The Joystiq Indie Pitch: TwinKomplex

Indie developers are the starving artists of the video-game world, often brilliant and innovative, but also misunderstood, underfunded and more prone to writing free-form poetry on their LiveJournals. We at Joystiq believe no one deserves to starve, and many indie developers are entitled to a fridge full of tasty, fulfilling media coverage, right here. This week, Berlin's Ludic Philosophy team explains how TwinKomplex, its social hybrid title featuring real actors, is a game, but isn't a game. You really have to see this one for yourself:

What's your game called and what's it about?

TwinKomplex. It's about you and me -- and what happens to us when we partake in the DIA, a Decentral Intelligence Agency. It is also about conspiracy theories, how we try to understand our reality.

What's the coolest aspect of TwinKomplex?

The performance of our actors. The fact that we blur reality and fiction, that we use the Internet as a background for our fantasies. This reflects in the way our interface looks like and in the fact that we run a multitude of fake websites. One of these is a clinic for plastic surgery in Switzerland -- and it looks so real that we have received a few inquiries for silicon implants, etc.

What inspired you to make TwinKomplex?

The initial moment was a day at the cemetery where the question arose: What if the space of a computer game is not the virtual world (all of these fancy levels, populated by orcs and elves), but our reality?

If TwinKomplex isn't a novel, isn't a film and isn't a game, what is it?

It's a living novel, a social movie and a real game.

Do you have previous experience making films or video games?

Yes, I have previous experience in game-engine programming, film and radio -- but also a profound background in media theory.

What factors led to TwinKomplex's creation now? Were the tools for a novel-film-video-game not available until recently?

We had to build our own engine for this game. The core aspect of this engine is communication. This is what makes it different from the usual engines which tend to be render engines with an AI supplement.

How does TwinKomplex change on mobile devices? Is the experience more immersive?

HTML5 allows geolocation. That means: A player sitting in front of his desktop and another walking around in the city having nevertheless the possibility to communicate. There will be some geocaching elements in our gameplay.

What do you want participants to get out of TwinKomplex?

It's not only what we want, also what kind of feedback we actually get. We have gamers who keep playing TwinKomplex now for weeks and who are absolutely absorbed by the story, but also by the solidarity and climate of cooperation which arises in their teams.

Do you see differences between German- and English-speaking users?

Not really. We are preparing the Spanish version, meaning we are looking for an international audience anyway. Sure -- there are some Berlin aspects, the Nazi reich, the GDR, the spy city, love parade, etc., but the story itself is universal.

Why develop independently, rather than work for an established company?

The game concept is so new that no established company would have dared to realize it.

Do you see yourself as part of a larger indie movement?

Indeed, we feel as pioneers, but it might take a while until some copycats show up.

Sell your game in one sentence.

TwinKomplex is so unique that you must play it to understand it.

What's next?

We are working on a freestyle AI dialogue system. Gamers will be able to talk to our chat-bots without restraints; there will be no multiple-choice dialogues anymore.

TwinKomplex is available for your playing/viewing/participating/listening to now right here.

If you'd like to have your own shot at converting our readers into fans, email jess [at] joystiq [dawt] com, subject line "The Joystiq Indie Pitch." Still haven't had enough? Check out the Pitch archives.