Overcome Interview with Kabir Lal

Kabir Lal - Overcome
Kabir Lal, developer of Overcome.

Overcome is an example of what makes independent game development so important. It is the kind of game that no AAA publisher could develop; a concept so personally-inspired that no 100+ member team could capture its emotion as effectively as a single driven person. That is why I considered myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to interview Kabir Lal, the developer of Overcome, so that I could learn more about his game and what inspired its creation.

Thank you for joining me! Please, tell us about yourself.

Hi Alex, thanks for having me. My name is Kabir Lal and I am the developer of Overcome. I’m a designer, programmer and artist at Overcome Studios, which I founded in the December of 2018. I enjoy gaming, strength training and improving my skills as well as learning new ones.

Overcome is an incredibly personal game. Can you speak to some of the experiences that inspired its design and creation?

Overcome stemmed primarily from my experience with cancer and a hard breakup. I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a kind of blood cancer, at the age of nineteen, while I was going through college. It happened very suddenly, one week I was fine, the next week, I had a slight cold, and by the third week, I was on the operating table, getting a tumor removed from my nose, which was preventing me from breathing.

The suddenness of the whole experience didn’t hit me until I was about halfway through chemotherapy, at which point it really sunk in. Because of chemo, I had a compromised immune system which made it really hard to venture outside my home. As a result, it really affected my performance in college, put strain on some of my relationships at the time and made me miss out on a lot of experiences that people typically have in their early twenties.

A few months later, after my cancer had gone into remission, I came across a GDC talk by Sam Coster of Butterscotch Shenanigans, called “The Last Game I Make Before I Die”. In this talk, he mentions a lesson that he learned during his own battle with cancer, “Great writers suggest that you write stories from what you know”. I was extremely inspired by this, and some other events that occurred during that time, so I decided to work on Overcome, a game about beating your inner demons, without having the ability to attack them, because that’s how I felt throughout the whole experience.

In Overcome, the world isn’t quite as it first may appear…

Overcome is HARD! Part of what makes it hard is that you’re not given a traditional ‘weapon’ to combat enemies. Why did you choose to design the combat (and difficulty) in this way?

There were primarily two factors in deciding to make Overcome as difficult as it is.

The lack of a traditional weapon is one of them, and this came about because I wanted to see what happened, if I took away the ability to attack, which is a very core mechanic to an action platformer, and made combat a response to your enemies, rather than an action that you initiate yourself.

The second reason is that I wanted to capture the essence of feeling helpless, in a situation where it seems like everything is out to get you, and the only thing you can do about is dodge and weave, that is, until you find a way to face these troubles.

What are a few of your favorite games? Did any of them inspire elements of Overcome in some way?

Overcome was inspired a lot by a few games. One of these is Philophobia, a game by Tim Ruswick of Game Dev Underground in which love is literal hell and all the enemies are hearts. Another one is Hollow Knight, a game whose soundtrack and gameplay I was so enraptured by, that I decided to give the soundtrack of Overcome a very high priority. And last, but definitely not the least, I studied the classic Mario games to really get a feel for what platformers should feel like.

The audio design in Overcome is particularly unique. The reverberating tones and atmospheric music play a big role in immersing the player into the game world. What were some of the design philosophies around the game’s sound, and why have you chosen such an interesting sound design?

I’m fascinated by how important of a role auditory input plays, in a person’s immersion into a world, so I decided to look at movies that did it particularly well in my opinion, like Interstellar and Dunkirk. The credit for the music goes to Anshuman Sharma, who composed all the music in Overcome, with the main input from me being some tracks to be inspired by, and the emotion to convey through the different tracks. The sound effects were made to be somewhat 8-bit, because they matched the pixel aesthetic of the game.

Overcome is an incredibly personal game that will challenge you every step of the way.

There are a number of unique enemies in the game. Can you give us an idea into what inspired their designs, and perhaps provide us with a few examples of how the enemies are representative of your personal experience?

The enemies are extremely metaphorical and there’s a lot of my personal thoughts and emotions that have inspired their design. They’re representative of how a person going through grief perceives other people, and even themself. For example, the jumping enemies are those that try to push you down when you’re trying to rise up and better yourself. The charger enemies are representative of people who you might think are trying to hurt you on purpose, and so on and so forth.

How long had it taken you to develop Overcome? Is this your first shipped title?

In total, it took me six months to develop Overcome from inception to market. It is my first shipped title that I am releasing commercially.

What platforms will Overcome be releasing on, and when?

Overcome will be available on Steam for Windows and Mac, on 27th February, 2019. It will be available for Linux not too long after.

How can people connect with you if they’d like to learn more about you and your game?

People can reach me anytime, on twitter at twitter.com/KabirMakesGames and e-mail me at overcomestudios@gmail.com.

Thank you kindly for your time, and best of luck on the release of Overcome!

It’s been a pleasure, thank you for having me, Alex!


About Zeen

Power your creative ideas with pixel-perfect design and cutting-edge technology. Create your beautiful website with Zeen now.