Super Lone Survivor

Super Lone Survivor: Jasper Byrne Unmasks New Details About the Upcoming Remaster

When it comes to indie survival horror everyone has a different idea about who pioneered the current renaissance of throwback titles paying homage to the greats of the genre. Was it Puppet Combo? Was it Banned Memories: Yamanashi? If you ask me, dear reader, the first time I felt like an indie game truly cracked the code on the gameplay loop of classic survival horror games was Jasper Byrne’s Lone Survivor. And now, Jasper is back after a decade to reinvent his flagship title and offer even more to fans of the original with his upcoming remaster Super Lone Survivor.

I have been a huge fan of Jasper’s work, even before I got my hands on Lone Survivor I was smitten by his charming demake of Silent Hill 2, titled Soundless Mountain 2. So when I saw him hard at work making sure that Super Lone Survivor would impress both returning fans and new friends seeking frightful fun, I had to learn more about the project, the changes, and the experiences that have come along with working on one title for so long. 

Thankfully, Jasper has not found himself isolated in a dilapidated apartment complex in a dying city, so contacting him was no problem, I was ecstatic when he agreed to make time to speak with me, as I said before, I am a huge fan of his work, and I have put a lot of time into Lone Survivor. But after speaking with him for hours (much of which had to be cut out for the sake of not making you read 30 pages of two dudes talking about their favorite games and movies) I had gained an even deeper respect for his hard work, and his love of music. 

As I will say many times throughout this article, Lone Survivor is a must have for fans of survival horror
As I will say many times throughout this article, Lone Survivor is a must have for fans of survival horror

I started the interview by thanking Jasper again for making time to meet with me. I had to control the urge to frontload the conversation with a bevy of compliments for his game, but we started the conversation by talking a little bit about ourselves, and where we were from.

After Jasper asked me about the town I live in, I followed up by asking Jasper if he would tell me a bit about where he was from?

Jasper Byrne: Well, I live in Manchester. But yeah, I mean, I’ve lived all over the place. I grew up in Norfolk, the county, and lived here for a bit. And then I moved to Asia for a bit, then Vietnam and Japan. And then moved back to Cambridge and lived there for a time. I recently moved back to Manchester, because my daughter had got into music school here. So I’m very happy to be back.

I congratulated him on his daughter’s success, like father, like daughter, it seemed. On the topic of his many homes over the years, I asked him if he had made all of these moves as an adult?

JB:  Yeah, pretty much. I mean, I used to go traveling every year, you know, for months. Like I just spent all the money that I made from music or the part that I didn’t spend on the studio was spent on traveling. I just thought it would be better to try and combine the two. And so that’s when I moved out to Southeast Asia. I decided to do a teaching course so I could get a visa in Japan, basically. And they were doing one in Vietnam. So I thought it’d be better to do it, you know, not in England. Now I can travel at the same time effectively. And so yeah, I just did it. Then I planned to go to Japan. But I ended up sort of really falling in love with Saigon. And well, just Vietnam in general and stayed there for two and a half years. And then moved to Tokyo for about the same amount of time, where I met my wife. I actually met her on the first day I was in Japan, which is when I was on tour… I’m pretty shy, actually,  it just so happened that we got to talking at the show, and just hit it off, you know. It was more like we stayed in touch and were almost like, pen pals for the first year or two. But then she decided to come out to Vietnam for a bit, you know, sort of went from there really. So yeah,  we’ve been together ever since. About 2000 Well, we met in 2004. And now we’ve got a kid, and now she’s a teenager.

One could only wonder how many of those cities have made their way into the decrepit city in Super Lone Survivor
One could only wonder how many of those cities have inspired parts the decrepit city in Super Lone Survivor

After hearing so much about his adventures as a musician, I was curious as to what had led him down the rabbit hole that is indie game development. I asked Jasper if he could tell me about his beginnings as a developer and what made him pursue the dream of making Lone Survivor?

