a HUGE house. It was about 104 rooms, if my memory is good. So part of this decision came out of laziness: I wanted to be able to reuse that large amount of work. By then the story had a closer relation to Alice in Wonderland, so the character would find a big underground labyrinth where the easiest – but not the only – way out was to “follow the White Rabbit” (every door had a letter and you needed to follow the words “white rabbit” four or five times). That was the first part, and it was called “The Labyrinth”. So, in the end of it, you’d go literally through a mirror and the second part would be “The Looking-Glass” (by the way, none of this stuff is a spoiler for the third chapter, “The Labyrinth”, I really changed it all).

Then I decided to reduce the size of the house, focus on the puzzles and accept other references than Lewis Carroll, but it was already a trilogy. I decided to keep it that way because I could tell a better story but keep the games short and doable.

But even if I didn’t want to reuse the house, I always liked series and the way you can create different stories inside a bigger one. It is much cooler to let the reader/player hanging in the end of each part and asking for more than to deliver it all at once.

Trapped - The DarkFreeGamesNews: Did you expect such a success when you created the first chapter of Trapped, the White Rabbit?

Rodrigo: No, I didn’t. I expected some success, and I chose to use English as the official language to make it easier to spread, but I didn’t really make a lot of noise about the release: some friends, an Orkut community, a blog. By the fourth day it had spread worldwide, and the daily amount of visitors was about what I expected for a whole month. I started to find critics and reviews (I remember the FreeGamesNews comment about it was the first I read) and forum users trying to figure out who was those characters and what had happened. It was a really good surprise!

FreeGamesNews: Can you let us know a bit more about the second chapter, The Dark? Is it easier or harder than the first one?

Rodrigo: The Dark is when the story really starts to take shape. After The White Rabbit, and its ending as the opposite of what was expected, we felt more comfortable to change the focus from “get out of the house” to “find out what’s going on and what happens next”. So you’ll find more storytelling, more explanations, some flashbacks and some cross-references to the previous game. We started to show some things we had only mentioned, specifically or marginally, in The White Rabbit.

As for the game itself, I personally think it is easier than the previous one. But, at the same time, the puzzles are more elaborated and “mutant-pear-ish”, so they demand bigger chains of thoughts and actions. We kept the non-pixel-hunting politics, and that won’t change, but there are hidden items that need specific actions to be found. So I think (and the tests kind of confirm it) its difficulty level will rely more on the player than the game.

Oh, and there’s a dead frog. I never get tired of mentioning it.

Trapped - The DarkFreeGamesNews: How long did it take to create each chapter of Trapped?

Rodrigo: The White Rabbit took two years, but not really. I created everything from scratch, the movements, the items interactions, the way to make puzzles work, etc… the whole engine behind the game, in short. Then I created some of the story, built a big part of the house, some puzzles, and decided to remake it all. And it’s always been a side-project, so I worked on it for a couple of weeks and then forgot all about it for a couple of months each time. If it was a full-time project, it could have been done in 4 to 6 months, I guess. But the delay was actually good, because I had the time to find new references, work on the ideas over and over, and get a better result in the end.

The Dark was ready in less than two months, if I don’t count the delay to start it and the whole month I couldn’t touch it. The story and the engine were ready, so the time was taken to work on puzzles and new illustrations and scenes.

FreeGamesNews: Let’s talk about your future projects. Do you have any new game development plan after the Labyrinth, the final chapter of Trapped?

Rodrigo: Yes, I’m actually starting together a small team to build a more ambitious game. I can’t give that much details right now, but the certain things are: it will have no more isometrics, the story will happen in an open space, and it will get a lot closer to classic LucasArts/Sierra games. But I intend to keep the web-based-and-free format.

FreeGamesNews: Oh, and by the way, what is the expected release date of the Labyrinth?

Rodrigo: That’s still a mystery. I originally scheduled it to February, but a lot of things are to happen in the next months, and I’m afraid I will have other periods without touching Trapped, as it happened for The Dark. If I had to guess, I’d say March or April. But since the labyrinth (the labyrinth itself, not the whole game) is already planned, it may be quicker than I expect.

FreeGamesNews: Is there anything you would like to add in closing?

Rodrigo: I’d like to thank everyone for the support and for playing the game. It’s the best possible reward, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I. That includes you guys from FreeGamesNews, who’ve been there since the beginning.

Eric (FreeGamesNews Editor): Thank you for your time Rodrigo. We are looking forward to the next installment of the Trapped trilogy!


6 Comments to Rodrigo Roesler (Trapped series) Interview

  1. reece says:

    how do i get to the game? i’m stuck on an open window saying december 30th. does that mean i can play it at that date?

  2. Eric says:

    reece – “Trapped Chapter 2 – The Dark is expected to be released December 30!” Yes, you will have to wait two more days, if everything works smoothly. In between, read the interview ;-)

  3. By the way, December 30 means “right after midnight on Brazil”. It will be still 29 for a lot of people. :)

  4. morgana says:

    where is The Labyrinth???

    February passed yet…. I want play The Labyrinth.. =/

  5. Rose says:

    It is June 5th and trapped part 3 the labyrinth is still not here! :((

  6. Celly says:

    19 july!Where is the labyrinth?february passed ! please..I’m in love with this games,so I hardely waith for”the labyrinth”…