Indie publisher interview: Application Systems Heidelberg

Application Systems Heidelberg recently published The Longing and Luna The Shadow Dust. We quizzed them on what they do, and how they do it.

Yesterday, we published our interview with the developers of Luna The Shadow Dust, Lantern Studio. Today, we have our interview with the game’s publisher, Application Systems Heidelberg. Our questions were answered by none other than the company director, Volker Ritzhaupt.

Ritzhaupt has owned Application Systems since its inception all the way back in 1985. Although the company developed Mac software for most of its life, it has also applied its expertise to publishing indie games for the past decade. Among the games they have published are the point-and-click adventure games Lamplight City and Unforseen Incidents. Most recently, they released Luna The Shadow Dust on 13th February and The Longing on 5th March this very year.

Check out our interview below.

Luna The Shadow Dust screenshot
Luna The Shadow Dust (2020)

What exactly was your role in the publication of Luna The Shadow Dust and The Longing? If an indie developer is looking to sign up with Application Systems Heidelberg, what can they expect?

In each project we take different roles depending on what needs a team may have. For LUNA The Shadow Dust we’ve been responsible for beta testing and QA helped in bug fixing and some code optimization. We did the Linux port and managed the Mac build pipeline. We’ve also done all the PR and marketing and we’re still doing promotions.

For The Longing we’ve had a similar role. Whilst LUNA The Shadow Dust has no text and we’ve localized the marketing text only (to 28 languages), localization was a much bigger project for The Longing. So we’ve provided that for nine languages.

We’re also able to port the code to mobile and consoles and do so depending on the project.

Lamplight City screenshot, Application Systems Heidelberg
Lamplight City (2018)

When picking up indie games for publication, how do you determine what game or studio shows promise?

There is no rule really. We need to like the game. Then we start talking to the team to see if we agree on things that need to be improved to make it a polished and professional product. And of course we need to find out what our team is supposed to be doing and when and if we have the bandwidth to deliver that. We’re in the business for 35 years, so we can fill all the gaps. There are projects that we’ve written all code for and we have also mastered complicated tasks, such as voice over in multiple languages.

Luna The Shadow Dust walkthrough
Luna The Shadow Dust (2020)

How did you come across Luna The Shadow Dust?

I met Beidi at AdventureX in London when she was exhibiting LUNA there. It is a small event for narrative games that is basically like a family reunion of about 400 devs and fans. At the time we exhibited the detective game Lamplight City that we’ve made with Grundislav Games and when we exhibit we take a look at everything fellow developers show.

The Longing screenshot
The Longing (2020)

Your newest release, The Longing, takes 400 real-time days to finish. What unique challenges did this present to you as a publisher?

[Big smile] – obviously it needs a different approach in many ways. Testing is a challenge but one also needs to rethink all of the marketing around the product. People have a lot of questions that need to be answered. Like “are we talking real 400 days?” or “do I have to leave my computer running 400 days straight?” and of course “what am I supposed to do while I am waiting for 400 days?”.

It is hard to communicate what a game is like if you can’t say it is like this or that – referring to an established game mechanic.

Also it was impossible to give journalists a copy early enough so that they would be finished before release. This is why we’ve seen only a few scored reviews. Many really liked it but felt they couldn’t give a score before they’ve seen at least one of the four endings.

Mutropolis screenshot, Application Systems
Mutropolis (upcoming)

What are your plans going forward?

We’re working on several projects:

  • Mutropolis – a post apocalyptic Sci-Fi themed adventure game created by Pirita Studio in Madrid. Due in Q2/Q3 2020.
  • Rosewater – a wild west adventure written by Francisco Gonzalez set in Vespuccia, the universe of Lamplight City. Due in Spring 2021.
  • Growbot – a lovely Sci-Fi picture book adventure by Wabisabi Play. Due in Spring 2021.
  • We’re hopefully done soon with a console port for Unforeseen Incidents.

and of course we’re talking with other teams about more great projects we’re interested in and they are not necessarily all adventure games.

Allow me a few words addressing the pandemic.

We are pretty busy and we feel blessed that we were able to move everyone to their home offices in times like these. We double check with our teams if they are all well and we’re trying to collect regular updates on their situation. The LUNA team is in Toronto, London and Shanghai, but we’ve got team members everywhere.

Madrid as we all know is a crisis hotspot in Europe, New York isn’t a great place to be at the moment, London and Brighton can be faced with challenges soon.

We ourselves are in Heidelberg, Germany which is an hour away from the region in France that has been hit the worst. I was proud this morning to hear the helicopters fly over our office to land about a mile away at the Heidelberg University hospital with intense care patients flown over from France. I don’t know for how long we have the luxury to offer empty intense care beds but for now we do.

As game makers we know how important it is to stand together regardless of nationality and all we can do at the moment is trying to make games that help people stay at home and be a bit less bored whilst they protect themselves and others by being at home.

Rosewater screenshot
Rosewater (upcoming)

For more information on Application Systems, check out their official website here. Also check out what we thought of Luna The Shadow Dust in our review of the game here.

Finally, check out our walkthrough series for Luna The Shadow Dust, in case you get stuck with the game’s puzzles!

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This Article was written by: Rahul Shirke

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