Interview: How the PS5 Stunner Season from a bike seat investigates the fate of the world

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Last month, Geoff Keighley’s The Game Awards highlighted a range of beautiful-looking indie games, showing that independent studios can do just as good work as developers from AAA. A case in point is Season, from Scavengers Studio, a Canadian band.

With its beautiful art style and fascinating plot, the title impressed Towers, so we just had to find out more. We spoke with Kevin Sullivan, the project’s creative director and writer, who explained the period between the release of the Darwin Project Battle Royale title and the development of the season’s PlayStation 5 title.

: Can you introduce Season briefly to those who skipped the announcement? What sort of game is that?
Kevin Sullivan: Season is an immersive adventure game in which, for the first time, you play a young woman who discovers and absorbs the outside world. Your world is a mid-20th century surreal edition, with its own past and the cultures you experience.

The aim is to try and grasp what is missing before it is gone and conserve it.

When did you know that the season will be unveiled at the 2020 Game Awards? How happy was the team at such a major event to see their work?
It’s been wild. Last year, we had a demo at PAX East, but we had not officially confirmed it. It took a couple of days for me to remember that. I was not that anxious leading up to it, but I couldn’t sleep after that. We really appreciate our game being showcased by PlayStation and the Game Awards team.

Scavenger’s studio seems to be going in a completely different direction with Season after the Darwin Project. Having previously released a battle royale title, how did the team come up with this kind of experience?
It had a lengthy period of gestation.

Together with the art director, with everything we had available, we created the tone and world of the season. He did idea sketches, I did a mood video with clips from current movies, we did a version of a board game. It grew because, over the years, people gave it room and support.

There are often numerous ways to merge abilities to accomplish a different project within a specific team. This illustrates real versatility and the ability of our team and our lead actors to play multiple roles. I’m looking forward to seeing what else could come out of this squad.

Is there something you learned that you want to introduce in the season during the production of the Darwin Project or as part of post-launch support?
I think if you asked someone on the team, they’d each have a response of their own. Live game production, particularly for an indie team, is very challenging creatively and technically. It’s kind of been the company’s fire trial, so now we’re hungry for a challenging project, but in a different way, so we can continue to expand.

Next, we just gotta get to the beautiful type of graphics. Whose inspiration was behind that? Until its vivid nature was finalised, did it go through several iterations?
Many thanks to you. The art director has in mind a very particular look that we’re still working hard on. Some inspirations are Norman Wilkinson and Japanese woodblock prints.

Darwin Project even had its own unique art style, but on that aspect, Season leans even more. For the squad, was that a challenge?
To find out how to translate that form of style into the Unreal engine was a long process.

It seems to be the philosophy; turn off each preset and build it back up. It’s certainly a challenge and another area where a long pre-production period has helped us.

To what degree is the bike going to play a role? Will players be riding bikes regularly between objectives
or will that mechanic just pop up from time to time?
It’s your companion, so it’s with you all the time. We always aim for a good balance, good distances between interesting points.

The bike mechanic is the heart of the navigation experience, it’s designed to be easy to use and move smoothly.

When we’re not riding our bikes, what are we doing? Are there a lot of puzzles to solve?
You arrive at an unfamiliar place and try to figure out what’s going on.

It’s very layered, and you have recording tools at your disposal. I’d say there are more puzzles and mysteries to unravel than puzzles per se. In the announcement trailer, the protagonist talks about only having one season. Kön

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