Close to the Sun Interview: Bioshock Comparisons Are “Risky,” Says Studio

Close to the Sun is an Art Deco survival horror game developed by Storm in a Teacup. The studio general manager Roberto Semprebene had a chat with Segmentnext about the game’s constant comparison to Bioshock, Nikola Tesla, and more.

Segmentnext: Storm in a Tea Cup decided to use Art Deco design for Close to the Sun and instantly people started to compare the game with Bioshock. Of course, there are certain elements inspired by Bioshock but you guys made it clear this is not Bioshock, it plays differently from what I have seen myself. But is it frustrating to see people, instead of talking about Close to the Sun’s various aspects, mostly end up just discussing similarities with Bioshock? Or do you guys take it as a compliment?

When we started working on the concept for the game Bioshock was not even a reference, since we were thinking about creating a game like Outlast or Soma, eventually considering Layers of Fear and a little bit of Firewatch. Then, choosing to set the story in a Steampunk environment, Bioshock came out as the milestone for this kind of setting, and it’s really hard not to mess with it, since Art Deco has very specific and coded appearance. Being compared to Bioshock for a small team like us is a big compliment, but at the same time it could be risky, because we don’t want anybody to be misled: Close to the Sun is a horror adventure, not a first-person shooter.

Segmentnext: I am a huge Nikola Tesla fan and it is my personal belief that Edison stole most of Tesla’s work. Does the development team have a similar opinion? Is that why we are seeing Close to the Sun bring Tesla and his work in the limelight. Any Edison fans at the studio?

Our CEO, Carlo Ivo Alimo Bianchi is a big fan of Nikola Tesla, and everybody in the team shared a similar opinion on such a charming and charismatic figure: he deserved much more than He got. With Close to the Sun we tried to imagine what would he manage to achieve if things went different… We don’t have any problem with Edison, but Tesla is a much more romantic figure and we felt history kind of betrayed him.

Segmentnext: How has the feedback been so far regarding the Epic Games deal? The community is obviously seeing Epic Store exclusivity deals as an attack on consumer choice. But since you have decided to go with Epic Store, will you care to elaborate on how Epic Store is a good thing for the industry? And what led to your decision to be an Epic Store exclusive?

Most of the people didn’t really comment it, most of them were interested in knowing about the console versions. We can understand those who feel less easy to deal with different stores, but having more of them seems to us not to be against consumer choice but eventually quite the opposite. Epic has been a good partner during the development of Close to the Sun and we even received an Unreal DevGrant, the opportunity to release the game on the brand new Epic Games Store came as an almost natural decision.

Segmentnext: Singleplayer games are a hard sell sometimes in this day and age, so many developers are turning to live-service models. What is your break-even point? And how many copies would you like to sell to even consider a sequel?

The answer to this question is: as many as the people will want! We sure noticed that online games are having a lot of success, but there’s still space for single player experiences, it’s a different kind of offer for a different kind of audience. There will always be a request for good stories to be played enjoying the experience with our own pace and without a constant challenge with other people. You’ll always have the chance to share your feedback, your emotions, and your thoughts. Playing Close to the Sun is a different experience from playing Fortnite, but they’re both enjoyable and one doesn’t-exclude the other.

Segmentnext: Correct me if I wrong, there is no Linux support for the time being, right? Any news for Linux users?

I’m sorry, but the answer is no. We truly respect Linux community, but we’re a small indie team, we couldn’t afford to work even on a Linux build of the game, I hope all of you can understand it and forgive us!

Segmentnext: Next-Generation consoles are around the corner so as a developer, what will make your life easier? What would you like to see in next-generation PlayStation and Xbox?

Each new step in game development is a new trial to test and improve our skills. We’re intrigued by what the new consoles generation will bring. For sure creating a development environment with fewer constraints is something we expect and hope for