WarSaw Games Studio (Dream Alone): A Decade Old Dream and the Puzzle Platformer to Fulfillment

Dream Alone is a 2D platformer with classic platform gameplay, unique abilities, deadly traps, horror elements and a dark storyline.

  • Genre: platformer, action
  • Premiere: Q2 2018
  • Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Switch, iOS

For Paweł Brągoszewski, a co-founder of WarSaw Games and one of the creators of Dream Alone, working in the gaming industry was a lifelong dream. And yet it would take him over a decade, a failed attempt and the perfect mixture of luck and persistence to realize it.

Dream big

Seeing WarSaw Games as a studio of first-timers may be a surprise when you look back at Paweł’s history. “It was around 2006, while working at Polish video games magazine GameStar, that I got to know Jacek Komuda and Maciek Jurewicz, two established screenwriters who had worked on a well-known Polish mod for Neverwinter Nights and the first Witcher game,” Paweł tells me. He quickly takes a few steps back to add that what had eventually come of their involvement with the first Witcher is unknown to him. What is important is that the experience and know-how was already there.

Along with this know-how, was a bold vision. “It’s a funny tale, actually, because we got Painkiller’s engine from Adrian Chmielarz to toy around with to our hearts’ content. Jacek just reached out to him and Adrian gave us the thing on a CD, saying something along the lines of: sure guys, do whatever, we’ll figure out the licensing terms when you start selling it,” Paweł reminisces, laughing. The idea was to come up with a strong concept, a flashy demo and present it to publishers with hopes of getting the funding.

The game called Lost Adventures was supposed to be a first person shooter in a diesel-punk setting. The elevator pitch? Tomb Raider meets The Mummy movie series. Underground ruins, scary enemies and fun action to top it off. You wouldn’t expect anything less from the game based on the Painkiller’s engine. Apparently, that wasn’t enough.

“We worked on Lost Adventures for over six months and we were very happy with the demo, but I think finding a publisher for an indie Polish project was nearly impossible at that time,” Paweł says. And so the dream would have to be shelved for a long while.

Dream small

After this head-on collision with reality Paweł started working as a mobile apps developer. But the dream of making a video game stayed with him. It was then when Paweł met Tomek Róziecki, another experienced programmer who shared his love of the medium. Unsurprisingly, the two started using their daytime job experience to try and break into the mobile gaming market.

“Back then we treated working on iOS games more like a fun after hours activity,” Paweł explains. “It was all small stuff, really. The App Store was just starting to get traction back then and we didn’t even think about making any kind of money. We just wanted to see how all of this worked. Seeing people having fun with our creations was all the compensation we needed.”

But what a different mobile games market it was! Paweł estimates that his games from that time reached around 600-800 thousand users without him even trying very hard. Back then just being on the App Store would get the developers exposure unlike anything they could hope for today. Reaching those kinds of numbers now with Dream Alone would make the game’s creators extremely happy.

Dream together

It wasn’t before the third WarSaw Games co-founder, Paweł Flanc, joined the team that their dreams of creating a full-blown PC game resurfaced. Tomek knew him as a music producer as he had worked with him on two hip-hop albums in the past. Flanc had also been doing graphic design as his main line of work for years. It seemed like he was the perfect person to bring to the table and just what the team needed – artistic sensibilities.

The three of them started bouncing ideas off of each other around November of 2016. It started, as it usually does, with a bunch of pub meet ups and beer-fueled conversations. “It was all pretty chilled at the start. We all knew we wanted to create something game related. Nothing big, just to dip our toes in the water and see how we do,” Paweł recalls with a smile. “And if we could find someone to invest a few zlotys to keep us motivated to finish the thing, then all the better.”

A few moths later the full vision of the game had formed, followed quickly by its first playable version. Before the summer of 2017, the team signed the publishing deal with Fat Dog Games. After over a decade of trying, everything would happen in the space of around 8 months.

“The actual work, when we stopped talking about the vision and changing things up, began at the end of April. It’s all still very fresh,” Paweł says. Now he realizes how crazy this process sounds to someone on the outside.

Dream Alone

Part of the team’s success in creating the game so fast comes from them their logical choice of genre. Choosing a puzzle platformer may seem like an obvious route to take on the surface, but in reality it allowed the developers to express themselves and come up with some crazy, innovative ideas whilst staying in a predictable, familiar framework. The same goes for the plot and setting. The Burtonesque graphical style and the light horror atmosphere instantly capture the audience’s imagination, while leaving plenty of space for oohs and aahs.

“One of our base concepts is that of alternate realities. Every once in a while the player will get a power up that allows them to switch between two versions of the same level. The music will change, the graphics will change, but most importantly – the level’s layout may also change a bit, allowing the player to pass where previously the road was blocked,” Paweł explains.

Of course this is only one example, and with the game release set for early next year you can forgive the team for not wanting to spoil the surprise too much. It’s their dream project after all.

Written by Dominik Gąska for Fat Dog Games

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