Twelve Minutes, Luis Antonio’s 2021 indie game, can be seen as a great example of using the time loop mechanic to tell a story. In recent years, the gaming industry has shown a fondness for using the mechanic, whether in Outer Wilds, Deathloop, or Returnal.
In Twelve Minutes, players take on the role of a husband, stuck in a time loop, trying to unravel the mystery of who killed his wife’s father. They are only given an apartment to play with. The claustrophobic nature of the title is further heightened by a top-down perspective.
Twelve Minutes is one of those indie titles from last year that gamers just can’t miss. With its meticulous design, thoughtful narrative, and nuanced voiceovers, the game manages to carefully weave together an experience that will intrigue those who love a good mystery.
In a chat with Sportskeeda Esports’ Angshuman Dutta, Twelve Minutes developer Luis Antonio provides some insight into how the game was made.
Luis Antonio on the development, influences and mechanics of Twelve Minutes
From nods to Stanley Kubrick to voiceovers from the veteran cast, Twelve Minutes is a beautifully crafted cinematic experience for users to immerse themselves in. In the interview, Luis explains why he prefers a top-down perspective, the limits of the mechanics of time. loop, the story of grief and loss, and much more.
Here is an excerpt from the conversation.
Q. Twelve Minutes was one of the most interesting games to release last year. Can you describe the principle of the game to our readers?
Luis: Twelve Minutes is an interactive thriller about a man trapped in a time loop. You play the role of the husband on what should be a romantic evening with your wife.
The night turns into a nightmare when a stranger breaks into your house, accuses your wife of murder and knocks you out. However, you find yourself immediately sent back to the exact moment you opened the front door, stuck in a twelve-minute time loop, doomed to relive the same terror over and over again. That’s unless you find a way to use the knowledge of what’s to come to change the outcome and break the loop.
It’s an interactive story that blends the dreamlike suspense of the brilliant with claustrophobia rear window and the fragmented structure of Memento.
Q. First, the fantastic voice cast, James McAvoy, Daisy Ridley and Willem Dafoe. What has been the experience of collaborating with such industry stalwarts? What did they bring to the table? Do you have interesting information to share?
Luis: We were lucky that this project sparked the interest of such talented actors. Their performances brought a depth to the characters that we hadn’t anticipated, making the story all the more personal and memorable.
From the start, we laid out a clear outline of each character’s traits, personality, and backstory, but the casting shaped the nuances and expressiveness. Since you never see the characters’ faces in-game, a lot of nuance and emotion had to be conveyed through the voice acting, and they nailed it.
Q. Coming to Twelve Minutes, the time loop mechanic is being used more and more in the video game world. Two of the biggest games of the last year were Deathloop and Returnal. One of the best games of recent times, Outer Wilds, applies the same mechanism. What was your inspiration for using it? What do you think the time loop mechanic brings to storytelling?
Luis: Games, by their nature, are already time loops. Every time you die or fail, a level usually restarts and you have to repeat it, but the characters never realize it.
For this project I wanted to explore this idea of accumulated knowledge and see what would happen if the character you control retains their knowledge of what they have been through and how that would affect their actions and their perception of those around them. surround. I was surprised we didn’t get more time loop games, and it’s funny how many of them have come out in the last couple of years.
Q. Another thing to notice in Twelve Minutes is its perspective. The top-down view provides a unique storytelling experience. What was the reason for its use?
Luis: One of my goals for Twelve Minutes was to create an extremely accessible experience in terms of interaction without compromising the narrative gameplay design.
Early in the prototyping phase, I realized that by keeping the camera up and down and only providing 2 axes of movement, the challenge of controlling a character/camera in a 3D environment was removed, allowing for control easier character for non-players, where they can focus on the story itself.
Additionally, as an indie developer and due to current technology, making believable facial animation work is an expensive and time-consuming process, especially for a narrative-heavy title. The top down camera allowed us to avoid this. Finally, the top-down visuals gave us that unique look, making the title stand out from other games.
Q. The story unfolds as one of the possibilities of remorse, grief and love. What was it like making up this story?
Luis: The creation of the story was organic, without any predefined direction. The original goal was to explore the concept of accumulated knowledge where at each loop you get enough breadcrumbs to drive the narrative without being overwhelmed.
I quickly realized that dealing with loved ones and how we interpret their past intentions and actions, and the process of accepting them (or not) was something I wanted to explore, and so the story slowly built around that.
Q. The game focuses on a small area. Was it done to add something to the narrative, or was it purely a developer decision?
Luis: The mechanic of the time loop relies on the player having a very clear understanding of the consequences of their actions, so they can alter their environment to their advantage.
In the beginning, the game had a larger playing space. However, reducing its size (as well as the length of the loop) allowed for a much clearer understanding and freedom of exploration and a clear focus on the elements crucial without too much frustrating trial and error. It also ended up matching the claustrophobic nature of the story and the mindset of the main character.
Q the brilliant in-game tribute piqued my interest. What was the inspiration behind it?
Luis: At first, the carpet texture was just a placeholder while I was designing the tutorial hallway area. But since Kubrick’s work inspired a lot of the design process and a lot of people reacted positively to it, I ended up keeping it.
Q. How has the game been received since its release?
Luis: It’s quite positive! We’ve had over a million players across all platforms, and the themes explored by the narrative have been discussed and analyzed by a number of passionate players generating exciting conversations. I’m glad people enjoyed and connected with the experience we designed.
Q. What are you currently working on?
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Luis: Right now, I’m taking a short break, recuperating my energy, spending time with family and getting inspired before diving back into another project. I have quite a few ideas that I want to explore but I’m not quite ready to start them.