JB: I came back to England, because I really would have stayed probably, but my dad got ill and I had to come back. That was when I moved into video games… Although I did dabble in it when I was younger, when I was like a teenager, I made some games on Amiga. But I hadn’t done it for about 10 years or something. And I started to play around with it again, when I was in Asia, and I was just making, you know, prototypes, and not really releasing anything, but then the indie scene started to happen when I was in Japan in 2007-08, it was really kicking off, you know, and that was it was about the time when I when I came back, 2008. I basically was kinda like “this has got potential, you know, I think there’s a way for me to get into the industry for that, maybe make games and actually make a living”, you know, cuz people were starting to sell Flash games and things at the time, and I kind of saw a possibility there. It wasn’t really there yet, when I looked around there were only really casual games, you know…

Portals like Big Fish Games that would sell, you know, really casual, like match-threes and hidden-image games as far as indie games were, but there was also this underground scene through Tigsource and stuff like that. And that’s where I met a lot of my friends that are in the scene still to this day. Like, Jonathan Soderstrom, and, you know, Dennaton games, [who made] Hotline Miami, his work really inspired me back then when he was doing stuff in about 2006-07, on Game Maker, that was really amazing. It just made me want to sort of do stuff, just, you know, purely for the arts of it. And I think a lot of us back then were just thinking about the art of it, you know, not the commercial side of it in any way. And so yeah, I just started to enter games into competitions and such on Tigsource, and really got my start because of Soundless Mountain, which was a competition to make a bootleg demake of the game. You know, I chose Silent hill 2 and did Soundless Mountain 2 and that ended up winning that competition, and getting quite a lot of press on Destructoid, loads of those people picked it up, Kotaku, and everyone. I got a few interviews

From the get-go Silent Hill 2 has been massively influential to Jasper
From the get-go Silent Hill 2 has been massively influential to Jasper

And by this point, I got that job in Frontier Developments, like, making Kinect games and wanting to get out of that, you know? I was Yeah, I did that. And that kind of made me realize that I could maybe do a bigger survival horror, you know, and actually make an original one rather than spend another year or two finishing [Soundless Mountain], because I didn’t do the full game with Silent Hill 2 I just did up to the apartment section. I mean, I couldn’t carry on with the whole thing like the Bloodborne demake that came out recently. But I’m quite glad I didn’t. I just went ahead and made something original. I was also working on a game for a few years before that, which which was sort of why I’d started out in the first place because I wanted to make this particular game about dreams, which was actually called Amnesia, which is why I had to change its name when the other Amnesia came around. And that was around the exact same time, but that became Lone Survivor really, because a lot of the images and things that we’re going into, then after I did Silent Mountains that went into Lone Survivor, and it was just the case with like, little by little, you know, things happened. And I was able to sell another short, small game that I made for Adult Swim. And that enabled me to go indie for about a year, you know, and just survive… Luckily, at the end of that year 2012, is when I released Lone Survivor and literally down to my last cent

That’s pretty much the whole background, you know, it’s weird how it happened, because there wasn’t any scene, you have to remember. It’s like, no one knew what they were doing. There weren’t any other indie survival horror games, there weren’t any other indie horror games. There wasn’t any plan… what to do, or how to do it. We were really all playing it by ear… So luckily Steam contacted me because back then… I mean steam just came to you…  they just came to you, and you got the lucky golden ticket, you know. And I guess because the reviews had been really good in the first couple of months, and it sold really well. 

So yeah, just by that point, I think I’d made 5000 sales or something and I had to then give all of those people an upgrade to steam by hand, so I was doing that for the next decade. I still get the odd email for a code. Yeah, that was the upshot of doing it that way. But I mean, you know, it got me going and it started it off. In a way there’s something romantic still to me about releasing it that way and I would love to release my game and just use a basic payment widget, just pay like a 5% PayPal thing. you know.

I commented that I was glad he got to make the game his own way, and that when it was initially released it was such a breath of fresh air in a genre that had gone stagnant, and needed new life breathed into it.

