I was able to go to EGX, a huge games convention at the NEC in Birmingham, England! This event has tons and tons of games, both indie and AAA, however, a new booth caught my eye. TranzFusers, a talent development programme by UK Games Talent and Finance CIC, had bought up a lot of floor space at the event. This area had tons of amazing games featured there, one of which was called Exposure.
Exposure is a beautiful and breathtaking puzzle game that allows you to familiarize yourself with the settings of a camera and use them while taking photos to solve puzzles. There are supernatural beings floating around this world – that keep you wondering and mystified while you explore the game. Using the camera, you can adjust the shutter speed and brightness of the camera’s view. You can then take photos that drag light – solving puzzles and revealing new areas of the world. Exposure is a wonderful game – both in its explorative nature and it’s photographic aspects. The fun experienced while solving puzzles and challenging yourself in an unusual and simultaneously beautiful way is brilliant.
I was able to chat with Finn Connolly, one of the amazing students behind Exposure to ask about the programme and the game.
Can you explain what Tranzfuser is, in brief, and how you got involved with the program?
Tranzfuser is a UK Games Fund competition in which graduates and undergraduates compete to create a 10 week prototype which is then showcased at EGX, the prize is £25k in funding. Me and some friends from uni had planned to go indie for a while and this seemed like the right thing to get us started. We were given £5k for the 10 weeks so we moved down to my home town in Brighton and started working from my garage full time.
Having just 10 weeks to create a game is very challenging – especially when you take a look at the games that were in TranzFuser’s area. Most of them were very polished demos that could be picked up and enjoyed immediately.
What’s the main reason you and your team wanted to be a part of Tranzfuser?
We really needed a short term goal which would essentially let us go full time and get a foundation down for a game ASAP. We were completely new to the industry and we knew this would give us an intense introduction to indie development.
How was developing a game within such a strict timeframe? (10 weeks)
Insane. 10 weeks is no time at all! We worked really unhealthy hours and pushed ourselves really hard, but it was massively rewarding seeing what we were able to make it in such a short time. Having such a short deadline overhead is both a blessing and a curse. It definitely kept us focused. Our game is pretty ambitious and scope quickly became a massive pressure. The prototype was essential scrapped and rebuilt 3 times over.
The scope is something that every developer and team struggles with. It is fairly easy to add too much to your project and push back dates, but having a solid date that you are not actually in control of does keep you extremely focused.
Was this your first time demoing at EGX? How was demoing your game?
This was our first time at EGX and it was amazing! Seeing people play our game was an incredible experience, but even more so when they are creating images that go beyond what we could have expected. People took such amazing photos and it really made us feel proud. That also applies to the puzzles, people solved them in ways we had never thought of which was completely possible due to how the camera mechanics are built. They gave us so many good ideas as to how we can develop new puzzles in the future. Plus we met an incredible group of people that were super supportive and we are really looking forward to staying in touch with them.
What did you learn from showing your game off to all of the attendees?
The most important thing is to make sure people aren’t scared away by the controls. The camera mechanics are pretty heavy to take in all at once, so our top priority right now is making sure a tutorial is in place to get people comfortable and confident to start snapping away! It was also really nice to see how some people were happy to just explore and photograph their surroundings, we want to make sure these players are rewarded for this and have lots of cool things to find in the world.
Exposure is truly a unique and wonderful experience. A lot of the focus is on the world around the game – the beautiful places and strange buildings dotted around the very real world.
What made your team want to create such a realistic, beautiful world to explore around?
Our thought has always been that if the player is going to want to take beautiful pictures, then they must be surrounded by a beautiful world. We want people to lose themselves in our environment and to be captivated, and free to explore their own creativity. For that to happen we need to provide them with a world that will inspire them. Luckily we are a very art heavy team, so if we got one thing right we hoped it would be the visuals!
The next key part of the game is the puzzles, in which you must use the camera’s exposure to solve.
How did you come up with the idea of using a camera’s exposure to solve puzzles?
Initially, the game was closer to a safari in which players could just wander around and take pictures of these strange creatures. However, we wanted the player to engage more with the mechanics of the camera and puzzles seemed like a good way to get players thinking ‘outside the box’ as to how the camera can be used. The idea developed over time, initially we built the camera and put it in a 3D space and just started playing with the tool to see what kinda weird and interesting effects we could create with the camera, and what felt fun and engaging. Exposure was really appealing because of how it develops and how you can get such abstract result from it. We spent a huge portion of the project developing different camera based puzzles but only had time to fully develop the exposure puzzles. We can’t wait to show people some of the other ideas we have started!
As someone who was once really into photography and playing around with camera features and angles myself, this game looked very promising for me! Looking at the content and puzzles currently in the game, the team behind Exposure seem to be heading in the right direction. This game will not only let you explore and discover lovely things, but also teach you how to use a camera and take different types of pictures! That’s amazing!
Another wonderful aspect of Exposure is the whimsical creatures that are floating around – running past your lens or just out of sight while you are exploring. These characters don’t seem to stick around much, and in the EGX version of the game, we didn’t really get to interact with the mysterious beings.
Are the beings that float around the world going to be more important in future levels?
Yes! From day one the ‘divine’ creatures were always going to be a core feature of the world. Currently, they act mostly as a guidance system but in the future we want them to feel more alive and a part of this ‘hidden’ world. We also are exploring ways to use them to show progression in the world as the player continues on their journey.
What does the future of Exposure look like?
After EGX there is no doubt we want to see this game through to release. We have a very strong idea now of the kinda game we want to make, we just need to find the time and resources to make it happen. The response was really positive to our first EGX showing so hopefully some opportunities are around the corner to ensure we can keep working.
Exposure is one of the best games I got the chance to look at while at EGX. It is certainly unique, seriously stunning, and takes the player on an amazing adventure. You should consider keeping an eye on this studio – these students are creating something so whimsical and amazing, that I have a feeling you might fall in love with it, much like I have.