When the idea of Pause Play Stop came about, it was a very small concept. Having never finished “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time” (I never got past the Deku Tree), the idea that music changes the environment was really cool. I love listening to music and I am certain that a good song can change the way we perceive things around us. But the concept felt too linear – you couldn’t use the songs whenever you wanted, and they had specific triggers or places where you needed to play the music.
I asked myself this: What if you could use this song anywhere? What if you could combine the songs, and shape the game and puzzle solving around your own taste? In the past, I was also obsessed with puzzle games, especially first person puzzle games like the Portal series and Quantum Conundrum. There were just not enough of these games! (I mean we waited quite a while for Portal 2 in order to throw money at the screen once it was out.)
There are a lot of players out there who don’t define their gaming experiences by simply running around and shooting at stuff, and I wanted to create a game for people who want to just enjoy their time in the game and be challenged in different ways. This realization of my love for puzzle games, as well as my love for music, created the basic idea for Cassette.
The game play on the prototype had two basic songs: one that could slow down time for everything but the player, and another one that could affect any water source (this is a proud reference to Ocarina of Time’s Song of Storms).
After showing it to people, I knew we had something. People loved the idea and wanted to have more puzzles, even though all I had was a grey and blue mess.
I knew that we had to move forward with completing Cassette. At the time, I started searching for artists who could share our vision of the game, a game that would both challenge the wits of our players and invite them to step into a world that right now, only existed in my head. I needed a team… it was time to look for the best.
I had no funds, I had some money saved, but it wasn’t enough to hire people to work on the idea I had, and more than that, I never wanted employees, anyone with money can have employees. I wanted a group of people who wanted to share a game with me, who wanted to add into the game world and not just do the stuff that I told them. I started searching for people, pitching them Cassette (damn, I learned a lot on how to refine the pitch), and by the time I had reached the first artist. I already had a very clear idea of what I wanted to create, and how to get them involved into this dream.
Then the idea of Cassette started growing. What if the game was more than just puzzles? What if it could tell an important story? Something that we could all relate to?
The fleshing out of Cassette started with Astrid Pinel, a former artist with Headless Chicken Games. The game’s concept art was taking a different turn than before: the game was going to have a different look inspired by cel-shaded games, where details and aesthetics play just as big of a role as the music.
Below is one of the first concepts that Astrid created for Cassette, and the idea and beauty behind Pause Play Stop was born:
I fell in love with the color palette, the aesthetics, the whole way the game pushed itself away from the “grey scale” kind of games. We wanted Pause Play Stop to be colorful. We wanted to touch peoples’ hearts. But this was just the first part of a very long journey: a journey to go from just a small mobile game to a full-fledged game, created by an amazing and talented team. This is not only the story of Pause Play Stop, but the story of a small, dedicated team willing to make this dream come to life.by