JB: I mean, that’s exactly why you make it right. You do it because you want those games that don’t exist, you know, no one else is making them. And I think that’s a really good philosophy. I mean, it’s a good thing to pursue, to make the thing that no one else is making that you like.

Super Lone Survivor will be a welcome addition to any Survival Horror collection
Super Lone Survivor will be a welcome addition to any Survival Horror collection

Learning more about the launch of Lone Survivor, and the work he had done before, I asked Jasper what the biggest challenges were for him when he was initially developing the title?

JB: I think a lot of people will look at the game and just see it on the surface as a sort of homage to the older survival horrors, without noticing the stuff it does that’s different, you know. So if anything, I would say the thing that made it more difficult was actually the choice to do some things different from those games. So like, two things, I guess, that jump straight to mind is, so I love the idea in Silent Hill 2 that the endings are determined by these secret things that you don’t really know. These factors, like, looking at the portrait of your dead wife repeatedly in your inventory will lead you towards the suicidal ending, you know, stuff like that.

 So I wanted to take that and extrapolate it over the full game, you know, and so everything in the game contributes to your ending, on a sort of sliding scale. And that was actually really complex to balance and actually get it right, and make it feel like the game delivers the correct ending, and all of that. And I think in some ways, it’s more ambitious than most adventure type games that I’ve played, but maybe people don’t realize, because it’s all hidden. But in order to do that you need as much stuff that you can do that’s positive as negative in the game, so I had to spend a lot of time thinking about how to balance both of those paths through the game. Making it really satisfying both ways, you know… 

There’s tons of additional work, like, whole scenes are completely different cutscenes and stuff with different music and everything in different dialogue, depending on your mental health, and stuff. There’s tons of stuff in the game like that, and months and months, I mean, even years of work have gone into just adding stuff that wouldn’t be in a Silent Hill you know it wouldn’t be in a Resident Evil. And also, the other thing was removing the classic puzzles from survival horror.I wanted to still make you feel clever for combining objects and kind of being creative with your inventory, but without having these puzzles where it was like, you’d have to solve a crossword or a literary problem, you know, or something that would just completely block your away and block the flow of the game which I found in early Resident Evils and Silent Hills, it could be great if it was perfectly judged, but if it was wrong, it would take away a lot of the atmosphere and vibe I think, so I wanted to sort of have a puzzle-ey feeling without puzzles, you know, thinking of ideas that would be interesting to do with your inventory, like the cooking, how to get the items, and the orders in which to get things, but making them more optional things.

On the topic of the interactivity of the world of Lone Survivor, I told Jasper that I had always enjoyed the Tamagotchi-like way that the protagonist needs to be cared for. It was not enough to manage your ammo and your items, you also needed to manage your time to ensure the protagonist was staying fed and getting rest.

JB: Yeah, I mean, Survival is about looking after yourself. as well as on the mental level, yeah?. So, that’s what I was thinking. I mean, it’s very particular to his character. And his situation… Without giving too much away, right. I never like to try and explain too much. You know, I have my explanation, obviously… I definitely subscribe to that thing of, you know, the observer’s view is equally valid, you know, the consumer of the art, their opinions about what it means is equally valid as the writers, you know, the creators… I definitely am inspired by David Lynch. I think his stuff would lose a lot of power if he sat there explaining everything.

Make sure to take care of yourself in Super Lone Survivor, or don't, what's the worst that could happen?
Make sure to take care of yourself in Super Lone Survivor, or don’t, what’s the worst that could happen?

On the topic of Lone Survivor and it’s launch, I asked Jasper how he felt before he initially released the title, did he worry that there wasn’t a market for that kind of game? Also, I wanted to know if he had any concerns about remaking the game in 2022?

JB: I must admit, I did have a sense of there being some kind of fortunate catching of the zeitgeist, at the time. I felt like we were on a charge, you know, the Indies at that time, we kind of felt like we were going to change the world in some way. It’s hard to explain, it was a very different atmosphere to how it is now. Teams are so corporate now, you know, like the Indies. To me, they seem so obsessed with their monetization and their business plan and publisher, and we just really wanted to shake up the whole industry, you know, it was a really radical feeling… 

Okay, so yeah, I guess there was a sort of confidence there, you know, like, amongst my peer group, I felt, especially when we were all at E3 in 2013. You know, that’s when I felt it the most. I mean, that was after the release, obviously. 

