Vincente and Aaron are the duo behind the amazing platformer What Lies In The Multiverse, which follows the misadventures of a young boy as he goes through the Multiverse together with his mad scientist mentor turned friend.
During our interview, we asked Vincente and Aaron about their interest in physics, what inspired their project, and what lives their parallel selves might be living now.
How did your adventure with game development start?
Vicente: It actually started with this game! It was during a year where I had a lot of free time (preparing for college), so I started to learn about GameMaker just out of curiosity.
What Lies in the Multiverse was born from there, and five years of game development followed afterwards.
Aaron: I’ve always loved to write, so it just evolved after playing a lot of narrative-driven Game Boy Advance games.
I remember making a lot of prototypes in GameMaker - a horror game, a fighting game and, of course, an RPG. None of them came to fruition but I fell in love with the process.
After watching what Vicente had in mind, I just wanted to help.
What other games have you worked on?
Aaron: I‘ve only worked in What Lies in the Multiverse for now, but I’ve definitely learned a lot in that short span of time.
Vicente: Although What Lies in the Multiverse was my first game, during development I got the opportunity to work as a level designer on G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout with the folks at IguanaBee.
It was a small job that only lasted a couple of months. After that, I continued with What Lies in the Multiverse until release.
What was the inspiration for What Lies in the Multiverse?
Aaron: The original idea was Vicente’s but I referenced a lot from Mario & Luigi: Super Saga and Paper Mario. It helped a lot to get an example of the feeling of the game we wanted to make.
We also joke a lot about how the game turns into a Shakespearean kind of narrative, and even one of the critics thought the same. It was definitely unintended.
Vicente: Rick & Morty, comedic and dramatic games, lots of absurd cartoons from my childhood, and a couple of existential nightmares.
The idea came after playing Pocket Mortys, which was just a silly mobile game to make fans of the show happy (and it worked for me!), but I remember getting a bit disappointed by how they handled the concept of parallel universes.
In that game, you just crossed some portals that’d lead you to basically the same place but with different color palettes. It made sense though, since it was a small game and that wasn’t its core gameplay mechanic, but I still wanted to try making something more meaningful with the concept.
Where did your interest in parallel universes come from?
Vicente: Probably during school, in an elective physics class.
I was fascinated with the idea of time’s relativity, dark matter, parallel worlds and more, to the point that I went to study Astronomy after leaving school. Although that only lasted a year for different reasons, the love and interest for the topic still remains.
Aaron: I love the idea of how wrong things can go by even the simplest changes. I feel you can have a more positive understanding on how our world is, even with everything, this is still a way better outcome than becoming eldritch creatures.
What is the message your game is trying to convey?
Vicente: I wanted to explore not just the concept of different and sometimes weird worlds, but how the idea of multiple realities and the triviality of life can affect everyone in different ways.
Although I tried to make very clear how trivial everything seemed to be when visiting different worlds in some parts, I wanted to leave a hopeful view along the way.
I wanted to convey that no matter how insignificant we can be, our lives matter as long as they matter to us, and nothing can take that from us.
Yeah, the multiverse may not care about us, but we do, and that’s more than enough.
Aaron: People change and they keep doing it all the time. Finding an objective can blind us on how beautiful the journey is, even if you achieve it or not.
I feel this is what the game - and the game’s development - conveys to me.
Who is your favorite character from What Lies in the Multiverse?
Vicente: Although Everett or Leo may be the obvious answer, I have to go with Barres. He just makes me smile every time he shows up, and his outfit is really damn cool. I just want to be friends with him.
Aaron: I love Leo and Lise, but my favorite one is definitely Nash. I feel that he’s a complex character that’s an important piece of the puzzle. I love to hate him.
What was the most challenging part of What Lies in the Multiverse’s development?
Vicente: For me, the hardest part was learning to work with a team and schedules after four years of solo-development.
Although our team was fantastic (and I can’t stress that enough), the mere task of communicating with everyone and connecting the overall idea with different areas was incredibly confusing at the beginning.
Not only that, but I had milestones and schedules, and oh boy that was stressful.
My biggest breakdowns probably came from not being able to organize my workflow correctly and ending up finishing cutscenes at 5am, or having multiple days without being able to design a single puzzle while making a new chapter.
Fortunately, everyone was there to help, and I learned a lot!
Aaron: For me it was adjusting Vicente’s schedule. He didn’t deserve my amazing milestones and schedules. Why did he have to stay up until 5am so you can pet a dog in-game? What an amazing decision!
Fortunately I was there to help, and praise him a lot! *laughs*
What do you find most difficult about being an indie game developer?
Vicente: Impostor syndrome, probably. I don’t think I can count how many times I had some sort of breakdown because of it.
Although I love to see other developers succeed with their projects, and as much as that can be really motivating, it also makes me question on a daily basis how well I’m doing and if I’m really made for this job.
It’s just anxiety speaking, of course, but it can get really hard to work sometimes when you don’t even feel your creations are worth the effort.
Aaron: I definitely agree with Vicente, it’s very difficult to understand that you’re part of this process and you deserve the praise for it.
Creating is difficult and can be a very heavy weight on mental health. Burnout is always close and lurking. It’s important to take rests so we can keep working on full throttle.
Why did you choose to work with GameMaker?
Vicente: Probably to no one’s surprise, I got into it after learning that it was the engine Toby Fox used for making Undertale.
I remembered using old versions of GameMaker when I was younger, but only really basic stuff with the drag and drop features. It ended up being a great choice, since I basically learned how to code using GameMaker. It was a very friendly environment for that.
Aaron: Our programmer Oscar Gacitua is a GameMaker magician. I love the entry level that GameMaker has and the depths that it can reach.
Even if something wasn’t my code, I could easily acclimate to it and help out.
Is there anything that frustrates you about GameMaker?
Aaron: The porting documentation was very difficult to follow, especially for PS5. I can understand since it is a new console, but it definitely took most of the extra work hours trying to guess what the different functions did.
We even needed to redo the whole save system so it worked with the console. However, we were grateful for the great ticket support which taught us through project examples.
Vicente: If I have to go with one thing, it’d be room inheritance.
I was SO excited for that feature since it was basically perfect for the type of project I was making, but in the end it ended up being really buggy, and it only caused more problems than solutions, so we had to stop using it midway through development.
What are your plans for the future?
Aaron: Finishing university is definitely a must. I really want to get back to writing and streaming games on Twitch. But I love creating games so that won’t stop any time soon.
Even if we’re on hiatus, we still love to talk about random ideas for games that will come to life eventually. There are many stories we want to tell as Studio Voyager.
Vicente: Same as Aaron, basically. I have to finish university before continuing game development, but I’m still working on stuff when I get the time.
I definitely want to keep doing creative stuff (writing, drawing, playing music, etc) and improve a little in what I can do. Little steps!
What do you think “you” from another universe is doing now?
Vicente: Finishing college, eating healthy and going outside, probably. What an asshole.Aaron: Sleeping, having a decent rest, drinking with friends. What an asshole. Or maybe becoming an eldritch being. I envy you, other Aaron!