BAFTA Breakthrough Brit Rex Crowle was lead creator on adventure game Tearaway, winner of three BAFTAs. Before the Games Awards we spoke with Crowle to discuss his career so far and his BAFTA journey.
How did you feel when you got the nomination?
We were all overjoyed! By a strange coincidence we heard about our 8 nominations on the same day as the 8-year birthday celebration of Media Molecule. So we were already surrounded with balloons shaped like eights, and the birthday party was even better than we expected!
What would it mean to you to win a BAFTA?
Everyone on the Tearaway team had to step outside their comfort-zone to make the game. We’re only little and we all needed to learn new skills in order to make the game. But they were all new skills that we’ve had to learn on top of the ongoing process of learning our game-making craft. So with all that being said I think we’d be ecstatic to win, as both a recognition of how far we’ve come, and for fighting new battles to get here. I would certainly be very pleased, especially as I have so much awe and respect for all of the titles nominated - it really feels like a fantastic year for games.
Rex Crowle at the podium to collect Tearway's first award of the night for Artistic achievement.
For those who haven't played the game, run us through the concept of Tearaway.
Its a platforming-adventure game about the story of a little Messenger, travelling through a world made of paper with a message to deliver. The person they have to deliver the message to is you, the player, holding their entire world inside the Playstation Vita! And all through the game the Messenger can see you, peering into their papery world through a hole in the sun, helping and guiding them.
Because it's all made of paper, the world can transform like a pop-up book, unfolding and unpeeling as it's explored. And all the way through the game the paper world, and the real world of the player gradually blend into each other, encouraged by the creativity of the player and what they want to add to this fantasy world themselves.
Ultimately it's about you, the player, collaborating with this little Messenger, so you can be reunited, and find out what they have been trying to deliver to you all along.
Tearaway is nominated in 8 categories. Why do you think it's been so successful?
I think maybe because it's quite personal, there’s a lot of weird and different stuff in the game that might get squeezed out in other games. I think it has its own particular atmosphere, a sense of joy and surprise, massively helped by the papercraft engine that powers the whole game, to allow a union of both some older classic games, with a totally new way of interacting with the world and responding to the player.
Plus it has cute papercraft squirrels which you can make your own crowns for, play throw and catch with, and then print out the squirrels to make your own papercraft of them in the real world, along with all the other creatures in the game. Not every game allows you to do that!
Tearway also won for Mobile & Handheld and Family.
Is there a particular element of the game you are most proud of?
Probably the way players have responded to the way the game concludes, and how emotional and moved they have been (according to what they say about it on Twitter).
How much time do you spend playing games for leisure and what sort of games do you enjoy?
I play things fairly widely, but not always especially deeply - so I try to get a good idea of what’s going on, but unfortunately don’t get enough time to get too obsessed with any one particular game.
My favourite types of games for pure pleasure are ones that give you a feeling of discovery, so games like Zelda, Splelunky and Exile (a very old forgotten classic).
Is there any one game developer you admire / look up to?
Lots! Double Fine for their characters and humour, Naughty Dog for their production values, and there continue to be some very exciting things appearing from tiny indie studios like Hyper Light Drifter and Night In The Woods.
What advice would you give to aspiring game developers?
Experiment, and try not to look too much at all of the games that have gone before. I’m never entirely sure it's good to play too many games for inspiration - it's good to understand what makes them tick and makes them feel good. But don’t make another game that's inspired by Zelda, make something that looks at what inspired Zelda in the first place (exploration and adventure) and make something about that. I get far more game ideas from living life or visiting art galleries than playing other games, so keep your eyes open!