Indie developers will always have a special place in gamers’ hearts. They’re the underdogs and often unsung heroes of the industry – studios that rise to compete with already well-established franchises and developers. Indie developers also tend to be stellar examples of the hard work and dedication it takes to succeed in a world that is constantly evolving, and among an audience that never shies away from voicing their opinions. One such developer is OKAM Studio.
In Buenos Aires, Argentina, indie developer OKAM Studio has been hard at work finishing a game based on the critically acclaimed comic book, The Incredible Adventures of Dog Mendonça & Pizzaboy, published by Dark Horse Comics. The three geniuses behind this noir fest of satire, spunk, and good ole fashioned occult mystery – Filipe Melo, Juan Cavia, and Santiago R. Villa – have teamed up with OKAM to develop an adventure that promises to expand on the world they created in comic form: The Interactive Adventures of Dog Mendonça & Pizzaboy. Fans will get to play as Eurico, Dog Mendonça’s unpaid-ex-pizza-delivery-guy apprentice in this point n’ click adventure game. And did I mention he’s working for a Portuguese werewolf, alongside a seven-year-old girl who’s really a six-thousand-year-old demon? Yeah, it’s that kind of game.
OKAM Studio is a great example of an indie developer that found its passion and is following through with it, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Head on over to their Kickstarter page where you can get a serious crash-course in all things Dog Mendonça and Pizza Boy. They’ve got blurbs about the published comic volumes, info on the setting and characters, and just an excellent smattering of content to introduce you to their game and the wizards behind it, OKAM Studio. One of the coolest features of their Kickstarter campaign is the inclusion of a downloadable demo. If none of the above has convinced you to start throwing money at your computer, maybe this will loosen your purse strings: I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to ask Santiago, Lucas, and Oscar of OKAM Studio a couple of choice questions about this project and the journey so far.
Q: What was the deciding factor in choosing to turn The Adventures of Dog Mendoca and Pizzy Boy into a video game? It's been said that this was the project that brought you together as a team - so what was it about the comics that OKAM Studio fell in love with?
Santiago: When we started to talk about the next step of Dog Mendonça and Pizzaboy, the idea of making a video game came out very organically. We found a lot of inspiration in old adventure games when we worked on the comic books so it´s a big part of the spirit of the project since the beginning. Somehow we always knew that there was no other video game genre that could translate the same mood of the comic book as an adventure game.
Lucas: From the beginning we felt that the project chose us. All the pieces were fitting one after another: the opportunity to work with the authors, the freedom to exploit the characters in another medium, the joy to assemble the team for the first time, and of course the adventure genre that made us traveled back in time, to the 80s and 90s. Therefore we could not pass up the opportunity to capture the essence of Dog Mendonça in a video game.
Oscar: I was called to participate in writing the game, based on the comic book. When I read the comic book, I loved the mixture between adventure and irreverent humor. It seemed like something I wanted to do. The characters were also so vivid that I wanted to see them interact with each other in new adventures.
Q: How closely are the comic's creators and OKAM Studio working with one another on the game? Is the game going to be something like an untold story in the adventures of Dog Mendoca and Pizza Boy comics, or will it be telling its own story, unique to the project?
Lucas: As the idea behind the game was always to expand the universe of comic, we tried to find different ways to overcome limitations; therefore we discarded the possibility to rely on an overall story arc for the episodes. Instead, we believe that doing isolated cases gives us the opportunity to change the experience from one episode to another, in terms of locations, characters, and situations you could come across.
Santiago: As close as we can get. Filipe is in Lisbon, and Juan and I are in Buenos Aires. I´m the Art Director and one of the partners of the studio, and Juan will be working with us too, sharing the position of Art Director with me for the project. So we will always be close to all aspects of development.
Oscar: The game will be an untold story within the universe of Dog Mendonca, and a standalone adventure, ready to introduce new readers into its world. We worked with Filipe – the original writer – in finding the right story to tell, something that was not told but would be fun to see within the boundaries of a new medium.
Q: Any thoughts on what this game could mean for OKAM Studio, or for the creators of the comic books?
Santiago: For me, and I guess for Juan and Filipe as well, it means a new way to expand the universe and tell new adventures of the characters. It´s also a challenge to develop aspects of the characters and world that the comic book medium didn´t allow us to work on.
Lucas: For me, it´s the childhood dream of designing an adventure game.
Oscar: For me, writing the game means letting my imagination run loose. I hope that the creative rush that ran the prototype takes me over again for a larger project.
Q: What's been your biggest accomplishment to date in the development of The Adventures of Dog Mendonça and Pizza Boy?
Oscar: I guess this is something that everyone is saying, but for me developing the game has been an opportunity to know the team and, afterwards, joining them. It was our first collaboration, and I hope the first of many to come!
Santiago: I agree with Oscar.
Lucas: Coming together as a team.
There’s still plenty of time left to familiarize yourself with the project and pledge to their cause, and for a game that looks as good as this one does – and one that’s so close to completion – you’d seriously be screwing the werewolf occult detective by not giving the demo a try. OKAM Studio’s dedication, hard work, and passion shines through every aspect of their Kickstarter page; and if we have any hope of a bright future in the world of gaming, we owe it to ourselves to invest in the indie developers who just might be running things one day.
Article by: Robert Ortiz