Michel Palucci, Alessio Restaino

BluMiAl Studios

Posted by Philip Jong.
First posted on 30 August 2008. Last updated on 25 December 2008.
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Michel Palucci, Alessio Restaino
Michel Palucci is the cofounder of BluMiAl Studios.
Michel Palucci, Alessio Restaino
Alessio Restaino is the cofounder of BluMiAl Studios.

BluMiAl Studios is a small Italian game development studio founded in 2005 by Michel Palucci and Alessio Restaino. The company's first project, Aurora: The Secret Within, is a point-and-click 3D adventure game based on the infamous Roswell UFO incident of 1947 in Roswell, New Mexico. In July 2007, Lexicon Entertainment struck a deal with BluMiAl Studios to publish an English language translation of the game, and in February 2008, GamersGate began digital distribution of it for retail sale. In April 2008, Tri Synergy announced that the North American release of the game would also include full voiceovers in English.

As a newcomer developer, Palucci and Restaino have certainly succeeded where so many indie game developers before them have failed. Yet, earning the attention of the gaming press or gaming community to promote their brand remains a big challenge—a challenge which they are prepared to face. Given the success of other indie adventure game developers including Darkling Room, WRF Studios, and Private Moon Studios, the future of BluMiAl Studios looks bright in every respect.

We are privileged to have an opportunity to interview Palucci and Restaino, the cofounders of BluMiAl Studios. Both are men of few words, and this interview proves to be no exception! Nonetheless, in the interview, they speak candidly of their passion for adventure games, the trial and tribulation of being a first time game developer, and more importantly, what adventure game fans can expect in Aurora: The Secret Within.

What attracted you to the adventure game genre? What were the first adventure games you played?

A graphic adventure is just like a book or a movie... but it's you the one who can choose, and not only a simple viewer of the story.

The first AG we played was Alone in the Dark (even if it's not a 100% AG, the first survival horror but with many AG elements), but the game that made us love the genre was Under a Killing Moon and its sequels. From that, we played GK 2&3, Blade Runner, Black Dahlia and many others...

How did you meet up Alessio Restaino with whom you founded BluMiAl Studios?

We met at the middle school: after school, we stayed in my home to play Alone or some other game.

"BluMiAl" is an interesting name for a game studio. Dare I ask, is it l33t speak?

The thing is very simple:

Blu is for Blue (a color we love)

Mi is for MIchel

Al is for ALex

In the whole, it's not a bad name, is it?

What past experiences, if any, did you bring to your current work as a game developer?

Aurora has been our first experience in developing a videogame, and, honestly, it seems so! But we're learning from our mistakes, and we think we'll make better in the next project.

When did the development of Aurora: The Secret Within begin? How long was the original development time?

The beginning of Aurora was in the early 2005. It had to be ready for the end of 2006. The Italian version (without voiceover) was ready for February 2007.

Why did you choose the Roswell UFO incident as the back story? How worry were you that this was an (admittedly) overused subject in fiction works? To what extent did you research this topic for the game?

We're great fans of X–Files, and of paranormal or inexplicable. We think Roswell could be a good starting point for a story that moves away from what the player thinks. And I don't remember many AG concerning Roswell, but for Pandora Directive.

The story is an unusual mix of noir crime fiction and science fiction. Without giving away the story, what will gamers find most unexpected about your retelling of the Roswell incident?

As I explained, the player thinks he'll find UFO and aliens, but the story changes into time travels...

What development tools did you use in making the game, including graphics, sound, and scripting?

For Graphics, we used Cinema4D, the tool is Adventure Maker.

The game was initially developed in Italian. When did you decide on English localization? Who did the English language translation? How long was the added development time?

The publisher asked us to translate the game in English: our PR Marinella Balbinutti translated all in a couple of week.

How pleased were you with the English translation of the game? How much of the game (such as dialogs and artworks) needed to be reworked for the translation?

In the beginning we didn't count other versions but for Italian. So, we had to change all the writings in the locations (e.g. the sign "Telefono" in "Phone"). We had a big trouble with the Inventory Bar: if you point the cursor on the object, its name appears, but we solve the problem only after that the German version was released, so, this one has the Inventory in Italian...

At what point during the game's development did you begin negotiating for a publisher? How difficult was the search? What attracted you to Lexicon Entertainment? How did you sign on for digital distribution of the game on GamersGate?

We had some contacts with many publishers just having completed the Italian version of Aurora. Lexicon seemed to us the best choice, because it's a young company, sure, and it gave us the best guarantees. The digital distribution by Gamergate is an agreement between the site and Lexicon.

What do you consider to be the common design pitfalls in adventure games? To what extent have you avoided these pitfalls, such nonsensical puzzles, needless backtracking, and inescapable dead-ends, in your own game?

In the game, there're some points in which you can die or be imprisoned... But you have to wish so, the player is advised of it!

What kinds of puzzles will gamers find in this game? How many hours of gameplay is the game expected to offer?

The gameplay hours are about 10/12. Riddles are different: jigsaw, inventory based puzzles, finding of objects and clues, multiple choices dialogs, reconstruction and setting in motion of engines...

As a newcomer game developer, what lessons have you learned about dealing with the mainstream as well as the niche press trying to promote your game?

Lexicon took care of dealing, we were very busy with the Russian and Polish versions of Aurora!

What can we expect from you and your company in the next 5 years?

In the end of 2009 we think the new game could be released: it has a similar structure, but with a better look. In the meantime, we're trying to increase the services we offer as a software company. Our business is also in websites, advertising graphics, advergames for companies and virtual tours... We have much on our plate!

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