The term "octosim auteur" has never applied to anyone more than to the CEO of Ghost in a Bottle Arts. A visionary dream weaver who graduated from a prestigious business school with one purpose: to be a CEO by the age of 30. We were able to sit down with him in Ghost in a Bottle's luxurious underground bunker to discuss the company's latest entry in the "Octopus City" saga.
The story of your rise from a humble bottled phantasm to one of the most influential CEOs in this galactic quadrant has become something of a legend. What kind of experiences do you think has shaped your path?
Unlike mortal skinbags, there is no limit to what an ambitious young apparition can do. My mission was always to give customers exactly what they want, and if that's an immoral simulation about life in a tentacle-infested metropolis, then I'm more than happy to oblige.
Tell us a little bit about Octopus City Blues. What kind of interactive experiences could we expect from this revolutionary software?
Octopus City Blues is an attempt to go beyond conventional physical simulation and to recreate the very essence of the human experience. It can be described as narrative-driven interactive fiction with a deep web of complex and meaningful interactions and choices. It's also a very visual experience, and we have spared no expense to make every tentacle look as believable as the ones you'd find in your backyard. If I had to describe Octopus City Blues in one word, it would be "abhorrent" or "toxic" (laughs.)
The simulation was originally slated for release by the end of 2014, but was delayed following the release of the demo. What's the project's status at the moment?
Last year showed us that our initial estimates were far off. They were based on pre-Kickstarter work, which did not scale well once we moved to more complex scenes. We had to deal with personal issues, unexpected bugs, and seemingly simple ideas that took a long time to implement. Stretch goals allowed for a larger and more interesting world, but the project's scope grew as well.
When we released the demo and got your feedback, we identified many design problems, so we revamped the design and introduced new scenes. While we'd love to release the project as soon as possible, we also want it to be something we are proud of. Quality will always take priority over time for us, and the final product should be worthy of the Octopus City brand.
With that said, we are still taking measures to improve our process, from hiring additional help to creating simpler editors and tools. We have internal deadlines for everything we work on, and while we might miss them every now and then, we're slowly getting there.
So, can we expect a release some time this year?
It's possible, but quite optimistic. That is to say, if everything goes smoothly then it could happen, but we know by now that things don't always go according to plan. We will try our best and keep you updated. Please look forward to it!
So what are you working on right now? How much of the simulation is completed?
We're finalizing a brand new intro that slowly introduces the systems via a number of optional quests. A couple of scenarios involving a circus and intelligent turkeys are almost done. An editor was created to speed up scene creation. The newest addition to our team, Sabrina, made sprites for all the NPC tier backers and more. We have a new system that allows NPCs to remember your decisions, allowing you to have a reputation that goes beyond good and evil.
Giving estimates for how much is completed can be misleading, because there are so many interlocking parts that need to be taken into account. The systems are all done, more than half the required art is done, music progress is slow, quests and scenarios depend on the art, etc.
What are your priorities for the near future?
Once we're done with the new intro and a few other scenes, we would like to release another, longer demo that is much closer to the final version. It would be limited to backers at the beta tester tier and above, but we might release it publicly in the future. We're also working on several main scenarios and their dream counterparts. Of course, our primary priority will always be hoarding gold and other gems (laughs unconvincingly.)
What personal pursuits do you have beyond octosims?
First of all I want to create even more octosims. I’m almost 500-years-old in ghost years, so I don’t have that much time left before being reincarnated as a freshwater snail. If I were to write a list of things that I want to do before I transmute, it would be a very stuffed list (laughs.)
I was always driven by a burning desire to be number one, and now that I'm a CEO of the world's biggest multinational conglomerate, I can't think of anything bigger than that. Maybe I can come up with a new title such as "His Royal Highness, CEO for Life, Supreme Admiral, Doctor of Medicine, First Salaryman, Baron of the Most Ancient and Most Radical Sewer Brethren, Decadent Uncle of All Beatles of the Earth and Squids of the Seas, Conqueror of the Neo-Roman Empire in the Milky Way in General and planet 1 Sol d in Particular, Uncrowned King of Spades". It has a nice ring to it, ne?