But that was when it was coming to PlayStation. And you know, by that point, I knew it was going to do well on the PlayStation, because we were all there together. Like literally at E3 in Sony’s booth. It was like a Vlambeer game next to my game, next to Spelunky, next to VVVVVV. it was all my friends, you know, all together in that room. And it was, I don’t know, it was a really great moment. I don’t know what happened to Sony really, because they were on such a great push at that point. But leading up to it, I just felt like there were things, like Amnesia was such a big hit the same year, and it just felt that there was a marketplace… You know, I’ve not cut any corners, and I’ve made this thing as good as I possibly can. But that’s no guarantee this is not 2012. This is a whole different universe. And I almost feel like my business plan doesn’t necessarily make sense in 2022, or having no publisher. But we’ll see…

When I look at the zeitgeist right now I feel that the zeitgeist is all about superpowers and the supernatural, and also just mindless killers with a nihilistic kind of vibe. Video nasties, no explanation necessary, Texas Chainsaw Massacre vibe, you know? No need to explain, no deeper meaning. And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. It just feels like the vibe right now. Video nasties, like Puppet Combo, perfect example, you know?… I just feel like that’s the wave right now… Well, I was on the tail end of the kind of EMO movement, I think, and I think Lone Survivor really clicked with that generation. I’m just trying to think about it in those sorts of terms. You know, I’m fascinated by the zeitgeist, despite kind of not wanting to follow it or anything, I’m just sort of interested in when it lines up and when it doesn’t, and why. You know, it’s a good way of trying to predict whether something’s going to work or not. And it could be that that thing that we’ve just been talking about is actually about to get played out. And maybe that’s why it was just about to be the right thing. Again…

On top of psychological and emotional horror, Super Lone Survivor also has regular classic horror
On top of psychological and emotional horror, Super Lone Survivor also has regular classic horror

There must be a sort of craving for that psychological emotional core. Because the horror that interests me the most is psychological. That’s what I love about most of the horror films that I really, really love, there’s a psychological element. Like The Shining or Halloween. I think what, if anything, I’d like to achieve with it is showing what I think a remaster should be. In other words, I chose to preserve the original as purely as possible visually, but also to enhance it in the spirit of that without looking incongruous, like, you know, the Star Wars Special Edition. Yeah, that’s been my mantra all the way through… just staying with 4:3 presentation and stuff, and just adding parallax scrolling to things, these things that wouldn’t change it, you know, but would enhanced it, and then with all the story and the mechanics, not wanting to distill it or spread it out too much. And just, a lot of the time has been designing, so that it would fit and not feel bolted on or just like DLC or something like that. It’s kind of fully integrated into the game all the way through, there’s new stuff, there’s little changes here and there. 

Just like, the main criticisms that people have had over the years, just really trying to address them as thoroughly as possible. The map being one of them. And I really think I’ve nailed that this week, actually, with just having really good arrows. And it shows you which direction you’re facing, I think that might solve a lot of people’s criticisms of the map. And then the other one was the survival aspects, the Tamagotchi aspects, that he gets hungry and tired too easily and stuff. And I think I’ve really balanced that just nicely. Things like that, and, you know, those were the two things that I heard really more than anything else, anything else was too infrequently heard to be called a pattern, like, those are the two things. So I just tried to do those really nicely, tried to think about what it was that people liked in the original game and making more of it, you know, like, scenes with unique music and scenes that are really light as well as dark.

