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Developer Dialogue: FRACTER and Raccoon Story Interview @ PAX West 2019

Cameron MacLaren and Corey Caplan, director of production finance and director of international sales for 4L Games, respectively, head up the company behind FRACTER and the upcoming Raccoon StoryFRACTER is a puzzle game about internal turmoil that uses light for metaphorical emphasis. The game released on July 2018 on mobile devices, and it’s coming to PC on September 5.

We explored more about FRACTER and plenty about Raccoon Story:

Brandon: “FRACTER started as a mobile game. Why did you think it was necessary to explore the PC market?”

Cameron: “I think the way width builds was always with the intention of being played on PC, and potentially on consoles as well; there may be a future on consoles with it already. It’s a game where the controls are very unique. It’s pretty advanced for a mobile game to begin with, so it lends itself well to having that controller in your hand and being able to manipulate the light beacons and stuff like that in the game with those controls.”

Brandon: “That kind of leads into my next question: light is often used in video games to make things look more realistic and friendly to the eye, but light is used differently in FRACTER. Could you talk about that a little bit?”

Corey: “Light plays a big part in the story of FRACTER, and the philosophy of both 4L and our parent company Guru Studios is that IP building is really rooted in story first. To complete the game and to make our main character whole again, since she is ‘fractered’ or fractured into a thousand pieces, is to use the light to bring herself back together again, so there’s a great metaphor there that players will immediately grab hold of that acts as a motivation not only to complete the puzzle, but to move forward into the story and ultimately complete the game.”

FRACTER Gameplay

Brandon: “So, going off of that metaphor idea, without giving too much away of course, what would you say the metaphorical significance is here, and how does that play a more important role in the game as opposed to what you physically see?”

Corey: “We all have light and dark aspects of our personality, and in the game, the good parts of your personality are represented by the light clones of yourself which you have to find throughout the level in order to complete the game, and the dark versions of yourself are the evil, fast-moving, creepy bad guys. It’s really a sort of metaphysical representation of human personality. We have the light and we have the dark parts of our minds, but ultimately, to move forward in life and to bring ourselves a happier existence, we have to find the light and move towards the light.”

Brandon: “I always love when games like FRACTER like to explore more of an internal conflict as opposed to an external conflict.”

Corey: “Right, that’s a great way of putting it: an internal conflict.”

Brandon: “Yeah, I think that’s very unique and very well done here. Now, I’d like to move onto Raccoon Story, your next game. For readers who don’t know, what is it about? What can we expect from it?”

Cameron: “I don’t know if there’s much we can say about it at this point…”

Corey: “Other than that we’re dubbing it ‘the funniest stealth game ever made’.”

Raccoon Story Key Art

Brandon: “Fantastic! For me personality, stealth games can get a little slow sometimes.”

Cameron: “Oh, this is definitely not slow!”

Corey: “For your readers, go ahead in the comments and give us your thoughts. The idea is that you are a raccoon stealing stuff from an evil old man who has wronged you. As much as folks hate raccoons, they’re also super cute, and who doesn’t wanna live out the fantasy of playing as a super-fast, little raccoon with a fanny pack who has to build a rocket ship by stealing stuff from an old man?”

Brandon: “Haha! That sounds fantastic!”

Cameron: “It’s a very playful tone that we’re setting. We come from an animation background, so we’re really taking the expertise from those incredible hit shows we work on through Guru Animation Studios, and bringing that expertise to this very colorful, very playful console game.”

Corey: “Guru Studios is best known as the animation studio behind the hit Nickelodeon preschool series PAW Patrol. That’s kind of our calling card in the industry, and we have produced other shows for Netflix: we did Ever After High for Netflix, we’ve also done Abby Hatcher, another part of our Spin Master partnership for Nickelodeon, we have our own IP as well that has been mega successful – we produce a show called Justin Time which is a preschool show that follows a kid named Justin as he travels through history, experiencing history and world events in a really imaginative way for preschoolers, which is sold into virtually every country in the world – our newest completed IP is True and the Rainbow Kingdom on Netflix, which right now is one of the top shows on CBC Kids in Canada (I think it’s experienced something like over 200% growth on Netflix since it launched). We’re really, really good at creating characters that kids and audiences at all ages love, and we’re really great at the anthropomorphic character design and realization as well. Developing a game like Raccoon Story, like Cam said, is really a natural extension of our expertise.”

PAW Patrol

PAW Patrol

Brandon: “Okay, I’ll kind of backtrack to FRACTER for a minute. How did the transition into and then out of FRACTER into Raccoon Story go, considering FRACTER’s darker and more metaphysical experience?”

Cameron: “FRACTER kind of originated with this idea and this fear as little kids where a lot of us find ourselves in a dark basement, and it’s always kind of the fear of the unknown behind us that propels us to run up the stairs to the light. That was kind of the idea behind this game of FRACTER that was spearheaded by our president and executive creative director, Frank Falcone, and so it was very much that idea that was the plant for FRACTER. Realizing that there was obviously big success with the first title under 4L Games was that we can utilize our expertise in animation and push the boundaries of the graphic design and character design even further, and played to something that is a little more friendly and is a little more light and comedic in tone to appeal to a vast audience, so I think that’s why we’re making a bit of a step up by making a bigger and broader game with Raccoon Story.”

Corey: “And for us, Guru is a really creator-driven studio, and we also love to utilize the talents of the folks who come to work with us, so FRACTER was also led by one of our artists who worked on the academy-award-nominated feature film, The Breadwinner, which was nominated for ‘Best Animated Feature’, that Guru did the animation for, and his name was…”

 

The Breadwinner

The Breadwinner

Cameron: “[Sanatan Suryavanshi], and he’s a very talented artist. He was the art director on The Breadwinner… he was the one that was really the creative genius behind FRACTER and really spearheaded the entire game from the beginning.”

Corey: “We really utilize the talents and the ideas of everyone in the studio to help these new ideas come to life. As I said, we’re all about story first, so when we can utilize the talent we have in the studio, really great ideas for TV shows, movies, and now games come to life. As you can see, Guru’s portfolio contains not just kids’ TV shows, but animated features, we’ve done a lot of commercials, and feature films as well. Our brand is really for all ages, but when it comes to story and creativity, we’ll follow and build anything that we feel can capture the hearts and minds of an audience.”

Brandon: “Thank you guys! It’s been great talking to you!”

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