dyscourse1Mr. Alex Schwartz of Owlchemy Labs was kind enough to answer some of our questions recently.  Who exactly is Alex Schwartz?  He’s one of guys behind the upcoming survival game Dyscourse, of course!

If you’re not already familiar with Dyscourse then shame on you; you should check out our previous coverage of the game, which includes being a selection in our November Budget Backer.

If clicking links is a hassle for some reason, we’ll give you the Readers Digest version of DyscourseDyscourse puts the player in the shoes of Rita, a young lady unfortunate enough to have not just a liberal arts degree, but also to be stranded on a desert island after surviving a plane crash.  As you try and help Rita survive you’ll have to decide how she’ll interact with other survivors; from helping them survive, to setting them up for certain failure and death.  Dyscourse features not only some rather unique graphics, a refreshing take on group dynamics, but also a wide variety of endings that are based on the decisions you make throughout the game.

Now that you’re in the know, let’s see what Alex has to say about his teams’ upcoming game!


dyscourse 6Cliqist : If I may be blunt, why take Dyscourse the Kickstarter route? Aren’t you and your team fabulously wealthy already?

Alex Schwartz : Hah! Definitely not! While we’ve had some critical success from our previous titles (Jack Lumber, Snuggle Truck, Aaaaaculus!), they certainly have not led to much more than sustainability (aka no Scrooge McDuck swimming in money). Dyscourse is our biggest, most ambitious project Owlchemy has ever undertaken. This definitely requires more time, more art, more writing…just more of everything to get it to the level of polish we’re used to. Kickstarter is a great way to not only help fund development but to also spread the word! It’s a perfect fit for us and we’re already learning a ton about the process.


dyscourse 2Cliqist : Where’d the inspiration for Dyscourse come from?

Alex Schwartz : We’re huge fans of survival-type games, movies, and fiction as well as strong narratives in games. Owlchemy wanted to make a game that took our love of these things and combined them into a unique take on both the Survival and Adventure genres. The idea was  to make a game where choices *do* matter and the narrative can branch to distinct and unique conclusions based on those decisions. We also always wanted to bludgeon ferocious animals with frying pans and now was our opportunity!


dyscourse 5Cliqist : What we’ve seen of the game so far focuses mostly on the conversational aspects of the gameplay. Is Dyscourse just a conversation simulator? A twisted “My Dinner With Andre, On A Desert Island”?

Alex Schwartz : Definitely not! While conversation and inter-personal relationships are key to survival in Dyscourse, so is controlling Rita to do actual hunting, gathering. Simply standing around and talking to people all day without pulling your weight won’t do much for you as far as getting in your group’s favor.


dyscourse 1Cliqist : You’re really emphasizing the power of choice in Dyscourse and its branching story structure. Are you afraid that most players will never see large chunks of content that you’ve created?

Alex Schwartz : Dyscourse has been designed to give a unique experience with each play through, so, yeah, if you only play through it once you’re going to miss out on a lot of cool and unique situations and environments. It’s a concern, for sure, but we’re working on some mechanics that allow for better understanding of the choices you make, and possibly replay mechanics that won’t require a ton of re-reading previous content. We also have a few extra features up our sleeves that will help communicate your story’s relevance to the ‘big picture’ of the island… Let’s just say we’re doing some ambitious behind-the-scenes work and it’s an interesting challenge!


dyscourse indieCliqist : You’re currently in the middle of the dreaded mid campaign funding dry spell. How are you combating that?

Alex Schwartz : We recently announced the Indie Plane Crash scenario (which pits several Independent Game Developers against the island), which was a hilarious way to show people we cared, showed players our style, and that we’re up for doing things differently. We’ve also just recently released a gameplay video and are keeping our updates fresh and frequent so fans are aware that we’re working our asses off!


Cliqist : With the Indie Plane Crash scenario are you essentially saying that you, Alex Schwartz, are in fact God of the indie developers?

Alex Schwartz : Whoa, getting into Beetles ‘bigger than Jesus’ territory. But seriously, though,  not at all. We, as indie game developers, have a certain, highly specialized set of skills. And unlike Liam Neeson, it’s not really gonna help anyone out on a deserted island. Approaching some friends (and some industry luminaries who we barely knew!) to be a part of this island experiment has been an awesome experience, and we’re humbled that some great developers chose to take part.


dyscourse 4Cliqist : If you were stranded on a desert island, who would you cannibalize first, Tim Schafer or Edmund McMillen?

Alex Schwartz : I have the distinct impression that I would probably be incapacitated before I had the opportunity to choose. Most likely hit on the head with a coconut by Alexander Bruce. That sneaky bastard…


Cliqist : What would you say to someone that’s on the fence about backing Dyscourse?

Alex Schwartz : What could be better than playing through a unique and twisted psychological survival adventure game with moral gray-area choices and a Lord of the Flies vibe? It’s got boars, snakes, berries, an over-educated barista, and that absurd Owlchemy style. What more could you ask for?


Cliqist : Can you close us out with a Dyscourse inspired Haiku?

Alex Schwartz :

Plane crash in the wild,

Rita’s work is never done.

Frying pan that snake!


Thanks to Alex for taking the time to answer our questions!

If you’d like to learn more about Dyscourse you can get it, including a gameplay video, on the Dyscourse Kickstarter page.  The campaign runs until December 6th and has a funding goal of $40,000.

About the Author

Greg Micek

Greg Micek has been writing on and off about games since the late nineties, always with a focus on indie games. He started DIYGames.com in 2000, which was one of the earliest gaming sites to focus exclusively on indie games.

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