Jasper has seriously been tweeting a lot about the work he put into the new map for Super Lone Survivor
Jasper has seriously been tweeting a lot about the work he put into the new map for Super Lone Survivor

And I just realized that when you’re gonna to make it bigger like this, you need to add some enhancements to the basic mechanics as well, because you can’t just put more of the same stuff in. So, you know, I’ve added some variety to the kind of things that you do, without giving too much away. And I think there’s new monsters and there’s even new things to play with, tools to play with. I don’t know, I’m looking forward to playing it myself, because I haven’t played it yet. I’ve worked so hard. I’ve only tested things in isolation. I’ve been working on it so hard for the last few months. And any week, any day now, like, probably next week, I’m hoping I will actually sit down and play the game. Like, see how all of this new stuff balances out, you know, the overarching side quests and all that kind of stuff. I’m really looking forward to it. Because from what I can tell, I think it’s going to be quite a lot better. 

There’s loads of little small things as well, you know, just like the gameplay is tighter, the latency is less, the sound is way higher quality, there’s ultra smooth scrolling, you know, it’s just so many things that just kind of make it feel better. If nothing else, I want people to go “well, that’s how you’re supposed to do a remake”. And maybe, instead of just going, “oh, let’s just do it again in higher resolution or something”. Because usually I prefer the originals when people do that. I don’t really like remasters in general, especially 3D ones where they just upscale everything because it doesn’t look right for the resolution.

Like when it fills less pixels and needs more imagination, and you don’t need that little stone to be there on the floor, because it wouldn’t fill a pixel anyway. But you notice it’s not there when you suddenly go to 4k. So yeah, I don’t know, I mean, I would just like to see people re-releasing old games and making sure to make them look exactly how they used to look. Like Silent Hill, just get that right, get it exactly right… You know, just go back and actually release it 480P and actually get it perfect.

Speaking of the game itself, I had always been floored by the sound design in Lone Survivor, the soundscape perfectly complements the visuals of the title, and that’s without considering the horrific noises emitted by the creatures. With this in mind, I asked Jasper if he would tell us about his creative process when it came to the sound design and music for Lone Survivor, and if he had any tips he would be able to share with upstart game devs?

JB: Well, yeah, I mean, I think one thing that I wanted to do on this particular game was to bring back an old style of sound. Because the trend at the time was very bright, very clean sounding very realistic sounding, we were moving away from like, [mimics crunchy gunshot sound]  to kind of [mimics punchy loud gunshot sound] thing in shooters, you know… we were moving to this sort of realistic kind of thing. And, because of that, sounds were actually less meaty, because they were brighter, they couldn’t be as distorted. But I wanted to move back to specifically, [the soundboard of the] Capcom CPS 1, Street Fighter 2, the original one, not the Super Turbo, because that actually had a different sound system then the original game.

And I remember reading an interview with the I think her name is Yoko Shimomura who did the the music and sound for [Street Fighter 2] and she was just sent back again and again to make the sounds heavier, you know, to make the punches heavier, She probably just kept distorting it until they were happy that it would punch through the arcade louder than anything else in your vicinity. So this is definitely coming from my drum and bass background, as well, just wanting to have everything juiced up to the max, so I guess my approach then was to deliberately not be bright with my sound, to not be clear. So I wanted them to have a feeling of the way 8-bit sounds. You know, because the CPS1 games were 8-bit samples, that’s what gave the grit to them. 

The game’s music and soundscape are as dark and dingy as it’s locations

And so, I was using bit crushers and distortion a lot and just, you know, redlining things so that they were clipping, and just doing things wrong deliberately to give a different sound, I guess, from everything else that was out there at the time. But you see, I mean there’s a ton of like subliminal little sounds in the game that are in the music, you know, little voices and such, but I don’t do anything special, you know, I throw away a lot of tunes, because sometimes I put them in the pile and then they turn up somewhere else, you know, they work somewhere else. I guess one approach that might be unique to the way I work is that I don’t really differentiate between ambience and music. So often, the music will contain the ambience and stuff. And that sort of becomes part of the song in a way so songs might have an actual, you know, kind of sound of like a shopping mall, muted in the background or something like that, just to give it a space and sound. Rather than having a separate ambience in the area. That’s kind of not a normal way that people do things. Maybe it gives it a certain vibe. 

