We had the opportunity to interview George Batchelor, independent author and the mind behind the recent Far From Noise, a work of silence and pauses that invites us to live the moment and hold a conversation for the simple pleasure of being able to do so. We love his work and we have been able to ask him some questions about it.
Your games are very focused on a situation and a very specific moment, giving depth to the experience in the place of looking for a story. Are you in a similar project of the same style? Do you think it is possible to combine a linear narrative with one that allows you to go deeper into that kind of intimate moments?
I think it’s possible, definitely. Anything is possible! At the moment I’m working on something a bit different that leans a little further away from a linear narrative, but I think it’s about making those moments feel genuine and not flying by too quickly. Far from Noise is all about lingering on moments and having the time to take it all in. I’m interested in trying to make emotional connections with players. Far from Noise helped me, in retrospect, realise a lot of that and how I might make those connections feel more meaningful.
Having won some recognition with this title, with several awards and honors in narrative or independent play, what is the next step? Is there interest in larger or more ambitious projects? Has this recognition served to attract the attention of people interested in having him for a project?
I think I’d like to keep it small. Far from Noise took two years to make for a few reasons; mostly that I work a full time job so my time on the game is spent in evenings, but also because I found the game difficult to make and to write. Getting it to where I wanted it to be took a lot of iteration and rewriting. I don’t really want to spend another two years on the next project, so it’ll be smaller I think. Small, but with depth. I’ll continue to work with musicians, and possibly artists here and there, but mostly I like working on these games independently.
Your games are really special and they set themselves apart from the usual to bring unique experiences. Where do these ideas come from? Are they your own thoughts or are they born of research and search?
Different places I suppose. I’m trying to draw influences from outside of games as much as possible because I think that’s where innovation has to come from. I love anything (obviously) that involves two characters having an in-depth conversation, and that happens a lot in theatre. A lot of the inspiration for th concept of Far from Noise came from plays like Waiting for Godot and The Sunset Limited. Two characters figuring out life.
The themes of the game came more from books I was reading while I was making it. I read Nature, an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and felt such a strong connection with everything he’d written and it resonated so much with how I wanted the game to feel that naturally those philosophies became a big part of the game, growing to include John Muir, Thoreau and some others. There’s this poem by William Wordsworth called Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey that (to me at least) is about experiencing a place in nature and holding it within yourself so that even once you leave, you can recall the feeling you had and find yourself some tranquil restoration in difficult times. Again, that became quite a significant theme of the game.
With all these things though, I’d already started on the game without them. It’s usually a pretty loose process for me, making things. I just let it go wherever feels good.
I think there is a widespread practice in the world of video games and that, more and more, the developer seems to adapt to the player. However, Far From Noise has its own identity stamp. Have you never worried about the player’s acceptance? Thinking about creating an experience more “to everyone’s taste”?
I’m pretty aware that Far form Noise isn’t for everyone, but that’s fine. Before the game came out I knew it was going to be quite polarising, so I tried to be pretty up front with what the game was. I figure that for every few people who don’t get along with the game, if there’s someone who has some kind of deeper connection with it, if they find it meaningful in any way or they feel better for having experienced it, then it was all worth it (post-release, I think it definitely was worth it). I’m not against mass-appeal, of course, I just let Far from Noise be what it was. Why not have a conversation for the sake of having a conversation. It’s worth trying out, at least.
Far From Noise is a title that can be enjoyed without having a very powerful PC (in the case of not having it on PlayStation 4) that leads me to ask you, do you plan to launch it on a hanheld console?
Yep, it already came out on iOS! That’s probably going to be it in terms on platforms.