GDC Play 2019 Spotlight: Areia

Andrew Lane

Within San Francisco’s Game Developers Conference (GDC), emerging and independent developers showcase their upcoming projects in the interactive GDC Play exhibition. Out of over one hundred games presented at GDC, only eight games are selected to win the prestigious “Best In Play’ award. Another eight games are awarded with an honorable mention. This year, we got the chance to speak with Marcelo Spiezzi Raimbault from GILP Studio, whose upcoming project Areia earned one of the honorable mention spots.  

GILP Studio was founded in Uberlândia, Brazil in 2013 by Raimbault and his colleagues, Lucas Humberto and Lucas Pereira. After teaming up to place 5th in a national game development competition with their very first game, they decided to continue producing games and growing their studio.  

In Areia, GILP’s fourth endeavor, the player traverses through immersive biomes comprised of sand and water which draw inspiration from Buddhism and Hinduism. Players are able to control and reshape the world around them on the path to enlightenment. Areia, the Portuguese word for sand, reflects both the game’s environments and the player’s ability to transform the environment in order to progress through the game. Raimbault and the rest of GILP want to use Areia to show players that a game can still provide a rewarding experience without the reliance on violence. GILP instead aims to take a more relaxed approach. “Just enjoy the ride while you are playing, and just have a good time,” Raimbault says.

For his contribution to Areia during development, Raimbault fused together the roles of game designer and technical artist into that of a director. As a byproduct of working in a small team, he became responsible for matching the games visuals to the desired gameplay experience. By managing the level designs, as well as overseeing the music, color palette and textures, he has been the primary force in shaping the game’s transcendental aesthetics.  

Surprisingly, Raimbault’s vision for Aeria was inspired by films. Noticing a discrepancy in the emotional impact he felt after watching movies versus playing action games, he claims “I wanted to build something that showed that games could also pass the message I want to receive.” Overall, he strives to deliver an emotionally satisfying experience, similar to that of a great movie, without sacrificing rewarding gameplay. Areia’s recognition as a GDC Best In Play honorable mention proves Raimbault and the rest of GILP Studio are already well on their way to passing along their message.

So, just how far along are they? Raimbault says the game is scheduled for release at the end of this year, but after seeing its positive reception, the team may feel freshly motivated to continue polishing. If they continue fine-tuning Areia in an effort to reach the game’s highest potential, they may postpone the expected release until early next year. As of now, GILP will release Areia exclusively on Steam for PC, but Raimbault seems open towards the possibility of a future console release if such an opportunity arises. With GILP Studios’ pleasantly unexpected recognition at GDC, the team has every right to feel optimistic about their future.