But what else, I mean, the obvious one, which, you know, any, any good horror, or person will tell you is when to use silence, really. And I always say this, like in interviews, you know, it’s just one of those things. It’s like when to not use music, thinking about that, and also the types of silence. And is it dead silent? Is there an atmosphere there? Can you hear the breathing and the character? And certain scenes in the game, for example, it’ll fade out and you’ll hear them breathing under the mask. Just for the first time, you know, even though you haven’t heard it up until now, it’s now quiet enough that you can hear that, stuff like that… 

You know, I try to direct the music towards the thing that I need it for as I’m writing it. But it doesn’t always work out like that. Sometimes, I mean, like for Super, I’ve got like 20 new tracks in the game and another 15-20 going to be on the soundtrack as well. And these are all just picked from things I’ve done in the last few years while I’ve been working on [things other than] Lone Survivor

Listen to those tunes in and outside of the game
Listen to those tunes in and outside of the game

While Jasper had already commented on it quite a bit, I was eager to learn more about the changes being made for Super Lone Survivor, and how these changes differed from the Director’s Cut. I asked Jasper if he could tell us more, or if there was any particular changes he had made that he was particularly proud of?

JB: I mean, the director’s cut really focused on the endings, because it added two major endings. And so it kind of fleshed out the concepts that I’d done for the endings reflecting your mental health… I wanted a satisfying conclusion for the real completionist as well. So I have focused on the white ending, which was the difficult ending to get, but, and also that, in order to make it easier, I added these things that would only sort of show up in New Game Plus, like, there’s a huge quest where you can make a hamburger, and you’ve got to get the lettuce, you’ve got to get the cheese, you gotta get everything, get a frying pan, and you’ve got to get a Mexican cola and find liquid nitrogen so you can make Mexican cola and burger, you know, 

And it’s just like a kind of really silly but fun side quest for New Game Plus that gives you something else to do, and also leads to a new ending and a whole new final sequence and, you know, it’s just a kind of satisfying thing to replay, I guess. So I was focused on the replay value on the first one, and I think that’s what a lot of people have said to me over the years, you know, is that they like to replay it again, they like to see it in different ways, and it supports that quite well, because there’s so many optional things that you can do that you can have quite a different playthrough from one to the next.

And that’s quite different to most of survival horror, I guess. That was the majority of what was in there. And the new version is really more focused on the game content expansion rather than the ending. So it’s got more stuff to do, loads of new areas. It’s bringing back some of those puzzles from adventure games, but making them optional, or making them lead to secret areas, and they will be really cryptic and fun. So people that like that sort of thing can do that. And it will lead to getting some awesome advantages… And so that’s giving you a lot of extra stuff to explore that’s completely optional, but also will lead to a further layer of depth to the story, hopefully. It will reinforce the story without actually changing it. 

That was what I was trying to do. So make it richer, make it deeper, and also comment on some of the things that have happened since COVID, as well. And there’s a very strong element of that, and because I started [Super Lone Survivor] when COVID started. Obviously, that was the other reason I felt that it was the right thing to do at the time, because well, this mask protagonist just felt relevant, and the themes, disease and everything. So yeah, I wanted to address that, that thing that’s happened, you know, since 2020, and without kind of shoehorning it in, I wanted to make it fit. Because I really feel like Strangely, the game had something to say about COVID Even the original game, with the isolation.

That it has, my dude, that is has

All this time talking about the title and I hadn’t even drawn a parallel between the disease ridden world that forced people to isolate themselves and the world of Lone Survivor.

JB: We were self isolating, you know, that’s exactly what he’s doing at the start of the game. So yeah, maybe that is something that will put people off because, I don’t know yet, because they didn’t want to go back there, but maybe in five years, they will want to reminisce on it and you know will become interested in it. I think the things I’m really proud of is the visual and sound upgrade. I do think it’s a real improvement, even though it doesn’t look like it in the screenshots, when you see it in motion, hopefully the shaders, the combination of the sound, the lighting and you know, everything just kind of adds together and makes it feel more alive and more rich. 

