ECHO: An Interview With Mark Emborg

We The Nerdy had a chance to talk with CEO of Ultra Ultra!’s upcoming game ECHO. Thank you to Mark for allowing us this oppurtunity. 


We The Nerdy:How many people were involved in the making of ECHO?
Mark: We’re a team of eight developers in the office, with sound and music handled by two freelancers.

WTN: ECHO seems to wear a number of inspirations on its sleeve while also being very distinct, what would you consider the largest inspiration for this game?
M: J. L. Borges’ short “The Library of Babel” is the earliest inspiration, but as you say, there are many obvious ones, like the movies 2001 and Solaris, that just kind of exist as part of our collective sensibilities.

WTN: I have only seen a few games where the enemies adapt to your previous runs, how difficult was the process of getting the enemies to properly “learn”?
M: Of course, but we approached it step by step through a lot of prototypes, so slowly but surely it grew into existence. I think one of the more difficult things was to make it it fun and player-facing, creating meaningful gameplay as a result, instead of just weird behavior.

WTN: Was there a real world inspiration for the palace?
M: Many. I bike by a few of them every morning, but mainly the hyper lavish Palaces like Versailles and the Winter Palace. -Those places are simply crazy in their abundance and attention to detail.

WTN: I love seeing developers depart from the typical “funnel” used in stealth games to show enemy proximity and alertness. Were there any difficulties with the globe based radar around the player? What sort of advantages does it provide for the player?
M: Once you get used to the sphere, it really feels like it expands your awareness. -You kind of stop seeing it, and in stead sense where all the enemies are in relation to yourself. The color of the indicator areas denote which state the enemies are in, so that blue ones are unaware, yellow means that you’re in its line of sight (and should probably move), and red means that its after you. As I said you get very used to it, so when you send out the “Area Scan” which expands the sphere to outline the enemies in stead, you sometimes get snug up on from behind without realizing it.

WTN: Can we expect any environmental interaction that helps the player catch the enemies by surprise?
Yes, we have many more things in that department than we’ve shown so far.

WTN: Are the enemies seen in ECHO biological clones? Or are they something more along the lines of androids?
M: They are perfect copies down to the atomic level.

WTN: What can we know about the main character without getting into any kind of spoilers?
M: Not a lot beyond the trailers actually. -The story is really centered around En being something of a mystery. She’s come here to save someone who died, but who was this person? How did they die? And what is her relation to the Palace?

WTN: Is any approach effective in ECHO, or does the “learning” mechanic demand you to constantly change play-styles?
M: The levels definitely require you to mix it up to stay ahead of the Echoes, but everybody plays the game differently


ECHO is coming to both PlayStation 4 and PC on September 19