Klaus Interview: Victor Velasco Breaks the 4th Wall Klaus is a 2D puzzle platformer with a self aware narrative that draws players in with familiar mechanics, recognizable aesthetics and known tropes then quickly subverts expectations and leaves players constantly guessing as the narrative unfolds and the world doesn’t follow the established rules. The protagonist is an office worker with no memories of how he ended up prisoner in a mechanical & constructivist world, left questioning his existence and purpose. His (and your) only clue is the tattoo “KLAUS” on his arm. As you progress through six worlds to uncover memories and unlock the mystery, gameplay will evolve and devolve to ensure nothing ever feels stale. Victor Velasco, CEO & Creative Director of La Cosa, shares his insights into making Klaus (multiple times), breaking the 4th wall and finding inspiration. Q: Can you please share some of your background on how you started in game design and how you joined the La Cosa team? Hi, I’m a Systems Engineer and Filmmaker. I started with a couple of friends developing the first version of Klaus (it has almost no relation with the retail version) for a contest in which we won second place. After that, we contacted Sony to develop on PS4. Meanwhile we teamed and founded the La Cosa that we know today. I’m the Creative Director, Game Designer, 2D Lead Artist animator and music composer of Klaus Q: How do you describe Klaus to people who haven’t heard of it? Klaus is an existentialist 2D hand-drawn platformer with 4th wall breaking mechanics – the only way to understand the experience is by playing it. This means there are no regular cut scenes, so the player can keep going at their pace. Q: What is the inspiration for KLAUS? The need to create a game in which mechanics, gameplay, story and even the inputs of the player create a believable universe. Q: Is the tattoo “KLAUS” a clue to what’s going on to the protagonist? Is this a reference to mythology or other works…or something the player will uncover in the game? It’s closely related with the narrative of the game. We tried to make every little detail part of the universe. Even the color of his shirt has a purpose! Q: The game is described as breaking the 4th wall, this immediately reminds of Deadpool or Ferris Bueller talking to the audience, does this add a layer of commentary and complexity to the game? Klaus is not only aware of the player; the player is actually another character of the game. This will impact the story and the gameplay. For example sometimes Klaus might not agree with the player’s actions and will react in a different way of what might be expected. This aspect isn’t just present within Klaus the character, but also the environment around him. Things such as spawn points and moving cameras have their narrative (and 4th wall breaking) purpose. Q: Are there traditional levels for the player to progress through or is Klaus a Metroidvania with backtracking as you discover new abilities? Klaus has a linear story path with 6 Worlds, 36 collectibles and two different endings. We focused toward a joyful experience with no filler and pure fun as the motivator. Some collectibles are a bit out of the way, so we encourage exploration! Q: How does the arcade mode cater to the speedrunning community? The arcade mode gives the player the option to find missing collectibles and a time attack mode. This time attack mode it’s also part of the universe of the game and it’s great for speedruns. If you post the highest score, you’ll also become an Employee of the Year. Q: What feature or aspect are you most excited for fans to experience? The collectibles and the glitch world. In those levels we really broke every rule of the game… and we love it! This is where Klaus truly puts its mark on platforming, as the mechanics and aesthetics get increasingly crazier. Q: I’m a huge trophy fan…how did you decide what trophies to include? We wanted to have meaningful trophies. Activities that you usually do in the game but you’re not aware of. Other ones are little rewards after a pretty difficult part. What could be better after defeating that final boss or after setting a new record than a trophy? Q: What percentage of players do you think will be able to get the Platinum? 10% Q: What is your development philosophy? There’s always opportunity for surprise. Q: What advice do you have for aspiring developers who want to break into the industry? Try to get inspiration from more medias than games. Films, Music, Books or even your personal life can inspire you for a new mechanic or narrative. Q: What lessons regarding game development have you learned on this project? Every little change in the game is a potential future problem. Even updating a small value could mean changing levels or even the entire game! Thank you Victor for delving into what players can expect when they pick up Klaus. Klaus is available in the PlayStation Store for the PS4 with a Vita release scheduled. Klaus will release on additional platforms in 2016. Level Up, Friends!