I fixed so many tiny bugs and small things and just kind of polished the levels. I mean, it wasn’t a game with many bugs anyway but it was just things that I could make a little bit neater like for example, when he got hit I think in the previous game you would have to re-hit the weapon button to bring out your weapon, it’s a subtle thing, but now if you’re holding the weapon button he carries on holding the weapon, you know so it’s just little things like that…

It’s just the whole thing is on a bigger scale, I really hope people spot it and see the new stuff, because it does require a bit of investigation to find. You’re gonna see the city and I’m really happy with how that looks compared to the original, the city was done in a fairly quick time, compared to the apartment section. And I always felt like I didn’t do enough on the art in the city. And that’s what I put a lot of time into. All of the rooms now have layers of scrolling, and there’s variety in the fog, the fog sometimes goes backwards, or goes slowly… I mean, there’s loads of little touches in there. Now he walks down the full stairs when we come out, rather than just half of the stairs, I don’t know, just loads of little bits of polish. When you step outside for the first time, it’s gonna feel really fresh, that’s even to fans of the original.

I am very excited to take in all the new sights in Super Lone Survivor
I am very excited to take in all the new sights in Super Lone Survivor

After hearing about his journey with Lone Survivor, up past the Director’s Cut, and now just passed the 10th anniversary of the title working on a remaster, I wondered how that journey felt to Jasper, had it all flown by as time does when you’re having fun, or had Lone Survivor become his Sisyphean project. Curious to know, I asked Jasper how it felt to be nearing the end of a decade-long journey with this world he had created?

JB: I literally wake up some days and I feel ill because I just want this thing out of my life so badly.  just the idea of something going wrong, something breaking, you know,  like somehow data going wrong or something going wrong with the game before release. It just gets worse and worse the longer you work on it because you know it’s so fragile, this thing, I always say it’s like building a house of cards and it just gets bigger and bigger and bigger and the stress gets worse because you know how fragile it is by the point it gets this big… I’m actually feeling in a really good mood because I know that I’m within two weeks max of finishing and I am so happy right now, because the last few months have been hell. 

I mean, it’s not that I don’t enjoy it. It’s just I just needed it to be over a year ago, a fucking year ago, I really did. And I just want to get back to my music right now, you know, I haven’t put nearly enough time as I wanted to recently into my music because I had to get this out, it’s already a year late. I wanted it out last Halloween, then I wanted out in March this year. I mean, yeah, I had to move to Manchester last year, and that actually took a lot of time. It’s just,  I didn’t expect this thing would take more than a year, and I thought I’d have it out in 2021, you know, but if I don’t really get a move on, it’s going to be out in 2024. So I just just need this to be over.

After hearing that, I was glad that his journey, nay, quest, was about to come to an end, so he could finally rest his head at night knowing his last decade of work would not go to waste. Moving on from the game, I wanted to ask Jasper about the name of his development company, Superflat Games, I had assumed this was in reference to a 2D style of game, so I asked, naively, if he thought the name would no longer fit if he ever made a 3D game?

JB: You know, technically, I think Murakami was the one who coined the term Superflat… It was an art movement in Japan, basically Pop-art style. Mainly spearheaded by Murakami… He’s like collabed with Louis Vuitton. And you know, it’s sort of almost between fashion and anime culture, basically it was kind of like a version of anime culture and kawaii culture, let’s say, deliberately kind of taking it and twisting it on its head and kind of making it a little bit edgy. And bright colors, very flat, obviously. And yeah, a bunch of artists were associated with it, one of whom I met a few times in Japan was Morimoto Koji, the director, he made Memories, and he did one of The Animatrix segments…  

And so yeah, I mean, he was actually a drum and bass guy, and he used to hang out at the drum and bass club where I was resident in Tokyo. So I met him a few times and I guess I was really inspired by the whole movement visually and the way it was kind of mixing the cute and the arty, you know. And if you look at my earlier work, like a lot of the games that I made are very much in that style, I would say, or at least influenced by that style. If you look at the game I made for Adult Swim Soul Brother, it’s very much super flat. And I don’t know, it’s just just something that really inspired me. It’s not a word you ever hear anymore, which is cool because I kind of feel like I adopted it, I kept it going. But I was a bit annoyed when Superdry clothes came out like in England because it kind of sounds a bit too similar. So there’s a few that came out at the same time, it felt quite fresh because no one really used super since the Super Nintendo

