Exclusive Interview: Jernej Kocjancic Of Motiviti Talks Elroy And The Aliens

One of the hardest things to achieve in gaming is making people laugh, as far too often attempts at comedy in video games are met with groans and ire from those playing. The latest title trying to make players laugh is Motiviti’s Elroy and the Aliens, a hand-drawn point and click game that draws inspiration from LucasArts classics.

To find out more about the gorgeous adventure title, we talked to Motiviti’s Jernej Kocjancic. It was an interesting discussion about comedy in video games, the business realities of indie products and much more.

Check it out below, and enjoy!

We Got This Covered: The first thing that really pops out from looking at Elroy and the Aliens is the game’s stunning hand-drawn art style. What made you want to go in that direction, and how much more work has it been?

Jernej Kocjancic: Glad you like it. We knew from the start that we wanted to make an adventure game and we knew we wanted it to be funny. So, thinking about what we wanted the game to look like, we first thought about what we actually like ourselves and what makes us laugh. Fact is that we are all big fans of old-school Tom & Jerry and Looney Tunes. We love the attention to detail in the art and animations and the lightweight slapstick humor emphasized by outstanding pacing and sound design. So, when we were deciding about the art style, it was an easy choice for us.

We knew from the beginning that hand-drawn 2D art and animation would take us a lot of time and would raise the production costs considerably. It isn’t a coincidence that all the studios that made the legendary cartoons had dozens of artists on the team. There’s four of us here on the game development team, so … You do the math. But, despite more work, we also felt that we had to follow our heart and really fall in love with the game in order to convey that same joy to Elroy’s audience after the release.

WGTC: What style of Adventure game would you say Elroy and the Aliens falls into? I definitely get a LucasArts vibe from it.

JK: True. LucasArts games have inspired us the most to even start making adventure games. Especially Day Of The Tentacle and the Monkey Island series. We always say that Elroy and the Aliens is an adventure game inspired by Saturday morning cartoons and point and click games from the golden 90s era, designed for the modern player.

WGTC: What differentiates Elroy and the Aliens from other adventure games? The genre has had a nice resurgence lately, and there are plenty of games for fans to play now.

JK: I agree, there are really a lot of games out now. It’s not like it was 15 years ago when you basically could find the time to play or try any game that would arouse your interest in even a remote way. You would need two lives to even come close to that nowadays.

The first thing that differentiates Elroy and the Aliens from other games, I would say, is the art style itself. That organic cartoon-y vibe that you can only get if you draw the animations by hand and frame by frame. We are using all the modern development and production tools there are, but the bulk of the game is handcrafted. I think that people see and appreciate that as we often get compliments about the visual aesthetics of the game. A talented Czech artist Yeve Drovossekova even honored us with a tribute oil on canvas painting of Elroy because she liked our art-style that much. That’s a huge compliment.

The other differentiator is the comedy aspect of the game. We want to make it so that when a parent plays Elroy with their 5 year old child, they both laugh and both have a great time. You don’t see too many games or even cartoons nowadays that can do that.

WGTC: Can you talk a bit about Motiviti’s background? How has the company’s work on mobile apps, interactive billboards, and cartoons helped the you guys grow and be able to work on your first major release?

JK: There are two important factors you need to have covered if you are serious about stepping into the gaming business. The first one is experience. There is a long road from the first idea to a finished product that has the potential to have mass appeal. It involves hard work and if you don’t have enough experience, chances are that you will get tangled up in the production process so much that your game is never going to see the light of the day.

The second factor comes in form of time and money, which are interlaced. If you want to focus your effort and energy on a risky project such as making a game, you need money. Money can buy you the necessary time you’ll need to spend on the production.

As Motiviti, the company, we’ve been lucky enough to have some really cool partners and projects that gave us a lot of experience as a team. During the years we have built a small but strong development team of passionate people who are awesome each in their own field of work. Doing client work has also helped us put money on the side in order to be able to even start developing Elroy and the Aliens.

WGTC: Development on Elroy and the Aliens began in 2013. Has this been a longer development cycle than you had anticipated?

JK: Yes, it took us quite a bit longer. An independent game studio is similar to a rock band, sort of. You know what you liked and what inspired you to pick up the guitar in the first place. You eagerly want to release your first album, or game in our case. You firmly and faithfully believe that your game is going to make it big. But first you have to find your own style and at the same time you have to find out how to reach the emotional side of your audience so that people even notice you amid all the noise. This is extremely important. All of this takes a lot of learning, experimenting and work.