ADR1FT Interview with Adam Orth – How Xbox One’s #DealWithIt Controversy Led to the Game, and More
If you’ve been following gaming news for the past few years then you might remember that the Xbox One didn’t have the best debut of all time. Controversy surrounded the console, with gaming fans feeling that Microsoft had abandoned them for TV and sports content, and the always-online requirement making many question their allegiance to the Xbox brand.
All of these controversies seemed to come to a head in the #DealWithIt controversy, where a Microsoft representative seemingly told fans to just drop their complaints. Of course, as is always the case with these sorts of things, there was much more to the story. The person who posted the now infamous tweets was speaking with a friend, and was using a semi-sarcastic tone as he usually would with the individual. Other clamped onto the quotes and ended up spreading them, leaving the context by the wayside.
The end result was Adam Orth leaving Microsoft, but that wasn’t the end of his story. Last year he returned to the gaming industry, presenting a fantastic trailer for his new game, ADR1ft. It is a deeply emotional game, and was directly created in response to the turmoil that Orth found himself in back in 2013. Find out more about the game, and how it ties to the controversy in our interview below.
Kyle: To start off, can you kind of go over the general idea behind ADR1FT? Hopefully everyone has seen the amazing trailers by now, but if someone hadn’t, how would you describe the game to them?
Adam: ADR1FT is the story of an astronaut, Commander Alex Oshima, who wakes up floating in space amongst the debris of a destroyed space station with no memory of what happened and a badly damaged EVA suit leaking oxygen. You goals in ADR1FT are to stay alive and repair the mainframe computers required to operate the EEV and return home safely. You accomplish this by exploring the damaged station and repairing your suit and the mainframes over the course of the experience. As you explore the wreckage, you uncover the stories of your crew and in turn learn about who you are and what happened to the station.
K: When we spoke at PAX East you brought up how personal of a project ADR1FT is for you, and the events that led to its creation. Can you elaborate on that a bit please? Also, has working on the game helped you move on from the incident that inspired you at all?
A: I created ADR1FT in the aftermath of my Twitter incident as a way to deal with the devastating effect it had on my life and to turn the negative to positive through creativity and a game experience. That experience was incredibly surreal, vicious and toxic. I wasn’t sure if I had the tools to cope with something of that magnitude, but as soon as I started funneling that experience into an idea and eventually a game, it was my path out and I was able to move past the negativity and get on with my life. the game is very personal to me in many ways. Working on this game, with this amazing team of developers and friends has been really rewarding. I’m not sure I’ll ever have another experience making a game like this ever again. It was special and unique for sure.
K: Many have compared ADR1FT to the film Gravity, however, considering the fact that you began working on the game without even knowing of the movie, what other media did you take inspiration from?
A: The main inspirations and influences for ADR1FT are: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Mirror’s Edge, the music of Pink Floyd and the website youarelistening.to. All very important sources of inspiration. I think they are all fairly evident in the game. It’s been fun funneling those vibes into our experience. I think it’s a great mix. We really wanted to do something bright and hopeful with a message of positivity, despite the destroyed setting. We wanted to have that message coursing through the experience. I think we succeeded.
In regards to Gravity, it’s been a wonderful touchpoint for ADR1FT. Yes, there are a few similarities, but if being compared to a cinematic experience of that caliber allows people to immediately grasp what we are doing, it’s just a bonus for ADR1FT. The comparison is humbling.
K: ADR1FT was first unveiled during the Video Game Awards, setting off some very positive reactions. Since then you’ve shown the game at a couple of conventions, such as PAX East. How has it felt seeing others play through the game, and what has been the most common reaction that you’ve seen from players?
A: It’s been really great handing the game over to players and seeing how they play and what kind of experiences they are having. Everyone plays different and uses the mechanics in their own way. Very eye-opening. As a developer, you eventually become numb to what you are making purely out of the monotony of making it.You tend to develop play patterns and it’s hard to remember to stretch out and do it differently each time. Its incredibly valuable seeing new players take the game on. It allows us to make the game better. We recently made some very big changes to the game late in the development cycle based on a playlets session we had and the game improved vastly.
K: During my time with the game there was a fascinating sense of loneliness and dread, but also a lot of wonder thanks to the visuals. What, ultimately, would you like players to take away from the game?
A: Ultimately, we want to entertain you, but there’s more there. I want players to hopefully have their own unique experience based on the whole package. Mechanics, environment, visuals, narrative, audio…they all have their own voice that when combined create what we think is something special. We’re hoping to give gamers something they’ve never had before that maybe stays with them for a while after they finish. Selfishly, I’m hoping that the narrative and the stories we are telling reveal an opportunity for players to maybe pause and see if there are any parallels in the story and their own lives.
K: VR is a pretty big addition to Adr1ft, we got to check it out on the Oculus Rift for example. However, while VR is nice, it isn’t the only way to play the game. Can you elaborate on what VR platforms you are definitely going to support, and how do you feel it impacts the experience of the game?
A: Well, VR is not an addition to ADR1FT. Its something we planned for from the beginning. My partner Omar Aziz was adamant about this game being a VR experience and he was right. The 1st time we saw the game on our Oculus HMD’s, we knew we had something special. We want to get ADR1FT on as many VR platforms as possible. Right now, our plan is to support Morpheus, Vive and Oculus. Each of those platforms has it’s own set of challenges and while we want to bring the console/PC experience to VR as close as we can, we aren’t ruling out doing something different for them either. Taking advantage of each platforms specific features is important, so we are trying to figure out what is best.
K: Finally, the last time we spoke Adr1ft was set for a Summer 2015 release on PS4, Xbox One, and Steam. Is that still the case?
A: We are scheduled to be finished with the development of ADR1FT at the end of June and our publisher plans on releasing the game in September on PC/Steam, Playstation 4 and Xbox One. VR comes later as the platforms launch.