So to answer your question, I would love to actually do a 3d game. I’ve done several things that are partly 3D… And when I do it, I would like to keep it obviously low spec. You know, I wouldn’t ever want to do something more than PS1 or PS2 era 3D. But I don’t tend to like modern 3D, I just find it quite ugly. And it might change, maybe, I mean, there are days I find beautiful. The landscapes of Elden Ring, you know, are beautiful or whatever. Usually characters I don’t really like in 3D. But I liked it back in the PS1 and PS2 era because it was almost like a cipher. You know, it was like there’s sort of enough there where you could hang your imagination on it. But not enough so that it looked kind of like, uncanny valley, you know? But yeah, I’d love to do a PS2 spec game. That gritty lighting really makes the Silent Hill 2 look, really, just grainy. I’d like that. 

If the style of Super Lone Survivor is any indicator, then Jasper is a master of the gritty and grainy
If the style of Super Lone Survivor is any indicator, then Jasper is a master of the gritty and grainy

That was very cool to learn, I had never heard of Superflat art, but I was pleased to have been given a small lesson on the history of the style. Wrapping up the interview, I asked Jasper if there was anything we didn’t talk about that he would like to mention to the dear readers?

JB: I don’t know, what else, what else? Check out my album. So yeah, my last album as Sonic is I haven’t actually done an album as Sonic on my label before. I’ve even done a couple recently on other people’s labels. So it’s kind of like my first album as my drum and bass alias, or jungle. I mean, these days, as Sonic I use more for like, just generally dance music. Because back in the day, I was a very purist drum and bass guy. But then after making games for a bunch of years, I really widened my net, you know, in terms of taste, and I just wanted to kind of make it for all kinds of music, but I have done a lot of stuff. It’s very jungle focused, rather than drum and bass. And I’ve just been doing stuff like that, but also a much wider influence. 

I mean, my last couple of albums, or even just my Sonic playlist on Spotify is probably the best way to get my last three albums on there. And I guess what I’m trying to say with this is that I’m really proud of the Sonic stuff that I did last few years, because I put a lot of effort into it. And you know, of course my Jasper Byrne music sells a lot better. Gamers actually buy more music than music people, It’s funny, but it’s true. So I like to try and get the word out about my Sonic stuff that I’ve been doing. Because I put a lot of effort and love into it. I think if you like the games and the music I made in the games, then you might enjoy this too. So maybe check out the Sonic playlists on Spotify. I’ve done three albums in the last three years on three different labels… I put as much love into that as I do my games, if not more, my music is my great love. It will always be my first great love. Not that I don’t love making games but if I had to choose, music is that one thing that really drives me more than anything else. it’s not that I don’t love making games and I love games as well. You know, it’s that making them is not nearly as rewarding as making music because with music you can actually get something out.

With that I again thanked Jasper for his time and for the wonderful conversation, and left him to his hard work preparing the game for its launch later this month. I was already excited for Super Lone Survivor, but now I was frothing at the mouth for the new content headed our way this Halloween. If you haven’t played it before, It is a must-play in my eyes, and if you have already made your way through the game, be sure to come back and see it in its final form and appreciate all of the hard work Jasper has put into it. 

Be sure to wishlist Super Lone Survivor today so you can re-immerse yourself in the terrifying title for the first time all over again when it launches on October 31st, 2022.

If you want to hear and see more work from Jasper Byrne, you can visit him online on his Twitter page, check out his website, take a look at his secretive game a decade in the making, or listen to his various music projects

And as always, if you are fiending for more interviews and news on the latest and greatest in gruesome, gory gaming, then head back to DreadXP to read more of our frightful features!