Ether one

Ether One Interview with White Paper Games

Some indie devs are just different. When I got the memo that I was going to be interviewing Manchester-based White Paper Games, I thought I would be interviewing a team representative. Well, lets just say that the staff at White Paper Games does things a little differently. Nearly the entire crew made themselves available for our conversation about their upcoming game, Ether One, and the result is below in its full glory. It was great to talk about this fantastically original game with the entire White Paper family.

White Paper Games Team picture
The White Paper Games team.

Tell us about yourself and your studio!

Ben (Creative Director): White Paper Games is a small game development studio based in Manchester in the UK. The studio was co-founded by both myself and Pete Bottomley and has since expanded to have a core team of 7 (including ourselves). We have been working hard on developing our debut title Ether One for the PC, a first-person adventure game that explores the human mind and mental health.

Ether One is a unique and fascinating game from several perspectives. What inspired you to create a game about something as complex and personal as the human mind?

James (Technical and Environment Artist): Some of our main inspiration comes from science fiction novels like 1984 and Brave New World. These served us as a great starting point; however we wanted to keep the themes of the game on a more human and relatable level rather than super epic sci-fi. To do this we drew inspiration from personal experiences that some members of the team have had. The subject of mental illness and the concept of exploring these minds is something we feel really close to (through personal experiences) and we really wanted to explore this through game interaction in order to inject a deeper level of meaning for the player. We want people to experience and understand the harder things that people have to go through when dealing with these problems from an internal and external point of view.

What exactly is a “Restorer”, and how do they work their craft?

James (Technical and Environment Artist): Restorers are individuals that posses the unique gift of ethereal projection. Through this they are able to project themselves into the minds of their clients in order to fix their memories and essentially heal them. When a restorer accesses the mind of a client, he must find the specific core memories and artefacts related to them that are creating the mental block in order to restore these and set them back to normal, thus curing the subject of his/her illness. In order to control and record this ability Restorers need to use specific technology when projecting primarily for their own safety so they don’t get lost in the recesses of someone else’s mind.

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Why are Restorers important in the world of Ether One? Why are they venturing into the minds of others?

NJ (Sound Designer and Composer): A Restorers role is to navigate the mind of the client and discover memories any hidden truths that may have been lost. So when the Restorer projects, the client’s mind and memories become the world of Ether One. Only a Restorer can perceive this manifestation of a client’s mind.

Are there ‘enemies’ in Ether One? What threats exist to the Restorers and their subjects?

NJ (Sound Designer and Composer): The Key threat in Ether One is the world itself. The mind is a fragile thing and when all that separates our most cherished memories from one another are delicate synapses in the brain, the presence of the Restorer can have devastating consequences.

Without giving too much away, if the player is careless or doesn’t pay attention to how they are doing their job, they could be ripped from a memory causing it damage as they do so. There are ways to save the mind of the client but there is also the risk of damaging it irreparably.

The threat in Ether One is very unique from the point of view that the player cannot be harmed, but player choices have permanent consequences on the world around them, having impact on the overall experience of the game. Actions Restorers take inside the mind of a client may not always go according to plan!

What is the significance of the camera being held by the player in the teaser videos?Ether One camera

NJ (Sound Designer and Composer): The Camera is a type of Artefact, which is something from the client’s past that has significance to the core memories the restorer will be looking for. Artefacts can be used to access, restore or destroy a client’s memories.

Moments in life can be captured on a photograph which makes the camera an important tool for finding memories. Although it will feature in the game, it is not the only Artefact players will come across in Ether One.

Ether One - Candles
The environments in Ether One are surreal.

There is a lot of speculation that Ether One will be designed with the Oculus Rift in mind. Can you either confirm or deny?

Dave (Programmer): We’ve been playing with the rift for a few weeks now!

Dave with the Oculus Rift
Dave loves the Oculus Rift.

How exciting! How do you feel the Oculus Rift will impact the gameplay experience within Ether One?

Dave (Programmer): It’s quite something to wander around the environments that the team’s putting together. You can really lose yourself in the world of Ether One.

We spend a couple of hours a week tinkering with the implementation, trying to create as smooth an experience as possible. We’re not letting the Rift support go out the door until we’re completely satisfied with it, but it’s definitely something we’re working on adding!

We are very excited to play Ether One, and everyone who has been following the Oculus Rift was just given another reason to pick it up. How can gamers support you and your team as you work towards completing the game?

Dave (Programmer): We’d love it if people checked out our Steam Greenlight page and gave us a vote! We’ve also started up a new microblog on tumblr where you can find snippets of things that we haven’t shown anywhere else yet! We are also in a poll to get Ether One across to E3 this year here. The more votes we have the more likely we can show Ether One to a larger amount of people and get them playing it.


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